building your newsletter: faq

building your newsletter: faqEarlier this week I shared one of my big fails: No newsletter.

I have been missing out on the opportunity to stay connected with 2,000 women who had attended events where I was speaking. With several events scheduled for this spring, I knew I needed to rectify the situation. And I knew if I wrote about it, I’d basically be forcing myself to act. And it worked! You all provided the accountability I needed to get my newsletter all set up.

I used MailChimp to set up my list and develop the template for my newsletter. I especially like that I can use Chimpadeedoo on my iPad to collect email addresses even when there is no wifi at an event. The app will sync with my MailChimp account and import the addresses for me.  {I even customized the screen for the sign up to match my newsletter design!}

But as I was working on my newsletter, I had some questions. My questions were less about setting up the newsletter and more about what to do with it once it was ready to go. I figured some of you might be wondering about the same things, so I decided to explore some frequently asked questions about building your newsletter.

How often should I send out a newsletter?

The biggie! When you are already blogging three to five times a week, the very thought of writing more can be overwhelming. And if you are a small business owner, you’re already stretched thin and finding time to write content for a newsletter is hard.  Here’s the good news: There is no one right answer.

Depending on what you are doing with your newsletter, you might send one monthly or quarterly or even only when you have big news to share. Many authors, speakers, and bloggers send a monthly newsletter. Businesses without blogs on their websites may send a weekly update to share special events or pricing. Non-profits often send quarterly updates.

Just remember, it will take time to develop and format your newsletter content. It’s better to send less newsletters with better content.

How long should my newsletter be?

Long enough to share the information and short enough to keep readers interested. Okay, I know that probably isn’t what you were looking for. But it is the truth. As a general rule, keep your newsletter in the 500-1000 word range. There are times when a short blast newsletter is appropriate and there may be instances when you write a much longer newsletter. But as a general rule, keep it in that 500-1000 word range. Use subheadings also to make it easy to scan. Take advantage of sidebars and bulleted lists to provide information in a concise and readable manner.

What elements should be part of my newsletter?

In addition to the relevant content you are providing, there are a few other elements your newsletter should contain:

  1. A great header. You want to make sure the reader knows this is from you. Keep your branding consistent!
  2. A brief reminder about why the reader is receiving this email. {For example, “You are receiving this email because you subscribed at www.mydomain.com.”}
  3. A means of unsubscribing. I know we don’t want to think about someone deciding they don’t need our newsletters but this one is absolutely necessary. You must provide a way to get off your list. {Services like MailChimp, Aweber, Constant Contact, FeedBlitz, etc. have this included in the templates for newsletters.}
  4. Social media connections.  Not only links to your profiles, but you may also want to allow readers to share your newsletter via social media.
  5. Blog or website information. Don’t miss the chance to point your newsletter readers to your website or blog. Make the link clear and prominent.

There are countless other elements you may want to include such as a coupon or discount code, links to your blog posts, books you are reading, etc. The options are endless. Just make sure every element you include is intentional and works to build your brand and your relationship with the reader.  

How can I get subscribers to my newsletter?

ASK! Seriously. Include an invitation to subscribe at the end of your blog posts. Provide an easy subscription widget at the top of your sidebar. Write a whole blog post about what your newsletter offers.

Make it easy. Make sure you give people an opportunity to subscribe to your newsletter even if they haven’t visited your website or blog. I’m excited to use the Chimpadeedoo app this weekend where I am speaking for this very reason.

What should I offer to those who do subscribe?

First and foremost, offer them quality information that is useful and well-written. The trend right now is to offer an e-book {for writers or bloggers} or a coupon code {for businesses}. This is a great way to show an immediate benefit to joining your email list. You can also offer subscribers  sneak peeks or other special “perks.”

Just remember, no matter what freebie you offer, if you are not providing content the reader finds useful, they won’t keep reading. Focus on making your newsletter excellent and relevant to the readers. That’s the best thing you can offer to your subscribers!

What questions do you have about newsletters?