When Should You Start a Blog Newsletter?

Get More Traffic, Online Business, Start Your Blog

start-blog-newsletter“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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

7 Reasons to Start a Blog Newsletter

3 (Supposed) Obstacles To Adding A Blog Newsletter

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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?


Hi, I'm the Author!

Bryan Haines is a travel blogger, photographer and content marketer. He is co-founder of Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands). Bryan also runs two authority blogs with his wife, Dena: ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorials) and GringosAbroad (Ecuador travel).

13 comments… add one
  • Dave Shirley Dec 22, 2015, 10:05 pm

    Great Tip >>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.

  • Jen Sep 9, 2014, 4:36 pm

    Hi Brian! I don’t have a newsletter because every post (twice a week) on my blog an email gets sent out with that blog. I don’t want to duplicate the effort in sending a newsletter as I don’t want to clutter up people’s email with all the articles from that month.

    • Bryan Haines Sep 10, 2014, 12:12 pm

      If you remove the automation, it will give you more control in what you send to your audience. You can insert news, personality or special offers.

      Custom is always better than automated.

  • Tamason Gamble Jul 13, 2014, 5:07 pm

    I too have been pondering this for a while. I have a blog that I would like to start to monetize so know that I really need to start a newsletter in order to maximise all avenues but I think I am hesitate because I want to make it worthwhile – as I often say to others – does it have the WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) factor and I don’t want to bombard people with something that is only repeating what is already on my site. How do you entice people to read and interact with your site afterwards?

    • Bryan Haines Jul 14, 2014, 7:56 am

      It is important to just give your readers what you promised them. Tell them if you are going to use the newsletter for unique content, only blog updates, daily, weekly or monthly.

      We’ve found that the list just grows by publishing great content. People want to know when something new is published.

  • Barbara Mar 27, 2014, 11:35 am

    I need to look for past articles on your site about “how to blog”. I don’t have a blog newsletter because I don’t have a blog! I’ve posted on facebook about moving to Ecuador & numerous people have asked me to keep them informed or “You need to start a blog.” I don’t have a clue. Just answering your question as to why I don’t have a blog newsletter. Thank you for your great site. I also think your daughter’s site is wonderful!

  • Stacey Mar 10, 2014, 7:29 am

    Thank you so much for posting this! This is something I’ve been pondering for a while, wondering when I should do it, who to go with, how to write HTML newsletters (glad I can start in text!) how much is a reasonable price, is it really worth it…

    Now I know. Thank you! 🙂

  • Old Codger Jun 26, 2013, 6:24 pm

    My recommendation for those just getting started with a news letter is http://www.mailchimp.com This is a free service for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 e-mails every month. I have been using MailChimp for my newsletters without any problems at all doing 1 newsletter per week. Why pay $20 per month when just getting started on something?

    • Bryan Haines Jun 27, 2013, 6:31 am

      If you don’t need the extra services (like auto-responders) then the free option is probably sufficient. Then again, most bloggers aim to quickly grow their list past 2000 subscribers. Switching email marketing providers is not fun – I did it once and don’t want to do it again.

      I recommend choosing the provider that matches your longer term goals – not just because it is free.

  • Ellory Wells (@EmpoweredEllory) Jun 26, 2013, 4:30 pm

    Brian, thanks for sharing this! I’ve thought about doing a newsletter but haven’t yet. I’ve been blogging for almost a year and a half. I’d be interested in you and your readers’ suggestions for what to put into a newsletter other than, or in addition to, a recap/review of posts since the last newsletter.

    • Bryan Haines Jun 26, 2013, 4:41 pm

      Typically we only send a newsletter when we have a new piece of content. In that mailing we often include some personal news or updates. We try to make the newsletter list our “inner circle” of privileged information.

      My favorite feature of Aweber is their autoresponder. We setup a series of automatically spaced messages that go to each new subscriber. That way we can ensure each subscriber gets the same introduction to us and our brand.

      • Ellory Wells (@EmpoweredEllory) Jun 26, 2013, 5:16 pm

        Bryan (sorry for misspelling your name earlier!) do you suggest having a separate sign-up for the newsletter that’s separate from your normal subscriptions?

        • Bryan Haines Jun 27, 2013, 6:26 am

          No problem! What are you sending to your other subscribers? Most blogs only need one list – especially at first. With time you might segment or create secondary lists based on promotions, contests or specific interests.

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