When Social Media Fails You

Did the Facebook/Insta shutdown make you reconsider your mailing list as a marketing tool?

Yeah, I won’t lie, while I’m not a heavy (if at all) Twitter user, some of the messages my sister shared with me had me scrolling and scrolling and scrolling. People got jokes!

But all kidding aside, even though social media was down temporarily it really shows you what all the folks that swear by their mailing lists have been saying all along.

What happens if Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, *insert your favorite social media account here* goes down or out of business altogether?

You’ve now lost your followers because you don’t have access to their emails. And those who rely on social media as their home-base (i.e., don’t actually have a website) are probably on even shakier ground because people can’t look them up elsewhere online.

That said, writing a thoughtful and consistent newsletter takes time and energy. And while there’s a ton of people sharing opt-in freebies telling you how to get new subscribers, they don’t really talk about how much work goes into coming up with ideas and actually writing them.

Here are some tips if you don’t have a list going and want to start testing the waters.

Consider how much content you’re willing (and able) to create

Lots of big newsletter folk will recommend sending a mailing at least once a week. I’ve signed up to lists where I’ve gotten 2-3 mailings per week (from which I promptly unsubscribed, I won’t lie).

Right now, I’m really focusing on 1-2 mailings per month so that I can stay consistent albeit sparsely so. I can handle that against my workload and personal life. I eventually want to work my way up to every other week, but I’m not sure I’ll do more than that.

Choose general topics

Pick around 3-4 general topics that you focus on and stick to those. This will make it easier for you to decide whether or not an article makes sense for your newsletter and it will give your readers a good sense of what to expect from you. If your newsletter were a magazine, what topics would be covered?

Ask your audience for ideas

Now that you have your broad topics, you still want to have some ideas of specific mailings to write about. A lot of my own writing comes from conversations I’ve had with clients, things happening within my field or even direct questions from friends or followers. Funnily enough, in the past week or so I’ve had 3 separate conversations about social media and newsletters, so when Facebook and Insta failed, I knew it was a good time to write this.

Block time on your calendar & get organized

You have to set time on your calendar to write. But it can also be hard to sit at your desk and come up with an article within a time block. I keep a notebook on Evernote titled “Post Ideas” and whenever I have a topic to write about, I’ll start listing them out in individual notes. I’ll write the title if that’s what came to mind first, outline the content or sometimes it’s a sentence or two that I was inspired to write. This way when you sit down to write, you already have the ideas someplace handy. And if you can be a few articles ahead of schedule, that covers you for times where you’re truly swamped and your mailing list gets placed on the back burner.

Of course, some articles come from situational or timely topics, like this one, so it’s nice to also have the flexibility to write on the fly.

Getting people on your list

I won’t spend a lot on this because I feel like everyone talks about opt-ins, freebies, quizzes and discounts you can use to incentivize people who join your list. I am working on a couple of opt-ins that I’ll be including on my site, but primarily I plan to give my list members first dibs on reading my content. Not all content will be available on my site and content that I do share on my blog will most often be posted from a few days to a few weeks after my list members have received it.

I really want people on my list who are interested in what I have to say, who are engaged and who I can provide support to. I don’t want to trick anyone into joining. That’s not shade, like I said, I will create an opt-in in the near future but I wanted to take this approach out for a test run and see how it goes.

That said, if you would like me to put together a list of suggestions for newsletter opt-ins, I’m happy to do so. See? I’m asking my audience ?

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