Take heart – sending your newsletter doesn’t have to be complicated, and you don’t have to do it alone!
In 3 Steps to (Re)Launching Your Email Newsletter I covered what it takes to set up that e-newsletter of yours. Now it’s time to focus on what it takes to produce regular issues.
What’s involved to send your newsletter? Follow along the fictional story of Jane, a mompreneur who has it all together (or at least looks like she does!) as she prepares to send her regular message to her list.
Jane is ready to send her first newsletter. She’s gone through the 3 steps to setting up her email template and process and has identified:
- WHO she’s talking to: moms with young children who have businesses (or want to start) selling items on etsy
- HOW she’s going to talk to them: she’s going to write her own articles that include tips about selling on etsy; the same content will also be available on her blog
- WHEN she’s going to send her brilliant tips: every Tuesday afternoon
Based on her needs, MailChimp was her best email delivery option, but she also considered Aweber (this article helped her make up her mind).
Because she values brand consistency and she knows her community values companies that have the right look, Jane hired someone to help with setting up and connecting her MailChimp to her website, and also had an email template created to match her website’s branding.
Thanks to the email list opt-in box that’s on the sidebar on every page of her website, prospective clients have been joining her list and now it’s time to really engage them with great content.
But wait, what should Jane do? What are the steps she needs to follow to get that email out to her list?
You need to think about three general areas when you’re producing your newsletter: Content, Audience, and Delivery. Throughout these recommendations I’ll be referring to the previous post about (re)launching your e-newsletter, so be sure you’ve gone through those recommendations first.
Start with Content
- Decide on the topic - Ideally you have created an editorial calendar, or at least a list of topics you will talk about, so you don’t have to start from scratch with every issue.Your editorial calendar will be more specific than those initial ‘broad strokes’ categories that you would have listed when going through your initial “WHY” for your newsletter.Remember to be specific. Narrow down your topic that you can present it with no more than 3 main points.To return to our fearless newsletter creator Jane: she has decided to write about the right way to using image when you list products on etsy.
- Now that you have a vision and a clear direction, it’s time to generate the content. How you do that depends on what you decided in HOW you’re going to talk to your audience.If you’re curating content, you’ll start researching based on the topic of the week and then you’ll write the copy that links all of the ideas together. If you’re writing your own article, get your 3 main points sorted out and get writing!
- Your writing isn’t done until you craft a subject line that inspires people to open your message. Leave extra time for this – even professional writers will tell you that coming up with a subject line is the hardest work of all. Here’s a handy PDF that might help with this, generously created by Michelle Shaeffer.
Jane is going to write her own tips article and talk about how to make the most of the size, quality and lighting of the photos used in your etsy product listing.
EXTRA CREDIT: Include at least one pinnable image to go with your message (preferably with your article title and website on it somewhere).
Your Audience: What Do They Need to Do Next?
- The next step is key: decide on a strong Call-to-action (CTA). Every newsletter needs to offer a logical ‘next step’ for your audience to take.Sometimes your whole message is created with your CTA in mind (because, for example, you have a program launch coming up and want your list to claim their spots first).
When your attention isn’t on one big offer you still want to direct the reader to do something when they reach the end of the email. Maybe it’s appropriate to link to one of your products or affiliates. You may simply want to ask them to share the article through social media or forwarding it to a friend.
Jane has a new package for busy moms who want to start selling on etsy: she helps them get set up on the platform with custom graphics and more. So, her CTA is “sign up for a 15 minute consultation” so she can answer prospects’ questions and also helps them decide if she offers the solution they really need.
Delivering that Email is About More than Clicking “Send”
- Add content & image to newsletter template. You won’t be composing in your email program (too many things could go wrong so be sure to write and edit your work in a reliable, stable word processing program). Be aware that it might not be as easy as copy and paste because certain text programs (like Google Docs or Word) will include invisible formatting. This make take some knowledge of HTML code. If you’re stuck, contact me and I can help you out!
- After everything has been copied and uploaded, send a test message to yourself. In addition to making sure that everything looks ok, be sure to click on each link to ensure they work.
- Tweak and perfect – but don’t make yourself crazy!
- Schedule to send at appropriate time based on what you know about your readers’ habits and needs. For example, if you’re targeting busy career moms about making improvements on their home, send that email on a Friday afternoon or a Saturday morning when they’re thinking about how the house is a disaster and they need to add on!
Jane logs into her MailChimp account and creates a new campaign message using the template that was created to match her website’s branding. She copies her content into the message, uploads the image(s) and sends herself a test message. Once the message looks the way it should, she schedules it to send out on Tuesday at 3pm.
Your Turn to Make it Happen – Send Your Newsletter
Yes, there’s a lot to think about when you commit to sending an email to your list on a regular basis, but I promise it’s worth it. Leaders in content marketing from Chris Brogan to Copyblogger’s Brian Clark all sing the praises of email for one simple reason: it still works best.
The good news is that it is possible to outsource the aspects of the process that stress you out or distract you from your sweet spot. Contact me to talk about how I can help you (or find you the right help) so you feel empowered and supported every step of the way.