We've all been there.
We have a new blog (without many readers) and we are trying to keep costs down.
Adding a newsletter seems like just another unnecessary expense.
It takes time and money to create and manage a great blog newsletter – and often these are in short supply.
When should you start your blog newsletter? In my opinion – Right Now! Here's why you should start now.
An email list is one way to generate traffic. See all 15 traffic sources.
7 Reasons to Start a Blog Newsletter
In this post we'll consider seven reasons to start your blog newsletter:
1) Newsletters Build Community
Readers frequently comment (via email or social media) that they have “joined” my website.
Of course, we don't have a membership option – everything is free and open. But in their mind, subscribing to our newsletter is equal to joining our site. And this is so powerful!
When a reader feels motivated to the point of “joining” something, you have an engaged reader. They are more likely to comment on your posts, share your content, and buy what you recommend. Which leads me to the second reason to start a newsletter…
2) Newsletters Drive Traffic (and Page Views)
From our analytics, it's easy to tell the days that we sent a newsletter. Our page-views will double, triple or sometimes even quadruple an average days views.
Our newsletters play a critical role in getting our content in front of readers.
I use a series of auto-responders (Aweber does an amazing job with auto-responder emails) for new subscribers. This gets new subscribers up-to-speed on how we do things. We send messages inviting them to join us on social media, highlighting some of our fundamental posts and site sections and, of course, welcoming them to our community.
The auto-responders get our readers used to receiving our messages.
3) Newsletters are Easier than RSS Feeds
While many tech savvy readers might prefer subscribing to your RSS feed, the majority of your readers won't know what that is (or even be bothered to figure it out).
So offer an RSS feed, but be sure to offer an email subscription option. Many email service providers offer the option to feed your RSS into an automatically created newsletter. This is what I use for my daughters blog. It can be set to send automatically after a certain number of new posts publish.
Readers are used to subscribing to email newsletters. Make it as easy as possible for them to connect with you and receive your new content.
Have writers block? Here are 73 post ideas to get you going.
4) Newsletters Allow Instant Communication
While RSS feeds are great for pushing out new content, they don't allow you to communicate with your readers. RSS feed are a pretty one-sided conversation.
Newsletters, on the other hand, allow you to speak directly with your readers – without having to publish a new post. A while ago, I sent an email blast to my readers, asking them: “What's your most pressing question?” I received almost a hundred responses with specific questions and concerns. This gave me tons of new ideas for future posts – topics that I knew my readers were interested in. This has a secondary benefit in that readers feel appreciated and part of an active community.
5) Mailing Lists are an Owned Asset
Different from social media and RSS feeds, the mailing list is actually owned.
Social media followings come and go, and RSS feeds can disappear completely (remember Google Reader? Discontinued July 2, 2013 – along with all that traffic), but mailing lists are yours, an owned asset. You can switch between mailing providers but the list remains yours.
If / when the time comes to sell your blog, your mailing list is one of the most valuable assets for a new owner.
Even if your whole site was to disappear (and you had to start over from scratch) you would have traffic from day one – thanks to your mailing list.
Wondering when is the right time to monetize your blog?
6) Track and Target Reader Segments with Mailing Lists
Tools like Aweber allow you to segment your list into subsets and then target those groups with certain offers or content.
For example: if you send links to two blog posts in a newsletter, you can see who clicked on each link. And then you can send each segment a specific offer based on the content that they clicked on. This creates very targeted offers and increases the click-through-rate and potential returns.
Also, the analytics features allow you to see your most popular content – and then you can create more content just like that.
7) Newsletters Improve Monetization
By now it should be clear that a newsletter is an important tool in making money with your blog.
Subscribers form part of your loyal community, many of whom return to your blog with the receipt of each new mailing. This loyalty translates into trust. When relevant affiliate offers are sent to your subscribers, many will trust your recommendation and purchase the product/service.
It is difficult to imagine a profitable, growing blog without an active mailing list.
Email Marketing Tip:
In addition to a mailing list for site updates, we also use a WordPress plugin called Subscribe to Comments Reloaded. It is a free plugin inside of the WordPress Plugin Directory. The purpose of this plugin is quite simple – readers can choose to get email updates of new comments to a specific post. They can choose to get updates to 1) all comments or just 2) replies to their comment. And they don't even have to comment to subscribe. Yesterday I had an email from another blogger who told me that she manually sends an email to each commenter when she responds. She is now going to use this plugin to automate the process.
We have more than 1500 subscriptions just to our comment feeds. This is very powerful because they get an email every time there is a new comment on that specific post. This keeps them in the loop on developments in the discussion without having to keep returning to the site – although I have seen significant traffic growth thanks to this plugin. And the number of comments has grown because these subscribers often add their feedback to new comments.
Are you building a blog mailing list? What hurdles do you face?