Lessons Learned Running A Newsletter
A twitter thread of lessons learned about newsletters
I have been running a newsletter for 4-5 years now, before it became cool. Initially I sent a newletter whenever I published a blog post, which was whenever I wanted to write. In the last 2 years I’ve been regular. I send every Wednesday. I call it “Wednesday Wisdom”
I had 94 subscribers in 2020 Jan I have 2404 subscribers now in 2021 July It is not a lot. But I learned quite a bit in these two years. Here are the lessons.
1. Don’t be a tool-hopper.
Mailchimp, convertkit, mailerlite are all just tools.
- List what you want to accomplish
- Research for the best fit (there won’t be a single tool that will meet all your needs)
- Stay with it for at least 2 years
Lead with value, not with tool
2. Focus more on the conversation that the newsletter generates
None of 👇 matter, if it doesn’t generate conversation - either via email (best) or on social-media
- open rate
- click rate
3. Don’t confuse newsletter with e-commerce
- newsletter: provide value to the reader
- e-commerce: extract value from the reader
You could have a section in your newsletter for selling, but if it doesn’t provide value, you’ll lose subscribers.
4. Don’t confuse “news” with “letter”
- Letter - personal, provides value, predictable frequency
- News - Juicy happenings Unless you are a brand (company like Amazon or famous personality like Joe Rogan), people are more interested in letter than news.
5. Send at the same frequency
I experimented with many timeslots and settled at Wednesday at 10.15 AM IST.
When you send at the same time, it becomes a “habit” for your readers. I have been sending at this time for so long, now readers tell me they “expect” my email ;-)
6. Choose a topic
Internet is so wide, that you can always find folks who are interested in any topic.
- Easiest to get started is curated letter (weekly collection of best articles in the topic)
- You can also write your take on a topic in different angle
7. Don’t stray away from the main topic
Don’t confuse the readers with unrelated topics.
If it is a leadership newsletter, don’t send me your “news” about cycling trip you took (unless it is leadership lessons from cycling 😜
8. Create your own niche
Mix interesting categories
- marketing + technology
- business + psychology
- freelancing + India
9. How to get subscribers?
Your newsletter is a stadium. Like stadiums, your newsletter should have many entrances.
- subscribe form on main page
- subscribe form on every post
- two forms on a longer post
- link on your email signature
- link on social media
10. Mention your newsletter at every chance
- I speak at many college events. I mention it as a way to connect with me
- When someone connects on Linkedin, I mention it
- Mention on slack groups; facebook pages; forums (all related either to topic or to newsletters)
11. Reward new subscribers with a valuable asset
- best posts as pdf
Make the new readers feel appreciated as soon as possible.
12. Have a unique url to signup
I used to say, “goto my site and signup”
Now I can share the signup url: https://jjude.com/subscribe
(while we are on the topic, subscribe using the link)
13. Make your newsletter recognizable
- I follow the same design
- I mention where they signedup
- I mention my name and the newsletter name
With same frequency and same design readers can recognize what the email is about.
14. Have a separate domain to send newsletter
There is a chance that people click your email as spam. Or google thinks it is a spam.
When you have a separate domain for newsletter (from that of email/website), you reduce the possibility of your main emails land in spam folder
15. DKIM / domain confirmation increases deliverability rate
I didn’t know about them until very recently (6 months back). Do them from the beginning
Two resources that helped me a lot:
- @nathanbarry conversation with @fortelabs : https://youtube.com/watch?v=CzYdwd1Eevw
- Newsletter cohort run by @vijayanands. He closed it now. But it was extremely useful when it was running. We shared our experiments, learned from others.
Tools I use
- @Mailchimp: have been my email newsletter tool for long. They UX can improve but overall it is great
- @mjmlio: I design using mjml language mjml design is from @harrydry: https://mjml.io/try-it-live/C7
Do you have any questions? Ask in this twitter thread.
Under: #produce , #biz