Why I’m Changing My Newsletter Format

mailboxes
image by Gregory Jordan

Basically, this is why. If you’re a blogger yourself, you may have seen this article, and I gotta tell ya: it made a whole lot of sense to me. I had already been batting around some ideas for how to approach my newsletter differently, because I just wasn’t feeling solid about it. And then this post came out and helped me really nail down why it all felt weird and how things could be improved.

There are a lot of good points in the article (for bloggers, the whole site is a great resource), but here are the main ideas I took away:

1. Content you’d write for your newsletter should go on your blog–there shouldn’t be a separation of “newsletter content” and “blog content,” and a blog could even be considered a collection of public newsletters.

2. If you’re intent on growing your readership, it doesn’t make sense to put forth the effort of producing quality content for your newsletter only for it to be hidden in inboxes and difficult for readers to share (they could forward it to a friend or two via email, or they could spread your message through social media channels with a much larger audience–their network–via your blog).

3. The old newsletter format is outdated (as mentioned, sharing isn’t easy, plus, as Jon says in his post, “People recognize mass emails for what they are…”), and newsletters should really just be email updates, alerting subscribers of new content on the blog.

After reading this and doing a quick assessment of Alternative Badassery’s practices, I outlined my own specific reasons for making a change:

1. It Will Lead to More Personal Posts

I don’t really have a problem being raw and authentic in my writing, but I’ve saved a lot of the really deep stuff for my newsletter, mostly because I didn’t know what else I was supposed to be sending to people’s inboxes and thought the heavy material made sense for a more private channel. But now, I’ll just post that crap for the whole world to see!

2. It Will Lead to More Behind-the-Scenes Posts

I thought it might be boring to discuss business or admin-related topics in blog posts, but y’all said you liked it. And really, I’m just here to make you happy and give you what you want. So we’ll do some more of that stuff, yeah?

3. The Whole Newsletter Thing Has Always Felt Awkward to Me Anyway

Like I said, I never really got what I was supposed to be doing with it. Sending you some shit I wrote? Why not put it on the blog? Asking your opinion about something? Why not ask you via social media? I have this huge list of post ideas with a few newsletter ideas sprinkled in, and that always seemed odd to me–what’s the difference?

4. I Already Wanted to Move the Discussion Out of Email

Some of you subscribers have replied to my newsletters with, just, fucking brilliance. You have great advice. It feels dumb that I’m the only one who gets to hear it. Not only that, but also, it usually takes me a while to respond to individual emails. So what could be a lively and helpful discussion among several interested people for whom the subject resonates becomes a stale exchange between two parties who’ve since moved on from the emotion the topic originally stirred up.

5. It’s More Work

Look, I don’t get enough writing done as it is. Writing a lot of unique content for the newsletter means writing less for the blog or guest posts on other sites. If it were worth it, it’d be worth it. But as we see above, it’s not worth it. Ya know?

So What’s the Format Going Forward?

When I write a new post, I’ll send you an email with a little intro to the article so you can decide if it’s worth your time or not, and a link to it. That’s it. And the stuff you’ve been seeing in the newsletters will now go on the blog (which I’m linking to in the emails… whoa! Still with me?).

Can We Still Exchange Private Emails?

YEAH! Of course, of course! Email me anytime! I get that not everyone wants to discuss everything publicly. We can totally still have one-on-one convos via email–you’ll just be the instigator of them now.

***

Discuss

What’s your take on newsletters? Love? Hate? Subscribed to a ton or never subscribe? Favorite format?

Did you like this post? You did??!! Then, maybe, sign up for email updates, yeah? Thankee.

Your thoughts?
  1. I recently came to the same decision, for the exact same reasons! I even toyed with the idea of dropping Aweber and going back to the WordPress default, where people sign up to get blog posts by email. Automatically. With absolutely no extra work on my part.

    Downside: WordPress branding on the email, and I can’t also easily offer freebie optins.
    Upside: I save myself about $19 a month.

    • Cassie says:

      I’m on MailChimp, which I think is $10 a month for me right now. I’m with you on the branding and customization, though, so it’s worth it. I know Aweber is kind of the gold standard among bloggers, but I’ve been very happy with MailChimp–maybe you could switch and cut your costs in half??

      • I am on Mailchimp for one of my businesses. Their recent changes are enticing, but I haven’t had a chance to really look at them yet. There are some small things that I like about Aweber that Mailchimp doesn’t have – or maybe didn’t. Need to take a second look!

        But I JUST got it set up on Aweber so that my blog posts go out automatically to subscribers, with my own standard personalization and stuff. To lose all that work switching! Meh.

        • Cassie says:

          Yeah I’m with you, Angie–that would be a total pain. Ultimately, I’m sure they’re both great choices and will continue to be. As in, they’ll likely both continue to improve and continue to adjust prices, which is to say, I think we’re all fine either way. Oh, the joys of the un-fun blog admin tasks!

  2. Chris says:

    I read the article you linked to above when you retweeted it a week or two ago. I have been mulling around the idea and I think I will probably go for it.

    I agree with you 100%, the newsletter always felt awkward as I did some of my better writing for it, but then it only went to a small segment of my readership (who may or may not open it). I am completely onboard with your changes; keep up the excellent work!

    • Cassie says:

      “…it only went to a small segment of my readership…” Exactly! Seems foolish. Which we realized, of course, but everyone everywhere said we needed a newsletter, so we kept on. I remember searching so hard for newsletter content strategy articles when I first launched AB because I just really didn’t get it, and now we know it’s because it doesn’t make sense!

      Make the change, Chris! 🙂

  3. Cody Wheeler says:

    Made this exact same change about two months ago for Academy Success, mainly for the time factor. The net long-term benefit outweighs is far greater in my opinion. When something becomes a chore, you definitely don’t execute it as well. Good move.

    • Cassie says:

      Awesome that is good to hear, Cody. Yeah, I procrastinated writing newsletters more than anything else because it just didn’t feel right to me. I’m feeling good about the change!

  4. Rick says:

    Makes sense to me. As a reader, I don’t like my email inbox clogged up with newsletters I want to get around to reading, but just not at this minute (I try to keep my Inbox for only those things I have to take action on). But I also don’t like checking a blog, just to find out nothing new has been posted. So, your solution sounds like it will work for me and I hope it does for others, too.

    • Cassie says:

      Perfect, Rick! I’m so happy to read this because although I’d run through it in my mind from a subscriber’s perspective and gotten some initial feedback before pulling the trigger, I couldn’t be certain how people would feel. The way you’ve outlined helps me see it does work for me AND subscribers, which is a huge relief!

      Thanks for your comment, Rick!

  5. Saul says:

    Totally agree! Thanks for confirming my perspective on this. It really is a waste of time to put an in-depth mailing list together, considering how low open/click-though rates are for these kinds of things. I plan to rethink my own mailing list pretty soon too!

    • Cassie says:

      Awesome, Saul! Yeah I felt a major sense of satisfaction after overhauling the whole ordeal. Makes so much more sense to me. Good luck implementing a new plan!

  6. Mark says:

    I’ve been struggling to find the right format for my newsletter too.

    I used to add a few pictures or whatnot to make it more lively. But that ended up taking more time than I want. Plus if it was automatically sent once I make a new post like feedburner things would be much more minimal for me.

    I really wish feedburner would only send out the first 100 words or so then put a link to your blog.

    • Cassie Nolan says:

      Yeah, it’s a tricky situation nowadays. I don’t use feedburner, but your solution sounds good (and surely easy to offer?).

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