Where to Start with Your Newsletter
When you’re coming onto the online business arena you are bombarded with all these things to do: get a great brand, build an email list, be active and consistent on social media, blog... it can quickly get overwhelming.
The feeling can leave you paralyzed with “there’s so many things I need to do I don’t even know where to start” and then you either: don’t do anything or try to figure it all out on your own, which is tough.
I know the feeling because I’ve been there.
Before we go over newsletter content and getting subscribers, let's go over a brief little review for why having a mailing list should be one of your top priorities with having an online business.
3 Reasons why having an email should be one of your top priorities
1) The people on your mailing list invited YOU into their daily life
Being in someone's inbox is having the ability to contact them personally, knowing they will see your offering. Everyone checks their email, sometimes not everyone opens an email, but they see you pop in.
2) Your mailing list is full of potential customers who want to hear what you have to say
You're list is made up of people who either know you, like you and/or trust you, which makes them more likely to buy your product or service.
3) You are the owner of your mailing list
Social media platforms are not your own. Your Instagram followers are not your, those who follow you on Twitter... if those sites were to shut down, you would have no way to contact your followers. But with a mailing list, you have control and can contact those who follow along with you.
Now that we have the importance of a mailing list out of the way...
How do you even get started?
What do you write about?
How do you get people to sign up?
All very important questions and I hope to answer all of them here for you:
How to get people to sign up
Give them an incentive.
An incentive: (def) something that incites or tends to incite to action or greater effort, as a reward offered for increased productivity.
People need a reason to sign up for your list. I’ve heard it said that your giveaway should be worth $100 so that you’re giving your members something that's truly valuable. And that can look different for everyone, but the point is to make it worth something to them.
Examples: A downloadable pdf of how to dress and do your make-up for your photoshoot, a code to enter a gallery page that is for members only, a collection of photoshop actions, or secret behind-the-scenes exclusives only for your subscribers.
The options are endless, just make it something you would pounce on if the tables were turned. I offer a monthly styled stock photopack that my subscribers can use however they want, in blog posts or for their social media, to help grow their business. Whatever it is that you decide to offer, make sure it's quality, it's worthwhile, and that it's easy for people to sign up when they come across the opt-in option.
UPDATE 2019: According to the new GDPR regulations, a lot of people think you can't use an incentive to get people to sign up. To be clear, you CAN use an incentive but you need a double opt-in and make it ultra clear that when people download the freebie they are getting added to your list, explain how you'll use their information, what they can expect, and how they can opt-out if they so choose.
Make it quality
You don't need to take a half hour to brand your email but DO put some energy into making it valuable to your readers. Putting thought and care into what you're sending will make your subscribers more likely to open your emails to see what you have to say.
Know what your audience needs
You’re writing TO your audience FOR your audience. The things you put in your newsletter should be a reflection of their interests and wants and make them want to know more about what you have to offer. So get to know them and find out what they want and how you can help them achieve their goals.
You can do this by having a great starting email sequence and share about yourself and ask them to see if they have any questions or struggles, you can get to know your audience on social media or you have your people take surveys to find out what they need and want.
What to Write
Writing a newsletter is tricky. You want people to be excited when your email comes so how do you make your newsletter something people can’t wait to open?
Choose a style
Choosing a style of how to write your newsletter doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to develop your voice but here are a few styles to think through that you could implement in your newsletter to give you a starting point:
• Have a weekly rundown / or things you're learning
• Offer tips and insights on your craft / service
• Share heartfelt insight and encouragement about your struggles or successes
• Top 5 things that are trending or on the current landscape of your industry
• Keep them in the loop. Let your subscribers know what’s coming up / exclusive deals and promos
• Give encouragement with inspiration or motivation
• Share how you've grown: books, podcasts, or resources that have really helped you
• Every so often give your subscribers something that's special and valuable to keep your subscribers wanting more
Any one of these styles can be mixed and matched to fit your personality and business to best relate to your audience. I encourage you to try new things with your list until you feel like you’re in the groove. It may take some time but it’s worth it to make sure your newsletter is a representation of you and your brand.
For my list, I use several of those styles from tips and things I'm learning to personal thoughts to encouragement. I share business tips, marketing and branding strategies– alway through the lens of encouragement, positivity, and inspiration–and to share that living the intentional life you want is possible.
The main thing you want to ask yourself is "how is this benefiting my reader / audience." You don't want to send an email for the sake of sending an email. It's important to think of your audience and subscribers as people who are wanting to learn from you and be encouraged from your content. So keep that in mind as you start a list or continue with your list.
Choose a Platform
There are several platforms out there for when you're ready to start your email list:
Awebber, Mailchimp, Seva (recently rebranded from Convertkit), Infusionsoft are the main ones that come to mind. There are pros and cons to all of these. The main thing is to ask yourself what your list is being used for.
If you're simply trying to grow your list from 0-100, I would recommend starting with something that doesn't cost money. If you're like me, beginning your business doesn't come with a lot of start up cash. But thankfully you can get a lot done on free accounts with email service providers and other processes.
Mailchimp has a free account option that is a great for starting out and beginning your list. This is what I did. In the past few years this platform has gotten more robust with different features so you can get pretty far with this platform. Mailchimp also offers beautiful templates and you can customize it to fit your brand perfectly. Although there is a little learning curve, the more you use it, the easier it gets.
Convertkit is, in my mind, for someone who has a steadily growing list with multiple opt-ins options. And due to the fact that you have to pay a monthly subscription, I would wait to go with Convertkit til you get to the point you're getting subscribers daily and you're ready to tag, segment, present multiple offers to different subscribers, etc. Although Convertkit lacks a little bit on the creative / design side it makes up for it with an easy-to-use interface. When you go to the dashboard, you can immediately see which opt-ins are performing well and which ones aren't. Convertkit is also a newer company but improving and creating new features often. They listen to their customers and have wonderful customer service. If you’re interested in trying out Convertkit, head over here! (this is an affiliate link)
How to keep your subscribers
Having a newsletter is like blogging. It’s better to be consistent.
I’ve joined lists that I've been excited about then after six months I realize I haven't heard from them in 3 months of that time. That can make it seem like you don't care about your readers and that your list isn't important.
If you want your subscribers to feel connected and engaged, don’t leave them high and dry once they get on board.
Some of the best newsletters I'm subscribed to happen on a certain day of the week. This is the best practice. Keep your newsletter to the same day (or days) of the week so that your subscribers know when they can expect to hear from you. Reliability increases trust.
I don’t know about you but I’ve subscribed to email lists for the freebies and when I received them, they weren’t that great. Disappointing to say the least.
Make your opt-in is quality so that your readers will feel lucky they get it for free. Or to be on your newsletter in general. Providing quality content gives your readers a reason to stay and fosters excitement to hear from you.
Make it personal
One of the newsletters I'm subscribed to is from John Lee Dumas's Entrepreneur on Fire and just this week I received an email that was so encouraging to new businesses I felt compelled to say thanks. So I replied to the email thanking John and I was shocked but I received a reply to my email thanking me for my thank you. I was floored but it also made me a bigger fan than I already was.
Being available to your audience with writing back can make a huge difference in how your readers relate to you, perceive you and can turn them into even more faithful fans.
I always add some personal life in my newsletter because I want to come across as someone who (hopefully) my subscribers would want to chat with in real life. And with the emails I receive I enjoy getting to know the people behind the businesses. This is personal preference, but finding out how to be relatable to your readers and creating an actual relationship is important.
In conclusion, If you've been on the fence with starting a list, I encourage you to go for it! I know I gave you a lot of information here, but start small and just go for it. You'll get the hang of it the more you practice!
Continue the conversation!
What's been your biggest hangup to starting your list?
What is something you really like about the emails you’ve subscribed to?