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How to create an email newsletter so good Forbes recommends it [as a solo creator]

No team? No problem. Here’s how a solopreneur creates a nationally recognized email newsletter her audience loves.

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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.


  1. We sold our products on our website. So if we got website traffic, we could make sales. Right?
  2. We knew it was impossible to convert 100% of our website subscribers into customers. So, how could we get value from website visitors? I hypothesized that if we could keep those folks engaged with our brand—asking website visitors to subscribe to our email newsletter—we would have more opportunities to nurture them to become customers.

So what happened? *drum roll*

  • Within two years, our email newsletter went from zero to 170,000 subscribers. 🤯
  • We kept at it. By year eight, we had 1.6 million email newsletter subscribers. (And no, that’s not including unsubscribes).
  • Next to organic search engine optimization, that email list is still the most valuable marketing asset at the company. Today, the list routinely delivers new customers like clockwork.

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.

Step 1: Determine your why

Before you start writing and designing your emails, know why you’re sending them.

You might want:

  • More sales
  • More engagement in offers or events
  • Higher opt-ins to your text lists
  • More website traffic 

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. 

Step 2: Provide unique value to your readers

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:

  • Will my readers walk away with information they can use immediately?
  • Am I creating a newsletter that I’d want to read that fills a need for my subscribers (instead of copying an industry trend)?

Step 3: Build your email newsletter list

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: 

  • Physical advertisements in your storefront or around your community (consider using a text-to-join keyword for this method and directing text subscribers to your email list).
  • Pop-up forms on your website (platforms like Constant Contact offer tools to set these up)
  • Social media giveaways 
  • Your blog 

Step 4: Set your send cadence and timing

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:

  • How frequently do you read newsletters? 
  • How long are they? 
  • What is your preference on newsletter length? 

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:

  1. Write up a draft.
  2. Rewrite as needed. 
  3. Run the draft by a friend who’s also a subscriber for feedback.
  4. Put the finishing touches on and set it up to send. 

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.”

Step 5: Plan it

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:

  • Am I staying on topic?
  • Does each edition offer some piece of value that previous ones haven't?
  • Am I giving subscribers a strong next step or reason to come back and read the next one?

With those questions in mind and four installments every month, I'll plan to send:

  • An edition with new research or strategies on planning a functional, peaceful space
  • A spotlight on easy-to-implement seasonal decorating trends
  • An “editor's pick” of brands I like and/or partner with 
  • Announcements from my company paired with a poll for upcoming products, events, and newsletter editions

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.

Step 6: Send it

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.

  1. Log into Mailchimp.
  2. Go to campaigns and create a new one.
  3. Make sure to select “Email.”
  4. Name your campaign for organizational purposes.
  5. Pick the subscriber list your newsletter will go to and the email address it should send from.
  6. Add an eye-catching subject line.
  7. Put your text and images into an email newsletter template or build one from scratch using Mailchimp’s blocks.
  8. Review everything and hit send or schedule your newsletter to send at a specific day/time.

Once I've sent out a few editions of my newsletter, I'll start to A/B test different subject lines, preview texts, and CTA’s to optimize performance. I'll also be sure to keep an eye on my analytics.

Lily Norton
Lily Norton

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.

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