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Getting started with email newsletters

Email newsletters are a must for authors. It’s one of the few (if only) platforms to create a one-on-one feeling with your subscriber. Whether it’s a digest of your recent activity or a special announcement, email offers you the chance to reach your subscribers with a personalized VIP experience.

So let’s talk about newsletters and how I use email to engage with my readers.

Email newsletters gif

Before You Get Started

First things first, you need a website. This one is a WordPress, but there are plenty of other content management systems out there to explore, each with its own level of difficult and learning curves. I also recommend SquareSpace. Set one up, get your own domain, and populate it with a few blog posts about you and what you’re promoting.

Next, be sure to have a presence on social media. Despite my feelings on the evils of social media (watch this doc), it’s necessary to have a Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you’re young and hip and not a top-heavy, dad-bod thirtysomething like me, then hit up TikTok and Snapchat.

So now that you’ve got that out of the way, let’s get your email newsletter started.

Pick Your Platforms

I’m a fan of MailerLite, an email service that is free for up to 1,000 subscribers. After that, pricing begins at $10 per month. MailerLite has a rich and dynamic editor, making email composition pretty simple. My favorite feature, though, is the ability to make pop-ups and embedded widgets that interacts with users for me. This way, I don’t miss a guest.

Automating your email newsletter process is an absolute must. Luckily, there are some great (and free!) options to make this happen.

Also check out MailChimp and SubStack.

Create Your Content

Creating content isn’t always easy. It’s definitely work. But if you’re smart about your content creation, you can find ways to repurpose and re-share your hard work. Need some inspiration on what to write and share? Try these:

  • What I’m Watching / Reading / Playing. Offer subscribers a glimpse into your personality and tastes by curating a brief list of the media you’ve consumed recently. Highlight the greatest hits of the web for that period of time, sticking to topics that are pertinent to your readers. Bonus: Share and swap content with other authors!
  • Behind the scenes. Offer subscribers a peek behind the curtain and make them feel like an exclusive VIP. Who doesn’t like a chance to see how the sausage is made? As you approach a major milestone or release date, teasing this level of detail can entice readers to buy and engage.
  • Re-share your content. If you publish blog posts pretty regularly, you may want to have a monthly email roundup and offer brief snippets of the top articles you’ve written. This gives subscribers a chance to go back and check out your “best of” blog posts.

    Check out these example designs for inspiration.

Check out my other posts:

Remember Who You’re Talking To

This isn’t just an email tip, it goes for anything you’re marketing. Know who is reading your emails, what their interested in, and why they signed up. If you’re an indie author, maybe don’t share recipes (unless its relevant to your work, like the Game of Thrones cookbook).

If you’ve got the time and subscriber base, you’ll want to look at segmenting your email lists. What’s that mean? Simply put, offer subscribers the chance to sign up for specific email topics and send out unique emails for each. Example: Someone only wants to see your book releases, so create a segment called “Book Releases” and send them updates on release dates. Maybe someone really enjoys your curated lists, but not your work (damn them, first of all). Create a segment sending them your “What I’m Reading” list and exclude them from release info.

Take It From The Pros

Email newsletter marketing is a whole specialty and something you shouldn’t ignore. If you want to fine tune your email marketing, check out these helpful articles.

Shameless Plug

Hey, while you’re here, why don’t you subscribe to my newsletter? 😘