Eight Content Ideas to Make Your Newsletter More Read-worthy

Be sure to check out this week’s writing prompt.

Newsletters are one of the best marketing tools you can use to reach clients and customers. Whether you’ve had a newsletter for your business for a while or you’re thinking about starting one, it’s helpful to share good, strong content can put you in front of readers and keep them informed and engaged.

But most business owners and bloggers know little about newsletters. What kind of content should they include? What will their readers want to know and read about? The answers will depend on what type of business you have. For example, a yoga studio might include tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, healthy recipes, profiles of instructors and studio news. It might be a good place to promote a special offer too.

Or perhaps you provide a dog walking service. Your newsletter might include news about new dog treats, pet grooming tips and a list of local veterinarians.

While I have yet to start a newsletter for my writing business, I’ve worked on several others for employers and clients. I also subscribe to several newsletters from writers and publishing professionals, including Kat Boogaard, Joanna Penn and Jane Friedman. Each of their newsletters are unique based on what information they want to share with their readers and what services they want to promote. Some are sent out weekly (Boogaard’s) and C. Hope Clark’s Funds for Writers while others are shared monthly.

Those are some of the issues you will have to ask yourself as you determine your newsletter content. How often do you want to send it out? What kind of information do you want to include?

One thing is clear. The best newsletters offer helpful advice and information to their readers. They put their readers’ interests first. Further, the least helpful ones focus too much on marketing themselves with little thought about their readers’ interests.

So what kind of information can you include in your newsletter? Here are a few ideas.

  • Start with a brief opening to welcome readers. Keep it brief, no more than three or four paragraphs. Make it timely, referring to current events or the latest news in your life such as a conference you attended, a holiday or family event. Keep it casual and conversational as if you are speaking to friends, (which of course you are).
  • Link to your own blog/website. If you post to your blog frequently, perhaps a few times a month, why not share links to the most recent stories? We used to do this at one of my employers since we posted to our company blog nearly every day. In the weekly e-newsletter, we shared the headlines to the latest stories and linked back to the blog. This is a great way to generate interest in your work and give people a reason to visit your site. It’s one of the easiest things you can do to promote your business or services. Don’t post every single link, but only the top three or four that your readers may find useful.
  • Link to the most interesting news stories and blog posts that you’ve read. No doubt you subscribe to numerous blogs and online magazines. What is the most interesting and memorable things you have read from these sources? Make a list, then link to those articles in your newsletter. Freelance writer Kat Boogaard shares her favorite stories in each weekly newsletter issue. It’s a great way to share industry news that readers may not have known about.
  • Conduct interviews. Is there someone in your sphere whose work you admire? Or perhaps they’ve done something remarkable, like finish a marathon or got their first book published. Reach out to them for a brief interview. I like the Q&A format because it’s easy to read. But keep it brief, no more than four or five questions. Keep in mind that readers don’t have a lot of time to read and will skim through the material. So keep your questions on point.
  • Consider sharing a guest post or article. If you don’t have time for a short feature for your newsletter, why not recruit a fellow writer or business owner to prepare something. I’ve seen this done on several newsletters I receive, which adds a new dimension to your offering. Plus it helps build rapport and support among fellow writers and business owners, especially if they have a product or service that would benefit your readers.
  • Include a book review or recommendations. Have you finished reading a book about a topic pertinent to your business? Why not write a short review and share it in the newsletter? An alternative is to list books about a common theme or topic that may interest readers. For example, find three or four book titles about time management and share links to Goodreads or Amazon for details. This is another way to provide valuable service to readers.
  • List upcoming conferences and workshops. Since so many conferences are being offered via Zoom or other online platform, more people can participate in them that couldn’t before. Your newsletter is a great vehicle for sharing links to upcoming conferences, workshops and events that may interest your readers.
  • Close with a positive message. Ending with a quote from a famous person can inspire readers  and motivate them to be their best. My daily news brief from my health care provider always concludes with a healthy recipe, three tips for a healthy lifestyle, and a quote that makes me feel positive about the future. You can do the same for your readers.

While there’s no guarantee that readers will share your newsletter with their friends, it’s nice when they do.

Remember the best newsletters focus on the readers’ interests, so avoid too much self-promotion which can turn off readers. A little promotion of a product or service is okay, but when it’s done with a relentless force, people may give up on you.

Another piece of advice: browse the newsletters that come into your in-box every week or every month. Notice what you like and what you don’t. Then make a list of components you’d like to include in your own newsletter.

Focus on providing tips, tricks, tools and resources that will make your readers’ lives better. Make sure you are consistent with your timing too. For example, if you decide to distribute your monthly newsletter on the fifth of the month, make sure you do it every month. Readers will begin to look for it in their in box.

Keep the newsletter brief. Most people don’t want to spend hours reading lengthy articles because they suffer from information overload as it is from all the material they already receive. You want your newsletter to stand out. It’s not how long the newsletter is, but the quality of the information you provide.

What about you? Do you have a newsletter for your hobby or business? How often do you distribute it? What kind of content do you include?

How an Editorial Plan Can Help You Create Better Newsletter Content

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Newsletters are a valuable tool to help promote your business to clients and customers. When done well, they help keep your business top of mind so clients will contact you when they need your product or service. They also help you engage with your clients and customers on a regular basis — key when building a relationship with them.

But coming up with fresh content can be a challenge. After all, there are just so many ways you can write about decluttering your home or saving for retirement.

If you feel your newsletter content is getting a bit stale, here are a few ideas to rejuvenate your stockpile of story ideas.

  • Check out industry magazines and websites for stories that might be of interest to your clients and customers. Notice how they present information. Do they use graphics, photos or other images to enhance their material.
  • Consider adding infographics. Many businesses use infographics to present survey data in an interesting, more reader-friendly way. Infographics is one more tool you can use to make your content more interesting while getting your message across.
  • Sign up to receive newsletters from similar types of businesses, including competitors. Note what kinds of stories they are sharing. Are they covering different topics than you are, or are they writing about topics in a fresh and interesting way?

As you review these publications, take notes about what you like. There’s always something you can learn from what other organizations do.

Next, sit down and brainstorm potential story ideas. Feel free to borrow ideas from competitors, industry publications and the news headlines. If needed, hire a writer who can help you find different angles for old story lines that you’ve covered before. They can also help you organize your content for each issue.

It might also be helpful to think of a theme for each issue. For example, when planning the August issue, think of summer, vacations, the beach, and barbecues – and try to connect your articles to the summer theme. September might be an issue related to going back to school, so the newsletter might include articles related to education and learning. Having a theme adds a specific focus to your content, and because each issue has a different theme, no two newsletter issues will be alike.

Finally, start planning. The key is to think of content in blocks of information. Structure the newsletter in equal chunks and separate them by topic. For this purpose, use a simple template that includes blank spaces to fill in the month, the theme and three or four slots for story ideas. Below is an example:

Article 1: Message from you, the company president, vice president or CEO. The message can be brief, no more than 300 words, and can be written by the CEO himself or another representative of the company on his behalf. Be personable and conversational. Talk about any new changes at the company.  What do you want your clients to know about your business that they did not know before?  If your CEO or director is uncomfortable leading off the newsletter, use that first article to introduce a new product or service, or any major company news your clients might find helpful.

Article 2: Highlight a specific feature of your business, something that has been established for some time that people may not know about. For example, an apartment community might feature the reopening of the outdoor patio and swimming pool for the summer with gentle reminders for using it safely. Another idea for this article is to do a Q&A with a key member of the management team.

Article 3: Share a light-hearted, general interest story that your clients will appreciate. This could be a focus on neighborhood news, like a list of local street festivals, or tips for keeping pets cool during the hot summer months. For an apartment community, ask residents what they enjoy about living at their community.

If you really want to be organized, plan several issues at a time. By organizing your content this way, you can be sure you aren’t repeating stories.

Conclude each issue with a call to action. Mention any special offers, ask for feedback about your business, or end with a thoughtful, meaningful inspirational quote. Be sure to include your business contact information so clients and customers can reach out to you if they have questions.

Perhaps the biggest challenge many managers and business owners have about newsletter content is not that there are not enough ideas, but that there are too many. With so many topics and angles to work with, it can be difficult to whittle down the most important ideas you want to present.

Setting up an editorial plan for your newsletters will help you focus on three or four ideas for each issue that will help you engage with your clients, promote your business and present your name and company in the best possible light.