Finding a way to connect with your audience in a personal way is an important part of growing your business. Once someone finds your website, or reads one of your books, you need to find a way to keep them engaged. Starting a newsletter is one of the most popular ways of doing this. Newsletters are an increasingly important way to connect with your readers and keep your brand on their mind. The next question you probably have is, how do I start a newsletter?
Why Start an Email Newsletter?
Before you begin, you have to understand what a newsletter can do and how it can help you connect with your target audience. A newsletter can give you an additional way to promote your books and writing or introduce upcoming projects. It can give your readers updates about your writing, new developments, and other news. This is an excellent way to let your audience know how you are working and give them a glimpse into your life.
A newsletter builds a loyal following through regular engagement. You can use it to allow your readers to get to know you and your writing on a more personal level and build rapport. Your newsletter can also be used to provide special promo codes and offers. You can also use calls to action and links to articles on your website or blog to increase traffic.
Is it Free?
As you can see, a newsletter can do many things for your writing business, but you also might be wondering how much it costs. The answer to this is that it depends on how big your email list is and how often you send emails out. When your email list is small and growing, services like Constant Contact, Sendinblue, and ConverKit offer free services. Mailchimp and MailerLite also offer free plans up to a certain number of subscribers, and then they offer graduating plans that can accommodate you as you grow.
Another popular option is Substack. This service allows you to directly monetize your newsletter by providing a way to do a subscription email service. You can charge readers for access to content in your newsletter, and all you need to provide is a link to your Stripe account. Substack makes it easy for readers to signup and easy to publish newsletters.
Step-by-Step Guide to Setting up a Newsletter
As you can see, starting a newsletter has many benefits, so the next question is, “How do I start a newsletter?” Starting a newsletter is easy, and the first thing you need to do is to decide on a platform. Signing up for a newsletter service has many benefits over hosting and managing it yourself, including the time involved. Here is how you can get started.
1. Choosing an Email Marketing Platform
It is possible to start an email newsletter the old-fashioned way without a service. This involves gathering email addresses by hand, putting them on a spreadsheet, and then sending out the email using Gmail or Outlook. While this is a completely free way of doing it, you probably have better ways to spend your time.
An email marketing service makes your life much easier and provides more consistent results. You can explore the options provided earlier to see which one is right for you. When you are choosing a platform, you need to keep your goals in mind, some platforms allow for more visual email newsletters while others provide a simple text format.
You might start out with a small list, making a free service fine for now. If you plan to grow your email list over time, an option that allows you to scale up might be the best one. It is easier to upgrade to a higher plan on the same platform than to migrate an established email list. Make sure that your email marketing service can handle your needs now and as you grow.
2. Signup and Set It Up
Signing up for the service and connecting it to your blog or website is different for every mail service. Follow their instructions to achieve this step. Now, you are ready to start building your email list and start your newsletter.
3. Build Your Address List
The next step is to start building your email list. The easiest way is to have a place on your website that allows visitors to opt-in to receive the newsletter. A third-party app or plug-in might be needed to collect the email addresses, but some of the email marketing services have these built into them. You have probably seen those pop-ups that prompt people to sign up for the newsletter to receive a certain discount or promo.
These pop-ups work, but you have to make sure to follow anti-spam laws. You need to make sure that the customer is the one that initiates the email. No one likes to receive unsolicited emails; make sure that you are following the laws, or your account could be suspended. You must also provide a clear way for subscribers to unsubscribe in the email and try to use email list best practices. (Whichever email marketing service you decide to use will provide lots of helpful tips and articles, too.)
4. Create Your First Newsletter
Now that you are set up, it is now time to create your first newsletter. Often email marketing services provide free templates or drag-and-drop designs. If you are looking for more graphics, you can use a free design program like Canva. Remember, your newsletter should be attractive and get your reader’s attention.
Successful Email Newsletter Strategies
One of the most important features of a successful email newsletter campaign is consistency. If you do your job and create quality content, your readers will look forward to receiving your email on a certain schedule. You must make sure to deliver. Try to meet or exceed your reader’s expectations at every contact point, including the newsletter.
Remember as you create your email that you will need a headline that grabs attention. People decide whether to open or ignore a newsletter based on the headline and subject alone, so make sure you make the most of this real estate. Another tip is to include the subscriber’s first name. This has been shown to increase open rates. Most email platforms offer the ability to personalize content to increase the engagement rate.
One mistake that many beginners make is trying to include too much information in a single newsletter. You need to develop one short, specific goal with each newsletter. If you get too long, you will lose your audience’s attention. If you have a lot to say, you might try breaking it up into smaller sections and turn it into a series of newsletters.
Topic Ideas: Tell Your Story
If you need ideas for topics, you might think about telling your brand story. You could also give your audience insight and information about your books and writing —maybe you are making a final draft, or have a new audiobook coming out, or a new book heading over to Kindle Unlimited. Another approach is to include general news about your industry and share information from a broader perspective, such as new releases from authors you know, upcoming writing conferences, etc. You could also do an editorial or opinion article. Most importantly, you should keep your newsletters relevant and make it interesting for your target audience.
Remember, each newsletter should include one focus topic and calls to action to increase conversion rates. When designing your newsletter, make sure that it is consistent with your brand. You should use the same colors, your logo, tagline, and general voice of your brand. Your readers already recognize you, so make sure you give them more of what they love with consistent branding on every platform that you use.
How to Grow your Email List
The first question is, “how do I start a newsletter,” and the second one is, “How do I grow my email list?” Both of these topics are closely related. The best way to grow your email list is with a newsletter signup form on your website. You can make this as obvious or unobtrusive as you wish, but you need to make how to sign up clear and easy.
Remember that this is your first contact with your potential long-term loyal customer. Make the form simple, and do not ask for too much information in the beginning. Just getting their name and email is enough. Getting too personal and asking for too much information can look suspicious. Just get them in the door, and then you can introduce them to your writing and unique brand.
Summing it Up
Besides your website, the best way to grow your audience comes down to basic advertising. Invite people to sign up on every social media platform that you use. Mention it in YouTube videos, in online courses that you teach, and anywhere else. (Many authors I know advertise a free short story at the end of their Kindle books as a way to gain newsletter readers.) The most important thing is to get the word out, and keep readers coming back with great content.
Newsletters are one of the most important tools for building your brand and audience. Starting a newsletter might sound intimidating at first, but as you can see, there are many tools available that are affordable and make the process easy. You have many reasons to get started building your email list and designing your first newsletter. This is an important tool that can help you find new readers and build your brand this year.