When you read yet another post enthusiastically encouraging you to start a newsletter, what do you think?
Probably the same thing I did for a long time: “That’s advice for bigger bloggers, bloggers who are marketing something, or bloggers with a clear idea of where they’re going online. But definitely not for me.”
But today I’m going to give you two key reasons why any blogger, big or small, casual or focused, ministry or marketing minded, would both enjoy and benefit from creating a newsletter. And then I’m gonna tell you exactly how to get started with the help of my techie, friend, Gretchen. Are you ready? Here we go!
1. Email is Tried and True
In the busy summer months, or anytime you don’t have a lot of time for the computer, what’s the last thing you hang on to? That’s right—your inbox. Facebook may get neglected, your favorite blogs pile up in your RSS reader, but when you just have a few moments, you still check your email faithfully. Why? Because email remains the most trustworthy way for people to contact you, and for you to collect information that’s important to you.
It’s also the most assured way that you can get in touch with your readers. Facebook’s algorithms may squeeze your statuses out of their feed, they may have forgotten to switch their RSS reader when Google reader died, but email remains steadfast. You don’t have to fight to be heard on Twitter or seen on Pinterest—when you offer your readers the chance to connect with you via a newsletter, they’re asking you right into their private inbox where it’s much quieter, and a personal note from a friend or blogger they enjoy will probably get top billing. Instead of fighting for attention on a busy street, you’ve been invited to the kitchen table to share your heart over a cup of coffee.
2. Email is Personal and Private
Have you struggled to connect deeper with your audience, pouring words out of your heart, but rarely hear even an echo back? There are several reasons (besides the hurry of life) that keep people from giving feedback on posts.
- Your reader may not be as tech savvy as you and has trouble commenting no matter how easy you make it (a very dear relation of mine would certainly fall into this category!).
- Your reader may have been too deeply moved by your post to be comfortable pouring their heart out in a place as public as a comment form.
- Your reader may have a question or a concern they don’t feel like airing publicly.
Email resolves all of these issues, encouraging your readers to respond to you in a way that is familiar (“simply reply to this message!”) and private. When they realize that their communication with you will go straight to you and no one else, you may be amazed at how they open up, feedback increases, and relationship deepens.
Do you begin to see how even you and your audience may benefit from an email exchange? It’s the perfect tool for a deeper, more reliable communication with your audience. With a newsletter you can transition from one-way communication to a rich, personal dialogue with your readers in the comfort of your inboxes. So, let’s get started!
Gretchen Answers Your Newsletter FAQ
I know by now your head is full of questions about how this works and how much it costs. So my friend Gretchen is here to answer your questions:
How much does it cost to build an email list?
It’s free! I recommend MailChimp or Mad Mimi, and both are free for limited emails per month to less than 2,000 subscribers. (Check out the price breakdowns for more frequent emails and other services here.)
Isn’t this what FeedBurner or Jetpack already does with my latest posts?
Yes and no. You can use MailChimp or Mad Mimi to send out your posts by email (it’s called RSS to email). But what Trina is talking about here is offering an additional subscription option, a personal newsletter, directly from you to your readers’ inboxes.
I don’t know anything about coding—will I be able to set this up?
Both MailChimp and Mad Mimi are super easy to use, and have great tech support and helpful tutorials. Advanced signup form configuration may require coding help from a VA or designer, but setting up an email list and sending out a newsletter is pretty simple.
How do I get people to subscribe?
Put the signup form in your blog sidebar and on your Facebook page, create a special “subscribe” page on your site, Tweet about your newsletter from time to time, offer a free download exclusively to your subscribers, etc.
How do I get started?
Choose a service like MailChimp or Mad Mimi, set up your “list”, and get started creating your first campaign (that’s the fancy term for “newsletter”)!
Click here to check out Gretchen’s detailed guide to creating and building an email list over at gretchenlouise.com.
Now, what to put in this here letter?
Well, there are many types of newsletters, but the goal of most of the good ones I’ve received seems to be to serve the reader either info, inspiration, or a juicy combination of both.
The Informational Newsletter
Includes tips and tricks your audience would expect to get from you, plus multiple links to further content on the subject of the email, either from your blog or other’s. (Example: Amy Lynn Andrews)
The Inspirational Newsletter
Got a really special message the Lord has put on your heart for your readers this month, or a great new idea that’s helping you on your journey? Choose to make it newsletter content over a blog post. Perhaps include links to other related posts on your blog or books that have been inspiring you this month. (Example: Emily Freeman)
The Blog Wrap Up Newsletter
This newsletter, which is basically a synopsis of what your blog has offered in the last week or month, is a great way to serve your reader who’s been too busy to visit your blog every day or keep up with their RSS feed. Give them a brief rundown of what you’ve been writing about, and let them choose the links they follow. It can be automated through RSS to email campaigns, or you can code it yourself. (Example: Jeff Goins is one of many bloggers who offer this option in addition to his weekly Inspirational-style Newsletter.)
The Personal Update Newsletter
Do you have news or thoughts you’d rather not broadcast to the whole world, but still want your readers to know about? Consider using your newsletter in it’s simplest form—a traditional, newsy, heartfelt letter, just what you’d share if you were having coffee together. (Example: My newsletter falls into this category, though I’ve been inspired by all of the above styles at one time or another in the past year since I’ve been sending a newsletter.) If you do want your news to stay private to people’s inboxes, MailChimp gives you the option to disable social sharing, etc.
As you can see, there’s a whole slew of options to mix and match into the newsletter you’re uniquely equipped to write to your readers. Once you decide what you want to convey, let the fun of deeper connection begin!
My Best Tip for Learning to Craft a Great Newsletter
My final tip for creating a good newsletter is to subscribe to some great ones! Besides the ones mentioned above, you may enjoy the newsletters offered by some of our very own Allume writers: Erika, Gretchen, Jill, Kayse, Kris, Natasha, Tricia, and yours truly. (And if you’re an Allume attendee this year, don’t forget to sign up for Allume’s own newsletter!)
Do you receive a newsletter you love? Please share the sender’s blog address in the comments, as I’m looking to fill my inbox with fresh inspiration! And if you have a newsletter, do tell us where we can sign up!