How to start a newsletter and why your business should have one

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An email newsletter is one of the best ways to stay in touch with your audience. You know that it will land in their inbox, and if you can make the content interesting enough, they will open it.

This is unlike social media platforms, where whether your messages appear or not depends on the algorithm (and sometimes your budget). And when using social media for your marketing, you don’t own the data, so even if you grow your following to a large number, you could be building it on quicksand.

Why start a newsletter?

Five good reasons to start a newsletter for yourself or your accountancy business:

  1. Start to grow an audience where you own the data. 
  2. Use it to build relationships and grow your network.
  3. Use your creativity and expertise when writing it.
  4. You’ll be learning new things too.
  5. The content can be repurposed across your other marketing channels.

What should you write your newsletter about?

It’s got to be interesting, helpful or entertaining. It’s your job to make your readers want to open it. Remember that they probably ask you to look after their accounts because they don’t want to deal with them, so make sure you tell them about things they want to know about, not something you think they should know about.

Don’t try and sell things. Use it to grow your reputation as friendly, approachable and a go-to person or business. Ideally, your content should be so good that people want to forward it to other people they know.

Ideas for newsletter content:

  • Local news and events
  • Industry news
  • Key calendar dates for their business
  • Interviews
  • Quick tips
  • How to guides
  • Share your opinion
  • Round up relevant news
  • Take them behind the scenes
  • Give recommendations
  • Talk about trends or research

Sign up for and read other newsletters. What do you like about them and what don’t you? Which ones do you always open and read? Why?

Writing and sending the newsletter

Take a look at the different software platforms available and the cost and functionality of each. There are many free options available depending on how many send-outs you are doing a month and to how many subscribers.

Three of the leading email service providers:

  1. Mailchimp
  2. Substack
  3. ConvertKit

They have off-the-shelf templates you can use, or you may want to get a designer to make a branded template for you.

Decide how often you will send it and write a quick content plan (this can change and develop). Make a commitment in your calendar to set aside time to do it. If you’re in a business, give it to one person to look after and take ownership of, somebody who is good at writing and wants to do it.

If you don’t have a natural writer in the organisation, you can hire a professional copywriter to help you pull it together. If you are writing it yourself, don’t make it overly formal. Write how you speak and get somebody else to proofread it for you.

How to grow your subscribers

First, think about who you want it to be for and focus on writing it for this audience. You’ll need to get each individual’s permission to send marketing emails to them, so work out how you will tell people about the newsletter and how you will get them to opt-in.

  • Have a launch for the newsletter and make a big splash about it when you start. This will help you commit to it too. 
  • Tell people what to expect from the newsletter to give them an incentive to sign up and tell them how frequently they will receive it.
  • Add a sign-up field to your homepage.
  • Share the email content on social media with a link to subscribe.
  • Add a sign-up message to your email signature.
  • Have a share button and a subscribe button on your email newsletter.

The most important thing you need to do is commit to sending it, and you will get better over time as you learn what works and what doesn’t. The content can also be repurposed as a blog for your website or posts for social media. If you write one newsletter a week, you could even have enough content for an ebook within a year. 

Further reading

Sophie Cross is the Editor of Freelancer Magazine and a freelance writer and marketer at Thoughtfully.

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