At the end of my first year in business, I had 33 people on my email list. I had a sign-up form on my website, but in that year I never sent out even one newsletter. Sound familiar?
I knew that even when people like your blog posts, without an email to tell them there is a new one, they won’t remember to go to your website to read them. Since I had actually been writing blog posts, I decided to get down to business and send them out in an automated RSS email blast. This did get me a little more action. In 6 more months I had another 33 people join my list.
But let’s face it: 66 subscribers in 18 months was far from the results I wanted. When someone I cared about unsubscribed, I really woke up. I took a hard look at what went out that week and realized how far out of touch I had become. I had almost forgotten these blog posts were being broadcasted, and it is a wonder that more people hadn’t unsubscribed.
That was the turning point. I had to get off autopilot and put my attention on my readers.
We learn by imitating, so I started with newsletters that I enjoyed and deconstructed what I liked about them. Could I find my own version of that magic?
Here’s what I noticed about the blog posts and newsletters that I got the most out of:
- A personal and friendly style of writing.
- The writer’s voice sounded like a real person.
- No jargon.
- They understood what I needed to know. The writer seemed locked in on my interests and needs.
- They shared things that would save me time. Things I didn’t even know I needed to know.
- I looked forward to these blog posts because they made me better at what I was trying to do.
Here are the four commitments I made:
- I committed to be very deliberate about my blog posts and newsletters. It is a privilege that people gave me permission to email them and I was going to take that privilege seriously.
- I committed to find content, and stick to a writing style, that reflected what I had learned above.
- I committed to write one post a week that I thought my people would be interested in and find helpful on their journey to do online marketing.
- I committed to send out that post in a newsletter, linked back to my website, each and every Wednesday morning.
I have not missed a week of sending out the Just a Digital Minute in the six years since my commitment.
Are my blog posts and newsletters working for my business? Yes!
Here is the scoop.
I have a few thousand people on my list now, but it’s not the number that matters—it’s the depth of connection forged with readers over time that leads to trusted partnerships and referrals.
Some favorite anecdotes:
1. Your circle of influence is wider than your list.
Walking through my neighborhood, a real estate developer who I had met once more than eight years ago stopped to talk to me as if we were long lost friends. It seemed so weird that he was so super friendly. As our conversation wound to a close, he happened to mention that he reads my newsletter and has gotten a lot from it. Though not a client, he told me he referred people to me and to my newsletter.
2. Your posts carry your expertise to unexpected places and people.
Another time, I went to a party and was introduced to a chiropractor in the suburbs. When he caught my name, he exclaimed, “You’re Judi Knight? Oh my God, you’re Judi Knight?” It was a bit strange. What the hell did I do? I tentatively said, “Yes. I’m Judi Knight.” And he replied excitedly, “I read your newsletter!”
3. You never know which reader will do business with you.
My husband and I put our beach house in Navarre Beach, Fla., on the market this summer partly to simplify and partly to escape post-traumatic stress from a hurricane that completely destroyed this place ten years ago. The realtor called us with three contracts in one day and we chose the one that was all cash. We did the closing by mail, so my first interaction with the new owner was by phone to handle the change over of the utilities. I got an email from him the next Wednesday morning after my newsletter came out, saying that he had thought my name was familiar. It clicked that I am the Judi Knight that sends him an email every week about online marketing.
My point is that you will be amazed at the reach we have and the impact we can make when we get ourselves out there online. I was blown away by these coincidences, which taken together are now a pattern that show me that my weekly blog is making a difference to people. Consistent communication works by keeping me in touch with clients, prospects, friends and random people who may need my services at some point or may refer to me.
Even with a relatively small list, I continue to get a very steady stream of clients and referrals that have been reading my newsletter for some length of time. When they do make that call, 90% know they like what we do, trust how we work and have already made a decision that they want to work with us. They know this because every week, my post gives them a window into the knowledge, personality and values of New Tricks.
The blog posts helped them get to know us. By the time they call us, the rest is working out the details.
I know so many of you. I know you have a lot to offer your clients and prospects. It may seem daunting to write and send out newsletters, especially when your list is very small. It’s natural to want that immediate confirmation that these efforts are working.
If you are in it for the long haul, I guarantee if you hang in there, keep doing and tweaking, you will find your sweet spot, and you won’t need to be the guru with 30,000 subscribers. You too will see the evidence that you are contributing to and making a difference in people’s lives.
Don’t expect everyone to read every newsletter. They won’t. Will they comment? Not often. Not every post will hit the mark with everyone. If they don’t unsubscribe, you will still stay front-of-mind when someone talks about needing your product, service and expertise. And they know where to find you, and where to tell their contacts to find you. That’s great marketing.