As writers, we are always looking for ways to market our work. Our blogs and social media platforms call attention to our stories, poems, and essays. Blogs serve as great hubs for our work, and Facebook and Twitter are great for sharing links with enticing snippets, but what about email marketing? What better way to direct the audience you’ve built to your latest piece than a special delivery, right to their inbox?
Many of us find it difficult to do the marketing part of the job, even though we know it’s necessary. People often think of emails as an imposition, but remember people have signed up to receive your newsletter. They appreciate your work, they want to hear from you. It’s up to you to fulfill your promise, and design your newsletter in a way that makes them want to stay on your list. We checked with a few writers from our upcoming BinderCon LA session: If You’re Going to Have a Newsletter, Make it a Good One.
Make it Personal
Liz Galvao says, “People will continue to subscribe if they feel a connection with you. Yes, email is where we get spam,…but it’s also where friends and family send us personal letters about what’s going on in their lives, and it can be an intimate format if you let it.
Don’t be afraid to let your subscribers into your life a little, and mention what’s going on with you that day, even if it seems mundane.”
She says she loves Marc Maron’s WTF podcast newsletter because there’s always a personal note to connect her to him as a person, and not just a podcast personality promoting something. She enjoys reading about his awkward trips to his parents’ house and random new food obsessions. “It’s kept me subscribing for years,” she says.
Sulagna Misra says she uses a comfortable, direct style, similar to the way she engages friends who gchat her about pitching, in her email newsletter. “I don’t write Pitching Shark [her email newsletter] expecting people to go to my professional writing, but I do find they get to know of me as a writer because of it, and that might attract them to my other writing naturally.”
It’s not just a marketing tool!
Ann Friedman, who’s email list is in the tens of thousands, warns, “An email is not a marketing tool, it’s a separate piece of work you’re creating. Treat it as such, and people will actually want to read it.”
Think of it as a new opportunity to draw someone in, and get them to read more of your work. Set the hook with personality and style, and make your readers happy they didn’t wait another second to open your email.
The three big take-aways from our panelists Liz, Sulanga, and Ann are:
Email newsletters can be an intimate format if you let it.
- Use your email newsletter to give a sense of your writing style, personality, and interests.
- Treat your email newsletter like writing not marketing.
Everyone seems to agree that as a writer you need to promote yourself, and that you really should be doing that via a newsletter. But is that the right choice for every writer? What are the real-world results of launching a newsletter? How do you create one that subscribers (aside from your mom) will really want to read? And how do you get subscribers, anyway? What about using a newsletter as a platform for original content, not just as a marketing tool? We talk to writers and editors of popular newsletters to learn how they organize and schedule their content, build their subscriber base, and strategically promote their work.