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.
(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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- I continued to grow my list with social media, and eventually starting selling new products, always using email marketing.
- 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:
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.
- 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.
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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