In our inaugural blog post, we'd like to offer some tips on one of the most fundamental challenges in newsletter creation: how to write a good newsletter.
Learning how to write a good newsletter takes time. There's a lot of trial and error involved as you craft a publication that really appeals and speaks to your audience. But it's all vital learning on your way to writing a good email newsletter and positioning yourself as a trusted source on your chosen topic.
Whether you're just starting out, or are a seasoned publisher with a thriving readership, here are a few tips from our editorial team on how to write a good email newsletter:
1. Do you need a newsletter?
Before we answer the question of how to write a good email newsletter, first step back and ask yourself: Do you need to send a newsletter?
How will you (or your business) truly benefit from it? Do you have enough content to publish regularly? Are you genuinely trying to inform and educate a reader on a certain topic, or are you trying to sell a product to them?
If you can answer those questions clearly, then a newsletter is probably a great fit for you.
2. Get inspired by the newsletters you read
If you're thinking about starting a newsletter from scratch, it's a good bet that you subscribe to a few already – this is a great place to start for inspiration. Scour your inbox for the newsletters you really like to read, and then consider:
Why do you read them?
What do you like about them?
What don't you like about them?
How could they be improved?
By thinking critically about the newsletter content you already subscribe to, you'll start to get an idea of what you want to include in your own. And, if you're already writing a newsletter, you may even find a few things to add or improve.
And don’t be afraid to do a quick Google search for examples of great newsletters.
3. Maintain a good content balance
Newsletters should be informational. You’re trying to educating a reader on a certain topic by sharing your expertise. But that’s not to say that your newsletter shouldn’t include any promotional content - you’re trying to get people to subscribe, after all.
As a general rule of thumb, try to maintain a 90 / 10 split when writing your newsletter content – 90% educational / 10% promotional. In practice, this could be as simple as writing about your topic before closing with a link to your subscription page.
4. Have a clear goal in mind
Before you commit to writing a newsletter, ensure that you have a clear goal in mind. What exactly are you trying to achieve? For example, free and paid newsletters can have very different purposes, including:
Building a marketing list from scratch
Nurturing trust with your existing audience
Boosting your personal or professional profile
Making money (especially relevant for paid newsletters)
It could be one, none or all of those reasons above. But whatever it is, make sure everything you write, publish and send is geared towards that goal.
5. Set your publishing schedule
Consistency is key when writing a good newsletter. Publishing consistently, and at regular intervals, creates an expectation from your audience on when they will receive your content – and that’s an expectation you will need to live up to.
Be mindful that writing newsletter content can be very time consuming – especially if you’re suffering from writer’s block. Find a publishing schedule that doesn’t overstretch your resources or risks compromising your content quality.
6. Keep your newsletter design simple
You can always tell whether a newsletter has been designed professionally. Good newsletters keep the template design clean and simple – limited colours, slick logos, simple imagery and relevant calls to action.
If you’re building an email template from scratch, it always pays to reach out to a professional designer for their input. They can advise you on layout, colour palettes and help you craft a newsletter that works on both desktop and smart devices.
With Scriber, you can take advantage of our pre-built responsive newsletter template (above), professionally designed to work seamlessly on every device.
7. Get creative with your subject lines
Subject lines really do matter when writing a good newsletter. Think of it like this: If the body copy in your newsletter is the movie, the subject line is the trailer. It’s the first thing people see when your newsletter lands in their inbox and will determine whether they open it or not...
Great subject lines are hard to write, especially when you consider how different devices show a different amount of characters. At Scriber, we recommend keeping your subject line to 25-30 characters to ensure readability across all devices.
The content of your subject line matters too. You can always find examples of good and bad subject lines in your own inbox, so have a look through and see what resonates with you. Here are a few tips for crafting a winning subject line:
Keep your main message at the beginning
Ask a question – this engages a reader directly
Make a bold statement – this captures attention
Use personalisation, but sparingly – too much personal information can be jarring
If you need some inspiration, you can find lots of guidance on great subject line examples by performing a quick Google search.
8. Keep it concise
Always be aware that most readers are time-poor, and that is one resource you should not take for granted. Readers should be able to skim-read and get what they need from your newsletter quickly and easily. When writing a newsletter, you should always where possible:
Keep your sentences short
Avoid long paragraph blocks
Use headers to separate out key points and topics
Don’t overload newsletters with too many links/articles
Let your content speak for itself; you don’t need never-ending blocks of text to communicate your depth of knowledge.
9. Break up your text
It’s really easy to get caught up writing your newsletter and find yourself with huge blocks of text that are difficult to read. This is where newsletter formatting becomes important – if your newsletter is a massive block of text lacking styling, your readership stats will suffer.
Break up those paragraphs with images, numbered or bulleted lists and pull quotes. It’ll make it easier to read, easier to scroll and easier to understand.
10. Test, test, test and test again
Once you’re publishing your newsletter regularly, you’ll want to start improving it. In content publishing, testing is the best way to both improve your content and understand your audience.
Test everything such as:
Sender name & address
You can run an infinite amount of tests, and it pays to approach it methodically. Only ever test one variable at a time so you can find your clear winner. Then, make a note of that information and use that data point to inform your next test.
Writing a newsletter from scratch? Try Scriber.
If you’re just starting out on the journey of writing an email newsletter, Scriber can help you tick off the points from the list above. With Scriber, you can create your online publication and start writing a great newsletter with our professional and device-responsive template in minutes.
It’s easy to get started – just sign up for free today.