“I don't have an audience yet. Why should I publish a newsletter?”
“But how can I build an audience without one?”
It's a catch-22.
Popular wisdom suggests that you need to build an audience first. And then begin doing things like monetizing your blog and publishing a newsletter.
But I disagree.
I think if a blog is worth publishing, it is worth publishing a newsletter from day one.
In this post, you'll learn:
- Why we started our newsletter before we launched
- 3 (supposed) obstacles to adding a blog newsletter
- 6 steps to starting your newsletter
When I launched this blog a few months ago, we had the newsletter up and running. Here's why:
Why We Started Our Newsletter Before We Launched
- A Reader is a Reader: While it's great to have 1,000 or 10,000 daily readers, you have to start somewhere. Give your readers the option to subscribe to your blog updates – and bring them back again and again. We've had newsletters that started at just 2-3 new subscribers a week and grow to more than 200 per day! Value every reader. And try to capture every one of them as a subscriber.
- Readers Expect It: A newsletter has become so fundamental to a blog that many readers will wonder what's wrong if you don't have one. Every authority blog has a newsletter. While you may not want to display your number of subscribers at first (this is an option in Aweber‘s opt-in forms) you should begin collecting them right away. Of course, once you get a respectable number of subscribers you can display it publicly. A high subscriber count gives new subscribers confidence in the quality of your content.
- Subscribers Beget Subscribers: As you build your audience, your newsletter will share your new content with subscribers. They will, in turn, read and share with their friends and colleagues – resulting in more site visitors and more subscribers.
3 (Supposed) Obstacles To Adding A Blog Newsletter
- Costs: Isn't it expensive? I guess it depends. Aweber starts at $19/month (after their $1 first month). Other services offer free-at-first accounts. MailChimp, for example, offers a free account for with limitations. There are a couple of significant drawbacks. First of all, you don't get auto-responders in the free version. Auto-responders are powerful marketing tools. Also, once you pass a set number of subscribers you have to start paying. Remember, you're in business. There are costs to doing things right. Aweber comes with everything included – no weak/cheap options.
- Time: It will take time to create regular newsletters. But not nearly as long as it takes to create your content in the first place. And the time spent creating a newsletter will ensure that your content is read. Taking the time from the beginning helps establish the routine of creating weekly newsletters.
- Uncertainty: Not knowing how to get started can be a big obstacle. But it doesn't have to be. Simply signup for an account and follow the instructions.
Here are six steps to getting started.
6 Steps To Starting Your Newsletter
- Signup with Aweber: If you are just getting started, you're going to need an email service. I recommend Aweber Email Marketing. The first month is just $1 (after this it's $19/month with annual discounts available) and you get the full set of tools. The tutorials are great: they have both video and written tutorials to help you set things up. I've used other services and this is the best.
- Share your new content. Don't worry to much about what to put in your newsletter. Just share a link to your latest content, along with a few sentences that explain what it's about and why it mattes to your readers. Remember: your newsletter is primarily for blog updates.
- Keep it simple. Don't worry about fancy html layouts or images. Just write a basic text email. In my tests, these perform best anyway. And they are faster to create.
- Don't expect too much too fast. If you have a small audience, you will probably start slow. Maybe 2-10 new subscriptions per week. You'll notice a direct relationship between shared content and new subscribers. The more you publish (and share) the more subscribers you'll get.
- Be committed to your newsletter. At first, you don't need to send a newsletter every week. Every 2-3 weeks is probably fine. Send a newsletter on your best content. Invite your readers to comment and share.
- Maintain your voice. Write your newsletter like your blog. If you are funny in your blog, be funny in your newsletter. Readers will expect the same style and this will encourage them to remain subscribed and to visit your new content.
A note about costs: It's true that (at first) you'll be paying $19/month for just a handful of subscribers. But look at the long term. After 3 or 6 months, you'll have solid traffic and the newsletter will be more than paying for itself. My email lists are the most valuable asset in my business. When I publish a new post (and send a newsletter) it automatically gets read thousands of time.
I'm interested to know: Do you have a blog newsletter? How long did you wait to start it?
Or, why don't you have a blog newsletter yet?