So you are starting a new blog, or have been well on your way to blogging stardom but you haven’t yet added any subscribe options to your blog or sent one newsletter. Besides, you have that nifty ‘subscribe to posts’ option, so that covers it, right? When I started my first blog, I never sent one newsletter. I gained a ton of momentum at the start and grabbed some subscribers (because I did, set up Mailchimp, go me) but didn’t send anything to my subscribers. Why? Because I had no idea what to send, and would they even care what I had to say, anyway?
When I finally decided to start sending newsletters (about a year later, gasp), can you guess what happened? Hardly any of my subscribers even opened my email and of the ones that did, only a handful actually clicked through back to my blog. The lesson I learned here is that having a subscribe option to your blog is just a start, you have to actively engage your subscribers in order to provide them with the value they signed up for. Even if your not selling anything, and just want readers to come see ya again, a newsletter is a regular what to keep in touch and grow a loyal tribe. It’s like your sending hugs and positive vibes out to all of your readers and, who doesn’t love a good hug?
So now that I have (hopefully) answered the question of ‘why you need a newsletter?’ you are probably wondering what to actually send in your newsletter. Or, what service you should use. Then once that’s all figured out, how often should you send one? What in the world should you say and how long should it be? No wonder why new bloggers just decide to forgo the newsletter option, because adding that Jetpack widget for post notifications is SO much easier. In this post, you will learn all this good stuff and more, like how to infuse your brand voice into your newsletter. I also whipped up a freebie just for you with some newsletter template guides, so you know exactly where to put everything.
Step One: Choose a Platform
One of the easiest platforms to use that is super customizable, and free (up to 2,000 subscribers) is Mailchimp. It allows you to create different lists, incorporate as many sign up forms you need and even has the option to create a pop up. Since I started my business, I have been really happy with Mailchimp and it’s functionality. It is really easy to setup and has a drop and drag editor that allows you to add images, embed videos and you can add links and text (of course).
I even have an entire training series on how to set up your first list, customize your opt in process, add your freebie AND a how to on adding 3 different subscribe options on your site that aren’t annoying. Enroll today and get started growing your list (it’s awesome, you will love it).
Step Two: Make a Schedule
I have been on a pretty consistent newsletter schedule sending my newsletters out, once per week for the past few months. I got pretty overwhelmed with a ton on my plate, and missed a week. Guess what happened? My open rate dropped from a consistent 40% open or above to about 30%. How do I know it’s directly related? Because that is the only thing that I have changed.
So decide how often you want to send your newsletters, and stick to it. If you want to send a newsletter once per week, then stick to the same day and same time. If you want to send every two weeks, or once per month just be consistent. The only exception to this rule is if there is something exciting happening that’s time sensitive which would require you to send more than your regular schedule. This could be for a product launch (exciting!) or for time sensitive deals.
To make it easy, plan your blog content and your newsletter content at the same time. This way, your not trying to figure out what you should actually send every week. Creating a posting schedule will help tremendously in growing your readers as they will learn what to expect from you.
Step Three: Plan your Content
Now that we have decided where we want to send our newsletter from, what in the world goes into a newsletter? There are several different messages you can send out to your readers. First, determine what your readers want from you. You can do this by taking a peek at your most popular posts or opt in (freebies you giveaway) and then decide how you can create MORE value for your readers.
If you are a food blogger, you could give your readers a weekly recipe that has not yet been released on your blog. If you are a social media expert, you can give your readers a quick lesson on how the can up their social media game. If you blog about parenting and typically have posts on how to organize your life with children, provide some inspiration and encouragement on something you have been struggling with, make an emotional connection. If you are a designer, give your subscribers a free wall art printable or desktop wall paper that no one else gets (nope, not even your freebie library peeps).
The point is to provide value, and give your subscribers goodies that no one else gets, or give them access to things you are working on first. This will show them that they are important to you, and that you are not just trying to spam them to read your latest post or buy your most recent product. There is a time and place for all that. Here is a quick list to give you some ideas:
1. Inspiration, encouragement, self help tips
2. A Free download that no one else gets
3. A challenge that your subscribers can participate in (design, list growth, social growth, cooking, health)
4. Early access to your newest product or service (add an extra discount as a bonus)
5. A round up of your favorite blog posts and resources
6. Your most recent post, accompanied by a mini blog post that relates to the topic
Be creative here. And if your still not sure, why not send your subscribers a quick survey asking them what they want to get from you? Surveys are a good resource to really get to know your readers and will help you tailor your content, freebies and products or services based on what they need from you most (which is gold).
You can also check out this post from Olyvia on how to write catchy blog post titles HERE. Hint: You can use the same strategy for newslette subject lines.
Step Four: Design Your Newsletter
Now that you have your content ready and your newsletter drafted up, it’s time to put it all together and design it. There are a few different options when it comes to designing your newsletter. You can choose to add your logo, and your blog graphics, beautiful photos (just not too many, so you don’t land in spam) and examples to enhance your message and text. Or, you can take the simple test approach with simple links embedded to direct readers where you want them to go (as in, to your latest blog post or product).
Designing an on Brand Newsletter in Mailchimp is super easy. You can upload your logo and use the drag and drop feature to add blocks of text, image banners for products, links to your latest blog posts. You can insert CTA’s (call to action) and also buttons direction your readers where you want them to go.
For me, showing is so much easier than telling so I have created two templates for you that you can use as a guide when designing your newsletter. Think of it as a basic anatomy, and when you start to get your footing you can figure out what really works for you. You can sign up for the Mailchimp Training HERE.