If you’re not sure where you’ll find the time to create a weekly newsletter, never fear! Once you’re writing weekly blog posts, there are ways to automate the task.
Option #1: Create a customizable email broadcast of your blog posts
I have been very happy with AWeber’s Blog Broadcast feature. Every Tuesday at 5:00 a.m., it gathers together all of the blog posts I’ve written since the previous Tuesday, and plops them into a new broadcast draft – using a template I created with Kristen Beireis and her team a few years ago.
Later that day, I go into the draft and add a personal note. I also revise the descriptive paragraph that my subscribers see for each blog post.
By default, this text is the first paragraph of my post, but I rewrite that to be a more compelling introduction. Usually I mix and match content from the post, but sometimes I write something completely new. I try to put myself into my readers’ shoes and imagine what would interest them about the post.
Once I’m finished these personal touches, my newsletter is ready to go. The last step is to create a test copy and read it out loud before I send it to my list.
[Update May 5, 2014: I now use MailChimp’s RSS-to-Email service, described below.]
Option #2: Create a fully automated email broadcast of your blog posts
With AWeber, I also have the option to send the blog broadcast automatically, without customizing the descriptive paragraphs or adding a personal note. And MailChimp has a similar feature called RSS-to-Email.
The two key benefits of using one of these services are:
- You’re not creating a new mailing list in a completely separate program. You’ll be reaching out to exactly the same people (or a segment of that group) who have already signed up for your pink spoon (you do have a pink spoon, don’t you?). Just be explicit about what people will get when they sign up.
- You can use your own branded template, so these emails will look the same as the other emails you send to your list.
FeedBlitz and Feedburner are two other services that allow you to send fully automated emails of your new blog posts. FeedBlitz also allows you to send additional newsletters to your subscribers, and has many of the same functions as AWeber and MailChimp – so FeedBlitz could potentially be your sole email service provider.
Feedburner is a feed distribution service that enables readers to subscribe to your blog in a “feed reader.” But you can also use it to create automated emails of your new blog posts, and it does this very well. If you’re not concerned about sending other messages to your list – or if you don’t mind having two lists (or more) to keep track of, Feedburner is a good option.
NOTE: If you’re going to use Feedburner, be sure to read this post from my friend Sandra De Freitas: How to Customize the Subject of Your Feedburner Emails.
[Update January 19, 2013: Google has stopped providing support for Feedburner. If you’re starting at the beginning, I would recommend using one of the other options.]
If you can get into the groove of writing weekly content, these automation options can help you extend your reach with not much extra effort.
Remember that automation is personal – by setting up these helpful tools, you’re making it easier to get your content into the hands of your readers in different ways. So it’s more likely you’ll tap into the way they prefer to receive information from you.