christine alexis virgins of the screen. fuqvids.com

How to Create Newsletters to Serve Readers - Focus on this to make an impact!

What is the purpose of a newsletter? In this post I share newsletter importance, how to serve readers, plus some winning strategies (and pitfalls) to gaining subscribers!

I’ve completely retooled my newsletter several times over. The first major retooling happened in April 2016 because of a BinderCon panel about newsletter types/formats and a workshop from Bryan Harris.

The panel had a bunch of writing female newsletter heavy-weights on it (Note: The panelists were Jacqueline Boltik, Jade ChangAnn Friedman, Liz Galvao, and Sulagna Misra. They all have worked with newsletters in different ways and started them for different reasons.). The panel put the seed in my head to examine what I should do with my newsletter and how I should do it. I was more open to trying things, so when Bryan Harris’ workshop came through my inbox (via a newsletter!), I decided to attend.

I’m not a fan of “white guy sales network” but I like what Bryan has to say because it makes logical sense and it took very little effort to implement IMMEDIATELY. So I did.

When I first wrote this blog post back in April, I had a 58.6% open rate and 21.2% click-through rate. This was a major change from before when I had something like an average 30% open and 10% click-through. I also more than tripled my subscribers.

Things have changed several times since then.

Why is this important?

Email lists are important for pretty much anything online. I’ve subscribed to hundreds for a variety of reasons (I subscribe and unsubscribe to lists on almost a weekly basis.). When I’m on a list, I see the new content of a site. I read about the newest products. When I’m not on a list, I have no idea what’s going on with a person (unless I’m close to them on social media). Email isn’t a guaranteed way to reach people, but it’s about as close as you can get without calling a person (or going to their house!).

Having a good reputation – something completely within your control – is crucial to maintaining a high open rate. The more opens, the more likely it is for readers to actually read your content. With good copy, you’re more likely to have readers click through your link to read your content. And the more often this happens, the better relationship you have with your subscribers. You build trust, and with trust, amazing things can happen.

What is that trust about? Well, primarily it’s trust that you – the content creator – are committed to serving your subscribers.

This was where I faltered.

Newsletters are not about the content creator – they’re about the subscribers.

If you’re writing about stuff to satisfy yourself, it’s not going to work out. You’re going to have a low open rate because you’re not serving your subscribers but yourself.

I’m a perfect example. I had no idea what my newsletter was supposed to contain. The BinderCon panel made me realize just how loosey goosey my newsletter was. I had a bad reputation. There was no trust because each letter could contain any number of things and every time I put something out it was all over the place. Sometimes I said one thing. Sometimes I said something else. What was the incentive to read it when it had nothing of value for my subscribers?

Okay, maybe it didn’t have NOTHING. I did put updates about my work in it, but that’s pretty much all the value. Sometimes I wrote a mini blog post.

There were so many calls-to-action, readers had no idea what they were supposed to do.

After taking Bryan’s workshop, I realized I needed to drill down.

I meditated on it. I consulted Spirit. I was given a resounding mission echoing my life’s purpose to spread active love and understanding.

The Compassion Letter was born!

My new letter header...and name!

From there, I followed Bryan’s suggestion to personally invite people in my network who would be interested. I made a goal of subscribers to reach, developed a spread sheet, and started asking.

Here was my ask:

Hey I’m starting a newsletter that’s going to have info about spreading compassion/empathy. Would you be interested in that?

My network has a lot of writers, so many people thought I was inviting them to contribute, which meant I had to clarify my ask. More than half the people I asked said yes. In fact, there was a lot of all caps used, and many “I can’t wait to read this!” comments. It seemed my network was eager for information about compassion. I hit a sweet spot.

While I was asking friends and acquaintances if they’d like to get my newsletter, I was also writing a list of 25 questions to answer/address in blog posts. I planned to write weekly newsletters introducing the blog posts with a call-to-action to read a post and comment (and or share). Bryan said this would set up basically 90 days worth of subscriber relationship, and establish credibility/reputation.

Once I reached my subscriber goal, I could send out a newsletter and write my blog post.

Here is my first retooled newsletter copy:

Dear Ones,

Last Saturday I attended a writing conference. While there, I went to a panel about steering narratives away from dysfunction and violence towards empathy and compassion.

I thought the panel was for me, but it turned out the authors were writers of literary fiction (speculative fiction and literary fiction barely speak to one another). I was still hopeful. They started speaking and it soon became clear they had no idea what compassion was or how to incorporate it into fiction.

I didn’t realize how little we as a society understand about empathy and compassion. I knew it was an issue, but I didn’t recognize how bad it had gotten. Then I was sitting in a huge room, listening to people talk about a topic close to my heart, who had no idea what they were talking about.

Why didn’t these writers know about compassion? Why are we as a society unsure about this word “compassion” and how to do it? The more I thought about it, the reasons became clear.

Read my thoughts here and please let me know your thoughts!

Thank you for your positive attention. It lights my heart.

With love,

Alexis

Here is the post I asked subscribers to read.

What happened next blew me away!

I’m so glad I tried this out because I had multiple emails responding to my newsletter. I had tweets about it. I had comments on my blog – I think probably the first I’ve had on this particular website/blog. I even had posts to my Facebook fan page – something I’ve never had in response to my content.

And this was just the first one!

I gave my subscribers something they wanted. I filled a need for them, they responded to it, AND it fulfilled my purpose for writing!

I needed to be authentic to myself, but I also needed to serve my readers. If I wasn’t serving my readers, there was no reason for them to read my work.

Because I’ve seen most successful blogs pushing product after product, I felt like there was no place for me in this digital space. I wasn’t pushing products the same way so how could I be successful with this? I wasn’t a hooby-dooby blog. I wasn’t just an artist. I wasn’t an entrepreneur blog.

What was I supposed to communicate to readers? It took me a while to figure this whole thing out, but the reality is my blog content and newsletter are slightly different packages. This idea hadn’t occurred to me despite the fact that I’ve been enjoying Notes from the Universe for months. I hadn’t recognized the fact that a newsletter was its own “product,” even while it served as a relationship builder.

Fast forward to today…


I started out strong with my newsletter retooling and then I ran into a problem.
I thought I knew who I was as an entrepreneur at that point, but I didn’t. I hadn’t completed my transformation. My spiritual transformation had just begun, and therefore my professional transformation had only just started.I thought I knew my ideal audience.I had no clue.I was still jumping around.I also did something stupid. I entered a giveaway with other authors in order to get a bunch of subscribers. This would have been great IF I had chosen to enter a giveaway that focused on my ideal audience, but it was a hodge podge of authors from all genres. The result? Even though I got a ton of subscribers, they were largely uninterested in my content. I hemorrhaged subscribers for months. My open rate suffered. My click-through rate plummeted.I was so focused on getting subscribers to push out an info-product that I made a huge mistake, and it dramatically influenced how I felt about my work.I began to doubt my newsletter’s value. I began to doubt the value of my message. My stomach twisted every time I sat down to write something to send out to subscribers. My throat tightened every time I sat down to schedule a mailing.If I’m honest, that happened this morning.Reframing My Mindset & Getting Back On PurposeOver the month of October, I spent a lot of time considering who my work is for. Through that exploration I realized it’s primarily for spiritual women creatives between the ages of 25-45.Yes. It’s that specific.Does that mean my work won’t speak to other people? Not necessarily. But that demographic is my sweet spot.  Currently my subscribers are all over the place. For a little longer I will likely continue to lose subscribers who don’t fit that demographic.That’s okay. That’s part of the process that needs to happen. I’m comfortable with this. I’m actually grateful for this.Accepting where I am with my newsletter and subscriber list allows me to move forward.This is why I created my Love the Unloveable Challenge. It’s a lead-magnet that focuses on my core teaching, provides some action steps that give readers quick wins, and naturally points more motivated subscribers to the Heart Unboxed ecourse (which has a complete step-by-step system to transform one’s mindset).Why is that important? Because it serves my readers. It serves my subscribers. It focuses on the things that will make their lives better and will transform their experience. It’s not selling. Yes, it would be great for people to buy my class, or one of my books, but it’s not about that for me. It’s about sharing my wisdom. It’s offering the possibility of a better life. It’s giving a solution to their problems.This is why I’ve been going through my blog posts and reframing them to better serve my ideal demographic. It’s why I’m creating content focused on the pain points and needs of this demographic (including this post! HA!).It’s better for everyone that I do this.What You Can DoIf you were like me, there are a few things you can do to build your subscriber list. Before you focus on growing your list, you need to know yourself first. You need to have a solid foundation from which to build. Here are my recommendations:

  1. It’s okay to follow the “ask your friends and family” to subscribe and spread the word before you figure out your ideal audience (follow the steps in the core of this post).
  2. Then get clear on who your audience is. Get as specific as possible.
  3. Figure out what their pain points are.
  4. Go back and tailor old posts to your target audience (add a single call-to-action at the bottom of posts).
  5. Build a lead-magnet that addresses your target audience’s pain points while highlighting your message.
  6. Share your lead-magnet on social platforms where your audience hangs out.
  7. Connect with other creatives and entrepreneurs who speak to your ideal audience – guest post, host webinars together, offer genuine testimonials of their products and services.
  8. When in doubt, connect with a community.
  9. If you’re still struggling (or you just want the fast-track), get a coach. Honestly, an inspired coaching relationship will rocket you into the stratosphere.

I’m confident that if you do these things, you’ll see amazing things happen to your reach.Curious to see what I’m doing? Check it out with the Love the Unloveable Challenge where you’ll gain action-items that will help you counter self-doubt, guilt, shame, and jealousy (plus you’ll gain a private Facebook community that’s full of love!). Click here to join!

How to Create Newsletters to Serve Readers

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