One way that I’ve experimented with to build community and loyalty among readers on my blogs is to offer readers a free regular newsletter.
I’ve found that since started using newsletters that it’s added a new dimension of community to my blogs. Newsletter days have higher traffic for starters and there seems to be a growing relationship between many subscribers and myself. The newsletter isn’t the only reason for this but it’s had an impact.
Interestingly the rise of blogging has actually been the death of some newsletter publishers who have moved to blogging as a medium to communicating with readers and making an income – whilst my preferred medium is definitely blogging I see a number of benefits of combining email newsletters and blogs together as part of a wider web strategy. Let me share a few.
Benefits of using a Newsletter
• Increase Readership – in a sense what readers of your newsletter are doing is giving you permission to promote your blog to them. Whilst you need to be careful that you don’t abuse this trust that they’ve given you but making the newsletter ALL about self promotion it will allow you to generate some traffic back to your blog.
• Promotion of Posts – one of the side benefits of a newsletter is that sometimes the things you highlight in it get picked up by subscribers on their own blogs or sites. I notice here at ProBlogger that when I link to a week old post that had an initial number of links from other blogs on the day I posted that a second round of inbound links often appear after mentioning it in a newsletter. For this reason I also use my newsletters to announce new projects to readers, often given a day or two’s exclusive notice to them before going completely public.
• Build Community – newsletters have the potential to give you readers a little extra that regular readers don’t get. In the process they often feel more included as they catch a glimpse of some privileged information. I’ve included special tips or earnings updates in my newsletter that have not appeared on the wider blog for this reason and often get emails from readers thanking me for sharing them.
• Improve Your Blog - if people are interested enough to sign up for your newsletter – they are often interested enough in you to participate in improving your blog. When I went on holidays in June and needed guest bloggers to help cover my blogging it was my newsletter readers who I first went to to ask if they’d be interested in helping and it was they who mainly signed up even after I made the request a few days later on my blog. I also often get emails with suggestions for my blogs from newsletter readers after I send my weekly email out. I treat readers as investors in my blog and try to act on as many of these suggestions as possible.
• Drive Sales – Whilst I don’t use my newsletters to promote products or affiliate programs – this would be another benefit of using a newsletter. I personally don’t do it because the goal of my newsletter is not to drive sales but to get people involved in my blogging community – to visit and keep visiting my blog – however if you have a more sales driven blog then there would be possibilities here.
• Email is familiar and Easy to Use – blogging is growing in popularity and recognizability but some readers don’t naturally use them. Email is familiar and easy to use for most web users and so to use it as a medium just makes sense.