Don’t Let Your Newsletter Stink!
Everyone knows how crucial a successful mailing list is. Unfortunately, many writers are at a loss for what to say. They can write an entire book only to be stymied by email content! Others give it their best shot, but their subscribers won’t open the email. Even worse, they click the dreaded unsubscribe button and sever the relationship entirely.
Writing a good newsletter and keeping subscribers doesn’t need to be a daunting task. Try these do’s and don’ts to get started on the right foot and make your efforts count.
DO: Provide value to your reader in every newsletter.
If you don’t know what they’d find valuable, go to www.answerthepublic.com and search a relevant word that you know a lot about. It’ll show you the questions people are asking about that word. For example, I write about funeral topics. If I search for the word “funeral,” it might tell me that people want to know how much funerals cost, why we do funerals, the history of funerals, fun funeral options, etc. I choose a question and write a post that answers it. It’s useful and relevant to my audience. Value!
BONUS: the more value you give on a regular basis, the less sketchy it feels to ask for something later. Expert Tammi Labrecque recommends a ratio of three “gives” for one “ask.” You do not need to sell products in every email. Instead, sell yourself (not, like, literally. Cultivate a fandom)!
DON’T: Send an email for the sake of sending email.
If you have nothing valuable to say, you’re wasting your reader’s time. It’s annoying, and likely to provoke an “unsubscribe” if you do it too often. I only send mine once a month (if I had time, I’d consider sending two per month). I save up my content so my emails are meaty and worth sitting down to enjoy. Note: that infrequent schedule goes out the window around your publication date.
DO: Keep a running list of topics to mention in your next newsletter.
It might be a funny thing that happened last week, progress you made, a cool website or book. It might be so small that you’d forget by the end of the month, but those little tidbits add up and you can use them. When you sit down to write your newsletter, you’ll have some ready built “flavor” to supplement your main topic. It’s a nice, organic way to let your personality shine through without feeling forced.
DON’T: Forget that your audience is ever changing.
Remember the people who joined recently? They’re new to the party and aren’t up to speed. Don’t assume they know what you’re talking about, so provide a little reminder/reference. I’ve signed up for newsletters and unsubscribed because I was lost about who the author was and what they were talking about. Maybe include a roundup or summary of important things. Use a consistent tagline or image that reminds people who you are or what you write. Don’t rely on someone’s knowledge of previous newsletter content. If they’re confused, they’re uncomfortable… and they’re leaving.
My confidence in an author diminishes if I see constant typos in their communications. Make it easy to read too. Break up the text into chunks. Use headers and sub headers so I can skim past things if they’re not relevant to me. Be mindful of your color scheme. Most people are reading your email on their smartphone, so it needs to be easy to see. Add elements that make it look professional (like your header, footer, and logo). Add little personal touches so I can get to know the real you. I don’t want to read something that was written by a robot.
DON’T: Start creating newsletters without subscribing to other authors’ mailing lists first.
Make notes on what works, and perhaps more crucially, what doesn’t work. I’ve spent a lot of time researching newsletters and have seen examples, both good and bad. I’ve modeled my own after someone else’s that I admire. Happily, that author later subscribed to mine and recently sent me a message with enthusiastic praise. Nailed it!
If you’d like to get an idea of content and design, you can see my archive here without having to sign up for my mailing list. Clearly my content is tailored to my niche, but you can get ideas and apply them to your own genre. See my past newsletters here: www.LouisePachella.com/archive.
If you make mistakes, learn and grow. Do better in the next one. If you set up your welcome sequence or other automations a long time ago, periodically update them to reflect your new knowledge and design skills. Your recent emails may look fantastic, but a new subscriber’s first impression will be based on your shabbily done first attempt at a welcome email. Fix it.
Want more tips? I highly recommend the book Newsletter Ninja by Tammi Labrecque. Read it and get writing!