-Mark Your Progress
-Ask a Question
Welcome to the course. This is our first week and I know that you’re anxious to get started. The way I’ve designed this course is to drip out weekly content to you one week at a time, rather than giving it to you all at once. I want to create a space here where you can forget about all the many things you could be doing with your blog, so you can just focus on what you need to be doing right now.
This week’s focus: The Newsletter
So what is the very first thing you need to be doing? You need a newsletter. There are two approaches we can take for email gathering:
-a regularly scheduled newsletter
-every post sent by email (RSS)
I’m suggesting that you do a bi-monthly newsletter. It has the smallest unsubscribe rate. Some people do monthly, but that’s almost long enough for people to forget they signed up and mark it as spam. At two weeks, you’re neither bothering your readers nor neglecting them.
I’d also suggest you turn off any other mailing lists or post-by-email sign-ups you have running (if you’re already set up, just remove the form, but keep the service running).
We want to drive all our visitors towards one, single option. Subscribe to our newsletter. We’re spending the next 100 days pushing everyone towards this.
A newsletter can be written like a letter to your readers with links that your most recent posts (like David Lebovitz’s) or a list of 10 things (like Austin Kleon’s) or a letter plus full versions of all your latest posts (like Lena Dunham’s Lenny newsletter) or it can be an image heavy round up of JUST your latest posts (like Fatherly’s).
The decision I’d like you to (quickly) make this week is how you’re going to frame this newsletter. There’s not right or wrong choice but you should decide:
-will you write an intro letter?
-will you round up content outside of your blog posts?
-do you want it to be image heavy or text-based?
The days of doing exhaustive new content just for your newsletter are long gone. A newsletter these days is largely the same as what you’d get on the blog, just in digest form. Personalizing it with a letter or links to cool (related) content can be a nice touch.
It’s more about the style of your site and whether you feel like you’d have something to say every two weeks. A personal letter is more personal, so if your blog is about you and your life, then writing a little blurb before your latest posts can be a way to make a newsletter feel more natural. If you’re writing as an expert or you have a resource site, I probably wouldn’t include an intro letter (see the Fatherly example).
Copy writing – the sales pitch
So how do you pitch this newsletter? As simply and clearly as possible. I wouldn’t over-think it because what you write here isn’t going to be a magic bullet. You’ll want to write in the same voice as your blog. Keep it light. “Sign-up for my bi-monthly newsletter, full of travel, adventure and too many photos of tacos.”
Of course this is the point where you might get stuck, because what is your blog about? Here’s a trick: what is your blog mostly about? Don’t get too precious about positioning or messaging or trying to figure out a hook that’s going to bring everyone in. It’s super important to think deeply about your topic and how you want to approach it, but this isn’t the time for that. Save that for after the 1000 subscribers. Watch what they engage with the most. See what posts go viral when you have a bunch of readers. You’ll have a rich set of data that will help you hone in on what works and what doesn’t. At this point, it’s okay to go with your best guess and keep moving.
Write at least two blog posts, get your newsletter set-up, keep social media going (although you should automate Twitter if you can). Start putting your newsletter link out there.
This week about getting setup so we can launch into bigger things. If you’re doing MORE than what I’ve prescribed, continue to do those extra things. If you’re writing more than two blog posts a week or posting on social media more, continue to do all of that.
My approach is to get something up now, continue blogging, and start capturing subscribers.
For the task section, I’ll keep it brief and link out to more information. That way you can cruise through the stuff you know and do a deeper dive on those things you don’t know. After you finish these, be sure to use the checklist below to mark your progress.
1 Introduce yourself in the FB group
As part of this course you get access to the We Create Mastermind. This is the place to network, strategize and get feedback from the group. Every Thursday we will have a Mastermind group chat. Take a moment to go into the group, say hi and tell us about your blog. (Please link to your blog so we can take a peek!)
2 Add your starting subscribers to the spreadsheet
Each week we’re going to record our progress. This will not only give you a way to track your week-to-week changes, it’ll also give you an idea of how the rest of the class is doing.
Go record your starting point here.
3 Decide between Mailchimp and Convert Kit
For some of you, you’ve already made this decision, so this is easy! For the rest, I’ll break it down like this: mailchimp is prettier and easier to design newsletters in, but if you ever plan to monetize your blog, you’ll want ConvertKit’s marketing features (the entire company is aimed at bloggers).
Still not sure? I recorded a quick demo of the two:
4 Set up your mailing list and get your short link
It’s very easy to get started, but I created a short demo on how to do it.
5 Add your subscribe box to your sidebar
There are plugins for this!
6 Add the shortlink to your email signature
It’s incredibly simple, but effective. This is mine right now:
Writer, Photographer & Filmmaker
The magazine: http://afearl.es/aflaunch
(How did I make that afearl.es link? Well I thought of a short version of my blog name using a .es domain, bought the domain and set it up with bit.ly. It’s free. Well except for registering the domain, that you pay for. Instructions here.)
7 Create a graphic in Canva to promote your list
Canva is a fantastic tool for creating nicely designed images for promotion. Sign in and go to create a design (see that green button?).
You can choose a Facebook Post size or a social media sized one (good for Twitter). You’ll use this to make an image with an inspiring quote or a cool picture, then in your Facebook or Twitter post, you’ll say Sign-up for our Deep Dive Newsletter (or whatever you want to call it) with your SHORTLINK. There are lots of designs, fonts, images to play with in Canva, so have fun!
8 Add the graphic to FB and Twitter (with mailing list short link) and pin to the top.
Got your image? Post it as an update on Facebook and Twitter then pin to the top. For Facebook that’s on the right hand top corner, under that arrow:
For Twitter, it’s the same place, right hand top corner, under the arrow:
9 Blog post #1
If you’re not sure what to write, check out this quick guide (with a few dozen post ideas too).
10 Blog post #2
Plus blog post 3, 4 and 5 if you’re used to blogging more frequently! This is not the time to slow down…
11 Get at least 5 comments on each post
How do you get more comments on your posts? Getting your name out there. BUT there’s this huge thing called “social proof” which can blog people from wanting to subscribe. Most bloggers start out by getting other bloggers to comment on their blogs. I am totally fine with that – that’s how I started. The main issue is if you get stuck in the reciprocal commenting loop, where you never reach anything else but a small circle of bloggers.
You see this all the time in certain niches.
However, you guys aren’t going to do that because you won’t need to… you’re growing your list and creating AUTHENTIC new readers. So for the purposes of THIS course (not my other blogging courses, where I ban the practice) I am okay with folks commenting on each other’s blogs to get their numbers up. It’s not a long term strategy but in the short term it does help to have 5-10 comments on each and every post. We’ll do a weekly blog post shout-out in the Mastermind group for you to share posts as you write them. If you post though, you should be returning the favor and commenting on a handful of your peers’ work.
12 Automate Twitter
This might just change your life, but if you’re not using Twitter and getting a ton of results, now is the time to just schedule your latest blog posts, instagram photos and whatever else to go out there automatically and then forget about it. You have a lot to do this month and Twitter is not a game-changer for bloggers anymore.
I like to use: https://ifttt.com/
13 Post on social media 1x per day to keep things moving
Don’t let your social media die out… we’ll be focusing on this more in the coming weeks but either get into the daily habit of updating FB, TW and IG (with weekly updates on Pinterest – Saturday is best).
Mark Your Progress
|1||Introduce yourself in the FB group|
|2||Add your starting subscribers to the spreadsheet|
|3||Decide between Mailchimp and Convert Kit|
|4||Set up your mailing list|
|5||Add your subscribe box to your sidebar|
|6||Add the shortlink to your email signature|
|7||Create a graphic in Canva to promote your list|
|8||Add the graphic to FB and Twitter (with mailing list short link) and pin to the top.|
|9||Blog post #1|
|10||Blog post #2|
|11||Get at least 5 comments on each post|
|13||Post on social media 1x per day to keep things moving|