Ahh, the arena of promotion. It is what makes working online so much fun. The internet has created a new workplace for you, one that has never been seen before. Fewer gatekeepers than ever, millions of platforms and forums, an ever connected world.
Your new problem is not how you can talk, but how to actually be heard. Twitter is busy, Facebook limits "post reach", blogging feels anonymous. Enter the great old email newsletter.
No matter how many new solutions and social networks are launched, email refuses to go away. It's a consistent way of engaging with your subscribers. For me personally, it's always been channel #2 on the "I want to express myself" scale, but the first point I go to when I have something to share that I really care about. Email newsletters allow for a conversation with people who are allowing you to write to them at their online home address. It allows you to become someone's favourite teacher, writer or blogger. In other words, what's not to like?
One single blog article cannot really do justice to all the ins and outs of writing newsletters to your subscribers, so I expect to come back to this topic on occasions in the future. Today, let's start with why and how you can set up a newsletter.
6 GREAT REASONS TO WRITE REGULAR NEWSLETTERS
It allows you to keep in touch in a way that lets you address your subscribers by name, write to them with ideas that aren't fully formed yet and open up real conversations.
Email marketing is often cited as one of the most effective marketing tools out there. If you do it responsibly and don't go sending unsolicited junk every week, you will open up a great way to build trust with your subscribers.
As you get busy, the newsletter's automation feature can allow you to set up a sequence of pre-written emails to send to your subscribers. This way, you get to remind them of your work on a regular basis and they don't have to come back to your website every time.
Blog readers and social media followers get something special from you in a newsletter - a personal note, a special offer or a question.
You get to track who's actually reading the things you write. And then you'll feel great because people read your news. And then you'll be able to talk to those who are most interested.
It is reassuring and sensible at the same time to have a record of all the people who have opted in to hearing from you. No matter if Facebook shuts down or Twitter starts charging $0.10 per tweet, you will still have an opportunity to reach those people who liked you enough to say "yes, I'm in".
Of course, there are many reasons you would also want to avoid having a newsletter. You have to learn how to use them. You have to ask for an email address from your website visitors. You have to become a responsible list owner. If that kind of stuff worries you, don't read on.
WHICH SYSTEM SHOULD I USE?
The most convenient way to set up a newsletter is to use a service that's dedicated to this. These services will ensure you get the correct permission from subscribers before adding them. They make it easy to send email to many people and allow for personalization through easy Mailmerges.
I've been with Mailchimp for about 2.5 years now and am satisfied with their service, but ultimately it doesn't matter which provider you end up using. Core questions to consider might be:
- Is this easy to use, do I understand how it works?
- Has the service been well reviewed?
- Is the cost right for me? (Bear in mind one day you might have tens of thousands of fans..)
- Do they offer all the features I think I will need?
DON'T FORGET TO TEST
In the middle of the Black Friday promotion phase, I recently sent out a special newsletter inviting my subscribers to take advantage of my fab offers. I was agonising over finding the right recommendations for them. I was proud of my discounts. I was ready to go, relieved to hit send...and then I heard back from many subscribers who felt the need to tell me that their name isn't <<First Name>>. So. Embarrassing!
Don't be that girl - testing is important.
Once you have set up your newsletter's sign up forms and welcome pages, make sure everything works by subscribing with your own email address. Share it with your students, customers or friends, but don't expect it to rock your world instantly. The key is to show your friendliness and skill on a regular basis.
NEED AN EXAMPLE?
Why not sign up to my Teaching Newsletter? I will keep you up to date with upcoming events and share what's new in the world of online teaching.
And if you are super ambitious, try this for an inspiration source: Really Good Emails.