So, you’ve taken your first steps towards email marketing…You have signed up with MailChimp or ConvertKit or another email marketing service, you’ve put lots of signup boxes on your site and people are starting to sign up – yay! But now comes the next challenge…what to put in your email newsletter.
It can be daunting, right? Crafting something that will actually be landing in people’s inboxes. But really, it’s much less difficult than writing a blog post (and you are already good at those, right?) …and there are plenty of options. For example:
- An automated (RSS) email
- An automated (RSS) email with bonus content
- A semi-automated email based on your latest blog post(s)
- A weekly or monthly newsletter with excerpts from all your latest blog posts
- A more personal email on the subject of your latest blog post(s) but adding extra value
- An email that is not about your latest blog post, but rather gives extra bonus information
- A themed email, highlighting old ‘evergreen’ blog posts
- A news email, giving a roundup of news in your niche
- An email highlighting a product, service or social media platform
- An email with an affiliate link in it
- An email sharing what another blogger or influencer in your niche is doing
Let’s look at each one in turn…
An automated (RSS) email
This is the simplest one to do and perhaps the best option if you are just starting out and don’t want to get overwhelmed by ‘yet another thing to do’. It literally takes 30 minutes to set this up and then you can totally forget it. It’s not the BEST option. But it’s a whole lot better than not sending anything.
So, what is it? Very simply you go into your email service provider and set up an RSS based campaign (this is very easy to set up on MailChimp* or ConvertKit*). You typically have to put in a little bit of code into the subject area of the email template, and some more code in the main body, then set the time and frequency you want your email to send. Then every time you publish a new blog post (or less frequently, if that is what you choose) an email will be sent with your blog post title as your subject line and an extract from your blog post in the mail body. You can also add an image too, if you wish.
And then once you’ve set things up, you can totally forget it!
One important thing to remember
Make sure you are sending just the extract from the blog post and not the whole blog post, or you will not give your readers any incentive to actually visit your website! This is easy to do, simply go to your WordPress dashboard and go to SETTINGS => READING and then scroll down to the part where it says, FOR EACH ARTICLE IN A FEED SHOW and ensure this is set to SUMMARY, then hit SAVE at the bottom of the page.
An automated (RSS) email with bonus content
Ready to take things up a notch? One way of getting the best of both worlds is to create an automated RSS email campaign, but add extra ‘static’ content to the email template. It still means you can set it and forget it, but your subscribers are getting more value out of your emails and you are giving them more opportunities to click on a link, by providing more links!
To do this, you start by setting up an automated RSS campaign as above, but then you add extras to the email. For example:
- links to your social media profiles
- a list of recent blog posts, with a title like ‘Did you miss any of these?’
- a link to your free subscriber gift, if you have one.
- a link to each of your categories
- a link to some of your most popular blog posts
- a brief bio with a link to your About Me page
- an encouragement to get in touch and give feedback
Every time your email gets sent out the RSS part changes, with your new blog posts showing instead of the previous one. But this bonus content stays the same.
This bonus content could be completely static content that you never, ever change. Or you could make it seasonal…so for example, if you are a food blogger, you could include a selection of Christmas recipes in December and switch to healthy recipes in January, followed by Valentine’s recipes in February and then move on to Easter recipes and so on. You wouldn’t need to change this content every week, just when the season changes.
A semi-automated email based on your latest blog post(s)
Another way to do things is to create a semi-automated campaign based on your latest blog post. In this scenario, you would create a standard standalone email with a heading, a photo, some blurb and some related articles (plus perhaps some of the bonus material detailed above).
Each week you would simply go in and change the subject line, title, photo, blurb and related to fit with your latest blog post (and remember to change the link too!) You can simply copy and paste from your blog post, maybe adding a few little changes to personalise it.
The advantage of this method is you have a little more control, but essentially it is just a copy and paste job, and once you’ve set up your template, you can create an email in about 5 minutes. This is currently exactly what I do with Easy Peasy Foodie (if you want to see it in action sign up for the Easy Peasy Foodie mailing list here – don’t worry you can unsubscribe any time!).
I like this method because it allows me to tweak the blog post content a little bit to make it more suitable for email…but it is literally 5 minutes work. I go in and write my email when I’ve just finished and scheduled my blog post, so it feels like an extension of my blog post creation process, rather than a whole extra job.
I also have some static bonus content in my Easy Peasy Foodie emails that I only change very occasionally, but gets lots of click-throughs…things recent posts, my free easy dinners meal plan, my social media links, and a little bit of blurb encouraging people to email me and give me feedback on my recipes.
A weekly or monthly newsletter with excerpts from all your latest blog posts
An alternative to sending an email every time to post, would be sending a less frequent newsletter: weekly, fortnightly or monthly, with a list of all your latest blog posts (plus the featured image and a short extract and of course a ‘read more’ button).
It depends a bit on who you are targeting and how frequently you think they might like to receive email, but for some niches, or if you blog very frequently, this method can work quite well.
And again, you can add bonus content to your emails and set things up so this kind of email is produced automatically (this is also very easy to set up on MailChimp* or ConvertKit*) or do a semi-automated version like above by cutting and pasting (which will give you more control over what you put in your extract).
A more personal email on the subject of your latest blog post(s) but adding extra value
Whilst an automated or semi-automated email is great for getting one job off your to do list…it is definitely not the BEST way to do email. In general, subscribers respond much better to more personalised emails that seem to be written just to them, and which add extra value to your blog content.
This could be as simple as creating an extra couple of paragraphs to introduce your latest blog post in a more relaxed and personal way, or you could perhaps start with a story or an anecdote from your past week which leads nicely into the topic of your blog post…the aim of the email would still be the same: to get your readers to click through to your latest blog post, but the way you do it would be more personal and less ‘corporate’ and add extra value.
An email that is not about your latest blog post, but rather gives extra bonus information
Your email newsletter does not have to be about your latest blog post at all! It could instead give extra information to your subscribers that’s not currently available on your website. Depending on your niche, this could give a powerful incentive for your readers to sign up for your list in the first place…
For example, I know one blogger who includes a list of PR opportunities in her newsletter and another who shares an extra recipe. Other bloggers share things like a preview of their latest room reveal, a sneak peek ‘behind the scenes’ of their blog, or extra tips and tricks. If you get this right, it can really help grow your list and result in great open rates and engagement.
A themed email, highlighting old ‘evergreen’ blog posts
Another great option, especially when you are stuck…or maybe don’t have a blog post or extra bonus info to share, is to create a themed email as a vehicle to share old posts which are still relevant. This is especially great when it ties into a particular season or holiday.
For example, a food blogger could share a roundup of BBQ recipes when the weather is hot, or a roundup of turkey recipes in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas. A business blogger could share an email on the theme of goal setting and planning early in the new year, or a roundup of tax posts around the end of the tax year. A craft blogger could do a newsletter on Easter crafts in March or Christmas decoration ideas in November. A travel blogger could do a newsletter roundup of summer or winter sun destinations, depending on the time of year…
You could either do this as a simple list, or as a more newsy email, dropping links in casually in the text.
This is not only a great way of filling a gap or helping you out when you get writers block, but it’s also a great way of getting more eyes on your older content and helping subscribers learn more about what you have to offer.
A news email, giving a roundup of news in your niche
Do you have a particularly newsy niche? Then a news email could be perfect for you! Either as a standalone email or at the beginning of your email, before diving into the main content. It could be industry news, or your own personal news (new product launches, new blog posts, new podcast episodes, a conference coming up that you are speaking at…) or a mix of the two!
You don’t have to do this every week (though if you can, it’s a great incentive for your subscribers to open their emails and see what’s the latest.) But this is a great option if there is some juicy news in your niche. And, if you’ve written a blog post on the subject, then it gives a very natural way to lead into a link to that post…
An email highlighting a product, service or social media platform
Do you sell products or services? If so, your email is a great way to highlight those things. Not every email, mind, or your subscribers will get annoyed and unsubscribe. But every now and again, for sure! Especially if there is a good reason for it…perhaps tied to a news story or your latest blog post. Or perhaps you are having a sale, or closing enrolment to a course soon.
Alternatively, your newsletter is a great place to highlight the other things you do…perhaps you also have a podcast, or a YouTube channel, or a Facebook group your subscribers can join…email is a great way of getting your existing subscribers to follow you in other places too.
An email with an affiliate link in it
Perhaps you don’t have a product or service to sell, but you are an affiliate for a particular product or service. You could use your newsletter to highlight how great that product/service is and include your affiliate link. This could be a great way to make extra commission!
One word of caution: check the terms and conditions of your affiliate scheme carefully to see if this is OK. I know some affiliate schemes, such as Amazon’s Affiliates Program, does not allow you to put your affiliate links in your emails. If you are unsure after reading the terms and conditions, send an email to the affiliate scheme to ask if it’s OK. Otherwise, if you break the rules, you could be thrown out of the affiliate scheme altogether!
An email sharing what another blogger or influencer in your niche is doing
Your email newsletter doesn’t always have to be about you! Perhaps a fellow blogger (or YouTuber or podcaster) has written a great post that you know your readers will love, or they’ve done a great video or podcast, or perhaps they have just launched a course or an ebook that you know would be perfect for your audience too – share the love! Tell your subscribers all about it… Who is this other influencer? What is the post/course/video/podcast about? What is it you love about it? What will your readers get out of it?
I realise that this might seem very generous – giving away all those potential clicks on your site to someone else, but I find time and again being generous in blogging so often comes back to benefit you in the future. Who knows? Maybe someone else will be inspired to share your stuff…and even if they don’t, your readers will love you all the more for sharing good stuff with them and introducing them to new blogs and resources.
Other posts in the email marketing mini-series
- Why every blogger NEEDS an email list
- How to get started with email marketing and get your first subscribers
- How to create an automated welcome sequence for your email list
- How to grow your email list with a free opt-in offer
Don’t miss a thing!
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*This blog post contains affiliate links, this means if you click on a link and go on to buy the product I recommend, I will get a small commission, but you will not be charged a penny more – thanks in advance!