and the Tools to Manage Them
So, you have the great idea to create an email newsletter? You know that even in the social media age, email is still the most intimate and direct connection to your audience. The are tools are mature (and mostly free), everyone has an email address, and the only real question you should have is what do you want to cover?
I started mine on a whim and it’s snowballed into some real opportunities and business for me. I’m 100% certain that my newsletter got me the job I have now. My goal was to collect all of the open tabs from the links and posts that I was reading and send them out to my friends and colleagues once a week. It was purposefully designed to be a digest of the most important stories during the week to be read over your Sunday morning coffee. My topic was both narrow (startup news) and broad (the entire State of Texas) at the same time and more importantly, it wasn’t being covered anywhere else — in any medium.
Here are some lessons learned that should help you build your audience:
My Number One Rule is: BE CONSISTENT
If you’re going to start spending the time doing it, make sure you can deliver it regularly — same time, same day, same subject line, same format. Make it a comforting, regular piece of someone’s day/week/month and they will stick with you. I’ve consistently published 124 of them over the last two years every Sunday at 8am which is a huge accomplishment for me because I’ve never been good with deadlines. You have to block out a certain amount of time to compile it, edit it and make sure it goes out properly and all of your automations work.
Rule Number 2: BE USEFUL
Know your audience — and it helps if YOU are your target reader. That’s why I started in the first place — I wasn’t finding a good single source for all of the links that I was interested in reading during the week. Understanding who reads it and why will help you make editorial decisions and streamline your content. What should they already know? What do they need to know? What is the context and level of language they speak? How can they use the information? Basically, figure out Who Cares and write to them — non-core readers will fall off, not contribute and some will unsubscribe, and that’s OK. [A note on Unsubscribers — it hurts to have someone actively tell you that your work isn’t valuable to them — even if…