How To Build A Weekly Newsletter
🎤 Listen to this email here:
Hi I'm Neville, I run a company called Copywriting Course, and every week I send out a weekly newsletter on Friday's called "The S.T.U.P.I.D. Email."
It's an email with 5 sections and looks like this:
This email keeps our subscribers engaged, and we occasionally sell products through it. Here's some stats:
⇨ 50,000 people have opted in.
⇨ 28% to 32% open rates.
⇨ 600 to 3,000 clicks per email.
⇨ 30 min to 2 hours creation time per week.
⇨ 7am on Friday's send time.
I'm going to show you how I make it every week using an email sending service called ConvertKit.
Whether you're TheHustle, The Skimm, or AppSumo....this is how you will create and send a newsletter.
Here's the whole process in a nutshell:
Step 1.) I Collect & Create Content
If you want to send out a weekly newsletter full of tips and tricks and cool stuff for your audiences, you're going to constantly be on the lookout for stuff to send.
I have tons of sources I compile this information from:
⇨ My personal Swipe File of ideas
⇨ While scrolling social media
⇨ Creating my own drawings or content
⇨ My personal photo roll on my phone
⇨ While watching YouTube
⇨ Browsing Instagram
⇨ Cool things I read in books
⇨ Reddit, Digg, Twitter
⇨ My blog archives
These are all sources I'll peruse on the regular, and if I spot something interesting I'll jot it down in Apple Notes or take a screenshot.
For example, here's a bunch of raw screenshots and ideas that I had collected in my phone and notes over the week:
Out of all this raw information I'll pick & choose which to put into the newsletter in the next step...
Step 2.) I compile the newsletter
Since I send out my S.T.U.P.I.D. Email on Friday mornings, my job for Thursday is to fill out a template I have loaded up in ConvertKit that looks like this:
Swipe: A "swipe file" from my archive.
Thought: A fun thought or something I discovered.
Uplifting: Something uplifting.
Interesting: Something interesting I found.
Drawing: A drawing from my archives.
Now all I have to do is sift through my notes, social media, and screenshots to fill in each section!
If I do a great job during the week searching & saving cool stuff, this process goes by very quickly.
If I have very little to put in the email, this can take hours.
My newsletters are usually very image heavy, but thankfully ConvertKit has extremely easy image editing and markup.
Let's say I have an old ad like this I want to share with my newsletter audience:
...I can quickly highlight specific parts of the ad right from the ConvertKit Editor, like drawing attention to a headline. Without ever leaving ConvertKit for a photo editing program I can do callouts like this:
As a person who includes up to 20 images per email, I can’t tell you how much time this saves!
In fact it makes my emails BETTER because I can spend more time marking up images for the audience, and less time boringly copy/pasting files back-n-forth from different photo editing programs.
Step 3.) I schedule it for Friday
I auto-schedule my Friday S.T.U.P.I.D. Email for around 7am. So when I finish the email on Thursday evening, I go into ConvertKit and schedule it for the next morning:
I hate waking up early....so while I'm fast asleep at 7am on Friday morning....
….ConvertKit is diligently sending out my email to 50,000 people!
Here’s the results from weekly emails:
Open Rate: Between 28% and 32% every week
Clicks: .5% to 2% (sometimes not many links to click on)
Unsubscribes: 60 to 95 per email
A HUGE benefit of doing a weekly email is getting sponsorships and making sales of your own products.
I've accepted sponsorship money in exchange for a blurb about a company in the email, and also have sold my own products through there.
Growing the email list:
So before you can send out your newsletter you have to have an audience.
The way I've built The S.T.U.P.I.D. Email newsletter is by attaching a ConvertKit email signup at the bottom of my blog posts, like this:
When someone enters their email address it automatically signs them up for the weekly newsletter.
I also have a page called CopywritingCourse.com/newsletter where people can signup for my full email list.
That page looks like this:
It's just an embedded ConvertKit signup form, and it even has this cool GIF graphic on it 😂
Creating an email newsletter steps:
Here's the quick breakdown of how a weekly newsletter is created every single week:
Create A Newsletter Q&A:
Q: Patricia - @Shewrites
Please include a sneak peek into the research process for newsletter + The content breakdown strategy
A: Basically I try to post to Twitter throughout the week, and use Reddit, Digg, Twitter, SwipeFile.com, our members area and more as places to look for cool things. Also if I see a cool billboard out on the street I'll snap a pic, or get an interesting piece of mail.
Q: Bastian W. Harbo - @autotrader87
Say you have 10 ideas for your next weekly edition.
How do you select which to include, and how, if ever, do you portion out the ones that didn't make this week, over the next editions.
A: Knowing this is my job as a content curator. Sometimes I will drop 10 items into the newsletter, and just start scratching off items that are "Ok but not great."
Q: Nick Moussoulis - @nikmoussou
How do you hold yourself accountable every on doing it every week? That's my biggest struggle 🙂
A: This is a huge problem! I mention to someone at my company to make sure I have the STUPID email ready by Thursday evening, and that helps keep me accountable. There's been more than a few times I'll get a Slack message at 10pm on Thursday saying "is it done?" and I'll realized I've totally forgot to write it!
Q: Div Sharma - @itsdivsharma
How do you grow your list when you’re just starting out? What’s the best way?
A: This part will take some time and dedication:
0-100 members: Post on your own social media to friends/fam, and also any groups you're part of.
100 - 1,000 members: Consistently pushing our great emails and promoting snippets of content on social. Being part of groups.
1,000 - 10,000 members: Posting on your own website. Have an email signup form.
Q: Rohit Kumar - @rohitkumar_co
Why choose a weekly newsletter and not bi-weekly or monthly?
A: Weekly newsletters are the most popular and easy to understand "Oh every Friday I'll look for it!" However you must be able to fill a full newsletter every week. I chose weekly because in a week I generally find enough cool stuff on the internet or post enough on social media to fill an entire newsletter. Some weeks are harder than others for sure, but generally once a week I can find around 5 cool things to send out. So weekly is my email cadence!
Q: Mauro Paravano - @maurorpv
I wonder, have you done any research on paid/subscription based newsletters? Are they still a thing? I guess is kinda weird since it’s also hard to prevent someone from forwarding that content; anyway just figured to ask you.
A: Yes! Stuff like Trends.co is a paid newsletter, but generally you must first have an audience to create a paid newsletter. SubStack is exactly this, and many of the people who start a newsletter quit after 3 months, realizing creating extremely good content consistently that people will pay for is difficult.
Q: Matthew Q. Nguyen - @Mqnguyen004
Do you recommend starting through things like MailChimp? Or would you suggest someone going all in and hopefully get enough to monetize a little?
A: Any email service is fine to start off with, they all have their quirks, but by far the easiest to use with the fewest quirks is ConvertKit. I would start off small with a free trial on ConvertKit, then move up the pricing scale if your newsletter takes off.
Q: Jesse Brede - @jessebrede
What’s your preferred ESP and why? If you could go back and do it all over, what’s something you would change? Was there any inflection points? Is it week by week or do you do batches? How long does it generally take you?
A: ConvertKit! I've been through every damn email service out there, and was on InfusionSoft for years, but have never been happier with one than ConvertKit. Sometimes things that should be simple on mail services like creating an autoresponder are unnecessarily hard...ConvertKit just makes it dead simple and that's what I like.
Q: Shreya Sparkles - @shreyabadonia
Would like to know how much time you spend on planning, writing and in drawing.
A: I basically screw around reading the internet, posting on social media, and browsing my own interests all week, then spend between 30 minutes and 2 hours creating the STUPID email.
Q: John Small Mountain - @johnsmallmtn
How do I remove the feeling of feeling like I need a format to start?
A: Take your last 10 social media posts, dump them into an email or blog posts, and see if you can find a certain trend or common thread through them. Mine interests happen to be old ads, marketing tactics, copy etc....so that became the format for my emails.
Q: Topher Hammond - @topher_hammond
What are some of the systems that you have in place now that have exponentially released the amount of time you need to invest in putting the newsletter together each week?
A: Having a template and format help big time! Since I know the format is:
....I can work backwards throughout the week to look for content that fits that template.
Q: Matt Boyce - @Boyceterous40
Do you do any segmentation or personalization? Or just 1 big newsletter to everyone? Also, I would love your tech stack.
A: 1 big newsletter. Unless you have 100,000+ people on your list you generally don't need to segment much (obviously some exceptions). But if you start segmenting, you are now managing multiple lists. A better method is to tag people as necessary, then if you need to target specific people, you can email by their tags, not a whole different list.
P.S. What are the newsletters that you regularly read??
Lemme know in the comments!