How to tune up your description, welcome email, and promotion.
There’s one thing everyone who writes a newsletter has in common: They want more people to read it.
To help you grow your newsletter I’ve put together a five-day plan you can follow to “tune up” the way you position and promote it in order to attract more subscribers.
I hope you find them as effective as they’ve been for me.
Day 1: Tune Up Your Newsletter Description
When it comes to getting newsletter subscribers, nothing’s as important as how you describe it.
Especially on your signup page.
It’s not enough to explain what your newsletter is about and its features.
You must emphasize the VALUE it provides to subscribers and the BENEFITS they will get from consuming it.
This may seem obvious, but most newsletter descriptions don’t do this.
For example, if you describe your newsletter as, “A collection of rants and raves about my favorite TV shows,” no one is going to care.
(Except maybe your Mom).
But, if you describe it as, “A guide to what TV shows are worth watching that will save you time and frustration,” you’re going to get more subscribers.
Here’s a simple formula you can use to tweak and improve your current description:
[Newsletter Name] helps [Target Audience] solve [Problem/Challenge] by sharing [Content/Solutions].
If you fill in the blanks from that sentence and/or incorporate those details into your newsletter description in some way, I guarantee you’ll convert a higher percentage of browsers into subscribers.
To give you an idea what this could look like, here are a few examples.
First, here’s my newsletter description:
“The For The Interested newsletter features tips to help you better produce, promote, and profit from your creations.”
And here are a few hypothetical descriptions I created for some other newsletters.
Christine Hennessey’s So Relatable newsletter description could be something like this:
“So Relatable helps creative people achieve their goals, improve their lives, and eat better snacks by learning from Christine Hennessey’s experiences in a personal, weekly email.”
Glenn Meder’s Socrates Gold newsletter description could be something like this:
“Socrates Gold provides people who believe life isn’t one-dimensional with trusted wisdom to help them lead a healthier and happier life.”
Please take the above examples with a grain of salt.
I haven’t discussed the target audience or core value they offer with either creator so I’m just winging it — those descriptions are probably far from perfect and may not be accurate with regard to what those newsletters are truly about.
But the point is to give you a rough sense of how to think about this and inspire you to take a look at your description and give it a little tune up of its own.
It doesn’t matter how you write it — what matters is that you incorporate a clear target audience and problem your newsletter helps solve for that audience.
. . .
Day 2: Tune Up Your Social Media Bio
No matter what social platform you use, there’s likely a spot for you to include a short bio about yourself and a place to put a link.
Here’s what most people do with that space:
They write a simple bio that explains what they do or try to be “clever” and waste that real estate with some joke that doesn’t tell potential followers/subscribers anything meaningful about who they are or what they have to offer.
Then, they feature a link to the home page of their website (mediocre choice), or to one of their other social channels (weird choice), or they don’t bother to include a link at all (bad choice).
There’s a better way.
There are three key things to understand about your social bio and its relationship to your featured link:
- Everyone who looks at your social bio is ACTIVELY interested/curious about you and considering whether or not to follow you.
The entire goal of your bio should be to convey to them the VALUE they’ll get from doing so.
- You can use the text in your bio to drive people to your link and give them a REASON to click it.
Include a call to action in your bio that explains the value people will get from clicking that link as opposed to just having the link float out there with no context.
- Your link should go directly to a page where people can take that ACTION.
This will most likely be your newsletter signup page or the most recent issue of your newsletter, depending which you feel is more likely to attract new subscribers.
If your goal is to get more subscribers, don’t have your link go to the home page of your site — have it go straight to your newsletter signup page.
A Social Media Bio Template
Here’s how to put this newfound knowledge to use to get more newsletter subscribers.
Follow this template for your bio:
- Describe the value you provide to people in the first sentence.
- Have a call to action directing people to click the link on your profile in order to access that value in the second sentence.
For example, here’s how I do it in my Twitter bio:
. . .
Day 3: Tune Up Your Welcome Email
Most mailing list providers give you the ability to set up an automated welcome email that goes to anyone when they first subscribe to your newsletter.
If you have that option, you should take advantage of it.
Unfortunately, most newsletter creators do one of the following things with that email:
- They send whatever the default text is that their mailing list service provided.
- They send an email that either welcomes new subscribers, thanks them, or (most likely) tries to get them to buy, follow, or click something.
You know what people rarely do in their welcome email?
Offer to help their new subscribers and try to start an actual conversation with them!
That’s such a missed opportunity because I’ve found in almost every scenario, it’s the single best use of a welcome email.
The best way for me to show you how to do this in your welcome email is to show you EXACTLY how I do it in mine.
It includes what my welcome email used to look like, what it looks like now, and why the change was so effective.
. . .
Day 4: Tune Up How You Share Your Newsletter On Social Media
When it comes to sharing your newsletter on social media, there are a ton of variables to consider: Your newsletter format/topic, which social platforms you use, how many followers you have, etc.
But to keep things simple I’ll give you two templates you can use that should be almost universally more effective than how most creators share their newsletter on social.
Specifically, I’ll show you…
- How to ask people to subscribe to your newsletter in a social post.
- How to share an individual issue of your newsletter on social media.
Let’s start with one thing you should NOT do when you try to promote your newsletter on social media.
Don’t share your newsletter on social media with just a headline/link to it.
If your social post looks like this — “Here’s the new issue of my newsletter! LINK” — it’s probably not going to do very well.
The social platforms don’t love it when you share links that drive people off of their platforms and their algorithms will reduce the reach of a post like that.
Also, if your social post doesn’t provide value to readers without them needing to click the link, you’ll get way less engagement which will also reduce the reach of your post.
Finally, the only people who care that you just published a new issue of your newsletter are likely the ones who are ALREADY subscribed to it.
The goal of sharing your newsletter on social media is to reach NEW people — not to give a heads up to people who already have it in their inbox.
To do this you must craft social posts that speak to people who don’t yet subscribe to your newsletter and make them curious enough to check it out!
Here are two ways to do that…
How To Create A Social Post That Asks People To Subscribe To Your Newsletter
There are many ways to do this, but here’s a simple one.
Tell a personal story about why your newsletter exists, the problems it solves for subscribers, and the value provides.
You want to hook people with a narrative that draws them to you and makes them feel like your newsletter exists specifically for them.
Here’s an example of a post I created along those lines.
(FYI, I also ran this post as an ad and it was effective at attracting new subscribers who had no previous idea who I was or that my newsletter existed.)
I know what you’re thinking: That’s really long.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to create a post that long (though often longer posts are more effective if written well).
The point is to find ways to tell the story of your newsletter’s reason for existing and the value it provides to your target audience as opposed to just saying, “Go sign up for my newsletter!”
Now, on to the next template…
How To Share An Individual Issue Of Your Newsletter On Social Media
When most people publish an edition of their newsletter, they share it on social with the typical headline/link post which I mentioned before won’t get you anything.
(I know, I’ve tried.)
Or, maybe they list a few topics covered in the newsletter and then include a link.
That’s a slightly better approach, but still not great.
(I know, I’ve tried.)
Instead, repurpose the most valuable content from your newsletter in social posts.
Don’t make people click the link to get the value — give it to them in the social post itself.
This may seem counterintuitive, but the single best way to promote your newsletter is to share the most valuable content from it on social media with people who haven’t subscribed to it!
There are two reasons for this:
- If someone loves the content you share, they’re more likely to want to subscribe to the newsletter than if you hide that value behind a link.
- When you post valuable content on social media, that content will get shared which drives more attention to yourself and your newsletter.
That ultimately will drive more new subscribers (which, again, is the whole point of posting on social).
There are many ways to do this, but here are a couple I’ve used.
You’ll notice each tweet includes a summary of the idea and tags the person whose idea I curated.
The last tweet in the thread is a link to the full newsletter.
There are infinite ways to do this and you should experiment a bit to figure out what works best for your newsletter and audience, but the key takeaway is this:
Put the content/value in the post itself.
Give people a reason to share, click, and ultimately want to subscribe!
. . .
Day 5: Tune Up Your Newsletter Promotion
Cross-promotion might be my favorite way to attract new subscribers because it’s easy to do, costs no money to implement, and it works.
Plus, it’s a generous act.
So, if you’re the kind of person who feels awkward promoting yourself you can feel better knowing you’re also returning the favor in this scenario.
(Side Note: If self-promotion makes you feel queasy, go read my post about how to get over your fear of self-promotion.)
There are many different forms of cross-promotion, but today I’m going to focus on a simple cross-promotion between two newsletter creators — you, and someone else whose newsletter appeals to a similar audience.
In this scenario, you’ll each agree to promote each other’s newsletter in your own newsletters — the idea being that you each drive some of your audience to the other person’s newsletter and both get some new subscribers as a result.
There are two things you need to do to pull this off:
- You need to email or message the person you want to do the cross-promotion with and propose the idea.
- You need to decide what to put in each other’s newsletters.
There are infinite ways to do this, but here’s how I’ve done it successfully in the past.
Feel free to “borrow” these templates for your own use.
How To Propose A Cross-Promotion
When I identify someone I’d like to do a cross-promotion with, I send them an email that reads something like this:
Hey NAME, I’m kicking around a cross-promotion idea and wanted to see if you’d be interested.
Basically, we’d each incorporate a guest message in each other’s newsletters.
For example, I’d give you a couple sentences that could run as “A Message From Josh Spector, Publisher of For The Interested” and I’d essentially introduce myself, explain why your audience might find my newsletter interesting, include a couple links to stuff I’ve shared that’s relevant to them and a link to subscribe to my newsletter.
Then you could do the same in my newsletter to promo yours.
I know that seems incredibly simple, but that’s kind of the point.
You don’t need some huge, formal sales pitch — just be friendly, get to the point, and make the ask.
Depending how aware the other person is of you and/or your newsletter, you may want to incorporate a brief description of your newsletter, who your audience is, and how many subscribers you have if you think that will help get them to say yes.
In the above example, I was reaching out to someone who was already familiar with my newsletter so I didn’t bother with those details.
How To Execute A Cross-Promotion
The specifics of what you each do to promote each other’s newsletter is up to you and may vary, but here’s how I approach it.
As you saw in my outreach email above, I like to just give the other person a paragraph I write promoting my newsletter to drop into their newsletter and invite them to do the same.
This approach makes it easier for the person you ask (all the have to do is cut and paste what I give them) and it gives each of you control over the messaging that’s shared with readers about your newsletter.
Here’s an example of a paragraph I used in a cross-promotion with Scott Monty’s excellent Timeless & Timely newsletter:
A note from Josh Spector, creator of the For The Interested Newsletter
Hi there! Scott was nice enough to give me the chance to introduce myself and my For The Interested newsletter to you, so I’ll keep it quick.
It’s a free weekly newsletter that features ideas to help you better produce, promote, and profit from your creations.
Recent ideas have included stuff like the seven videos I most often tell creators to watch, how to use email to spend 50% less time in meetings, and six ways to earn attention for your creations.
And as part of that swap, here’s the paragraph Scott gave me to insert in my newsletter:
A note from Scott Monty, creator of the Timeless & Timely newsletter:
You’re busy. I get it.
Wouldn’t it be great to have an oasis of calm amid the hustle-bustle? A place of serenity in the face of shiny object syndrome? A chance to reflect on what matters?
Each week, Timeless & Timely provides you with time-honored lessons about human nature that apply to leaders today. Essentials of communication, leadership, and integrity for better relationships with the people that matter in your life.
What I give: one essay, three links to timely articles, three links to timeless stories, a recommended book and podcast, and numerous topical quotes. Simplicity Itself and Going Viral are the two most popular recent entries.
What you gain: a unique perspective on a business or leadership challenge.
We both cut and pasted those paragraphs into each other’s newsletters and wound up getting new subscribers as a result.
You can do the same and I recommend you give it a shot.
A Few Final Suggestions About Cross-Promotions
- You don’t have to do paragraph swaps — you could just each agree to mention each other’s newsletters in your own. The specifics of how you handle this don’t really matter as long as you each do something to introduce your audiences to each other’s newsletter.
- If possible, add tracking codes to the links so you can measure how effective the cross-promotion was and know exactly how many subscribers it generates for you. You can learn how to do that using utm tracking codes here.
- While you can theoretically do this with anyone’s newsletter, the best results will come if you do it with newsletters whose audiences have similar interests to what you write about.
- You don’t have to limit your cross-promotions to your newsletters. You can also agree to do one on your social channels to extend the reach of the promotion.
- If you’re not sure how to find other newsletter creators who may be willing to do a cross-promotion with you, you can connect with 1,700+ other creators in our Newsletter Creators Facebook group— I’m sure there’s a few in there who would love to do a cross-promotion with you and I’ve set up a thread in the group this morning to make it easier for you all to connect.
. . .
This Is The End, My Friend…
OK, I know that was a lot.
Hopefully you found at least a few nuggets that will get you some new subscribers.
Want more? Check out my complete list of how to get newsletter subscribers.