Faye Arcand, My Twisted Writer Brain…, writing a newsletter

How To Write A Great Newsletter and Why You Need One.

What’s the Purpose of a Newsletter?

This is a really important point, so pay careful attention…

Source: Unsplash Andrea Davis.

A newsletter is a form of communication to build support and to allow your readers/audience/customers a chance to get to know you.

When you know someone, you trust them more. The newsletter is a great place to start.

Think about it like this… If you’re strolling through a store and a complete stranger comes and say:

“Hey, wanna buy my book?”

I’m apt to jump back and say,

“Um, no thanks. I don’t even know you.”

But, if I’ve been following someone’s newsletter, social media, and maybe blog for a while and I know a little about who they are and what they write, if they approach me I may be more apt to respond in a positive manner.

Make sense?

So, as a professional, if you have something to sell or promote, you should have a newsletter to acquaint yourself with potential customers.

Why Do I Need a Newsletter? Isn’t Social Media Enough?

The newsletter is a marketing tool that goes straight to into the home of the person who subscribed. That in itself, is huge.

Source: Unsplash Brett Jordan

With social media, you’re basically alone on a soapbox waiting for people to come to you.

Don’t get me wrong, social media has its place, but it’s not like having an email list and newsletter.

On social media those people who follow you could disappear and you’d have no way to reconnect. Whereas communications via newsletter, are in your hands and the invitation has been extended by those who subscribe.

Do You Subscribe to Newsletters?

If you don’t, I’d suggest that you pick a couple (mine being the first of course), and follow. See what you like and don’t like about them.

The nice thing is that it’s easy to unsubscribe if you find the newsletter is just not in your niche or interest.

Source: Google images

Many large corporations have newsletters too. I’ve listed a few of my favorites at the bottom of this post.

Check out what kind of information the others are providing. How they lay out their content, include links, and free downloads.

As you’re scrolling through, ask yourself what you like and, more importantly, what don’t you like. Keep notes.

One thing that’s a huge turn off for me is the sell, sell, sell… It’s like whoa… let me breathe here. It almost feels like those trinket sellers on the beach when you’re on vacation. You know the ones where you’re afraid to make eye contact because you know they’ll pounce on you.

I don’t like the pounce!

source: Unsplash Creators

I subscribe to quite a few different newsletters and each is unique and has a voice… believe me, that takes time to master.

I like the small Indie author who’s building his audience, the market expert’s bi-weekly mailing, and even one or two that are more about family or world situations.

Many are filled with great information, inspiration, and opportunities within the writing world.

The ones I subscribe to are fun, easy to read, and demand nothing from me.

That may seem counter intuitive if you’re looking to sell books or product, but it makes me (the recipient) feel like I’m the one in control and no one is making demands on me. If they did offer a deal, I may consider it. Smart.

How to Begin.

There are a lot of rules surrounding mass mail-outs, so you’re going to have to set up an email list and subscribe to a mail-out site like MailerLite, MailChimp or any one of the dozens out there.

Source: Unsplash Ian Schneider

You can start with a free version until your list gets too big and then you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan.

I use MailerLite. I will tell you that there’s definitely a learning curve involved, but they have lots of videos that you can watch and figure it out.

I recently sent out my newsletter after fiddling with it for what seemed like hours. Before I pushed send I hit something else and the whole thing disappeared. Omg. I wanted to cry. Instead I emailed the MailerLite peeps and they looked and sure enough it was in my draft folder.

Oh. Oopsy. I didn’t even know I had a draft folder. Duh! I won’t do that again.

Once you’ve signed up for the free mailer service then start practicing and getting to know the software. Maybe you only have ten people that you’d email, but it’s a start. Also ask those ten people what they like and don’t like about your letter.

Read all about building an email list HERE

Don’t Worry, It Does Come Together

A newsletter is meant to reflect your brand and personality. What colors are on your website? What message are you trying to send?

Source: Unsplash Jon Tyson

Once you’re on the mailer site, you can do “campaigns”, which are newsletters with a theme. For example, the one I just did was for Happy New Year and a discussion around the idea of a gentle January.

From that mailer site you can add pop-ups to your website to encourage people to subscribe. Another way to get subscribers is to ask everyone you know. Go on social media and ask them to sign up.

Now, remember that there are laws that pertain to mass emails and the consequences are huge. Don’t think you can ignore the rules, because ignorance is not a defense.

Check here to read about the email lists. It’s a good place to start.

(please go read the email list info provided above. In Canada, subscribers must give you permission to add them to a list. In the USA they can be added and then opt out. These are important differences.Each country has their own laws.)

Remember a Newsletter is an Extension of Your Business.

Source: Unsplash Slidebean

A newsletter should be part of your business marketing strategy. It allows you to go directly to the consumer as opposed to them having to seek you out.

If done properly, a newsletter can increase the success of your business and build a rapport with those reading it.

It’s about letting your readers (or subscribers) get to know you in a more relaxed and casual way. The keys of success are trust, not overstaying your welcome, and the sharing of a fun story or anecdote and valuable information.

Let’s look at each of these things in depth.

When Should You Start Your Newsletter?

Start now.

If you’re reading this, then you’ve been thinking about it. Start building that rapport and foundation for trust as soon as possible.

Seriously, don’t wait. You don’t need to have a book or product to see, just sell you. The sooner you start the more ready you’ll be.

I would suggest you keep it to one or two pages. If you don’t feel like you have anything to say–tell your readers that. Remember, you’re building a rapport.

You don’t need to have a product yet, just introduce yourself and say Hey! Touch briefly on the topic for which they signed up for, then add a couple of lines about your cat/dog/goldfish, and a picture or two. Boom. Done.

Nothing too fancy. Short and to the point. Once a month until you have more to say and see what you want to include. There are some ideas below.

It’s About Trust…

Your newsletter is sent out via an email list and everyone on that list has given you permission. Having received that trust from a recipient, you want to ensure your list is only for you and not shared or sold (um…no, that’s a really, really bad idea).

The other thing about trust is that the content you send will be of interest to them and not a heap of spam. They can unsubscribe at any time. The trust goes both ways.

Don’t Overstay Your Welcome

A newsletter is not meant to be sent on a daily basis or inundate your guests with reams and reams of reading.

People are busy. They simply don’t have time or inclination to read long paragraphs of beautiful prose and such. That is not a newsletter.

Some will start their newsletters off with a story or antidote. These are often light, short, and on topic with the discussion that will follow.

Do your homework. Make sure your content is scannable.

source: Unsplash Creators

So, this can be done in a couple of ways.

A paragraph shouldn’t be more than a few lines (four sentences at most).

Make it easy on the eyes of the reader to scan.

Use headlines, bullets, numbered lists….

Oh yes… people love lists. They simple to read.

Things like that are not only easier to read but also more fun to stop and consider.

Develop and design your newsletter in sections. What I mean here is to create your own artistic presentation. Maybe you’ll have different sections for the information you want to share or break it up with pictures or memes.

There’s No Need to Be There Every Single Day!

The other thing about wearing out your welcome is if you show up too much. Oh man, you end up being like that neighbor who’s always looking over the fence. Sending an email is like knocking on someone’s door, don’t make them regret giving you their address.

Source: Unsplash Hal Gatewood.

Make yourself a schedule and decide how often you want to send it out.

Some send out every two weeks, while others do a monthly newsletter and some, every few months.

If you opt for a weekly timeline then you best have something darned exciting to say!

Believe me, people will unsubscribe if you’re pushing too hard and sending too many emails.

So you decide.

You want to do it often enough for subscribers to recognize your name, but not so often that they cringe when they see it. It’s a fine balance. For me, I’m thinking every two to three weeks will work.

Unless you’re just popping in to say Hey, like I mentioned above, doing an email campaign is time consuming and a lot of work. It does get faster as you get better with the techniques, but it’s still a demand on your time. Bear that in mind when you consider how often you choose to send.

Between writing newsletters, keep a note book nearby or use your phone to jot down fun things to share or add to the next one. Perhaps a quote you heard or something you saw on the news. Make it neutral and light hearted. Remember this is not a place to spark debate or controversy, it’s a marketing tool.

Know Your Audience and Always Present as a Professional.

As your readers get to know you, resist the temptation to get too personal in a newsletter. Think of this as something you’re sending out with your business stamp attached.

Be professional.

If your target audience is Gen-Xer’s who are used to the f-bomb that’s one thing, but if you’ve got boomers and seniors then be aware of the language you use and the stories you tell.

Just saying, be aware and cognizant.

Be You. Don’t Over Sell.

Source: Unsplash Sentidas Humaos

Do not….and I mean, Do Not…. make your newsletter all about selling. There’s nothing worse than having a message saying Buy Me! Buy Me!

Readers want to get to know you, come to understand your process, and see what you have to share.

If you’re a writer, people want to know about your process, your fears, your struggles and triumphs. It’s like reading about a celebrity. We want to identify with the professional creatives.

They’re curious about your personal life and how you came to be a writer/author. Share small parts of yourself that you’d consider okay for public consumption.

Pictures of your pets, selfies that you take while you’re out for a walk, or perhaps a photo of yourself at your desk writing.

These are safe and while personal, they’re not intrusive. Don’t go overboard. You’re still there as a professional business person. If someone gets too nosy or personal you can take them off your list if necessary.

You don’t know most of these subscribers, and they don’t know you. Be smart. Keep it professional.

Make your newsletter reflect your personality. You’re not writing a script or poem, you’re writing a letter.

It should read as a casual conversation between you and a friend. Think of it as sitting and sharing a cup of coffee with someone and you’re telling them about your life for the last few weeks and telling them what’s coming up in the future.

Plan your Newsletter…What to Include…

Not only are you going to carefully plan what you’re going to share, you’re also going to look at what to include.

Do you want to have a free draw for example.

If you have a book give away you can use that as an incentive to subscribe to your newsletter. People like something for free–heck, I know I do!

You can also do a free printable check-list or downloadable document that will assist them on their writing journey or whatever your niche is. Use your imagination.

Source: Unsplash Scott Graham

Part of your newsletter could be a section where you include a couple of paragraphs from your book. Or maybe an inspirational quote or poem. That’d be cool…

Anything free catches peoples attention.

Have people enter into a draw. Have a give away: maybe a pdf worksheet that can be downloaded from your letter. You can also do draws for your book too while asking for them to share your newsletter.

Use Your Newsletter to Share Information

Is there an event you’re involved in?

Perhaps you’re teaching an online class that’s free and may interest some of your readers.

These are great things to include.

  • Read other writers blogs, newsletters, or books and make recommendations. While this may sound counter-intuitive, it actually shows a maturity and a willingness to share valuable information with others.
  • Do a book review.
  • Include word games.
  • Vocabulary.
  • Fun facts.
  • Personal Photos.
  • Favorite Recipes.
  • A movie review.
  • Tips for …?
  • Something that the reader doesn’t get on your blog.
  • …and lots of links to fun stuff to read and learn that’s appropriate to your readership.

Some of My Favorites

source: unsplash Sam Carter

One of the best ways to learn how to do a newsletter is to find one or two that you like and follow a similar format.

Make sure you don’t copy or plagiarize, for reprints request permission, and always credit back to the source.

All the writing sites have newsletters and the information you can get is valuable. I get Writer’s Digest Newsletter and a few other larger ones. These often include writing contests, conference info, retreats, writing tips…. the list goes on. Great info that is at my finger tips and I don’t need to go hunting for it.

The thing is that you don’t need to be afraid of subscribing to others writer’s newsletters because they’re not only a great learning tool but also great professional advice and information.

Check Out These Writer Newsletters…

I subscribe to all of them and enjoy the way they’re put together.

But Wait Remember to Sign Up for My Newsletter… do it right on my site.

What do You Think? Did I Miss Anything?

Tell me right now which strategy you want to work on first.

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment right now.

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