Give people valuable information, they say. You’ll build relationships that lead to clients and referrals and business growth. That’s the essence of content marketing, rumored to be the key to success.
Well yes, but how do we give them valuable information? I’d heard a bunch of business coaches say, “Write a newsletter.” Collect names, grow your list, stay in touch with those people and—voila!—your business will boom.
So I wrote. Sporadically. I wasn’t sure what to say. I had other work to do. And what if nobody wanted to read what I wanted to write?
Then, four years ago this week, I got serious. And I can’t even tell you what flipped that switch.
It just became obvious that dropping into someone’s inbox every three or four or six weeks was not the ticket to a brighter business future. The effort to write was wasted if it wasn’t consistent.
So I committed. Every week, an article sent to you and, later, posted on my blog. Since September 17, 2014 my newsletter’s gone out every Wednesday.
Holidays, busy days, vacation days, whatever…I’ve clicked “send” every. single. Wednesday. In four years that’s 208 newsletters!
Would that kind of effort pay off for you? Here’s what I’ve discovered…
Writing positions you as an expert.
The more I write about communication, the more people (including me!) believe I know a lot about communication. That means not just writing frequently, but covering a variety of issues. How-to articles about speaking; analyses of speeches from politicians, Oscar winners and Ted Talk-ers; reports on research in the field.
A robust blog attracts attention and keeps it longer.
You see blogs with just a handful of posts. You sort of wonder why the person bothered, if they were going to put up a post every few months. If you’re researching a topic or an expert on that topic, a little bit of content doesn’t give you much value, so you move on to a site where you can learn more.
I want mine to be that site; I’m guessing you want that for your website too. Substantial is better than sparse for portraying you as a solid professional.
Articles become social media posts.
My Facebook business page contains curated content from experts in all kinds of communication. It only makes sense that I’m one of the experts.
People looking for me there or on LinkedIn can see what I’ve written and decide they want to connect online or, better yet, in real life.
We each need our own online real estate.
Branding experts warn us not to depend on social media. Sure, people find you on Facebook, Twitter, Insta. But those companies can (and do) change their algorithms and put a dramatic dent in your reach.
When you write about your expertise and opinions on your own site, it stays there as long as you want it to.
I may have the makings of my next book.
Book-writing coach and editor Kelly Epperson tells me I’ve already written book number two—all I have to do is collect and organize blog posts around a single theme. I’ve been dubious about taking a shortcut, but a lot of other authors say the same thing. At least one of their books contains material they’ve repurposed from blog posts.
Regular correspondence keeps you connected.
The main reason my business coaches encouraged a newsletter was this. No matter what service you offer, everyone doesn’t need it today. In fact, most people don’t need it today.
But they might very well be looking for exactly what you do in a month or six months or three years. The odds that they’ll remember you and know how to get in touch when that time arrives aren’t that good. If you’ve been in their inbox every week since you met, though, that’s a whole different story.
I’m speaking at a corporate women’s event this week. Arranged by someone who heard me speak more than a year ago. She’s been reading my newsletter since then. So when she and her new colleagues started putting together this women’s network, she knew exactly where to find their kick-off speaker: firstname.lastname@example.org
Life is hectic. Business can be frenetic. We all need a way to make connections and nurture them until they become relationships. Infrequent, occasional, sporadic contact doesn’t do the nurturing. Consistent communication does.
The connection runs both ways.
As much as I enjoy writing to you each week (and I do), I get even more excited when you write back. The comments on my blog, the emails, the people who come up to me after a talk and mention something from an article last month … those delight me.
I made you mad. Or I made you think. Or I made you remember something that happened in your own career. Or your life.
Some readers are regular correspondents, some write once in a blue moon when they have an especially strong reaction to something I said. Either way, I cherish the dialogue. And I know I’d be missing out on that if I hadn’t committed to consistency back in 2014.
Of course, that’s your cue to weigh in. Maybe you write weekly. Or monthly. Or maybe you think the whole newsletter thing is a lot of hype and it’s so 2010 and who has time for that anyway?
Post a comment below about your own experience.
Catherine, congrats on four years!
Your newsletter benefits you because you obviously put a lot of effort into topic development and the writing itself.
If content isn’t excellent, all the emails are an annoyance and consistently remind readers of how average and shallow the writer is.
Thanks, Diana! It’s an accomplishment, and I have to say, I don’t usually have so much discipline. My motivation to sit down and write every week has increased as I’ve responses have increased. The interaction fuels me. Must have been a talk show host in a previous life. 😉
I do love and look foreword to your newsletter! For awhile i was not getting them (we don’t know why) and i did tell you that when I saw you next. I’m back in the groove and happy again!!
Keep on keeping on – you are the best!!!
Gale, I’m so glad I found out you’d fallen off the list. Mysteries of the internet. It’s good that you’re back and digging it. I’m working up my nerve to write about Botox Gone Bad — it could be a juicy one!
I too congratulate you ! Your E-mails are a weekly welcome, thank you for your time, effort and free knowledge. 😀
Thanks, Jacques. Listen, I love that we’re still in touch a year and a half after that Customer Service session at TechExpo. Mark Hambaum and I will be there again in February. Hope to see you then.