Reader Question: Does My Blog Need a Newsletter?

Have you ever wondered if you should start a newsletter for your blog?

Or maybe you’re like those of us who tried to publish one and could just never get into the rhythm of publishing it as often as we wanted to and it fizzled out.

That's Heidi! She blogs at Life in Pink

That’s Heidi! She blogs at Life in Pink.

In today’s post, thanks to a great question from Heidi at Life in Pink, we’re going to dive into this whole newsletter topic from a blogger’s perspective.

  • Why would you want to consider publishing one?
  • What can a blogging newsletter look like? (Hint: it doesn’t have to be all stuffy and corporate!)
  • How do you set up a newsletter (the tech behind the scenes)
  • Is it really worth adding this to your already busy plate?

Why Publish a Newsletter for your Blog?

Before we go too far, let’s all get on the same page as to what a newsletter is. Back in the day, like way back, community groups, businesses, etc. used to send out these bad boys (on paper) to keep us all in the loop as to the goings on in that particular organization.  It also helped maintain continued contact between a potential customer or donor and the organization. It was a marketing tool.

Online, newsletters are still exactly that – they are there to maintain contact with people on a consistent basis. The part that can get confusing is when we aren’t selling something or we don’t want to “market” ourselves as bloggers – does a newsletter still make sense?

I don’t know about you but when I think newsletter, I think boring and stuffy without a lot of personality. That’s where a lot of the newsletter confusion can come from when you start to think of it in relation to our blogs. The adjectives we associate with newsletters are not what we want associated with our blogs!

Instead, think of it as your weekly (monthly, quarterly…) signature communication with your readers. That sounds so much less stressful, doesn’t it?

The big difference between your blog posts, which are regular communication too, and a newsletter is simply how it gets delivered to your readers. Blog posts get published on the blog and get read via various channels (rss readers, etc.) and newsletters go out to readers via email.

What’s a Blogging Newsletter Look Like?

Web Designer Depot is an example of a traditional email newsletter.

Example of a traditional email newsletter.

I mentioned a bit earlier about that corporate stuffy business a newsletter can conjure up in our minds and for your blog, let’s scrap that idea, shall we? Your newsletter doesn’t actually have to resemble a newsletter at all.

The point of this whole email communication is to provide regular communication with your readers via email. Why email? Well, it’s our most intimate form of digital communication we’ve got. Most of us check email daily but posts and rss readers, not so much. Your newsletter simply needs to be you, in email. It doesn’t need to look like a corporate flyer that gets stuck under your windshield wiper or like that email that you get from a big named blogger. It just needs to be you.

Your readers already know and like your content enough to subscribe to your emails in the first place. They aren’t expecting something completely different than what you already do on your blog.  If your blog is life journaling or very personal in nature, your newsletter shouldn’t be cold and sterile, it should be more like a personal letter than a newsletter.

Take my newsletter at Blog Genie for example, it’s a weekly email that introduces the post published that day and some other cool tools or resources I’ve come across. That style fits me and my blog but it’s really just a fancy way of sending out a blog broadcast.

Before jumping head first into the newsletter pool, take some time to figure out what your weekly communication should look like in relation to your blogging voice. It can range from totally traditional to a small note talking about a post or a weekly round up of great posts you’ve read in your niche.

The point is to keep in front of people and maintain the relationship you’ve built. That can be done in a million different formats.

How to Set Up a Newsletter (The Tech)

Once you’ve decided on your format and frequency for that newsletter, it’s time to set up the behind the scenes technology that supports your ability to actually deliver that newsletter. You can do this regardless of whether you are self-hosted WordPress, free WordPress.com or Blogger.

The main components of the newsletter set up are:

  1. Pick an email service provider* (this service gathers all the emails and you use their interface to send your newsletter.)
  2. Set up your email service. You’ll need to create what’s called a list inside the email service and update templates for welcome emails. Your email provider will guide you through the process or Google to find a tutorial.
  3. Put a sign up box on your blog so people can get on your newsletter list.
  4. Highlighting the value your newsletter will bring to your target audience. A.K.A. don’t say: “Sign up for my newsletter.” Tell the reader what’s in it for them, sell the why, not the what.

*I recommend Mailchimp because it has a forever free plan and it’s a great service. Aweber, MadMimi, Constant Contact are also great options.

Is all this newsletter work worth your time and effort?

Before adding yet another blogging task to the plate, I like to ask one very important question: Is it worth it?

In the case of a newsletter I would say that completely depends on your blogging goals. A newsletter provides a great way to deepen your connection with readers and gives you the ability to talk about things you don’t mention on your blog. That also means you can also talk about services you sell or products in the future too – that’s something you can’t do via RSS.

The format and how long it actually takes to prepare and send out that newsletter is entirely up to you and if you go super simple, it may only take as long as posting a link on Facebook – but you’ll likely reach a lot more people.

Another amazing benefit to email communication with your readers is that you can ask them questions and engage with people on a more personal level. There’s just something about email that makes people want to hit reply and start chatting. A lot of my own blog post and program ideas come from responses to my newsletter!

Action Steps

Danielle LaPorte's newsletter is a much less traditional example.

Danielle LaPorte’s newsletter is a much less traditional example.

Because all the info in the world is useless if you don’t do anything with it…

  • Decide on what newsletter format feels most authentic for your blog and how often you’re going to send it
  • Implement the technology needed to start collecting emails so you have people to send the newsletter to
  • Create an optin incentive to start encouraging signups
  • Be consistent with your choice so you can test how effective it is and make improvements
  • Subscribe to newsletters from other people that you feel fit your vibe and get inspired

Let’s throw out our traditional thoughts on what newsletters should or shouldn’t be.  Go personal, go simple and provide amazing value for your fabulous readers.

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Comments

  1. says

    Thanks for this post! Newsletters are something I am doing, but not very well so these tips are very helpful.

    One thing I love about the Blog Genie Newsletter is that yes, it links to your current post, but it has a personal message in the newsletter that is not just the post. It’s very inspiring to me!

    Do you go in and customize each mailing (in MaiChimp) before it goes out every week with what you want it to say?

    • Rita Barry says

      Yup, after I finish each post I write the corresponding newsletter in Mailchimp. There’s nothing automated there except that I can preschedule it in advance which is what I like to do :)

  2. says

    Thanks for a great post.

    I’d love your thoughts…

    I revived my blog over a year ago and made it easy for people to subscribe to my blog. The default setting was for subscribers to receive every blog post.

    This actually led to me blogging less because I blog “all-over-the-place” and I didn’t want to overwhelm my readers. I decided that I might start a weekly newsletter (recapping the week of my blog posts and anyting else I wanted to share) and asked my readers if they would prefer that.

    Of course many of them would as they said they don’t always have time to read my individual posts. But many also said they wanted BOTH. They would love the personalized content but they liked the daily email because those were reminders to check the blog.

    Now I’m wondering about the newsletter. Do I just do one or the other? Do I do a weekly newsletter recapping posts (2-3 per week) or a monthly newsletter with the best posts of the month.

    Would love your thoughts. Thanks!