I wrote my first e-mail newsletter in September 2006, and apart from one or two misses, I’ve sent out an update every month since.
Some of my current subscribers have been with me since the beginning, and have seen my business evolve and change over the years.
And although, at times, I’ve struggled to think of what to write each month, I love writing my newsletter, because it gives me an opportunity to talk to people who have shown an interest in hearing what I have to say.
That’s why I think it’s a good idea to send out a regular e-mail newsletter, whatever business you’re in.
Why would I write an e-mail newsletter?
An e-mail newsletter is a great way of having direct communication with potential clients – and also with people who, although they may never buy anything from you, would still like to share your journey and learn a few things about themselves along the way. You can’t meet everyone in the world face-to-face, but you can share your thoughts with them across the ether. I still get a buzz whenever someone signs up to my e-mail newsletter from some far flung (based on a London, UK point of view!) part of the planet. It’s very humbling.
An e-mail newsletter is also a good way to get yourself known and show your expertise in your chosen subject, by sharing information with people around the world without necessarily expecting anything in return.
What would I say in an e-mail newsletter?
This is probably the main reason why so many people don’t start a newsletter: the fear that they will have nothing to say. Even I think that at times – and yet, as my friends will attest, you can’t usually shut me up! So writing an e-mail newsletter should be an absolute cinch for me! 🙂
The problem is thinking that you have to write something “worthy”. Actually, some of the best e-mail newsletters, in my opinion, are ones that tell a story about someone’s experiences – living in a foreign country, for example, or getting to grips with their business. As I mentioned in a previous article about how to share your expertise authentically, it doesn’t really matter whether you’re an expert, a teacher or a student – your story will always be interesting to someone.
Do I have to write the content of my e-mail newsletter myself?
In my view, you don’t have to be a great writer to write an e-mail newsletter. You just need to commit your thoughts and ideas to paper or screen. Don’t worry too much about being grammatically correct – that’s not the point. The point of an e-mail newsletter is to get across your passion about your topic, and to show your expertise.
If you’re really not a writer, then you can either buy ready-made articles, or ask guest writers to write articles for your e-mail newsletter. It can be helpful to plan ahead of time, and have a list of topics that you want to cover in your e-mail newsletter, so that you can contact guest writers a couple of months in advance.
How often should I send out an e-mail newsletter?
I’ve heard from some sources that you should be sending an e-mail newsletter out once or twice a week – but to me, that can feel like you’re being bombarded. In fact, there have been times when I’ve sent out a number of e-mails in quick succession, simply because I had come across something that I wanted to share with my readers, and I’ve had feedback that it was too much. That feedback was from a minority – but you never know what the silent majority thinks, unless they unsubscribe.
I try to send out a full e-mail newsletter once a month, and then occasional other e-mails in between, if there’s something I want to tell folks about. I think it’s probably more important to send newsletters out regularly, than to send them out frequently. Unfortunately, so far, I’ve been singularly unsuccessful at sending out my e-mail newsletters on a regular date. Still, there’s always next month…!
Should I use my e-mail newsletter to sell stuff?
Some people don’t really write newsletters – every e-mail they send out is trying to sell you something, which can get a bit tedious. At the other extreme, I think I had been writing my e-mail newsletter for about 2 years before I felt bold enough to mention what I do for a living and ask whether anyone would be interested in hiring me!!
As with anything, it’s about getting the balance right. Too much selling isn’t good, but on the other hand, if you have something which people might benefit from, and you don’t tell them about it, then you’re doing them a dis-service. As long as you’re always giving people good content in your e-mail newsletter, and sending out more content than sales spiel, then everyone benefits.
How long should my e-mail newsletter be?
When I first started my e-mail newsletter, I used to write 2,000 word articles – but it started getting hard to keep it up, so I cut them down to around 1,000 words, or sometimes less. Then I started to get feedback that the shorter articles were just about right, because people had enough time to read them and get a short, sharp intake of useful information, without having to set aside time in their diary to fully absorb what I was saying.
Nowadays I tend to write an article on my blog first, and then pick up the headings and a single paragraph to put in my e-mail newsletter – with a link back to the blog, in case anyone would like to read the full article. And it seems to be working out well so far.
If this article has piqued your interest, and you’d like to know how to start your own newsletter without exhausting yourself, then my friend Tanja Gardner’s “What the Hell do I Write?” newsletter marketing e-course will show you how to write content your subscribers love, that also helps to grow your business!