One of the most common questions I get from bloggers and makers is, “I have an email list that I've never sent to. How do I start? And what do I send them?”
I've been in your shoes, and it can feel really intimidating when you're stuck in limbo. So many bloggers, creative small-business owners and freelancers know that email marketing is important. They've even started an email list, but are wasting time and energy worrying about what they're doing, or are taking no action at all.
Today, I'm going to change that. This post is written specifically to help you.
How did sending out email newsletters become a thing?
Email marketing started because it's an incredibly effective way of reaching your people and knowing they're going to see your email. But before there were emails, there were real, physical papers that businesses would send out like tiny newspapers.
The idea behind this is simple: people need to feel sure before they'll purchase. If they see your name and feel aligned with your business, staying in touch with them increases the likelihood that when they need something you can help with, you'll pop into their minds. Effectively, people need to remember you and know they can trust you before they'll trust you with their money.
Here's where coaches, business owners, and the like get confused, but any email you send to your list can do this, and it doesn't have to be different than a weekly blog post.
Back when paper newsletters were the only way to reliably reach people at home, printing was expensive and businesses had to pay up front! So to save space, businesses would jam them full of seasonal information.
Emails are affordable, much more targeted, and we can use them to build trust without bombarding our readers with long updates that are usually more about news and sales than about addressing our customers' needs. And I'm not immune, because as a beginner I fell into the same trap! I didn't know that a simple newsletter could be much more effective and helpful.
Here's how a simpler newsletter – like sending out a weekly post and occasional special messages – will help you and your readers.
You don't train your readers to tune you out. Sending an email full of news and updates might make you feel good, but let's think about what it feels like to the reader.
Getting a big email full of information that may or may not apply to you is like going to play catch. Instead of being tossed a tennis ball, picture having a bucket of tennis balls thrown at you.
Just imagine how you'd react for a moment. I'll wait.
In your mind, are you hiding? Maybe a few of you are slow-motion karate chopping them out of the air like a 1980's power ranger? That's what your readers are doing too – only they're either quickly going from reading, to skimming, to deciding not to read, or they're actively ignoring your message.
Sure, some might try to keep up, but it's a losing battle when there are more effective ways to play. If emails are the same as playing catch, why not send one that connects, and repeat that? Soon you'll be remembered as someone who's great at helping your people succeed, and that's a win for everyone.
And if your blog isn't what you want your ideal blog to be? Or if you haven't written to your list in forever? Start writing your dream blog and get those email updates scheduled today! You don't need to issue any press releases, or rename your blog, or change your domain name – those are productive-feeling methods of procrastination. If your list has been dormant for a long time (like over a year) you may want to trash it and start new, but having a high unsubscribe rate at first is completely fine if you know to expect it. And you can always write a few ultra-convincing posts asking interested readers to join a new list if that feels better to you.
Just as an experiment, start writing today, no matter what your blog is now. Soon you'll have a little content cushion, and lots of reasons to celebrate. You'll already be further along than many ever get.
Can we call this a newsletter-versus-blog post mystery solved? Or are you unconvinced?
As always, share what you think in the comments. I'm curious to read what you think.