No team? No problem. Here’s how a solopreneur creates a nationally recognized email newsletter her audience loves.
Starting something new—like *cough* an email newsletter—can be intimidating.
I’ve been there.
A few years back, I was the first marketing hire at a small startup (it’s called CoSchedule if you’d like to look it up).
I was convinced that increasing website traffic and email subscribers could be game-changers for business growth.
So what happened? *drum roll*
I’d like to share how I started an email marketing newsletter with you. I’ll also share some stories from my friend, Masooma Memon, whose newsletter is so great, Forbes included it in a top newsletter roundup.
Before you start writing and designing your emails, know why you’re sending them.
You might want:
In Masooma’s case, she noticed that there were very few good content marketing strategy-centric email newsletters out there. In her own words:
“The point was to fill a hole. There was a gap I saw in the industry: the need for micro-learning. There were very few newsletters on content marketing itself, and whatever we had was directly from brands.
We were also producing long-form content and I wanted to bring a short newsletter to people's inboxes where they could leave with one solid actionable takeaway. So my goal with this newsletter was to keep it short as well as actionable.”
Masooma also wanted to move her audience away from Twitter to a channel she could own.
As you can see from the quote above, Masooma designed her newsletter emails to stand out in a world of long, less-than-useful offerings.
The focus for her was on easily accessible content her subscribers could use, and that’s a great example to emulate for anyone looking to run a successful email newsletter.
As you plan out your newsletter, step back and ask yourself two questions:
Of course, if you want results, you’re going to need people to receive your emails. Luckily, there are lots (and I mean lots) of ways to bring subscribers to your email newsletter list.
Masooma actually began promoting her newsletter through her connections. In the lead-up to the launch, she had talked with a lot of people as part of her research, and one of them happened to be a client of hers.
That client then sent out a tweet announcing the newsletter and Masooma simply reposted it.
“My first 200-300 subscribers came from that repost. I got some traction there. And once those followers came in, I had the link in my Twitter. A lot of the people who subscribed to the newsletter also talked about it to their friends. Then I started it on Substack, which lets both subscribers and non-subscribers refer your newsletter.
So, I mainly get subscribers from my social media channels, referrals from other newsletter writers on Substack, and word-of-mouth referrals.”
You can also gather subscribers through:
The question of when and how often you send your email newsletter is a highly individual one, but I’ll tell you how Masooma thought through it to give you a framework to follow.
It breaks down into two main parts: how often and when your subscribers want to read your newsletter email and how often you can feasibly send it.
For the first point, Masooma asked the people she knew who would be her ideal subscribers a few key questions:
She also considered the particular day of the week when she’d be most likely to read a newsletter. For Masooma, Tuesdays turned out to be the ideal day.
“Mondays are usually productive for me because I come back fresh from the weekend and I get to do a lot of deep work. A lot of newsletters come out on Thursday and Friday, everybody tends to send their newsletter on Thursday.
On Fridays, I personally wouldn't read a newsletter because I'm busy wrapping up work. And if there are email replies that come back, I won’t be replying to those on a Sunday or even a Friday. So, that's how it came to be Tuesday.
Everything I do is based on empathy. So, I look at myself and try to stand in readers' shoes. If it's something I can’t do myself, why would I put the reader in that position?”
The second point concerned Masooma’s personal workflow. She wanted to come up with a cadence she could maintain. Her process looks like this:
For her, that process is manageable once a week.
On a personal note, I found the way Masooma thinks about her content and send cadence really masterful, and I’ll wrap this point up with a really excellent quote from her.
“The key to actually being consistent in whatever content you publish, be it a newsletter, a blog strategy, or whatever, is to take what your audience wants, what you can manage to provide them, and meet at the center.”
Now that we have some real-world inspiration, let's talk through the last couple of steps. I'll pretend I'm planning an email newsletter for my home decor business.
In this step, I'll look at what I want to include in each edition of my newsletter.
Assuming I'll send my newsletter once a week, I'd consider the following questions:
With those questions in mind and four installments every month, I'll plan to send:
I'll plan to send variations on those types each month to keep things standardized.
I'd also include a clear call-to-action (CTA) to visit my website and social media as well as an encouragement to share the newsletter.
Last but never least, it's time to send out my newsletter. For this example, I'll pick Mailchimp as my platform.
Within Mailchimp, here's what the setup looks like.
Lily is a content marketing specialist at SimpleTexting. She specializes in making helpful, entertaining video content and writing blogs that help businesses take advantage of all that texting has to offer. When she’s not writing or making TikToks, you can find Lily at roller derby practice or in a yoga studio in the Seattle area.More Posts from Lily Norton
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