When I am strategizing with clients about ways they can continue a conversation with their audience beyond their website, besides social media, there are two ideas that are great options: email newsletters and blog posts.

Fundamentally, the different between the two options are that a newsletter is something that you push to your audience, and a blog is something that your audience needs to seek out. Actually, that’s not entirely true, as people can subscribe to your blog posts via email, but that’s not as frequently used as one would usually like.

So how do you decide which one is right for you? Or do you do both? And how do you build an audience in both cases?

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Let’s use the example of an author website & take these one at a time:

  • If you plan to write infrequently, and/or would like to communicate things that are timely (appearances, webinars, signings, etc..), then a newsletter is a great way to tell people about what you’re up to so they don’t miss out on something happening at a specific time. Also, having a blog that’s never updated isn’t going to help anyone — you’re better off with an infrequently used mailing list that you can use for marketing when you need it.
  • If you plan to write about topics that are related to your book(s), or being an author, or other topics that have a good shelf life, then a blog is a great option because that content is available on the internet over time and can be indexed by search engines. This allows you to build a repository of content over time that establishes your credibility and expertise.
  • If you plan to write frequently, and you regularly participate in events like book signings or run promotions like book purchase discounts, then having both is a great option. A newsletter is a great opportunity to cultivate some of the highlights from your blog and also let people know about what’s coming up for you in the near future. You can also let your mailing list subscribers in on a special promotion just for them to incentivize signups.
  • Blogs allow public, two-way communication while email newsletters do not. Through blog comments, your audience can ask questions about your books or share their thoughts on what you’ve written with both you and each other.
  • Think about your audience: your email list is likely made up of existing or potential customers, while anyone with access to a search engine can visit your blog. This may not affect the kinds of things you’ll write about, but if you segment your mailing list, it might. Either way, be sure not to use your email list just to market yourself — constant email advertising is the best way to get a bunch of unsubscribes.
  • Email can be tricky. And by that I mean that spam filters can stop your newsletter from making it through to someone’s inbox the way you intended. Even if you use a great email marketing service that has systems in place to prevent your newsletter being marked as spam, things like images may not show up by default in someone’s inbox. So make sure your emails are designed to communicate best whether the images show up or not.
  • Whatever you decide, make sure it’s EASY for people to sign up for either list. Put your sign up in an obvious place and make sure to tell people what they can expect if they sign up. Consider incentivizing the signup by either making sure the content you deliver (in the blog or email newsletter case) is interesting, engaging, relevant and helpful to your audience. If you’ve written a non-fiction book, for example, then provide some resources or relevant news that your audience would most like to hear about. The more interesting and engaging your content is, the more likely it is to be discovered and shared. And the more people who know about it and find it helpful, the more people will subscribe.

Note: The above thoughts are generalizations. The solution that’s right for you depends on your circumstances. If you’re looking to hire help to determine the best path for you, get in touch with me about your project.