*There may be affiliate links in this post. (Please see our legal pages, link in the footer, for more information.)
So you’ve been sat in front of your laptop for three hours and you still have no idea what to send your email subscribers?
Or maybe you’re super scared to email your list because you think you can’t offer anything of value?
Perhaps you already send out weekly newsletters but you never get any response and your open rates are terrible?
Let’s be clear writing an engaging, value packed and revenue-producing email is super hard. Especially when you’re already doing alllll the other tasks us bloggers have to do.
But you’re in luck because this post is going to give you everything you need to know to rock your email marketing. I’m talking newsletter ideas, why you should send a newsletter, how to increase your open rates, how to increase your click rates, what makes a good email and the crucial rules of selling in an email that you need to know!
Don’t have an email list yet? No worries, I’ve already written a post on everything you need to know to start an email list and how to get those first 100 subscribers, I would give that a read first and then come back to this post! You can check it out here!
Why should you send a newsletter?
You’ve heard it before and you will hear it again, the money (and the security) is in the list.
Let’s focus on the security first. Basically what do Google, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and any other platform that brings you traffic have in common?
You aren’t in control.
If they want to change something they will, and if that something cuts your traffic in half, or even eradicates it (think major algorithm changes like the one Facebook has just done) you’ve got a problem!
But if you’ve got an email list then you have a group of people you can send to your blog and earn income from (in the nicest way possible, no spamming affiliate links, but we will get to that later). So when those inevitable algorithm changes come, and they will, if you have a solid email list then your business has a much better chance of surviving or even thriving!
Now the money side of it.
To sell something the buyer has to either trust you or trust the product.
One of the best ways to build that trust is to help and serve. If someone goes out of their way to help you (think someone holding the door for you when you’re laden down with shopping or a shop assistant helping you search for the perfect dress for a special occasion) you are far more likely to buy from them because you feel that if they are willing to go that extra mile, they must actually care about you. And if they care about you, then their recommendations are genuine and will solve your problem and improve your life.
Of course building that level of trust is hard online, but if you can consistently show up in someone’s inbox every week, and every week solve a problem for them and help them out, well that can only be a recipe for success! So when you do send those super rare promotion emails everyone knows that you genuinely think this product will work for them!
There are also plenty of minor reasons why sending a weekly email newsletter is awesome for your business but they are the main two!
What makes a good, trust building email newsletter?
So now we know why we send that weekly email newsletter, but how do we know if our newsletters are any good…
Always provide value (expecting nothing in return)
A good newsletter always provides plenty of value, think like an awesome tip, a tutorial on how to do something, some behind the scenes information that’s super interesting (because value can be entertainment remember) or exclusive content.
But this awesome value should be given freely. Once someone has trusted you with their email address you should repay that back to them tenfold (or more). Which leads onto the next point.
Don’t sell in every email!
In fact don’t even sell in every other email. Just so we are clear by sell I’m referring to promotion emails where the only point of that email is to sell a product. Including fully disclosed affiliate links in your weekly newsletter is fine as long as they are really relevant, just please make sure you provide plenty of free value as well!
So how often should you send promotion only emails? In my opinion it should be very rare indeed, but really it comes down to your list.
Some blogger’s email lists can handle a promotional email every week, but normally those are the big bloggers who are super popular and famous. For us newer bloggers we need to be careful not to oversell to our lists!
I really don’t like to do more than one per month, but ideally it’s every two to four months for now!
Make sure your email list is receiving exclusive content!
Because if they aren’t receiving exclusive content then what’s the point of being on your email list…
This is the main reason why I personally think just sending your latest blog post, or an RSS feed is dead. Sure a few of the bigger bloggers still get away with it but even so think of the results they could be getting if they sent a bit more than that…
Email newsletters should be regular
I think weekly is ideal but if that feels too much for you (new blogger overwhelm is definitely a thing) then do every two weeks instead!
Your emails should be on niche/ related to the freebie they signed up for!
I mean if you signed up for a free ebook on how to train your cat to speak but then that person started sending you weekly emails about pot plants you’re going to hit that unsubscribe button!
So just make sure whatever freebie you created to entice people to sign up for your email list, is in the same niche that your email newsletter is on.
Okay so we know why we send a newsletter and what a good email newsletter looks like, but what about if you still can’t come up with something awesome to send your list?
Lucky for you here are 11 awesome newsletter ideas you can use!
- Email a list of your favorite on-niche resources
- Ask your readers what they are struggling with using a survey (then you can write emails helping with those struggles in the future!)
- Give your current subscribers a brand new freebie just for them!
- An exclusive offer or coupon to your shop is always a nice idea
- People love to know what really happens behind the scenes, so tell them
- Keep your readers updated with anything new you’re working on
- If you get a lot of questions, or see a lot of questions in on-niche Facebook groups etc then send an FAQs email and answer them!
- People love hearing about how your blog is doing, so sending out an income/ traffic/ growth report is a great idea (even if you don’t blog about blogging I bet your subscribers would occasionally love to know your stats)
- Tell everyone about a big mistake (or mistakes) you’ve made (this is excellent for building trust)
- Share a success story including the steps that got you there (you can use success stories promote as well but they should mainly be used to build trust and authority)
- Curated content always goes down a treat, so send your subscribers a list of the best on-niche posts you’ve found that week
If you are still really struggling, just think of your email newsletter as like an exclusive blog post and write that.
Personally the way I like to write my emails, and I know the blogger behind my favourite email list Carly from Mommy on Purpose also does this, is to create a template and just fill in the gaps.
So the first sentence or two is just a quick behind the scenes. Sometimes it’s about work, sometimes it’s personal, it could be a mistake I’ve made, something I’ve observed, something I’m working on or something I’m looking forward to.
The next section is my weekly tips and finds which is mainly a collection of curated content, so the best posts and tips I’ve discovered in the past week.
In the final section I like to deep dive into a topic and this often ends up as either a personal case study on an aspect of my blogging business or like an exclusive blog post.
So now you know exactly what to send your email list, how about improving those stats!
The main two stats we are looking at is open rate and click rate. Open rate is the percentage of your list that actually opens your email and click rate is the percentage of your list who click on a link in your email. Obviously the more people who open your email the better and the more people who click the better because this shows that your list is engaged!
Increasing email open rates:
It’s worth noting that the majority of email service providers measure open rates by loading a small image on each email and seeing if it loads or not. Obviously if someone has images completely blocked then they may still be reading your emails but it might not be counted as an open.
So your open rates probably aren’t perfectly accurate but they are close enough!
So to increase email open rates you should….
Never use a drag and drop builder!
Like ever!!! I know they look super pretty but many email programs (like Gmail or Hotmail) see this template style emails as spam and put them straight in the junk folder!
Instead use the rich text/ plain text/ html email creation option in your email service provider (in case you were wondering, I use and love MailerLite for my email service provider).
Check your email won’t be classed as spam
You can use a free service like Mail Tester.
It’s so easy to use! Once you’ve written your email, before sending it out you should have the option to send a test email (I know MailerLite does this) just pop the email that Mail Tester gives you into that box and send the test email. Then check your stats on Mail Tester.
For reference I’ve never got below a 9.5/10!
Make your subject line super clickable!
Once you’ve stopped your emails coming up as spam, making your subject lines clickable is by far the best way to increase your open rates.
Just like with blog posts your titles must be enticing and make readers want to click. You can use Coschedule’s Headline Analyzer to tweak your current boring subject lines into something more interesting. And if you scroll right down it will show you how much of your email subject line is likely to show up in people’s inboxes.
Another great resource for creating awesome email subject lines is this post from Sumo where they listed the best 87 email subject lines, well worth a read!
Personalize the subject line
Making the subject line personal is also a good way to increase your open rates. Most email service providers make it super easy to include a subscribers name. Think about it, aren’t you more likely to open an email that has your name in the subject line?
Increasing email click rates:
Click rates are so important if you ever want to direct traffic to your site from your email list or if you ever hope to make money from your list.
There are a few ways to increase clicks, such as…
- Including a clear call to action like ‘click here to find out more’
- Only have one link destination (although personally I like to provide as much value as possible for my readers so I include plenty of links to lots of different places!)
- Make your email list want to click on the link (just like making your subject lines clickable, for example would you prefer to click on ‘here is a post about cats’ or ‘I just wrote this incredible post about the fluffiest cat in the world. Read the post so you can get your own super fluffy cat!’
- Make sure your links actually provide value, so don’t make all or even the majority of them affiliate links. If your email list learn that they have to pay for whatever’s at the end of your link they just won’t bother ever clicking on them!
On the subject of increasing clicks, one thing I love about my email service provider MailerLite is that they provide a link click map which shows you exactly which of your links are getting to most love.
The screenshot above is a snippet of one of my latest emails. You can see my subscribers were loving the SEO link but were less interested in the Pinterest tips, but what beat both is the video I made on how to create printables on excel!
Selling in your email newsletter:
Just like with a blog post, it’s my opinion that an email should always have some sort of way of making money. But that does not mean the email becomes a solely promotional email.
So, for example, I always try and include one to two affiliate links in my email, normally affiliated freebies! I will probably include between seven and twelve links in total so my subscribers are still getting loads of value! If an affiliate link isn’t relevant try linking to a blog post that’s monetized instead.
Just make sure you follow these rules:
- Never use Amazon affiliate links in emails!!! It’s against their terms and you will get kicked out the program when (not if) they find out.
- Always disclose affiliate links before the link. Just like with blog posts legally you have to let readers know that you have affiliate links in the email.
- Don’t ‘sell’ every email, I know I’ve said it before but just don’t only ever send out emails when you have something to sell, give value first!
But when you do send out those rare, promotion only emails:
- If you are doing a big sale with multiple emails being sent out, make an option for subscribers to opt out of the sales emails so they don’t get annoyed. I know you can do this with ConvertKit and MailerLite.
- Be honest and tell people your results from the item. You should never be pushing something you haven’t tried yourself and think is awesome!
Apart from that I really am no expert in promotional emails (yet) just because I hate sending them so much. But Carly has just released a course about affiliate marketing and there is an incredible section in there about selling in emails authentically.
The first promotion email I sent since reading that course made four sales!!! I know that doesn’t sound like loads but remember my email list is only like 800 people and the best response I had got before that was 10 unsubscribes so her method really works!!!
You can check out Carly’s course Affiliate Marketing For Bloggers – Everything You’re Missing here!
Phew I think that’s email marketing covered, but there’s still time for a few FAQs…
I only have 3/ 20/ 100 subscribers, should I still bother sending a newsletter?
Yes! Even if you only have one subscriber they don’t know that! Plus, no offense, but your emails will probably suck in the beginning so start practicing asap.
Why can’t I/ should I set up an RSS feed as my email newsletter?
An RSS feed is when you set up an email service provider to just send out your latest blog posts.
Personally I think they are rubbish and it’s pretty much guaranteed to make me unsubscribe. Sure I want to know about your latest post, but when I see an RSS feed I just assume the person can’t be bothered to send me a personal, value packed email including a link to latest blog post. And if they can’t be bothered to do standard email marketing, what else can’t they be bothered with?
Plus if you use Amazon affiliate links in your blog posts using an RSS feed could bring you some problems as many of them send the entire post in the email. If Amazon finds out you’re sending their affiliate links in emails (even if it’s through an RSS feed) you will be kicked off the program…
I always get unsubscribes when I send an email, what should I do?
They weren’t interested in you or your message.
However that’s assuming you don’t get toooo many unsubscribes. For reference I get between one and five unsubscribes for each email I send and I have a list of over 800 subscribers. That works out at an unsubscribe rate of around 0.6% (5 divided by 800, then multiple by 100).
If you are getting unsubscribe rates of like 5% to 10% plus then you’re probably doing something wrong (like selling too much). But check with others in your niche first because it may be normal for that niche!
I think the most important thing with email newsletters is to not overthink it. If in doubt write something that you would send to your best friend who you are mentoring or teaching something. You know friendly and supportive authority!
My best tip is to sign up for loads of other blogger’s email list in your niche and see which ones you love and stand out.
For example my absolute favorite email newsletter is Carly’s from Mommy on Purpose. Why do I love it? Because I always learn something new super quickly (she excels at quick wins), because she rarely ‘sells’ but when she does it’s actually something good, and because she’s not afraid to speak her mind and the truth.
So take inspiration from your favorite bloggers, don’t copy them but try and create a newsletter that you feel offers the same amount of value!
As always if you have any questions please comment below or email me at [email protected].
Plus if you found this post useful, please could you share it on Pinterest, I would be soooo grateful!