Tips for Creating a Successful Newsletter
Creating a newsletter was one of those things that initially sat on my to-do list forever. Because it seemed like such a daunting task, it was often put on the back-burner while I instead focused on things like marketing my brand through social media, new content creation, etc. Then one day, I decided to stop pushing it to the bottom of my list and to just do it.
I had heard it a million times – branded newsletters can drive major traffic to your blog – and that’s great, but that didn’t even begin to tell me the first thing about creating one.
So overwhelmed AF, I set out researching everything there was to know – and you want to know what? After I was done, I was still overwhelmed AF; which is why I want to walk you through the most important parts of creating a successful newsletter in this post.
Do you even need a newsletter?
Think about why you might want to start an email list for your readers that goes past just simply sharing new blog posts. In fact, my new posts are rarely the focal point of my emails unless directly related to a topic I’m sharing about. Instead, I’m focusing on topics to better serve each of my audiences needs while still weaving in that clickable content throughout.
WHY start an email list:
- It's a channel for DIRECT connection with your readers
- It allows you to connect with readers in a tighter-knit environment (kind of like a DM conversation)
- It’s YOURS and you own your content, unlike most of our social media apps
- It has the potential to help you understand your readers on a deeper level
- It allows for more control over your blog’s income
The thing is, lots of bloggers jump into email marketing because they feel like it has to be this integral part of their brand and so they build a sign up form, make a pretty template, and pop it up on the blog. They might send an email or two every so often, or on the contrary, send out weekly emails, but they’re doing it blindly with no idea WHO their subscribers are or WHY they’re there. What that leads to is low engagement and open rates, and subscriber drop off. So very much similar to ghost followers on Instagram who bring down your engagement by just being a number on your account, your email subscribers do the same when there’s no purpose behind your email list.
How do you know an email list is right for your brand?
Can you answer these two questions?
- My subscribers have joined my list for (insert purpose here)
- I plan to serve that audience by (insert content that relates to purpose here)
If you can successfully finish those two sentences above, the answer is likely YES, it's right for your brand! There isn’t a minimum, there aren’t rules. You can start building your community whenever you feel ready to contribute that valuable content.
[Above: I love to use content blocks in my newsletter to make it easily-readable]
Which platform should I choose?
If you've listened to Blogging, Unscripted Episode 15, my love for Flodesk will come as no surprise. With Mailchimp and ConvertKit being leaders in the email marketing field, Flodesk is a newer platform. That said, I have found much more success with beautifully branded designs, engagement and open rates since switching from Mailchimp to Flodesk.
Listen to more about my decision to switch platforms and hear the pros and cons for Mailchimp, ConvertKit and Flodesk in Episode 15!
A few reasons why I love Flodesk:
- Flodesk was designed by creators, for creators and I've always felt like Flodesk's CEO's just get it
- You don't need any prior design experience or training; anyone can create a beautiful email with Flodesk (I trained my assistant in a DAY)
- Flodesk is branding-focused, and makes it easy to achieve consistency across your emails
- Workflow automation is easy (this process took so much longer to learn with Mailchimp!)
- There are no limits. Unlimited subscribers, unlimited forms, unlimited sends!
You can get 50% off your subscription with this affiliate link, plus an UNLIMITED number of audiences and subscribers. If you don’t plan to grow your account over time, I recommend starting with either Mailchimp or ConvertKit. However, if you plan to continue to grow your business, starting here should be a no-brainer!
Save the "pretty stuff" for last and focus on content first
I will be the first one to tell you how important I personally view aesthetic when it comes to your newsletter. However, it’s more important to put your design on hold until you develop a solid content strategy.
What can you give your audience that you don’t already provide to them on your blog?
You have to cater to that exclusivity factor as a part of your marketing strategy – here’s what you’re getting out of this newsletter if you sign up that non-subscribers aren’t, and here’s why it’s awesome.
How will you organize your content within your newsletter?
Just as you house categories on your blog, think along the lines of categories in the form of content blocks within your newsletter.
How are you going to block out your content so that it makes sense, is easy to understand, flows well, and is not ‘too much’ all at once for your readers?
If you’re creating a general newsletter for your blog, focus on creating 2-4 sections of your newsletter that will become a familiar format for your subscribers.
[Above: My "Daily DMs" section drives a lot of traffic to my LTK page, which in turn drives affiliate sales.]
Create an eye-catching, engaging design
What’s great about waiting until the end to tackle your design process is that if you’ve taken the time to block out your content, you’ve already unknowingly done some of your design work.
When it comes to aesthetic, it’s okay to not know what you want. Now is the time to view other newsletters from bloggers within your niche, and make a list of the design elements you love most about each of them. One of the things I love about Flodesk are it's beautifully pre-made e-mail templates, than can be easily customized to fit your brand.
I'll often pull in supplemental content blocks for my newsletters with the help of Photoshop or Canva, too!
Wait, but who's going to read my newsletter?
So now that you’ve put hours of work into creating your newsletter, it’s time to put more hours in to building a list of subscribers. Yay!
But wait – building subscribers doesn’t have to be as scary as it seems.
Quick tips for marketing your newsletter and securing new subscribers:
- Create a pop-up or a lead page (or both) on your blog where readers can subscribe to your newsletter
- Create a subscribe tab as a part of your main menu. Remember, it’s all about getting the word out!
- Make it as easy as possible to enter an email address (ie: name, email, clean form – PS Flodesk provides all of this for you)
- Minimize the clicks it takes to subscribe (Mailchimp had a subscribe, then a captcha, then another email where you had to confirm you wanted to be added to the list)
- Engage new subscribers with a thank you page – Flodesk allows for two options after sign ups, simple confirmation language, OR to link to a new page or file
- Design an exciting freebie that will be sent out to subscribers upon signing up
- Market your newsletter EVERYWHERE consistently! Plan dedicated posts on your socials (and blog) directing your readers to sign up
So – where are you at in your newsletter creation process? While it may take some time to get your systems in place, once you do, newsletters can actually be a really fun creative outlet!