How Often Should You Send a Newsletter?
Susan Wittig Albert has a long-standing weekly newsletter, as does Angela Hoy of WritersWeekly and Hope Clark of Funds for Writers. Our own Terry Odell told us she sends her newsletter out quarterly, which she has found to be sufficient (and Terry will tell us more about her strategies and the email service she uses on the 18th). However, Terry blogs daily, so she already has the element of predictability and reliability with which to draw her readers.
Sending a newsletter weekly is a good strategy. You can become part of your reader’s weekly habits. For example, she knows your email pitches up in her inbox on the same day she goes to the gym and it’s ideal for a quick read while she finishes her coffee.
An infrequent newsletter is risky because someone may forget they signed up for your mailing list and hit the spam button. Even a month is a long time in our high-speed high-tech lifestyles.
What to Write About
If you’re not blogging to a regular, predictable schedule, a newsletter is an excellent way to let your readers know there’s something at your site for them to read.
If you blog daily or a few times a week, your newsletter could function as a weekly wrap up, and I would suggest this option to someone like Terry, if she wanted to increase the frequency of her mailings. Not every reader has the time to read their favourite blogs every day, but receiving a list of headlines with the introduction or a summary and the links means they won’t miss the topics they’re really interested in.
Another option is to pick a theme and list all your old blog posts on that theme. This is a great way to get eyeballs on your older content without resorting to reruns. Neither of these options require that you write any additional content for your newsletter.
Susan Wittig Albert also pointed out that she recycles her newsletter content knowing that new subscribers have joined and older subscribers would have forgotten the articles from several years ago. Jeri Westerson told us she writes articles of interest for her newsletters (historical in her case) that relate to her books, and this is a great way to make more use of your research material.
A Word of Caution
To wrap up this post, I want to draw your attention to the CAN-SPAM Act regarding Email Marketing. It’s a legal requirement in the US to comply with these obligations, but even authors outside the US should know about and follow the CAN-SPAM conditions of business. Most email- and autoresponder management services have these requirements built in to their features, notably the “double opt-in” setup, and providing unsubscribe links and a snail-mail address in each email sent. The latter may cause you some reservation due to privacy issues. Most people choose to pay for a Post Office box, but I have also seen authors using their agents’ business addresses in a “care of” capacity at the end of their newsletters.
Elle Carter Neal is currently building up her own email mailing list (again) after mistakenly believing email correspondence would die out. Elle is the author of the teen science-fantasy novel Madison Lane and the Wand of Rasputin, due out later this year. Visit her Writer's Workdesk for more writing-related articles.