The “should I have a newsletter or not” debate is a topic that is a bone of contention, and really, there is no definitive answer! In this post, we’ll take a look at the subject, give you the pros and cons, so you can decide what works best for you and your audience.
There are really two types of newsletter;
- the sales-y, marketing newsletter, or
- the news-y, reader engaging newsletter.
At times, the marketing newsletter can be a great idea – such as when your new book is published, or you have a new course to promote etc. In the main however, it is recommended that you focus on the news-y type of newsletter – the ones that help to build connection with your readership.
If someone lets you into their inbox, you need to treat that permission with the utmost respect and make it worth their while. If you don’t, you will quickly find them unsubscribing as people don’t tolerate spamming or having their inbox filled will junk that they’ll never read as it doesn’t engage or interest them.
The Pros and Cons of Newsletters
- they are a great way of keeping in regular touch with your readers to continue to build relationships with them.
- they give your subscribers bonus content; extra value unavailable elsewhere that they will appreciate.
- you can link the content in your newsletter with the content on your website and gets traffic onto your site where you can then engage them in everything else that you have to offer.
- you can track who reads it and who engages with it. This inside information will help you to focus on your audience, so you know what content they value and what they don’t.
- it’s something else you need to write every month/fortnight/week!
- people can get email snow blindness and not open your email or worse, unsubscribe so they’re lost and gone forever.
- it takes time to build a decent sized list of subscribers.
- although some email marketing software is free, some of the programs have a monthly charge, and even the free ones charge once your lists gets to a certain size.
In general, I believe that having a newsletter is a good idea, as it enables you to share some of your posts in snippets as well as on your blog. This gets your message into your reader’s inboxes rather than waiting for them to come to your site, and it also keeps you in their minds. Subscribers will be keen to know what your work in progress (WIP) is, or when your next publish date is etc., but might not think to check your website on a regular basis. Therefore, a newsletter is a great vehicle for getting this information to them.
Your newsletter doesn’t have to be long but should be consistent both in content and timing. Your subscribers will get used to expecting your news in their inbox every month (or whatever frequency you decide on), so try to ensure you do it on the same date each month (the first day, last day, first Monday of the month etc.) and keep the content consistent also.
What Should I Include in My Newsletter?
To keep the content consistent, you can set up and use a template and then just change the content each time. You can include the follow sections:
- Each month have a main story, feature or letter from you – not too long – and include an image.
- A short update on your writing/book etc. You can include an image of your latest book, or a graphic of all your books which includes a link to where they can be bought/pre-ordered etc.
- Snippets of, and links to, your latest blog posts, so people can see what you’ve posted and can click through to your site to read the rest of the post. Getting people onto your website will encourage them to explore the other content you have available there.
- A recommended read section (or highlight a great deal you’ve found etc.) – this means your newsletter isn’t all about you and gives your readers some extra value.
- Include a short bio and up-to-date image of you. This helps to build a connection with your readers as they know who you are.
- And finally, always include your social media links, so that your readers can connect with you.
You don’t need to use all of these elements, but there should be plenty from this list to build up some regular posts, and a newsletter to build and engage your following
If you can be genuine, not be sales-y, and give your readers some value in your newsletter then getting yourself into your readers inboxes on a regular basis can be a highly valuable method of reader engagement.
At the moment, I send my newsletter out on the first Thursday of each month and you can sign up to receive it by clicking here. Do you have a newsletter? Or did you make a choice not to have one? Do you engage with your readers in other ways? Do comment below and tell your story.