Should Writers Have A Mailing List and Newsletter?

It’s never too early to start one

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If you’ve been reading the interwebs for a while now, it becomes fairly obvious that if you have a blog, you should have a mailing list and newsletter. But what if you are a writer who doesn’t have a self-hosted blog, and you only write on a platform like Medium? Or, you are an author who is about to release a book — do you still need a newsletter?

The answer is YES!

The mailing list is your key to be able to talk to your biggest fans, and a newsletter acts as your megaphone. Even if you only can have a link to your sign-up form in your social media profiles or at the end of your Medium stories, you should be building a list right now — today.

I read the stories of successful writers, influencers, and digital marketers, and the one thing that most of them always say is they wished they had started their mailing list and newsletter sooner. Even if you are publishing your first post, you should already be figuring out the mechanics of everything you need to collect your fan’s email addresses. There is a steep learning curve unless you are using something like Substack or Revue (more on these later).

What Do I Need to Start a Mailing List and Newsletter?

Affiliate marketers will be rolling their eyes when I say you don’t need to spend a lot of money on software or time setting everything up. There are some solutions out there that are not only easy but free or close to it!

For example, take the email database, newsletter, podcasting, and blogging platform, Substack. It will handle the job of collecting and storing your fan’s email addresses, but the power comes in when you can create a post, and it will publish it as both an emailed newsletter and a blog post hosted at your unique URL. And guess what, until you want to start making money from your newsletter with premium subscriptions, everything they offer is free!

I have two newsletters, Beautifully Broken and To Blog, Or Not To Blog — the latter set up in under one hour just yesterday. BB is even a premium newsletter in addition to the built-in free one, and I already have some premium subscribers. I’ve been using Substack for a few months and there really is very little about it I don’t like. There could be some more formatting options and it would be nice to use my own domain name, but everything is so simple and minimal, I shudder to think of a time when they change it too much and it becomes another complicated piece of software.

Another option for a mailing list and newsletter is Revue. I just found out about this platform, but from what I hear, the newsletters you create are fantastic! You can have sponsors, banner ads, and set up affiliate programs. It does cost about $5 a month for <200 subscribers for the PRO plan, but I hear great things from the people who are using it, so it must be worth it.

The other option is to use a mailing list software like ConvertKit or MailerLite, but they both do allow you to create and send out newsletters. The problem with these options is that they are complicated and expensive, although MailerLite is free up to a certain number of subscribers. If you want more control over your list, this may be what you want to try.

How Do I Get People to Give Me Their Email Address?

I publish on Medium almost every day, so it’s a no-brainer for me that I want to promote my newsletter in my profile and on each story. I started a few months ago with zero subscribers and now have well over 200 without even trying very hard.

I am in the process of adding it to my other social media accounts. I already have it set up on my Facebook page, and am trying to figure out the best places on Twitter and LinkedIn.

I do have it on my self-hosted blog, but that place is a ghost town, and I have never gotten one subscriber from it. If you do have your own blog and get traffic regularly, it is one of the best places to find fans and friends. Add a newsletter and mailing list opt-in to the sidebar or even have one of those exit pop-ups that ask for an email address. You won’t be sorry.

Where else can you share your newsletter signup link?

  • Facebook post
  • Facebook group
  • Tweet it out
  • Put it in your email signature
  • Instagram story
  • Pin it on Pinterest
  • Link it from your YouTube banner
  • Email it to all your friends and family, asking them to pass it on
  • Tattoo it on your butt and run naked through Walmart singing “Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba. Hey, it’s free, unless you have to post bail!

Get creative and find new ways to get the word out about your newsletter, and try to stay out of jail.

A Final Word

A mailing list and newsletter will be the single best investment of time and money you can make to your career as a writer. Being able to get in touch with your fans at any time is priceless, and your list is something that will follow you around no matter what type of software you may be using.

Yes, even a new writer needs a newsletter that will grow as you get closer to success and notoriety. It’s best to start it as soon as possible, because, what if? What if your post goes viral and everybody is clamoring to find out who you are? What if your first book becomes a bestseller?

You always have to think of the “what if?”

Start your list — send out your first newsletter next week — even if you only have one subscriber.

You never know what will happen.

This story was not curated. If you write and publish on Medium, you know what that means — a quick death. If not, it just means that it won’t be promoted to other readers on Medium.

But it doesn’t always have to be like this, and this is where I add value to your life. It works like this:

We all write free content for Medium. They don’t pay for it. The money we pay to be members is more than enough to pay the writers who are making money. In return for us writing millions of words of free content and paying the writers who engage with the readers (us again), Medium forbids us from adding any more than a simple text link to the bottom of posts to promote ourselves.

If you do everything right, you get curated.

I have no problem with that. I’ve been with Medium for over a year-and-a-half, and I absolutely fricking love that they gave me a platform to earn and share my writing. I tell everyone I know to join Medium and start writing.

But, if I don’t get curated, my stories die. I don’t earn. The only traffic I get comes in is from Google, and if the people they are sending are not Medium subscribers, I don’t get paid.

But Medium benefits greatly. Every time we bring eyeballs onto the platform, Medium gains authority and in turn, members. They also get income from writers paying them for exposure by featuring them in publications and other places on Medium, even if they aren’t members. It’s a great business model.

I thank Medium for giving me the platform, and I respect them, especially when they curate me and my stories live on.

So Medium, I love you, and if you curate me, I will follow the rules and only put a small text link to my newsletter at the bottom.

But, if I am not curated, I am going to use my work to promote myself and my brand.

The first and best place to follow me and get access to exclusive content, news, and updates is my newsletter, Beautifully Broken. I talk about many different subjects including mental health, travel, family, success, writing, and personal development.

If you are interested in travel and in hearing what it’s like to be a man frightened of everything who still wants to see the world, read my blog, The Frightened TravelerYou can also subscribe and get email updates when new content is published

Finally, if you are into blogging and writing in general, subscribe to To Blog Or Not To Blog, the Newsletter.

You can also find me on social media:

Medium | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | Instagram

Introverted essayist and fulltime YouTuber | Dreamer - I am doing it my way and it might take a bit longer. Don't wait up.

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