7 minute read | This post may contain affiliate links
In the heap of things that I do on a daily basis for my clients as a freelancer, one of the things I haven’t touched —ever—is email list/newsletter content planning.
There is an excellent reason for this, and that reason is firmly wedged into my low tolerance for emails in my inbox. (even after I’ve willingly joined your email list)
(Not looking to cramp your style. Pick the pin that works best for your boards)
I keep my inbox as close to zero as possible. There are 7 folders on the side under ‘to-do’, labeled with each day of the week, and as soon as a piece of work has been scheduled; that email gets moved into that day’s folder.
So my inbox holds only the work I’m handling today.
The level of my productivity is tied to this method. So when I receive junk in my inbox, it feels like a bit of a personal attack on my day.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t have an email list.
If you have an inclination to take advantage of content marketing for your business, you will definitely need to build and nurture an email list.
After all, email lists are awesome.
- Email allows you to connect with your audience where they are. You can talk to people on the bus, during their morning coffee, on the walk home with an email list. You can do this in person too, but I’m not taking responsibility if you happen upon someone who flails or spooks easily.
- You can split up your list to make emails more personalized (read: targeted). If you have multiple skillsets, having numerous lists help you tailor your offers to those who will be interested in them.
- You own your email list. There’s no social platform to nickel and dime you there for visibility. The right to email those people belongs to you and isn’t reliant on a company making good decisions. (Which is great, because large social media companies making good choices recently is kinda rare.)
- It’s pretty inexpensive. MailChimp and Convertkit are great places to start. Getting your list off the ground is free or at the very least, affordable. (Depending on how much time you want to spend curating your list for duplicates)
So email marketing sounds fantastic, and everyone should be doing it, right?
The reality is that an average of 4 out of 5 email subscribers won’t open your email at all. So we’re seeing more and more people speed building their lists but the quality of the email they’re sending falls by the wayside.
So, when a client asks me ‘hey, what should I put in my email newsletter?’ — I hesitate to answer. Because more often than not, I am the person who isn’t opening the email being sent.
To relieve me of the discomfort of answering that question, I opted to write out my list here. This is a list of 15 newsletter ideas that I have actually received that made me think ‘yes, this. This is good.’
1. Reminders that you’re going on Facebook live.
I’m never on Facebook during the day unless I think about something stupid and what to share that stupidity with my friends.
Facebook is a time leech, and I avoid it like the plague (except at 10 pm when I’m trying to head to bed), so I would honestly love to be reminded via email that you’re going to be going on Facebook live with something interesting to say.
2. You have a new service.
Please, do send me a note when you have something new going on. Maybe I’m your target audience or maybe I’m scoping you out because you’re my competition online and I find what you have to say fascinating.
Either way, I’d love to know when you have something new to offer.
3. You’ve updated your website.
Seriously, guys, you should be updating your website regularly. With page builders like Divi, there is no excuse not to keep your site looking fresh. And when you do spiff it up, send me a note. Show me what it looked like so I can be surprised by your fresh new digs (because I definitely don’t remember what it looked like before. Sorry.)
4. Your brand story.
I can’t be the only person genuinely interested in how my fellow entrepreneurs got to where they are. When I hear about how someone came to be an entrepreneur (traumatic layoff, anyone else?), I become more interested in what else they have to offer.
God, I love to hear about someone else mucking up and how they fixed it. Entrepreneurship is lonely and feeling a little more connected to you as a human makes me a lot more likely to be loyal to your list.
As an added bonus: the next time I make a similar mistake, I’ll probably pour myself a glass of wine and go back to that email—or reach out to you directy—while I try to fix it.
6. Facts made relevant.
You heard that Netflix has 125 million viewers? Cool. How did your industry help them get there? How can their growth be inspirational to me?
When they hit this milestone, Halifax local Ross Simmonds; sent out an email that showed how their investment in content creation helped make them a huge success.
This was: a. relevant to the reason I signed up for his list, b. interesting as heck and c. wasn’t attached to a call to action. He just sent it as a note and I loved that.
Side note: Not every email needs to have a call to action. The ones I love the most don’t have any call to action at all.
7. Prompts for action. Not to be confused with a ‘Call to Action’.
Lauren Hom is probably one of the most well-known lettering artists out there now because of her weekly lettering prompts called HOMwork.
This gives her email list a reason to open her newsletter every week. And she rewards this action with exposure via a hashtag and reposting in Instagram stories. By having her audience take action, she’s providing more value than just giving her list another pdf to download.
8. Updates in the industry.
Twirp Communications has been making busy entrepreneurs lives easier for ages by providing updates in her newsletter whenever the social media sizes change.
As a graphic designer, these never-ending changes end up wasting a lot of time if a client has to come back and say the image wasn’t sized right because Facebook decided to change the cover image size again.
Luckily for me, if there are any changes coming, I know that Twirp has my back and is making my life easier by providing these consistent updates.
9. Blog articles.
I love receiving actually honest-to-goodness blog posts in my inbox.
If you don’t have enough time to write a whole extra post just for your email list, you can also just write an extra intro snippet to tell me what inspired you to write this blog post.
Like, what did you see that made you think ‘this would be great content for my audience’? Tell me about something interesting enough, and I’ll take the time to leave my inbox to read your blog post.
10. Special pricing.
Say you’re in the grocery store and there are chips on sale. You’re probably more likely to get it, right? You don’t need it, but it’s your favourite kind, and it’s on sale.
The same thing works for email offers. If I’m offered an exclusive price for being on an email list, it actually makes me feel pretty special. I might not need the product or service, but when it’s customized and delivered to my inbox, I’m way more likely to buy it.
While I’m not suggesting you discount all of your services; if you have an ebook kicking around that hasn’t made you money in a while, maybe discount it and offer that discount to your subscribers.
11. Podcast links.
Sometimes when I have a busy week ahead of me, even my podcast list feels like it’s asking too much.
When someone takes the time to gently remind me what their podcast episode was about and offer a link to go listen, it tells me that they’re considerate of me and how my day is going. It gives me the option to set that email aside and go back to the episode later to catch up when it’s convenient for me.
12. Something you’ve learned.
Paul Jarvis does this with his weekly dispatch to his email list. He covers what he’s been up to and what lesson he’s learned from it.
I’ve said it before, being a solopreneur is overwhelming and having someone talk about what they’ve learned recently is sometimes enough to get me hyped to learn something new myself.
It’s also super convenient that he sends them out on Sunday so I have time to enjoy his email and start my week on a motivated note. (It’s almost as if there is a theme of people taking the time to understand their reader’s deep inner needs happening here.)
13. You are going to an event.
A couple times a year, I open my calendar and scour the internet for conferences and speaking gigs and all those things that freelancers
have to do love.
If you are going to an event or speaking at an event, that saves me from having to think up cool events to go to. It lets me know that there will be at least one person to look forward to and that makes the process of deciding what conferences to attend easier for me.
14. Behind the scenes.
I love seeing how other people are doing what they do best. But more than that, I love the confidence in an entrepreneur who’s comfortable sharing their process.
Sharing the ‘behind the scenes’ magic makes me realize that this person is skilled enough to not be worried that someone else will use their process. It’s a huge trust builder for me.
15. Your actual paid offers.
I put this one last because even though I could probably think of another 15-20 things that I would actually like; my timer is going off to remind me to go do actual work, so we’ll have to leave off for now.
So #15 is your offers. Because by this time you’ve hopefully sent some cool links, some valuable information or cat gifs that connect with me on an emotional level so real that I had to take a break to wonder what I’m doing with my life.
Therefore yes, please let me know when you have a launch coming up. I want to come to your lead-up webinars and see your sales pages and if not buy it myself, share it with my network because you’ve filled my inbox with joy for a while now.
Wow, that list looked shorter before formatting with .gifs and stuff.
Pick your poison:
If you are just getting started with your list: send something to your newsletter subscribers right now to say ‘Hi.’ It doesn’t have to be fancy.
Or you’ve been building your list for a while and haven’t actually sent them anything (anyone else? No? Just me?): Complete step 1 above. And then don’t be worried if a bunch of them unsubscribe from your new emailing habit.
Lots of people forget that they signed up for something and honestly everyone is a little overwhelmed by emails.
Alternatively, you’ve been emailing your newsletter subscribers fantastic content for years now and have a great list that is an inspiration to all who want to build genuine relationships online: add the link to your signup in the comments.
I love getting cool stuff in my inbox and can’t wait to sign up.