By Cynthia Herron
As social media networks continue to limit our visibility (unless we buy their ads so they, in turn, will promote our posts/statuses), what’s a writer to do?
How do we reach those we care about?
Well, there are two things we can do (and yes, you’ve heard this before): blog and build our email lists-engage through our monthly newsletters. Side note-I’ve chosen a monthly newsletter format. You may have another schedule that works best for you.
Now, back to blogging for a minute.
Blogging isn’t for everyone. It’s not the be-all-end-all to our success. Many famed and acclaimed writers/authors choose not to blog. And that’s okay.
On the other hand, blogging builds our writing muscles. It grows us. When done on a consistent basis, we hone our craft. We can’t help but get better. And a blog is ours. Why rely on other mediums to get our message out when we have opportunity AND creativity at our disposal, too?
Why be at the mercy of various networks whose mission is based on what works best for them?
Similarly, a newsletter is a fun way to connect with our readers. It’s our creative thumbprint-our ministry-we use to touch others.
Now, don’t misunderstand. As writers, we still have to “market.” (Not always palatable or pleasant to think about, but it’s true.) We must put ourselves out there and think of new ways to prompt action and promote our craft. We must reinvent new from old ways of thinking.
That means taming our tongues, reframing our focus, and dedicating our talent. You know-serving others first.
I subscribe to a lot of newsletters. I’ve also unsubscribed from a few.
Reasons why I’ve unsubscribed vary, but top reasons include: content is a constant stream of memes, increased frequency of delivery, and-a biggie, also unprofessional, and possibly, in violation of spam rules-folks have added me to their email/newsletter list without me signing up.
How, then, do we create something of value for our readership? Here are some ideas.
Five Ways to Rock Your Monthly Newsletter:
1. Be consistent. Stay on “brand.” Use the same colors, fonts, and headers you use on your website, blog, and social media circuits. That’s your calling card-the thing that makes you you and the thing your readership identifies with.
2. Make it easy to navigate. Choose what’s easy on your readers’ eyes, a format you’re comfortable with, and stick with it. I started a newsletter about eight months ago. (I use MailChimp-the free version-though there are other choices available.) There’s a bit of a learning curve and a newsletter is work, but I enjoy connecting with folks this way. It’s also a great way to encourage (what I absolutely LOVE) and a fun, creative way to build our platform. And yes-even at the pre-published stage, it’s wise to do this.
I chose a letter-like newsletter delivered in an easy-to-read fashion with big, bold headers. To get a feel for what resonates, ask your readers what’s working and what’s not. Don’t be afraid to experiment-to improve upon-what you start. Do stay on brand and don’t be a copycat. You’re unique. Your newsletter should reflect you, not Andy Author or Wilma Writer.
3. Use visuals/images. Colors, themes, and photos draw interest and breathe life into your newsletter. There are a number of photo sources available (I like Pixabay) and I also use my own snapshots. When using a photo source, always give proper attribution unless none’s required, as is the case with many of the photos I use (however-I generally do acknowledge the photographer/source.) For Christian stock photography, Freely is a great site, though their photo library is small and not as easy to navigate in my opinion.
4. Make it relative. Make it less about you and more about your reader. Of course, writers want to talk writing. Authors want to sell books. But there’s a fine line there. Be sure and list your links (social media sites, books, etc.) but don’t oversell. Don’t overburden your readers with so many memes that it becomes a turn-off. Yes, we want to know about our favorite authors-what they’re writing and what’s going on in their lives. However-there’s nothing more cumbersome (for me, anyway) than to open a newsletter only to find Buy me. “Like” me. Follow me. Kiss my grandma and my Great Aunt Daisy. Maybe you’re different, but non-stop promo makes me feel devalued.
Here’s my thinking. I already like you! That’s why I subscribed to your newsletter. And yes-tell me about your books, your contests, and your life. But please-don’t make it just about that. Infuse some warmth and personality. Don’t make me feel like I’m just a number.
5. Keep it positive. Don’t be a Debbie Downer. Yes, real life happens. And sometimes, it’s painful. But if your monthly newsletters are a continual barrage of negativity, readers may unsubscribe. Life isn’t all sunshine and roses, but generally, people don’t subscribe to newsletters for discouragement. That’s what the national news is for, right? 😉
• Writers’ websites, blogs, and newsletters are our own. We’re in charge!
• We control the design, content, and posting schedule. Big job, but even bigger payoff.
• We have the choice, a voice, and a passion for our niche. A genuine heart resonates.
• Opportunity and creativity are free. That’s a win-win scenario!
• We grow our numbers by growing others first. Paying-it-forward always mushrooms.
Bottom line: think about your niche. Your tagline. What you write. How you want to connect.
If you’re pre-published, don’t write about writing. Offer something unique to your brand and do it with flair!
And-deliver what you promise.
Do you have a newsletter? What tips would you care to share?
Cynthia writes Heartfelt Homespun Fiction from the beautiful Ozark Mountains. She’s a member of ACFW, ACFW MozArks, and RWA. Besides writing, Cynthia delights in serving the Lord and spending time with her family and friends. She has a fondness for gingerbread men, miniature teapots, and all things apple. Connect with Cindy at www.authorcynthiaherron.com where she blogs and encourages every Wednesday and Friday.