I love writing my newsletter. It’s an outlet to share my thoughts and insights on a subject I’ve committed my working life to. Writing my newsletter has helped build my company’s following. It has encouraged me to deeply research subjects I am interested in (and in that process, even changed my opinion on several topics). Perhaps most beneficially, it has opened doors to many great relationships and opportunities over the years. Some of these opportunities have evolved into ventures I would never have predicted, and never had the chance to get involved with had I not published a newsletter.
Background: My newsletter is focused on the micro and small-cap markets in Canada, and I’ve been running it for well over a decade. It has grown into one of the largest newsletters within its niche in the country.
My company’s newsletter has had well over a hundred clients, and its content has been republished and featured in media outlets in Canada and internationally. What’s more, I’ve spun out platforms from the newsletter’s brand, which have gained significant traction in recent years. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
So, to say I’m an advocate of launching a newsletter for your business would be an understatement. I owe a lot of entrepreneurial success to the broad audience of my weekly newsletter. It is my belief every business should publish one. Entrepreneurs are leaving a lot on the table if they don’t.
Those are the pros. The only con, if you can call it that, is running a newsletter takes a lot of effort, and you must establish a narrow focus (for your topics covered)…
The challenge for independent email newsletter publishers today is there is virtually no appetite for macro coverage — the big corporations have that nailed. Independent entrepreneurs need to focus on niches; and even then, there is going to be a ton of competition. So, the quality of your writing, combined with your ability to provide a handful of educational takeaways every newsletter, is vital to success.
The problem with many email newsletters these days is they really aren’t newsletters. By that, I mean they’re not educating enough, while selling too much.
What’s worked well for my newsletter is we do our best to provide educational, informative content 80% of the time, with virtually no selling. 20% of our newsletters are geared toward marketing. This is beneficial for many reasons. Namely, the reader isn’t inundated with pitches/offers, and thus, we have a solid open rate.
If you’re constantly selling to your subscribers without providing much value (actionable insight/informative content), it is only a matter of time before your open rates collapse, and subscribers stop reading. Also, without providing value-focused content that helps you become an authority within your niche, the newsletter will do nothing to increase your company’s brand profile.
Before writing your newsletter draft, immerse yourself into a subscriber’s shoes. How can you make it interesting for them? What are they dealing with this month? What tone can you write in that will make reading your newsletter a positive experience for subscribers? How is the content you are publishing relevant to the reader over the long-term? What takeaways will they garner from spending five to ten minutes reading your letter?
Remember, asking for your subscribers’ time, even if it is just the few minutes it takes to read your newsletter, is a big ask. Make it worth their while.
If you do your best to follow the 80/20 rule, your subscribers will be more accepting when you send out a marketing-focused newsletter. Readers are smart. They know you have to monetize your newsletter.
Current Events, Entertaining, and a little Controversial
The content within your newsletter needs to resonate with the audience. Meaning: it has to be relevant to their lives. And you should know what is relevant in your subscribers’ lives because your newsletter is focusing on a niche, as mentioned earlier.
Knowing what is relevant allows you to tie in current events with a little controversy from time to time to get your point across. Tastefully combining these two elements makes your letter entertaining. And if you entertain your readers, they will keep coming back for more.
Advertise and develop a publishing schedule, and religiously stick to it. In my case, we let our subscribers know they’ll be receiving our email newsletter on Sundays.
It has always been my vision that my newsletter will become a small part of our readers’ Sunday morning ritual. I envision Joe Subscriber preparing his coffee Sunday morning as he gets ready to take ten minutes to read my company’s newsletter. I hope it enhances his Sunday morning routine. That’s my vision, and everything we do in preparation for publishing is geared toward making that experience a reality.
Treat your newsletter like a big-time publication, such as the New York Times. When your deadline to publish is approaching, it’s do or die. Readers appreciate consistency, and audiences grow with persistence and reliability.
Sticking to a schedule is not easy sometimes; you do have a business to run, after all… but for newsletters, it’s critically important.
Building a successful newsletter certainly requires sacrifice. Much to my chagrin, I’ve canceled the odd weekend getaway and nights out with friends and family to meet publishing deadlines. God bless my wife’s patience.
You never know who is reading your newsletter…and that is exciting.
You’re an expert within your niche, and readers want to learn from people who have been there and done that, which you have. There is an audience out there looking for knowledge and information on subjects you eat, sleep, and breathe as an entrepreneur. Publishing a newsletter with the three rules above will help readers garner important insight while growing your company’s brand.
Every business should have an email newsletter. Without one, you are leaving a lot on the table as an entrepreneur.
P.S. Speaking of newsletters… subscribe to mine below. It was created for entrepreneurs, and only my best content will land in your inbox.