So you’ve launched your blog, you’re writing everyday and are totally rocking social media. You’ve got everything covered, right? Well if you haven’t asked your readers for their email addresses yet, you’re missing out on the best way to keep and attract new readers or customers.
Keeping in touch with your readers through email is such a powerful decision for your blog or business. Even if you have a large social media following, those platforms can change at any time (hello Facebook!) You do not want your connection to your audience dependent on anyone but you.
When a reader willingly gives you her email address, she is inviting you into her life. She has asked for awesome communication from you, so give her your best! Here are 5 simple steps to get your newsletter up and running.
Know Your Audience
Before deciding what your newsletter will be about, you have to know your reader. What are her hopes and dreams? How about her fears or deepest desires? Going this deep seems a little extreme, but it’s the best way to figure out what your audience will love to read from you.
The better you know her, the more authentic and genuine your newsletters will be. Take some time to really think about who your ideal reader is and what she wants. Better yet, actually talk to some potential clients to pick their brains. Decide how you want your reader to feel after reading your email. Will she be motivated, inspired, amused?
Write Your Editorial Calendar
Once you have a good idea of what your client wants to read, start brainstorming as many topics as you can. Try to come up with at least 50 ideas. Even if you will not actually write each one, this gets your brain thinking in a new way. Once you have a good list, cross out anything that you are not excited about. If you are just trudging through this newsletter, your readers will feel it.
Choose topics that light you up. Then determine how often you will send your newsletter and schedule it. You could start with once per week, every other week or monthly. It’s best to have a regular calendar so your reader knows when to expect to hear from you.
Your newsletter could be as simple as a quick hello with a link to your latest blog post. You could also provide exclusive tips and tricks to your subscribers. You could develop a free series, such as how to pack for Disneyworld or how to lose 5 pounds this month. There are no rules, so have fun with this brainstorming process.
Develop a Free Gift
Because we all receive so many emails every day, you have to be able to provide real value in order for someone to be motivated to sign up for your newsletter. I know that I am so guarded with my email, but when I see a great free gift or download, it’s always worth it.
A free opt-in gift is a great way to thank your reader for providing her precious info. Now that you’ve thought about what your audience needs, you can develop a free download that she will receive as a thank you for signing up. This could be a quiz, mini eBook, worksheets, webinar, audio recording, etc. Get creative and have fun!
If the thought of designing an eBook makes you break out into hives, don’t worry. There are plenty of quick and simple ideas out there. You could create lists or checklists in a Word document, then save them as a PDF. Tada! You just created an opt-in.
Choose Your Service
Now that you know all the basics of your newsletter plan, it’s time to dive in and start writing. When choosing a service, first determine your budget. Many services let you start with a basic package for free. MailChimp is a great place to start. If you are looking for all the bells and whistles, consider going with a paid service like Constant Contact. Just make sure you do your research so there are no surprises later on. Each of these companies have customer service agents who are on hand to answer any questions before you sign up.
Now comes the hardest part… actually sticking to your newsletter editorial calendar! Once you start growing your audience with your newsletter, they will be counting on reading or watching your content every week or month.
Make sure to block time in your week to always get your newsletter done. I am a big fan of batching my blog’s tasks to help me be more efficient. Instead of writing my newsletter every week, I strive to write 3 or 4 at a time. Once you’re in the zone, try to crank out a few to save yourself some time later in the month.
Carrie Madormo is a freelance health writer and registered nurse. Her work has been featured on Livestrong.com, MetroParent and The Healthy Mom’s Magazine. She shares her tips for creating a freelance career from home on her blog, The Healthy Work at Home Mom. Carrie lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband and 2 children.