Why Authors Need Newsletters: A Series

by Nate Hoffelder

After a decade of running The Digital Reader, Nate is a veteran web publisher with experience in design, maintenance, recovery, and troubleshooting. What little he doesn't know, he can learn.

May 11, 2019

In ten years of blogging I have always tried to follow two maxims.

The first is a lesson I learned from Penelope Trunk, which is that one of the secrets to a great blog post is to first ask a question that you don’t know the answer to, and then explain the answer in the post.

The second is that if you want to truly understand a topic, commit yourself to having to explain it to others in a blog post, conference presentation, etc.

So when Joel and Shelley invited me to be a contributing writer at The Book Designer, I thought it would be great to write a post on what I had learned from doing my newsletter over the past couple years. (I got a late start, yes.) But they had a better idea: Why not turn the one post into a series of posts on newsletters?

The Newsletter Learning Curve

Newsletters are a valuable tool, but at the same time, it is also very easy to be intimidated by the idea of putting out a newsletter. (I certainly was.) It can be very hard for a beginner to even get started. I struggled with figuring out how to put out a newsletter, and I can’t be the only one.

That is why I thought it would be great to approach this series of posts not as lectures from on high but as a journey where I will take you through the lessons I had to learn the hard way.

I’ll explain about:

  • welcome emails
  • scheduling
  • what your unsubscribe rate can tell you about reader satisfaction
  • and more

In this series I will walk you thought the technical side of:

  • setting up your account with several of the more popular mailing list services
  • integrating services with your site

We’ll get into detail on:

  • the best language to use for an effective sign up form that maximizes conversion (This is something that marketers have been working on for decades, how a lead magnet can either help or hurt. The wrong lead magnet can kill your conversion rate, yes.)
  • how to build your list by participating in a group giveaway with other authors

We’ll also give you opportunities to share your experiences and ask questions about the problems you are having with your newsletter. In fact, why don’t we start asking those questions now.

Tell me in the comments:

  • What topics would you like to see us cover?
  • What questions do you have about how to run a newsletter?
  • What problem has you stumped?

image by taylor.a via Flickr

Hi, I'm Nate.

I build and fix websites for authors, and I am also a tech VA. I can build you a website that looks great and turns visitors into fans, and I can also fix your tech when it breaks. Let me fight with tech support so you don’t have to.

My blog has everything you need to know about websites and online services. Don’t see what you need. or want personalized help? Reach out.

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