Over on Plurk HCI Blogger asked me – “How do you decide when to start publishing a newsletter?”
I’m sure other bloggers with newsletters will have different opinions to me on this one but if I were starting a new blog today I’d start a newsletter to go with it on the very same day.
I won’t rehash all of the reasons why a newsletter can improve your blog but will give a couple of reasons why starting one at the launch date of your blog can be a good idea.
3 Reasons Why You Should Consider Starting a Newsletter in the Early Days of Your Blog
1. ‘Capture’ Early Readers – while some would argue that when you don’t have many readers it can be more effort than it’s worth to start a newsletter I have found that it’s not the case. When I started Digital Photography School I started a newsletter very quickly after launch and found that it was a great way of convincing those first time readers to come back to the blog for a second look.
Your blog might only have 10 readers a day – but if you can send those 10 readers an email once a week that reminds them to check out a new post on your blog then over a year you’ve effectively created 500 new visits to your blog from just 10 readers. Recruit 10 new readers a week to subscribe to your blog and by the end of the year you’ve got 500 subscribers.
In short – it’s never too early to start creating loyal readers on your blog.
2. Use Subscribers to Sneeze Your Blog to Others – in the early days of my DPS blog I would give my subscribers regular updates on how many people subscribed and how the blog was developing. My motivation was to show them that they were a part of something that was growing. What I found in doing this was that it was my newsletter subscribers who promoted my blog and newsletter to their friends.
A newsletter is great at drawing people back to your site but it’s also great at creating momentum and giving readers a sense of ownership of your blog. Get them involved in promoting you and you could find that these first subscribers really take your blog to the next level for you.
3. Develop Routine – creating a newsletter each week takes time and effort (I spend 1-2 hours each week on creating each of my newsletters). While you could put off this effort until your blog has a regular readership, doing it in the early days helps you to create a weekly rhythm for your blog that helps you keep things going. It also helps you get used to the newsletter tool that you’ve chosen so that when your audience is bigger you’ve already got a great template and handle on how to use it effectively.
A Last Tip – Start Small
OK – I’ve probably just freaked a few of you out with the information that it takes me 1-2 hours a week to make a newsletter. Most people don’t have that kind of time!
Don’t stress – I would highly recommend that you start smaller than that in two ways:
- Less Regularity – there’s no need to start with a weekly email if your list is small. You might like to start with an email that goes out every 2nd week or even monthly in the early days.
- Simple Emails – the emails that I send are html emails that do take a little extra work. I insert pictures and get emails looking as good as possible. However you can always start out with a simple html template or even just with a text based email. Both of these will take less time (I find that I can put together a good text email in half an hour).
Having said this – newsletters do take time and effort to produce. They have many benefits but they don’t just happen by themselves.
What do you think?
Do you have a newsletter attached to your blog? Why or Why not?