Newsletter, Blog, or Both?
I’m often asked if both a newsletter and blog are necessary for authors. The two are actually quite different, so let me explain the purpose of each and then we can discuss if authors should have both.
The purpose of your blog is to drive traffic back to your website where the posts reside. Your blog is the primary place on your website that will have consistent updates and fresh content. Sharing a captivating headline along with a link on your social media outlets to let people know about your new blog post drives traffic and awareness to your website.
Your blog is where you start to establish trust with your readers - it’s a way for new readers to get to know you, your style, what you have to offer, etc. You can share helpful or insightful or information to show that you know what you’re talking about. Your blog can also be the place people go to be entertained on a regular basis by what you have to say.
Yes, people can “subscribe” to your blog by adding the RSS feed URL to their favorite RSS reader app, or they may be able to subscribe within your particular blogging platform with their own account, allowing them to automatically be notified of new posts without having to visit your website. This does not take the place of a newsletter. Why? Because you do not have a direct connection with those subscribers since you do not know who they are. Let me explain by getting into how newsletters are different...
When your readers sign up for your newsletter, they are entrusting you with something very personal: their email address. I don’t know about you, but I don’t give my email address to just anyone. When someone gives you their email address as a newsletter subscriber they are saying, “I trust you. I want to hear more from you.”
A newsletter is so important because you own the list of emails your readers have given to you. That list of contacts is managed through an email marketing service like MailChimp. Interactions like social media “likes” or “follows” or blog subscriptions are good, but you don’t own the contact information like you do with an email list.
A few weeks ago a company called Social Media Examiner, a major online publication, experienced something that you should be aware of: their Facebook Page, which had over 300,000 followers, simply disappeared. And they didn’t know if they were going to get it back. Twenty-four hours later and after working closely with contacts at Facebook, they got the page back up and running.
This could happen to anyone. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram - all of the social media outlets are fantastic ways to connect with new readers, but you do not own the connections you’ve made there. We have no control or say in what happens to those platforms.
With your newsletter, you do own that list of email addresses. Your newsletter list filters out the mere “lookers” and passers by from your social media outlets to show who your real “fans” are.
So, should you have a newsletter or a blog?
You need both. They serve two different purposes - important purposes at that. Here’s an outline to help you simplify the process:
1) Send out a newsletter at least once or twice a month.
This is a way for you to personally connect with your newsletter subscribers. Let them get to know you, offer them first dibs on giveaways, contests, and special offers. Your newsletter subscribers are your true fans so treat them like gold!
2) Blog as often as you can create quality blog posts.
We are often asked how often authors should blog. One excellent blog post a month is better than four ho-hum posts. If you have time and can crank out great blog posts every week, go for it! If you are strapped for time, try for at least once or twice a month. Just don’t let months go between your blog posts.
3) Share your blog posts more than once on social media.
A big mistake that I see so many authors make is that they only share their blog posts once on social media. Change up the headline several times throughout the week and repost it. Try to create evergreen content that you can share over and over again. That will help drive awareness, traffic, and interactions with your readers.
4) Make your newsletter personal.
Let your readers get to know you a little better. Relate to them as their friend and someone who shares similar interests as you. Don’t just use your newsletter to promote your book or ask people to buy - that’s not why people signed up for your newsletter. Focus on the 90/10 rule - engage 90% and sell 10% of the time. Write them a short letter and then you can share links to your recent blog posts to make sure they saw them. Get creative!
We will be focusing more on your newsletter in the coming weeks, but we also have some great information on how to set up your newsletter and more here...