It is Tuesday morning again and I am fretting. An article is due in a few hours and it is not ready. I have barely recovered from Friday’s article and the next one is due again. It is not that I don’t do anything about them the whole week and just spin-off 1000 to 1500 words articles on Tuesday and Friday mornings. The whole week goes into the preparation.
Finding topics that will be useful to my readers, researching, outlining, finding relating and interesting stories, and then writing and editing them take hours. This one commitment to my readers take 40% of my working time (used to be 70%, I am getting quicker). Why do I do it?
Because it is important.
Writing articles is a great way to educate your readers, establish authority in your field, and most importantly staying in contact with your readers.
And you know dear writers, how important it is for us to stay in contact with our readers.
Without readers, there is no point in writing. Yes, we write for ourselves but we only do so when we want to take the weight off our chest or want to use writing as a therapy. Most of the stuff we write for ourselves is a rant.
Writing for a readership is the way to grow as a writer and to find meaning in our labour.
Now that we have established that we do need readers, we need to find them and stay in regular contact with them. How to find readers is a whole different topic which I will address in another article. In today’s article, I am going to address how to stay in contact with readers once you have a few of them subscribe to your newsletter.
Is article writing the only way to stay in contact with your readers?
No, it isn’t. There are other means.
There is a difference between articles and newsletters and their purpose.
An article is 1000-2000 words “editorial” or “feature article” like writing usually on one small aspect of a topic that involves some research and includes writer’s observation, inference and recommendation. Its purpose is education. It features on authors’ websites and may and may not go to the subscribers via email.
A newsletter on the other hand is an email kind of correspondence drafted to stay connected with your readers and goes out to all those who have subscribed to them. Its purpose is communication. It can be of any form – from a full-fledged article like I send to you twice a week to an informal email to talk about your day.
There are three ways the writers can draft their newsletters.
- “Editorial” or “Feature Article” style
- “Link” style
- Blog style
1. “Editorial” or “Featured Article” Style
This form is best suited when you want to educate your readers and impart your knowledge and experience in a regular way.
It is also the most labor-intensive and requires a lot of commitment. But it has its benefits. Articles build your platform, populates your website with useful content, and establishes you as an authority in your field.
Article writing has a copious value not only for your readers but for yourself too. When you are writing about a topic you tend to do a lot of research that helps you clear your own concepts. You end up learning from the exercise than even your readers. That is why many writers write about writing. They are learning their craft while educating their readers.
You need to pick any area in any genre and start writing about it. You can venture a bit as long as you don’t go too much out of the boundaries of your topic. I write about art, craft, language, creativity, productivity, and marketing side of writing.
For this type of newsletter, you’ll need to be a decent writer. While other types of email newsletters don’t require you to be a good writer (as you’ll see below), this one definitely does.
With that said, just because you can write doesn’t mean you should write forever. This type of email newsletter can be 300–2000+ words It just depends on the topic and how dedicated your audience is to reading lengthy content.
This is less than 200 words, yet still as effective as a longer from-the-editor style newsletter. As long as the below bases are covered, your subscribers are going to love reading your newsletter alongside their morning cup of coffee.
- Why does this matter to my subscribers?
- Is this valuable to my subscribers?
- Is this topic relevant to my industry?
- Is this engaging enough to make my subscribers keep reading?
2 “Link” style newsletter
If you are strapped for time and writing expertise you still can provide quick value for your readers through the ‘Link” style newsletter. These links can be internal links (i.e. your own content) or external links (i.e. other people’s content).
These kind of emails are short but packed with useful information which your readers can save to read at their leisure. But this style only works if you are providing superior or unusual information that your readers won’t normally get by a simple search on the internet.
Just because you’re not writing lengthy, researched-based, storytelling newsletters doesn’t mean that you can get away with shonky links and poor quality information.
It still involves a lot of research but rather than writing about it you are just sending the links so that your subscribers can go there and read for themselves.
Here is an example of “link” style newsletter:
There’s just one thing you can not mess up when it comes to this newsletter style. If you choose to go with this style, it is very important that you make sure you are committed to providing context for each link. You need to explain why your subscribers should care about the content you’re linking out to.
3. “Blog” Style
A blog-style newsletter is when you do not want to spend that much time on research and writing full-fledged articles but still want to provide useful information to your readers. You can do that in the informal style of writing.
Blog style newsletter has more room for going off the topic and write anything from what breakfast you had to what book you have been reading keeping in mind it has to have something for your readers. So there has to be some value for your readers to know why you had special “oatmeal” breakfast which you created using your grandmother’s recipe which was not only delicious but easy to prepare, nutritious, and fill you up in fewer calories.
But the real purpose of the blog style newsletter is to share useful information. Never forget that your readers agreed to receive emails from you because they are learning something from them. The moment they will stop learning, they will unsubscribe.
This type of newsletter is best suited for having conversations with your audience. It is also more personal. Readers get to know you better and want to stay connected.
Try to keep it short and punchy, because no one wants you to keep on babbling about your breakfast.
You can think of the “blog” style newsletter as a hybrid of the “editorial” style and “link” style newsletter. While you’re certainly not writing 2,000 words to explain why people should consume the content linked, you’re still showing the value behind them clicking.
Here is an example:
There is a difference between writing articles and writing newsletters. The purpose of articles is to educate while the purpose of the newsletter to stay connected with your subscribers.
Your can send ‘editorial” or “feature articles” in your newsletter or you can send a list of useful links. Then there is third choice the hybrid of two – a “blog” style newsletter.
Whatever you might choose you need to make sure your newsletter provides value to your readers by giving information that your readers find relevant and useful.