A year ago, I embarked on yet another challenge (and commitment). To write a newsletter. This was only 3 months after I embarked on my article writing. Why would I do that?
Fearful of the outcome, I carefully chose 10 friends and family that I knew would be honest with feedback and drafted the first issue. I also knew that they could not say no! I was fearful and labelled it accordingly ‘who would want to read my newsletter?’.
What is this newsletter?
Every week, I send out short weekly thoughts that join you just in time for your Saturday morning coffee, if you are lucky enough to have one in your hand while reading the paper. Or if you are missing the paper that morning!
I have labelled it fancy – The Viewpoint. I haven’t found the perfect picture that illustrates it yet, but the snapshot is right on my mind. Sitting in a café in a “Miradouro”, watching the sea in reflection, sharing a drink or nibbles with friends. That’s the feeling I want people to have when they get it, as if I was just there sharing a story. Over a meal. By the sea. A story they relate to. One that deepens our relationships. One that helps us grow.
And how is it going?
I can’t say I have been a hit in growing to the thousands and getting world-wide recognition (yet), but I know that I have been consistent and I enjoy my ritual. Same way as with this blog almost. In a selfish way, I give myself an excuse to review my week and what I have learnt. Writing it is a moment of reflection.
For the past year, I focused on sharing short thoughts on what was relevant for me that could also reach others or that at least could make others smile and think ‘oh she has that too, it is not just me!’. I probably focused less on growing numbers but I value the experience with each response that I receive. That’s my excuse.
But how do you even start a newsletter?You say, scratching your head
Well, generally with a blank screen and some vague thoughts on where I am that week. That shows in my subject, typically a revealing sentence about the week, ideally that makes you want to open the email.
Here are some 3 quick steps to get you going:
Decide which technology you are going to use. Right now, as my list is small, I chose to use mailchimp, which is still free, has great functionalities and a very handy app, where I can often edit the newsletter on the go.
Whatever you value in terms of usability, test out 1 or 2 and go with it without too much research. Go with a free one to start with. You will be able to change easily. I went with familiar as well, as I had used mailchimp before for the ALG.
Now, you could go with gmail only, but I do like the fancy tracking and ability to use mail merge as needed. (that means I can call you by your first name without having to write each individual email). Don’t let that stop you. Starting is easier than it look.
Decide what structure you want. After my intro which more often than note describes my week and the story behind my article that week, I focus on 3 areas that are (hopefully) relevant for most people in my “audience” (seems a bit of grandeur to say it in this manner):
- Growth at Work: areas of focus, challenges, status checks. Same as with the blog, I enjoy sharing my struggles with getting people to do strategy, to stop and think and to plan. And I have plenty of that. At least 54 different events so far!
- Growth at a Side Project (in my case ALG): I share stories of running a small charity remotely, managing a team, working with a very remote location, public speaking, fundraising, trying to fit it all in my night hours, being efficient, delegating, and so much more. Some of my greatest challenges are found here.
- Growth at Home: anything goes here really. From peaceful parenting to time management and my new bullet journal addition. The list would be endless if I did not make sure each area does not go over 1 max 2 short paragraphs.
Think about how often you want to be doing this. Do you want to do a wrap up of the month, do you want some daily thoughts, weekend reflections?
The rule is only that is regular, at least that is what I hear.
I found it much easier to do weekly, as I always end up having a few topics to cover. If monthly, I feel like I would spend too much time trying to figure out what happened 3 weeks ago and which story would be more relevant to tell. This makes it timely, flows easily and fits with my way of writing spontaneously (sometimes very Just-In-Time)
Well, not quite. You need to send it to someone (other than yourself). Well, you could just send it to your mum or spouse, but arguably that may not keep your motivation going, despite the amazing reviews they will certainly give you.
Every newsletter needs an audience. Someone that wants to read it. Which is why I started the first edition with the doubt “who would want to read it”.
I decided I was not adding an endless list of friends and family to it, so I started with a target 10 and after that people self-selected. It makes it a slow grind, especially as I don’t invest much time in bringing people in, but for some odd reason, I still really enjoy it. Probably saving a lot on therapy with it come to think of it!
Call the People
If you are doing it for the masses, then you should probably have a few strategies on how to ensure people actually join your list. I have only done the basic ones which I am happy to share.
- Anyone part of The Viewpoint is welcome to invite others
- If you are a reader in my blog you will at some point be prompted to join (assuming the pop up technology works)
- I have mentioned it in a couple of articles, but not prominently
The most effective way to bring this forward which I will consider for 2020 but I have not yet decided on would be:
- Share it everywhere in your social networks (same way as I share my blog, but for some reason don’t do the same with the newsletter)
- Give away stuff – like ebooks, webinars, things like that. It’s called a lead magnet where people need to subscribe to get it. I have mixed feelings but I have a plan to test one in late December. Watch out for it
- Add every new person you meet- again, mixed feelings, especially with GDPR.
Keep evolving… Keep growing
Even though the structure does not change I do try and keep the approach very varied. Not only because everyone’s life tends to be varied but also so we don’t all get bored of the same thing all over again.
For instance, a few months ago, I added a section on my key metrics. I wrote down an article on metrics and thought it was appropriate to follow a taste of my own medicine. I added key metrics of areas that I want to seriously improve: my sleep, my mood and my screen time. That was a fun addition of the last couple of months.
Furthermore, if in a week I had a really interesting event or one of my coaching calls, then I will likely add a highlights block and share a bit on that. I am not strict about the final outcome, as long as it sounds remotely interesting. Or so I think…
Last but not least… be authentic
If you see my metrics every week, I am mostly failing at all of them. But it adds to my humanity. Which is my last advice for the day. Be authentic. The world is full of fake facts and convoluted truths. Being authentic about your growth (or lack thereof) is most likely one of the best gifts you can put out to humanity.