The No-More-Excuses Newsletter Checklist

When working as a freelance web designer, I tried to send out a quality newsletter on a consistent basis. Turns out I was terrible at it. It was so hard to get it done and done well every month, that it ended up causing me much more stress than it was worth.

Fast forward to my social media beginnings when I decided to start my business with a newsletter, and a weekly newsletter at that. Doesn’t make much sense considering my history, right? I knew that it was a great way to get started, but I also knew that in order for me to get this newsletter done and sent out every week, it would have to be simple and manageable. I decided I would send out one tip to my list every week. One tip about social media marketing that you could read and then put into action in about 5 minutes. No BS, no long and drawn out explanations about the theory or the history of Twitter. Just one simple, actionable tip.

tip

(By the way, this is not a terribly unique idea, but it helped me grow my list and my business at almost-light speed. You could do the same exact thing for your business. Just saying.)

How exactly did the newsletter help me grow LKR Social Media to a million-dollar business? Here’s what I did:

  1. Using my initial list of contacts I had made mostly at 6-month’s worth of networking events in in Chicago, I launched The Dash, my weekly newsletter focusing on one social media tip per week.
  2. I set up a Facebook Page devoted entirely to The Dash. There I would periodically post links to the The Dash’s opt-in page, reminding my followers to sign up there to receive the newsletter. So long as I mixed up those links with other content, images, quotes, etc., the links to the opt-in page never seemed too pushy or repetitive. How did I get those initial Facebook fans? That’s a whole different story, and you can get it here.
  3. Fast forward a bit to the launch of my first video course, Backstage Pass to Twitter. I used email to invite my subscribers to join me for a free webinar about using Twitter to market your business. During the webinar, I pitched my product, and made $3,000 in sales in that one day.
  4. I continued to grow my list with social media, and eventually starting selling new products, always using email marketing.
  5. My business continues to sell with email marketing to my list, which gets 4000-5000 new leads per month from my newsletter and evergreen webinar opt-ins.

Now that you understand how I built my business on the shoulders of my newsletter, it’s time to look at the nuts and bolts to see how you can consistently send out YOUR company’s newsletter in order to establish yourself as a credible and reliable expert in your field.

Here’s the no-more-excuses checklist to get your newsletter up and running:

  • Choose an email marketing tool. I like MailChimp for when you’re first getting started (it’s free until your list hits 2,000 subscribers) and Aweber and Infusionsoft for the heavier email marketing hitters. Watch the video or go through the tutorial – in other words, familiarize yourself with the tool. Trust me, you’ll save yourself a lot of time later on when you’re just trying to hit “Send” already.
  • Create a text file where you’ll store all your newsletters (or weekly emails). As with everything else at LKR Social Media, we use Google Docs (now Drive) and have one doc with every newsletter we’ve ever sent out. The “template” looks like this:

    template

    In the case of The Dash, one of my team members writes out all the newsletter content one month in advance, and I go in and write the more personal part of the newsletter so that it comes directly from my point of view.

  • Write an outline for each email. When you’re brainstorming a month of content, don’t get into the writing task too much; focus on the main ideas you want to convey and any new products, services or teasers about upcoming news.
  • Write out all content for the month’s newsletters. Stuck on writing something that will resonate with your target audience? Check out my tried and true trick that I use literally every time I write something here.
  • Go back in and add links and images. If you look at The Dash, you’ll see that we have a header image and a few icons in the sidebar – nothing too flashy. So keep it simple; your email marketing tool should be able to help you design a nice and simple template.
  • Ask someone to proof the newsletter copy and make suggestions for any quick changes. There’s nothing better than a second eye on any writing you do, especially for finding spelling or grammar errors. Don’t be shy: recruit a friend and swap content to be each others’ proofreaders!
  • Create your newsletter template. Carve out some time to dedicate to this before you want to send out your first newsletter. You’ll be able to choose a template that already exists, or have something custom-designed and then translated into an HTML newsletter format.

    I recommend you start off with a template to get the ball rolling sooner. Depending on your email marketing tool, you may have a lot of options to choose from and a lot of ways to tweak existing templates. Once it’s ready to go the first time, you shouldn’t have to touch the template again unless you want to.

    dash

  • Add a social media message or tweetable copy! Help your list help you by getting the word out about your awesome newsletter. With social media buttons added onto your email template, you’re reminding them (and can even set it all up for them) to tweet or share something about your content.
  • Load content into your email marketing system and send a few tests. This will allow you to see how your newsletter will actually look in someone’s inbox. You’ll be able to identify things about the design and the template that aren’t working for you.
  • Proof the newsletter one more time, test that links are all working and going to the right location, that all images load, and all content looks good.
  • Schedule your first newsletter to go out at specific time.
  • Double-check that the newsletter has actually been delivered.

    I recommend you take a look at open rates for your newsletters after sending four or five of them. That way you can see a pattern and/or notice if there’s been improvement (or not) in rates of engagement with your audience.

    openrate

With just the above 12 steps, you’ve got your newsletter up and running! Yes, this is something that takes time, especially in the beginning. But as usual, there’s no easy fix or shortcut to growing your list. All you can do is be consistent and keep providing valuable information and resources to your community.

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About Laura Roeder

Laura Roeder is a social media marketing expert who gives businesses of all sizes the tools they need to make their mark on the web. She is the creator of the social media scheduling software Edgar, as well as social media marketing web courses like Creating Fame and Social Brilliant.

Comments

  1. Hi Laura. Do you have an opinion about whether a monthly newsletter is more effective vs more frequent time intervals like sending out a weekly newsletter? Or does it all just depend on your business?

    • Erin @ LKR says:

      Hi Brad-My best advice is to stay consistent. If you are going to send it out just monthly, make sure you do it every month.

  2. Awesome tips, Laura
    I went in today and started to copy all the newsletters I have sent in the past 2 years – the new Mailchimp helps you organize the emails so much better.
    Thanks again,
    Llyane

  3. I’m still trying to figure out the exact content of my newsletter. People are constantly bombarded with emails and information, that I think one tip in each of the newsletters would be a breath of fresh air! It helps with consistency as well — readers know exactly what they’re going to get when they open it up.

    Now, I need to make my newsletter titles catchy! (Still working on that one!)

  4. Thanks Laura. I love the clarity of focusing on just one actionable tip to share with your list. Makes it seem like a much more straight forward task to get a newsletter written, formatted and out the door.

  5. Hi Laura…

    Great article with both big picture and granular advice. I’ve actually be wondering how to incorporate a newsletter with a blog, both online/email and offline.

    I am really curious what you meant about using your list of contacts from networking to launch your newsletter? Did you send a group email (personalized or not?) to them all, inviting them to join? Did you load them into your MailChimp autoresponder? Phone calls?

    I’m just getting started as a marketing coach and trainer (mostly for brick and mortar small biz owners), about to start putting out value and building authority through short YouTube videos and blogging, but I have no list yet. I do, however, have hundreds of business contacts (also mostly from networking), but haven’t been sure the best way to leverage those contacts in the process of getting started. Any thoughts? Thanks!

  6. Hi Laura. Great post, thank you, and wonderfully timed for me.

    Have you run any tests on whether plain text or HTML newsletters work better for building your list with your target market? There seems to be near holy wars on that topic.

    By the way, I found you through the brightideas podcast, which was also great.

  7. Thank you, Laura, for this post. I’m actually in the process of preparing my first newsletter, a monthly one. I have the outline and is about time to get into the content now.