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Newsletters are an essential piece to every blogging business. It is a constant connection to nurture your audience with information and service. Today, you will learn how to value-pack your newsletter, free email marketing software, and frequently asked questions in today’s post.
Writing the newsletter for Blogging Business Owner is one of my most enjoyable weekly tasks. Putting together the “to-do” section, calendar, and especially the message is something I look forward to every week.
Thankfully, when I first started writing newsletters, I had an audience who gave me honest feedback. I used their suggestions to improve my content and make better newsletters.
Let me share with you some of the feedback I’ve received:
- Keep links to a minimum.
- Keep the newsletter to one-page.
- We love the calendar at the top.
- We love the “to-do” section.
Of course, some weeks, the newsletter was longer or had more links than before. I’ve learned so much since writing my first newsletter, and I know you will too!
In this article, I talk about the basics of starting an email newsletter and, for newbies, a few simple steps to help you create that first email. If you already have a newsletter up and running, keep reading until the end as I have some tips on PDF insertion, creating templates, and newsletter software!
- Do I Need an Email Newsletter?
- I’m sold! I want my own newsletter – where do I begin?
- Three Simple Steps to Create Your First Email Newsletter
- What is the best free newsletter software?
- How do I create a newsletter template?
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Additional Resources:
- Hue, T. (2021). Here Are the Reasons Why People Subscribe to Email Newsletters (And Why They Don’t). Retrieved 20 January 2021, from https://blog.disqus.com/why-people-subscribe-to-email-newsletters
- Tanase, L. (2021). How to Make Money With Your Own Email Newsletter. Retrieved 20 January 2021, from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/361999
- Federal Trade Commission. (2021). Retrieved 20 January 2021, from https://www.ftc.gov/
- Final Tips
- As always, if you run into difficulties or find it tricky to set up a newsletter, drop a comment, and I will try to help. If not, still feel free to reach out to me – I love hearing about other business owners’ blogging journeys!
Do I Need an Email Newsletter?
Blogging is a busy job! You have long-form writing, social media posts, audience analytics, and a whole host of other tasks to keep up with.
So you might be wondering, is an email newsletter essential?
It is unnecessary per se, but it is an easy way for you to up your blogging game. You might get away without having an email newsletter, but it would be a missed opportunity. A good email newsletter does not replace your blog but complements it to enrich the audience experience further.
Email newsletters are a great way to connect, stay up-to-date, and get feedback from your audience.
Let’s look at some of the perks of having an email newsletter, starting with some statistics.
There are 3.9 billion daily email users. This number is expected to climb to 4.3 billion by 2023. (Statista, 2020)
78% of marketers have seen an increase in email engagement over the last 12 months (Not Another State of Marketing, 2020)
Just looking at those numbers, the first reason to have an email newsletter is apparent. Many, many people use email! Chances are, a large part of your audience also uses email daily. Setting up an email newsletter is just one more way for your content to reach your audience.
Watching The Social Dilemma was the first time I realized the power of email. I was fascinated to find out that other people are just as engaged with email (over other social media). The case here is that email is often overlooked when thinking about marketing. However, people engage with email, and it is one of the best tools you have as a business owner.
On Blogging Business Owner, we have conversations about living a full and enriched life. Your health is essential, and you matter. A necessary part of your well-being is relationships. In this case, your relationship with your readers.
Blog posts need to cater to a large audience, including first-time visitors to your blog. So they can sometimes seem impersonal. Emails, on the other hand, give you space to be vulnerable.
An email newsletter can promote trust and intimacy between you and your readers.
You can use it to show your audience who you indeed are and build a closer community.
Plus, an email newsletter can convert blog visitors into clients. Someone might come across your blog through social media or ads and visit your site. They may like it, but readers and potential clients will forget your blog once they move on to the next site. If you have an email newsletter with prominent sign-up boxes on your homepage/blog posts, chances are they might have subscribed. Your regular emails will then act as a reminder for them to visit your blog, and just like that, voila! You have a new loyal subscriber.
Newsletters connect you with your audience by providing a means of communication.
Here are some ways you can use newsletters:
- Feedback. Use it right, and an email newsletter can encourage your readers to share their thoughts and kudos with you.
- Launches. If you have a new feature coming up or thought of a product idea, invite your subscribers to let you know their thoughts. Audience feedback is super important, especially as a blogger.
- Surveys. To get more general feedback, you can include a customer satisfaction survey in your newsletter. Hubspot has some awesome templates to choose from.
- Promotion. If you are offering products or services through your blog, an email newsletter is the perfect marketing strategy. Advertise your services through your email newsletter and include freebies to entice your customers.
- Affiliates. If you use affiliate links to generate income, a newsletter lets you naturally promote your links. Email marketing is known to produce exceptional returns for a minimal initial investment. Emails are useful for marketing because you put in a little effort with the potential to enjoy lots of returns.
- Trust. In theory, it takes seven touchpoints to sell a product or service. Each email is an opportunity to close the gap.
Newsletters compliment your business and cultivate a relationship of trust with your readership.
A newsletter starts with an email list. An email list is a list of people who have opted in to receive regular emails from you regarding your business.
Start by creating opt-in forms. An opt-in form is a subscription box that allows access to potential subscribers to sign-up for your newsletter.
Tip: Place your subscription form on your social media profile, on your website, and as a pop-up.
Set objectives. Once you have an email list set up, the next step is to set objectives. Before you start drafting your newsletter, take a moment to think of your goals.
What do you want to achieve out of your email newsletter?
Do you want to increase your site traffic?
Are you aiming to sell a certain amount of a particular service or product?
Or are you hoping to improve your credibility and build a more substantial reputation for your brand?
If you are struggling to think of newsletter goals, don’t worry! I’ve been there before, so I’ve got you. Think of reasons your readers would want to hear from you, and based on that, create concrete goals for your newsletter.
For example, people subscribe to newsletters because they want
- Freebies. Top of the list, a freebie is one of the most popular ways to get new subscribers. Freebies could be a free ebook, access to a course for free, or perhaps free product samples.
- Coupons. Similar to the freebie, a coupon is highly effective for growing your audience and increasing your income. Not only does your subscriber get an incentive to sign up, but a coupon can increase product sales.
- Deals. Everybody loves a good deal! Capitalize on this and offer an irresistible discount with newsletter sign-ups. Think Buy-One-Get-One (BOGO) or special membership access.
- Launches. Being the first to know about a new product launch can make someone feel like they are in the “inner circle.” If you often tease a new launch through email or announce it through the weekly newsletter, this can be a big motivation for fans to keep checking your emails.
- To stay up-to-date. An email newsletter is a convenient way for your subscribers to keep up with your content. You can use your newsletter to send the latest updates straight to their inbox.
- Recommendations. If you are an industry figure or have excellent credentials to back up your business, your opinions will carry a lot of weight. Fans would tune in to your email newsletter just to read your recommendations.
- Short-Form Content. Finally, some subscribers might find it far easier and quicker to read an email than to visit your website. Make the most of this by keeping emails mobile-friendly and easy to read.
Based on these, you can get some ideas on what your goals could be. Your newsletter goals may change with each email. That’s okay! The important thing is to have a plan and craft your newsletter with your goal in mind.
In this section, we have talked about what you need to get started with an email newsletter.
To recap, you will need the following to start your newsletter
- Opt-in forms
- An email list
- Concrete newsletter goals.
Three Simple Steps to Create Your First Email Newsletter
Are you feeling nervous about your first email newsletter? Try not to be because you have (sort of) done this before!
Writing your first email newsletter is very likely to be the second email connection you make to your readers. The first would have been the automatic (but carefully personalized) email response that the reader received when subscribed. Email marketing is hugely popular and very useful, a winning combo. Your reader has heard from you before, and all you have to do now is keep them reading.
To consistently produce unique newsletters, it helps to have a system or a workflow to follow. Once you have the three components listed above (forms, email list, goals), here are the three main steps to crafting the newsletter itself.
- Have a goal and a topic
The first step to creating your newsletter is to decide on the topic. Undecided? Use your goals! Choose a topic that will help you reach your newsletter goals.
Winning newsletter topics:
- Introducing the week’s blog post
- An offer
- Sharing Reflections
- Spotlighting a Subscriber
- Showcasing products and services (could be affiliate links)
- Introduce a guest post
Emails help you gain and keep the trust of your subscribers. So, be sure to keep the focus on great content that can benefit your readers.
Tip: Try not to sell products too early or push promotions aggressively before sufficient trust is established.
Tip: Most bloggers choose to open with an introduction to the week’s organic blog post. Remember that newsletters are a contact point.
- Improve Your Subject Line
The subject line may only be a sentence, but don’t underestimate its importance. It is the first few words that your subscriber reads and could make or break their decision to open your email.
Most people prioritize an email based on (1) the author and (2) the subject line. So, the subject line is a dealbreaker and one that you can control.
Tips to improve your subject line
Zero Bounce found that subscribers open emails of subject lines when they are-
- Are shorter than 40 characters (but more than 15)
- Include numbers (“5 ways to….”)
- Include informative content
That’s a good start, but there is more. In January 2021, Neil Patel added to this list. He mentioned that email subject lines with high open rates share these attributes.
- Questions in titles
- Keywords in the URL
- Use power words
- Include words that evoke emotion
- Titles that resemble education
Here are some subject line examples to assess.
Why Bloggers Need An Email List: 15 Ways To Embed Your Subscribe Form to Your WordPress Site
How this Mom of 2 made Distance Learning a Success: 3 Routines That Save You Time and Peace of Mind
As they say, practice makes perfect. Give it a try; I invite you to draft an email subject line using the tips above. Keep it catchy, informative, and vibrant.
Remember: You can always edit an email subject line before sending it.
- Include Valuable Content
Now that we have tackled finding a topic and writing a subject line, the next step is to get started on the content. Content is the bulk of your newsletter work and is the central part of the newsletter.
Why increase the value of my content?
Here are some reasons to increase the value of your content.
Showcase your brand. The content is what your subscribers want to read and is an opportunity to showcase your brand. Plus, your newsletter is not just an email. It reflects your brand and your blog. Keep it relevant and in sync with your website in terms of topics, language, and tone. To showcase your website and increase engagement and conversion rates, add appropriate links in your newsletter.
Bounce rate. Including valuable content reduces the probability of high bounce rates. Bounce rate is when a subscriber goes to your website and abruptly leaves. So, don’t skimp on the content. Put in the time and work to make your newsletter worth reading by sharing interesting and useful information.
Tips to increase the value of my content
An unopened email has a significant impact on your brand. Increase the value of your newsletter content with these tips.
Readability. Good content should be readable. Instead of vast walls of text, break up your writing into short chunks.
Keep it short. An email newsletter is often read on-the-go, so keep that in mind and write a concise newsletter. Save the detailed tutorials and long-form writing for the blog.
Proofread. Once you have the content laid out, don’t hit ‘send’ just yet! Take a moment to proofread your draft. Typos, poor grammar, and poorly placed images are the biggest turn-offs while reading a newsletter. Avoid those common pitfalls by going over your current and previewing your email.
All that to say – value pack your newsletter! It’s well worth the effort.
Here are some tips to help you craft your first newsletter.
Greet (and thank) your reader. Greeting your reader is up to you. Some people start with “Hey,” while others personalize their emails so that the subscriber’s name is at the top. Personalized emails with names are a great way to add a human touch to your newsletter.
Some may go one step further and choose to nickname their subscribers, such as Emily D. Bakers “law nerds.” Endearing names adds a genuinely personal element, and if done right, a nickname can make your readers feel included while making your newsletter more fun to read.
Some bloggers start their emails with content and, in the end, add a token of warmth. Such as “yours” in the closing of their email.
Do what is comfortable and genuine to you and your brand. Acknowledge the reader and continue to celebrate your connection.
Email Frequency. Disclose to your community how often you’ll be sending emails. People like to be informed, and your audience deserves to know when they can expect to hear from you.
Receiving too many emails is the number one reason people unsubscribe from a newsletter.
Disclosing the frequency of emails helps to prevent unsubscription in the future. It also fosters trust, and transparency can go a long way to help you maintain a good relationship with your audience.
Once you have figured out the best frequency for you, tailor the timing to maximize readership. Make your newsletters match your editorial calendar.
Send regular emails on a predictable schedule. Timely newsletters can boost open rates. They also reassure your readers that your emails are well thought out and intentionally written.
Outline the benefits of staying subscribed. Have you heard of #FOMO (fear of missing out)?
Tell your subscribers why they want to tune-in to your newsletter. Make it clear to your readers the benefits they can get from opening your emails, whether it is the latest information, promotional codes, or freebies. Include testimonials and what they can expect from following you on social media.
Call to Action. A call to action is directly linked to your subject line. Including a call to action gives a sense of purpose to the newsletter. It can also help you reach your newsletter goal and guides the next steps for your readership.
Not only that, a newsletter is a particularly strategic medium to use a call to action. By the time your reader reads the newsletter content, they would have engaged with your brand several times. For example, they would have visited your site, signed up for the newsletter, confirmed on the opt-in email, chose to open your newsletter, and read through the initial text. Having a call to action at this point can be very useful, as they would be far more likely to respond to your requests after all that engagement.
Here are some examples of calls to action.
Head over to the blog to find out more.
Reply to this email and tell me how ______ has helped you.
Share this Pin on Pinterest.
Sign-up before doors close on ______.
To sum it all up, writing a newsletter is about creating high-quality content that fulfills your newsletter goals. Use the tips mentioned above to boost open rates and get subscribers answering responding to your call to action.
The best newsletter software is one that abides by CAN-SPAM regulations and allows you to broadcast, sequence, automatic downloads, and automate your newsletters. ConvertKit’s Creator Plan will enable you to do all of that!
When it comes to choosing a newsletter software, there are a few factors to keep in mind. First, look at its deliverability figures. The last thing you need is for your email newsletter to end up in the spam folder. ConvertKit has stellar deliverability stats. For example, their deliverability for June 2020 was 99%. To put it in simple terms, 99 percent of all emails sent with ConvertKit landed in the subscriber’s inbox.
Another factor to consider is CAN-SPAM. CAN-SPAM outlines the rules for commercial or marketing emails. ConvertKit helps you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act by using double opt-in forms and managing bounces. The software also identifies cold subscribers to re-engage or stop emailing them and generally helps you maintain a healthy mailing list.
Of course, if you have only a few subscribers and are trying out blogging for the first time, ConvertKit’s free plan is a great start. You can create a landing page, send email broadcasts and have up to 1000 subscribers.
The Creator Plan is worth it because it gives you access to new features that can amp up your newsletter from good to great. It takes minimal effort to use the Creator plan’s automated funnels and email sequences to keep your readers hooked. To top it all off, you can transfer your data from another tool for free and use email segmentation to organize your subscribers,
Once you have been playing around with ConvertKit Creator for a while, you might start thinking about ConvertKit Creator Pro. It comes with a newsletter referral system, subscriber scoring, and advanced analytics.
Now, let’s talk about costs. If you are concerned about pricing, ConvertKit offers individualized pricing plans based on factors unique to your website, such as the number of subscribers. So, you won’t overpay for a plan that you don’t need.
Good news! Newsletter templates are readily available and free. Websites such as Canva, Adobe, and LucidPress all have free newsletter templates that you can download and work from. Most of these also allow you to personalize the template to reflect your style.
Question: Is a newsletter template necessary?
Answer: No, emails that have the highest open rate are plain text.
Plain text means no templates. This is mostly due to loading speed and email settings. The lack of images doesn’t have to be a drawback. If used correctly, words are powerful sales tools, and a few simple words can be far more convincing than a picture.
Benefits of plain-text emails include
- Format. Simple to organize text
- Load speed. There is less chance of creating a newsletter that loads poorly on smaller or slower devices.
- Call-to-action. Your call to action would be much more attention-grabbing without pesky graphics distracting your readers.
- Inbox. Spam filters tend to dislike images, so plain text emails are more likely to make it to your subscriber’s inbox safely.
That said, sometimes graphics are needed. That’s where the templates come in. Pick templates that fit the color scheme of your website. If it still doesn’t look quite right, not to worry! There are ways to work around an image not showing in the email.
Use alt text to show if your image fails to load.
Tip: Use plain text emails.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions regarding newsletters
Think about the purpose of the newsletter. Are you introducing a blog post? Are you writing to pitch an affiliate? The tone and voice of your newsletter will change according to the purpose. Always stay on brand and encourage engagement.
Your newsletter is the one place where algorithms do not interrupt communication. Make every email count, and if you have nothing to say- don’t send an email.
A PDF is usually added to a newsletter as a freebie for printing. It can be a nice incentive to keep your subscribers engaged. However, most email marketing platforms do not have a way to add a PDF to an email.
If your email service does not include PDFs, consider these tips.
- Set up a separate email account with an automated message (vacation setting) to reply with the freebie’s emails.
- Take the opportunity to personally reply to the subscriber and engage in conversation after sending the freebie.
Absolutely! Your newsletter should link all your brand platforms to one another. Chances are, your newsletter subscribers are also your social media followers. Stir up some excitement over your next newsletter by sharing a little suspenseful snippet on your Facebook or Twitter. You can also use your social media posts to highlight promotions and freebies that are only available for newsletter subscribers. Finally, keep up with the buzz by picking newsletter topics that are trending on social media.
One word – consistency. Use the same personal name, username or handle, profile photo, brand name, and slogan across all your platforms. That includes all social media platforms, blogs, and websites. If you are active in forums or groups related to your field, make sure your profile matches. This way, you are easily noticeable and can build a reputation with ease across different platforms.
For email newsletters, use the same tone, language, and choice of words. If you use graphics, include the exact logo of your brand used on your website. Pick colors that represent your brand. When it comes to content, however, make it unique. Your newsletter should provide something that your readers cannot get from social media or your website. So, make it memorable.
Federal Trade Commission. (2021). Retrieved 20 January 2021, from https://www.ftc.gov/
With the right tools and know-how, writing a newsletter can be a fun and exciting way to connect with your audience. It may seem overwhelming at first, but take baby steps and work through the steps listed above.
Start a newsletter today with these steps:
- Sign up with ConvertKit’s free plan
- Draft a welcome newsletter
- Brainstorm topics for upcoming newsletters
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