The Power of Newsletters

Hey there dear friends and welcome to the next installment of Blog Trends (#20blogtrends) where we examine 20 trends-of-the-moment in the world of blogging. If you've missed the first 3 installments of this 20 article series, please visit the links at the end of this post to catch up. Today, let's talk about newsletters. Yes, newsletters. Those old school things you think you really don't need. You do. society6_decor8

First, I don't mean RSS feeds or subscribing to an email digest of a blog - those are essentially just delivering blog content to your inbox or feed reader without visiting the actual blog. And they work fine but from my experience, are definitely not the best way to reach (or keep) your readers attention and very difficult to monetize unless you write a lot of sponsored posts. One of my main problems with these types of subscriptions is that if a company decides to pull the plug like Google did with their RSS reader not so long ago, you can lose tens of thousands of your subscribers overnight, like I did, and there is no way to get them back. What happens if Bloglovin' does the same? Also let's not forget social media platforms like Facebook while we're at it. For example, if Facebook decides to involve fees in maintaining a business page, or a community page, what then? They already have put the pressure on us to pay to extend our reach to those who have liked our pages, right? I've spent a lot of money on Facebook trying to reach all of my fans but does that really even make sense? It's sorta stupid to be honest.

That's why I believe that the old-fashioned newsletter is the best way to not only keep your your community updated but also retain it more or less indefinitely. How so? Because your subscribers' email addresses are stored in a database, whether you use an internal newsletter, e.g., a plugin for your blog, or an external company such as MailChimp. This means that even if the newsletter service bombs out, drastically changes its fee structure or decides to inject their own ads or the plugin you're using is no longer maintained, you still have your precious contacts.

I was the editor of my school newspaper for years and later, after high school and college, I launched several newsletters for the companies that I worked for and acted as Managing Editor for each. I've always loved reaching people by any means possible - and today, through my blog and social media channels. The point is, you do whatever it takes to reach your readers and potential new fans of your work. Not everyone wants content delivered in the same way or even through a blog, Facebook post or Instagram photo. So you have to try and try again until you land on a 'sharing formula' (as I call it) that works for you. Makes sense, right?

Look at goop. A good example of a newsletter (or lifestyle publication, as they call it) that works well. Once a week, you feel like Gwyneth Paltrow and her best friends are sending you an email sharing the best of the best. You feel like part of her "It Girl" club. And everything links back to her website so you are immersed in all thing Gwyneth. If you like that sort of thing, then it's the best lifestyle newsletter out there. The thing is, she had to get smart about her business which is why she is building an Ad-Sales Team at the moment. This is something we bloggers could do well to imitate.

Remember the Daily Candy craze, particularly between 2004-2006? Oh my goodness, when the founder still owned that site it was the bomb and also just a newsletter with links to the site. Sadly, the wrong people got a hold of it and ruined the whole thing - it's gone. But why not pick up where corporations are falling? Why not think of smarter ways to build and maintain a newsletter that will work for your brand?

In my last Blogging Your Way e-course, Nichole Robertson from Obvious State taught about the power of the newsletter so I want to include a few points from her lesson below in case you wonder what sorts of things you could talk about in your newsletter to make it different from your blog - and interesting enough for readers to subscribe to.

Weekly Roundup Some people subscribe to newsletters via Tinyletter.com. If you create an account there, you can send a personal letter at the end of the week to your fans that includes your favorite links, what you were up to that week and other goodies. Even if your fans didn't read your blog all week, and they didn't have time to check you out on social media, the once-weekly newsletter helps you stay in touch with your tribe.

Personal Newsletter Our emails are jammed with marketing messages. How cool would it be to receive something that starts with a dear, ends with a sincerely, and feels personal? Seth Godin sometimes sends newsletters like this and I always look forward to them. Colloquial language is key here. No headlines, subheads or calls to action necessary. Go old school and stand out.

Behind the Scenes Everyone loves bonus content. Share special content with newsletter subscribers only. This works well when you are launching a book or traveling, for instance. When Nichole from Obvious State wanted to share her new book, The Paris Journal, she sent newsletter subscribers the first three chapters for free several weeks prior to launch and they loved it.

Do you subscribe to any newsletters? If so, which ones? And do you have a newsletter for your blog and if so, what types of things do you share?

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* 01  Blog Trends: Slow Blogging * 02  Blog Trends: Become Your Own Blog Star * 03  Blog Trends: Earn Money Without Guilt

(Text: Holly Becker, Nichole Robertson. Editor: Thorsten Becker. Graphic: Leslee Mitchell)