The Newsletter, Revisited {Amanda’s Discussion}

Posted 8 November, 2013 by Amanda / 14 Comments


After I wrote about email subscriptions and newsletters, I created the On a Book Bender weekly digest. My vision for the newsletter was pretty simple: an exclusive extra where I recapped what happened on the blog and talked about what was going on.

And for the first few weeks, it was a lot of fun. I essentially wrote a personal email with links to my posts. I like the sense of connection you get from that. Even though it was extra work on top of my CR posts, I didn’t mind it.

But then open rates dropped.

Having your open rates drop isn’t uncommon with newsletters; it’s a natural part of your list growing. I knew this. But. The problem with open rates dropping is that people aren’t reading the emails I put a lot of effort into. It’s not an effective use of my time—my CR posts are in feed readers, Feedburner emails, and available on the web. Anyone can see those.

Back in June, I instituted a “no new content” rule in my business newsletter. Not because I don’t want to reward my list for subscribing, but because it makes no sense to put your best content where it’s not discoverable and shareable. Imagine pouring your heart out in an email and then having only half the people you sent it to read it. If it’s fucking brilliant, you want everyone to see it and recognize your brilliance, yeah? Emails lack staying power.

That’s why I do “no new content” for my business—it’s essentially an introduction to my post (why I wrote it, what I learned, what the post’s about) and then a link to the post. I know all the reasons why this kind of tactic is annoying (trust me, I know), but I’ve learned that I need to use my time efficiently.

Eventually, I ran into the same problem with the On a Book Bender weekly digest. It’s simply too much work for the return. But some of my subscribers wanted to continue receiving the weekly digests. So I did what MailChimp allows you to do: hook up your feed and send out an email.

My weekly digest is now a collection of partial posts (I can’t figure out how to display the full post) from the week’s posts. It’s not ideal. But I continue getting subscribers and it’s a decent alternative to subscribing by email. I’m keeping the weekly digest, but I’ve set it and forgot it.

Let’s talk.

Do you have a weekly newsletter? Subscribe to one? What do you look for in a newsletter? What do you hate?

Filed under: Discussion,


14 Responses to “The Newsletter, Revisited {Amanda’s Discussion}”

  1. Actually, I don’t subscribe to ANY newsletters (not even yours…sorry!). I like my inbox to be clean, organized and to fit in the screen, with no emails falling off-screen. Yes, I’m very OCD about my email, I realize this. Same with my blogs. I read them via BlogLovin at about the same time every weekday…and whip through any weekend postings, rarely commenting because I don’t have the time.

    • Newsletters are one of the most important business tools, so I’ve learned to embrace them. I actually really enjoy the new gmail tab inbox because it sorts them into a different tab, leaving my main screen free of random stuff.

      I don’t subscribe to any book blogs by email, though. The number of posts per week doesn’t make it worthwhile.

  2. I started a newsletter for my blog… and then after about a month I stopped sending it out. I feel horribly guilty about this because people (a few scant people) still subscribe to the list and are getting nothing from it. But it was a time suck to put together what I was doing when no one was opening it. :(

    • I agree, Mandi. That’s why I automated it. It’s still going, but I set it and forget it. I did it weekly too, so it wouldn’t be overwhelming. Have you thought about going that route? I felt it was better than nothing.

      The problem is that open rates suck. I’ve been noticing a steady decrease in open rates, both in my business and blog (though I just checked my blog’s open rates for the first time in a month). The decrease is normal, but it’s not an efficient time investment.

  3. I’m kind of in awe of you Amanda, you do so many extra things outside of the blog, I have no idea how you have time for it all. I barely can keep up with reading/reviewing, commenting and updating Goodreads and Amazon. And Twitter. After all that’s done I’m exhausted! You amaze me:)

  4. I am not a fan of the newsletters or getting emails from blogs indicating that there are new posts. I used feedly and am really happy with it. I did sign up for a few blog’s email lists when I really, really wanted an extra giveaway entry (I didn’t want to show my personal email that I use for feedly in the rafflecopter). Honestly, I had never heard of subscribing to a blog via email until I entered the book blogging community. Everyone I know used to use Google Reader for tracking blogs and now they all use Feedly. I guess emails can be good, if you only read a few blogs, but with the number of blogs I read per day, the emails would just overwhelm me.

  5. That does sound like a lot of hard work. I wouldn’t even be able to do that all, because I just wouldn’t have the time. But it’s nice of you to offer your readers such a service as this.

  6. I automate my posts with MailChimp too. Sometimes their layout disrupts the graphics in my posts, so it isn’t ideal, but it works well enough. I kind of set it up and forgot about it too, because honestly, I get more traffic from social media than I ever have from my list. It makes me regret all those months I spent obsessing over my email subscriber count.

    • Yup. Where email subscribers are important for businesses, I’m not sure they hold the same value for book bloggers. Like you, I get more traffic from social media and feed readers. Book bloggers tend not to use email to follow blogs.

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