I recently sent out my 108th weekly email newsletter. I started back in March, 2011, and haven’t missed a week since.
I’m happy to say that I regularly receive fan mail from newsletter readers. They love receiving it, and it now has many thousands of subscribers.
Between you and me, it’s not that difficult to put together, and I enjoy doing it. But that’s only because I found a “lazy way” to assemble it.
I’m going to share my four-part process in this post, so you can create a “lazy” email newsletter for your own business.
1. Decide what (and how) to write
We are wary of opening our email inboxes nowadays. Many of the emails we receive become tasks we have to complete, or decisions we have to make. Going through email messages has become a daily chore for most of us, and it’s one we don’t look forward to.
In that context, what can you do to make your email newsletter a bright spot in your readers’ inboxes?
First off, spend time thinking about what kinds of articles would be most useful to your readers. What can you share that would make their lives easier, help them solve their challenges, and brighten their days?
Your content should be valuable enough that your readers look forward to receiving it, and consider the time they spend with it to be a good investment.
Next, think about how you want to write.
I have a blog called Big Brand System, and I write a post every week. I love interacting with my blog readers in the comment section of my posts.
But I have a more intimate connection with my newsletter readers. After all, they’re letting me into their email inboxes every week. It’s a privilege, and I’m grateful.
That’s why I use a slightly different tone in my newsletter that on my blog. In my newsletter I like to share “behind the scenes” peeks at my business and my life.
It’s my way of connecting with newsletter readers, and thanking them for allowing me into their inboxes every week.
2. Create a standard format and stick with it
The “lazy” way to create your newsletter is to spend time upfront creating a nice-looking email newsletter format, and then sticking with it. There are a few reasons this makes sense:
- It’s easier for you, because all you have to do is plug in the new content. The design is done.
- It’s better for your readers, because they don’t have to process a new design each time. They go straight to your words and begin to read them.
- It helps avoid unsubscribes, because your newsletter is recognizable, so they don’t mark it as spam.
For more on how to design an email newsletter that’s easy to read, read Stop Guessing: 5 Pro Tips so You Can Design Your Emails with Confidence.
Another “lazy” approach is to decide on standard content, and don’t deviate from it. My newsletter has always been the same:
- A main article that’s a letter from me.
- Three sections with one-paragraph introductions to links I want to share.
- A sign off, often with a call to action.
- “Ads” for my free resources in the section along the bottom.
A few more things to think about when planning content:
Don’t be too ambitious. It’s important to stick to a regular publishing schedule so your readers come to expect your newsletter and count on it. Whatever schedule you decide on, be sure you can commit to it so your messages are delivered regularly.
Less is more. Along the same lines, it’s perfectly fine to send short messages. Even just a few paragraphs that you send out on a regular basis can make ideal newsletter content. We’re all pressed for time, so concise messages are especially appreciated by your readers.
Be a content curator. Not everything you share has to come from your own brain! Your readers will find it valuable to receive links of articles you found helpful, and resources you’ve discovered. More on how to find these below.
3. Production schedules are your friend
One of the great advantages to publishing your newsletter on a regular basis is that you can embrace a set schedule for producing it.
If you publish on Tuesdays, for example, you can work backward and figure out when each piece of your newsletter needs to be ready so it will go out on time.
It’s important to look at your overall marketing plans, too. Make sure your newsletter serves as a vehicle for delivering information about new products and services you have coming up.
People who subscribe to a business newsletter are valuable prospects: they’re interested enough in your business that they’re willing to hear from you on a regular basis. They should receive sneak peeks and special discounts because of their loyalty. Plan your newsletter content so you can deliver these things.
4. Enlist help
You don’t have to create your newsletter all by yourself. I have help, and it has allowed me to publish very consistently over all these years. Read on to learn how I set it up.
There are a handful of websites that regularly share the kind of content I was interested in passing along to my readers.
I made a list of about a dozen sites, and gave my assistant a second list with the kind of content I was interested in sharing.
Every week, the day before I am scheduled to write my newsletter, my assistant reviews these sites and sends me a list of 8-10 of the best articles she finds. I pull from this list to add to the links section of my newsletter.
Another general resource you can use to find links is Alltop.com. This site features categorized lists of the best blogs published today. Find the category or categories that apply to your newsletter, and visit the sites regularly to find valuable content to share.
Just recently, I started working with a second assistant to assemble the newsletter itself. I send her the written copy the day before, and she drops it into my template and sends me a test copy to check. Once we do any needed tweaks, she prepares the newsletter to go out to my readers.
Start the lazy way, and build from there
It might sound like it takes a team to create a newsletter, but that’s not the case. I wrote, curated, and created my email newsletter all by myself for a long time. This “two-assistant system” is something that developed over the years, and has become a necessity as my business has become more successful.
One of the reasons my business has become more successful? I’m convinced my email newsletter has a lot to do with it. There’s nothing like it to build connections with my readers.
It keeps my business in front of them on a regular basis, and has made Big Brand System a trusted resource for good information and products.
Tip: Need ideas of what to put in your newsletter? See industry specific email newsletter templates and get tips for businesses like yours.
Share your lazy tips in the comments
If you produce an email newsletter, I’ll bet you’ve developed some time-saving techniques over the years. Head on down to the comment section and share your tips: I’d love to hear them!
About the Author: Pamela Wilson of Big Brand System helps small businesses owners learn to use strategic marketing and great design to grow their businesses. Get her free Design 101 course and pick up tips for making all your marketing materials work better.