I love to talk (blog), so I am going to tell you about the difference between sending out newsletters and just blogging. Is there a difference? Yes. Does there have to be a difference? In my opinion, no.
This week, two author newsletters hit my email inbox. The first one was from Kirsten Oliphant from her website Create If Writing. To be honest, I follow and read a lot of blogs, but I have not wanted to read anything called a “newsletter” before now. At first I did not understand what I was reading. The title of the email was “Should You Ditch Mailchimp,” but the body of the email did not contain the answer to the title. After reading Jane Friedman’s article, “What Should You Put in Your Email Newsletter,” I understand now that Kirsten was distributing a kind of email newsletter that Jane describes as “Category 2: Teaser to a Blog Post. This is an email that lets readers know a new blog post (or content elsewhere) has been published.” Personally, I do not like this approach, because it means I have to hope my reader followers read enough of the newsletter so that they find where to click the link to actually go read my blog post content elsewhere. Whereas a blog post automatically goes to a subscribers’ inbox, without having to write a separate newsletter to attempt to entice them to click to go “elsewhere.” There is no extra link somewhere in the email newsletter for them to find, instead, the title is enabled as a direct link to my blogging website. My content is right there in the email if they do not want to click anything at all. Just like tweeting interesting commentary regularly will gain followers, blogging often about interesting things will gain followers. Therefore, I prefer to cut out the newsletter “middle man.” If my blog post title is provocative, as it should be, then I do not need to tease (and maybe annoy) my reader followers with a newsletter.
The second author newsletter to hit my inbox was actually from a blog I had subscribed to last year. At some point over this last year, this author had obviously been encouraged to change their blog to a website and send out newsletters instead of blog posts. Sadly, her website is now a mess, with no clear home landing page, and no way to find her recent blog posts. Her website no longer contains what I love about blogs in general, a clear way to follow her story. I want to know what has happened in her life leading up to her sending out her newsletter/blog post rant entitled “Marketing Sucks.” I really sympathized with some of the points she was making in the email newsletter I received, but sadly, it appears that she has not been able to glean what works for her, and what does not work for her, from all the advice for new authors she is getting.
In the nineties, blogs started out as online journals. They were personal, could be chronologically followed so that the reader felt ‘up to date’ with the author’s personal narrative or story at all times, and they also could be highly informative with the sharing of information. However, if the blog topics were not of interest, the reader would simply lose interest. In addition to Category 2: Teaser, Jane Friedman has this to say about the cons of Category 4: Personal, “Can take time to write. If not compelling or well written, people aren’t compelled to read.” Blogging (or tweeting, or Instagram Stories, or YouTube videos, find whatever works for you) is just one of the ways to get an author’s personal narrative in front of their readers, who, in theory, turn into fans and buy their books.