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The #1 mistake new newsletters make
👉 controversial point of view?
I’ve been running a little survey for new signups to Unsnooze Your Inbox recently.
The idea is to see what the biggest challenge you have is with newsletters and email marketing so I can make sure I cover those topics in my posts.
You can take the survey here if you haven’t already.
Here are the results so far:
The #1 challenge is “Growing my subscriber list” and the #2 is “Getting started (deciding what big topics to cover, who to email etc)”.
These are two sides of the same coin really. Pick the right topic to cover for the right audience and getting subscribers becomes an awful lot easier.
And here’s where most people go wrong.
When you’re picking a niche for your business overall most people follow a process of balancing up an area they have expertise in, that they’re passionate about, and that clients value and are willing to pay for.
And that all makes complete sense.
But then just making that niche the topic of your newsletter is, I believe, a mistake.
Potentially a big one.
When you’re deciding on your newsletter topic you have to be a bit more ruthless.
Yes, you need a topic where you have expertise - otherwise you won’t be able to add value. Yes, you need a topic you care about - otherwise you won’t have the energy and interest to keep writing about it. And yes, you need a topic that clients value because otherwise you’ll build up an email list of people who never buy.
But within those boundaries, you need to add a vital criterion: where am I going to get subscribers from?
There’s a famous saying in marketing attributed to Robert Collier:
“You need to enter the conversation already taking place in your customer's mind.”
Gene Schwartz said something similar: it’s almost impossible for most of us to create demand. We have to tap into already existing demand. (He said it much prettier though - I’ve paraphrased).
Today, you don’t need psychic powers to listen in to the conversation taking place in your customer’s mind. Those conversations are happening in public.
On Linkedin. On Twitter. On Facebook. Maybe even Threads (if you ignore the twaddle from “influencers”).
Since getting subscribers is going to be your #1 challenge you need to prioritise it above all else. And that means picking a newsletter topic that you are certain people are already interested in hearing about.
How can you be certain people will be interested in hearing about a topic? If they’re already talking about it and already listening to people talk about it.
Go on to Linkedin. Are there already many discussions about this topic? Are there already people sharing valuable information? Do those conversations get lots of comments and likes?
If not there, try Twitter if your audience is there. Search for your potential topic. Are there lots of discussions amongst the sort of people you might want to subscribe to your newsletter?
If not, try Facebook, Threads, Mastodon, Or specialist websites and forums unique to your niche.
If you find lots of discussions that’s brilliant. Not only does it indicate interest in your topic, it means you have a potential audience to tap into.
And if no one is talking about it, take a step back.
Most people say you should focus your marketing on the places where your audience hangs out. But that’s not enough.
If they’re not actively talking about your topic then it doesn’t really matter if you can find them on Linkedin or Twitter or wherever. You’ll have a heck of a job getting them engaged.
Now that doesn’t mean it will be impossible to get subscribers for your topic. But it will be hard work.
It’s a bit like building a reservoir in the middle of nowhere rather than next to a river.
Build your reservoir next to a river and you can easily divert water into it. Build it miles away and you have to find a way to transport water to it.
In the case of a newsletter that might mean running ads. Or you might invest in SEO. You might need to write a bunch of articles on the topic and post them in places where your audience hangs out to drum up interest from scratch.
But those are much harder and more costly than tapping into existing demand.
So my suggestion is that if you’re not seeing a lot of discussion about your potential topic, change it.
Of course, stay true to your expertise, passion and what your clients value.
But remember, your newsletter doesn’t have to cover the full range of topics you might work with clients on. You can narrow it down and focus on one of the specific areas that people are actively talking about online.
That will make it much, much easier to address your #1 challenge: building that subscriber list.
And, of course, I’m aiming to share tips to help you with that too :)
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