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7 Tips for Writing Winning Newsletters

Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.

Newsletters: do you think Snooze or Can’t wait to read it?

These 7 tips for writing winning newsletters are helpful whether you’re considering starting a newsletter or if you already have one.

Consider this to be a checklist of newsletter best practices.

Use these 7 tips for writing winning newsletters to add value for your subscribers, no matter what kind of newsletter you publish – whether it’s an internal publication within your company or as a means to stay in touch with your readers, customers, and prospects. (Here's a guide that explains different types of newsletters you can write.)

7 Tips for Writing Winning Newsletters

Tip #1: Identify the Purpose of Your Newsletter

7 tips for #writing winning newsletters with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter #nonprofits #FreelanceWriting #ContentWriting

The purpose of your newsletter is to stay in front of your readers with helpful content. (Note: your newsletter’s purpose is not outright promotion. But more on that in Tip #4).

Let’s say a prospect connects with you as a customer … or through social media … or comes to your website through a search. She gets the information she needs and then clicks away from your site. Will you ever see her again?

Maybe. But there’s a good chance she will forget about you.

But what if you capture her email address? Then you have the opportunity to continue to send her helpful information. Valuable content makes the reader feel good and cultivates her interest. This way, when she needs a product or service or more information in your niche, who will she contact? 

You. You’ve already proven that you’ll give her helpful, valuable content. Your newsletter is an excellent way to generate ongoing interest in your products and services and demonstrates that you are a leader in your niche.

Tip #2: Create a Fun Name

Don’t call it “newsletter” in your electronic subject line. (Snooze.) On the other hand, make sure your newsletter’s name isn’t too cute or clever, or you’ll confuse your readers.

One of the first newsletters I wrote was for a youth sports foundation that converted a historic baseball field to a soccer center. In a simple nod to both sports, we titled the newsletter The Pitch. A baseball pitch initiates each play in that game. A soccer pitch is another name for a soccer field. The name was fun and it fit.

Tip #3: Set up a Schedule

When you send your newsletter at a regular interval, readers begin to count on you. You show that you are active in your niche. That translates into reliability.

Tip #4: Use More Helpful Links than Promotional Links

There’s a big difference between a conversion campaign (purpose: to get a sale or move a reader to take an immediate action) and a reader-centered cultivation campaign (purpose: to deliver helpful content about your niche topic to your readers). 

Your newsletter is the latter. 

Many newsletter publishers make a deadly mistake: they create thinly-disguised promotional content that masquerades as a newsletter.

That approach gives newsletters a bad name because quite honestly, readers don't want to be "sold." They're smart. They want information they can use.

So always extend those offers in the context of offering helpful information. In your newsletter, the appropriate proportion is 80% helpful information and 20% promotion.

Be intentional about publishing helpful content in your newsletter. Position your newsletter as an authoritative resource for your readers, and they will treat it as such.

Tip #5: Offer Free Gifts

Your newsletter readers are your “insiders.” They deserve special treatment. Give it to them.

You needn’t offer freebies to your readers in every issue, but be sure to do so regularly. Consider free downloads, special offers, coupons, contests, and event passes. Offer readers a special discount on a new product. Give them exclusive access to special content for a short time period. 

When you offer freebies often, your readers see you as a valuable resource. They understand that you truly want to help them. If you need ideas or tips for freebies, get started with How to Write More Powerful Lead Magnets in 5 Easy Steps

Tip #6: Write Short

Readers skim newsletters, especially online. Less is more. Don’t publish an entire article in your electronic newsletter. Use an enticing intro or hook and then link to the published post on your website. This makes your newsletter more readable. Plus, click-throughs increase your website traffic.

Tip #7: Provide a Way to Unsubscribe

It’s the law, my friends. You must have a link that allows readers to say, “Please take me off your list.”

That may seem a little unfair if you’ve offered a nice, healthy freebie to entice readers to give you their email address in the first place.

But it’s okay. By unsubscribing, these readers are saying, “I don’t have time to read your content each week” or “This kind of content isn’t really what I need right now.”

Which means if they unsubscribe, you won’t be annoying them when they open their inbox. 

Plus, you save money by shifting them off of your email list. And you’ll increase your open rates because chances are, if they don’t have time to read your newsletter of if they don’t need your content, they won’t click “Open” anyway.

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