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Give people valuable information, they tell us. Build relationships that lead to clients and referrals and business growth. That’s the essence of content marketing, widely rumored to be the key to success.
Well yes, but how do we give them valuable information?
You can share it on LinkedIn. Tweet it out. Or if your work has visual appeal, Instagram could be your key.
I’ve heard a bunch of business coaches recommend something more, though. “Write a newsletter.” Collect names, grow your list, stay in touch with those people and—voila!—your business will blossom.
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, seven years ago, I got serious.
It became clear that dropping into someone’s inbox every three or four or six weeks was not going to be my 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 posted on my blog. Since September, 2014 my newsletter has gone out every Wednesday.
And I mean every single Wednesday. Holidays, busy days, vacation days, whatever … I’ve clicked “send” week after week after week. In seven years that’s 364 newsletters!
Would that kind of effort pay off for you? Some experts are saying now the whole idea of a regular newsletter is passe. I’m not so sure. Here’s why …
Writing really does position 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 regularly, but covering many facets. How-to articles about networking; analyses of speeches from politicians, Oscar winners and Ted Talk-ers; insights about research in the field.
And, of course, since March, 2020, I’ve written a lot about virtual communication. When we all started doing business on Zoom, there was a lot to learn about connecting with people that way.
Lucky for me, I had years of prior experience. It was on the old-fashioned AM-band, not on WebEx. Still, I was ahead of the curve in being comfortable talking to people through the ether, and I knew I could be of service sharing that experience.
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 with a blog at all, 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 making people see you as a solid professional with valuable information to share.
Articles turn into social media posts.
LinkedIn is the cyber-place for professionals to make connections that lead to referrals and clients or customers.
These days, I post there five days a week. One of those is based on the article I sent out that morning—it’s a way to reach people who don’t (yet!) get my newsletter.
Other days, I pull something from the news or from what’s happening in the world of business and post my experience, insight, or information.
And every once in a while, I’m at a loss for what to say today. Good thing I have those 364 articles to draw on! Some of them were topical, timely, tied to events when I wrote them. Others are what newsrooms call “evergreen.” As interesting and useful today as they were three years ago. Or seven years.
Writing regularly gives you that library of material to share with the people looking for someone like you.
Social, schmocial. We each need our own real estate.
Branding experts warn us not to depend on social media. Sure, people find you on LinkedIn, 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.
Regular correspondence keeps you connected.
The main reason my business coaches encouraged a newsletter was this. No matter what you offer, everyone doesn’t need it today. In fact, most people don’t need it today.
However, they might very well look 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 had a conversation the other day with a woman who heard me speak years ago. She’s been reading my newsletter since then. Now she’s involved in an organization, they’re looking for a speaker, and she knew exactly where to find one.
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 woman at my reunion committee meeting who mentioned my article from a couple months ago … those delight me.
I made you mad. Or I made you smile. Or I made you think of something that happened in your own career. Or your life.
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 2012 and who has time for that anyway?
Post a comment below about your own experience.
I heard you speak at an .orgCommunity event years ago and I have been following you ever since. Yours is one of the few emails I read almost every week. Your content is valuable and thoughtful. Thank you for putting in the sustained effort to share what you know and what you are thinking about!
And thank YOU for staying with me, Dawn, and for sharing your own thoughts now and then. Sometimes my favorite part of writing a newsletter is reading the replies.
So true! I needed to hear this today: “Writing really does position you as an expert.”
Yes, Paula. You know that — you’re a writer. AND an expert.
As always, your writing is superb. Timely, relatable, valuable. You are the rare bird who is a kickass writer AND speaker. Your intelligence and insight are needed and appreciated. Thanks for being a consistent bright spot in the inbox.
And thank YOU for letting me into your inbox, Kelly, and reading it once I’m there. It’s getting harder for speakers, writers, and everyone else to get that kind of attention. I don’t take it for granted!