You're building your email list. Good job! Now, what do you put in your newsletter? Below is a comprehensive list of 50 things you could put in your blog newsletter, but please, for the love of peanut butter, do not include everything below! Otherwise, you'll have the longest newsletter in the history of the world, and your unsubscribe rate will hover around 100%.
1. Little Stories about Your Life
Keep in mind, the newsletter is about how you can provide value, so don't make the newsletter all about you. That said, people are signing up for your mailing list because they like what you're doing, so give them a chance to get to know you! Tell them about why you started, some of your philosophies, what's going on in your life… just make sure you're being authentic.
2. Blog Goals (and Progress)
What do you want to accomplish with your blog? Make this about more than just page views (because, remember, humans don't care about things like page views). Be transparent. Feel free to post income updates if you'd like to talk about the business of blogging, but remember, people aren't coming to your wedding blog to hear about how your post went viral. Always think of your audience.
3. Case Studies
I love case studies. They're such a cool way to show people that something works. We do case studies here: Anne's Pinterest experiment is the most recent example of a reader (and another blogger) who tried something new and wanted to blog about it.
4. Questions for Your Audience
Ask thought-provoking questions. Again, keep it real, here, and stay far, far, far away from religion or politics (unless, of course, you have a religion and/or political blog, in which case, goodness gracious you are far braver than I will ever be). If you have a lifestyle blog, ask your readers how they celebrate Thanksgiving (whoops! Did I just go religious right after I said not to? Just looked it up, Thanksgiving is still pretty secular. That was a close one!). If you get enough answers, your readers have given you a blog post!
5. Recent Posts
If you worked really extra hard on a blog post (say you put together 73 tips on how to promote a blog post, for example), ask your readers to read it and share it! Remember, your readers are your inner circle. People don't give their email addresses to just anyone. So send your recent posts to your subscribers! Add a line in your email about how they can share it.
6. Relevant Deals
Did you get an email from one of your affiliates for a deal that sounds amazing? Awesome, roll with that. Send it out, make the email very short, tell your readers that you came across something you couldn't pass up, and one you thought they're sure to like. Again, don't overuse this one — save it for when you actually have a smokin' deal.
7. Big Announcements (Before they go Live)
Anything and everything you do behind the scenes, share with your mailing list before you post it on your blog. Are you working on a course? Send your list the landing page a day before you let it out into the world.
8. Bonus Posts
Did you write something you maybe don't want read and searched for on the internet? Maybe it's something personal, maybe it's something off-topic, but you had to write it. Send that to your mailing list.
9. Giveaways (Before You Post it on Your Blog)
Do you do giveaways? They're a great way to gain subscribers, but they're also fun for people who already love you. Give them a chance to get in on the action before everyone else.
10. Reader Stories
Highlight someone who has accomplished great things. In my personal finance blog, I used to highlight stories of how other people got (or are getting) out of debt. Here on For Profit Blogging, we talk to bloggers who are actually making their livings online. Find members of your audience to highlight, and let the rest of your mailing list get to know them.
11. Post from the Past
One thing that's really hard to remember is that most people have not read your entire site. I'll let that sink in. I'm being funny, but it's true: we think because we have written every single word that everyone has already seen our old stuff before. But you and I (and your mom and your dog, or whoever your early readers were) know that's not true. Revive an oldie-but-goodie by sharing the link with your mailing list, along with why you wrote it, or some sort of reason why you're sharing it today.
Any time you create a new download/printable/freebie to get more email subscribers, make sure to send that to your current subscribers too. Don't make them have to jump through any hoops! Send the link, tell them you just put it up, ask them to share it, and they'll be happy you remembered to include them.
Poll your audience! See what they're interested in learning about, or be silly and give them options on what they're doing this weekend.
Surveys are similar to polls but instead of asking them to pick from three options, you're asking them a lot more about themselves. This is a good way to get demographic numbers from your audience (and heaven knows, advertisers love that!).
15. Content Direction/Where the Blog is Headed
Did you have an epiphany about where you're taking your brand? Tell your subscribers! Or, even better, get vulnerable with them and ask for input before you've decided. They'll give you valuable feedback.
16. Press Mentions
Did one of your posts get published by the Huffington Post? Or were you featured in a magazine? Tell your audience! Make sure you do this in an authentic way, otherwise your audience will feel like you're bragging.
17. Secret Recipes
This isn't just food, but hey, if you have a banana bread recipe that consistently knocks your socks off, share that. But secret recipes are also things you've learned about something (anything, really) that you do differently/more efficiently/some kind of better than everyone else out there.
18. Something You Just Discovered
When I find a new blogging tool, the first place I turn is my mailing list. Actually, that's a lie. The first place I turn is Twitter, but the second place I turn is my mailing list. If you're on my mailing list and you don't like blog tools, you're probably not going to stay on the list very long.
19. New Series Announcement
Are you starting a new challenge? Where else are you going to get sign ups other than your mailing list? Okay, that's not a fair question, but your mailing list should be the first place you go. Certainly before you start talking about taking out Facebook ads or spending money trying to get attention for your series.
20. Something Timely and Seasonal
First day of the new season. Back to school. Daylight savings time. National donut day. Find some fun excuse to add humor to your newsletter.
21. Showcase Another Blogger
Is someone in your space (or adjacent to your space) doing something awesome? Tell your mailing list what you like about the blogger and which blog post they'd like.
22. A New Life Hack
Do you put your gym shoes by your bed to remind you to go for a run first thing in the morning? Or do you prep all your vegetables when you get home from the store so you don't forget which veggies are in your fridge? Think about those little things, and pass them along.
23. Neat thing you Found on Pinterest
Link to (or get fancy and embed!) a pin you found recently. Make sure it's not yours (that ends up looking way too self-promotional). Use that as an opportunity to ask your readers to follow you on Pinterest.
Speaking of Pinterest, if you came across a quote that spoke to you, share that with your readers. Bonus points if it resonated with your Facebook fans too.
25. Book Recommendations
Did you read something that you think would resonate with your readers? It doesn't have to be 100% on topic (by that I mean, sure, I'd share a book about blogging here on For Profit Blogging, but I also would share a novel I loved, or a book about writing I really enjoyed). Readers of books love book recommendations, so give a little nudge toward that direction. Make sure you don't link to the book using your Amazon affiliate link, though. That's a violation of their TOS.
26. A Day in the Life
These are really interesting posts. They're hour-by-hour breakdowns of a person's day. I don't know about you, but I love these glimpses into someone else's world. Obviously don't do them all the time, but once a year, tell your readers everything about your day.
27. What I'm Listening to
Do you have a Spotify playlist that's helping you stay motivated? What about a new podcast you're loving?
28. Inspired by…
One of the newsletters I read tells their audience what the newsletter was inspired by. It's cute, it doesn't ever get explained, and it's a tiny glimpse into their world. Sometimes the writer is inspired by donuts and sweater weather. Sometimes it's Thai food and nostalgia. Leave a line in your newsletter telling your readers what inspired you this week.
29. Bonus Series
Consider doing a series just on your mailing list. So, think of something you could track on your newsletter (and keep off your blog).
30. Reader Challenge
Challenge your readers at the end of your newsletter to go out and _____ (fill in the blank). Mix it up, make it relevant to the rest of the newsletter.
31. New Food
Did you try something you're now obsessed with? Here's my most recent story. A couple weeks ago, the grocery store was having a “back to school” special, which meant all nut butters and jams were 50% off. Now, the grocery store in question is a foofy grocery store, so typically the nut butters are at least twice what I want to pay for something like that. So 50% off meant that all the fancy ones were reasonably priced. My husband loves peanut butter more than my dog does (and that's saying something), so when I was there, I bought three jars of peanut butter. When I tasted this one, I understood peanut butter addiction. Now, if you click through to that link, you'll find I'm linking to $13 peanut butter which is off-the-charts nuts (pun definitely intended). So if I were to share that with my newsletter, I'd tell them how to make their own. Because it can't be that hard to combine nuts, honey, and pretzels, and holy cow I'm going to do that as soon as this jar runs out. Because I paid $3.50 for my jar. In retrospect, I should have bought eleventy. But I digress.
32. New Coffee Shop
If your audience is local (like my audience at Frugal Portland), tell them about the new coffee shop you found. Give details about WiFi (except don't give them the password, come on!), bites to eat, workspaces, noise level, etc.
33. Newest Restaurant Visit
Same here — if your audience is local, and you just ate at an amazing restaurant, tell your newsletter subscribers. If you have a food blog, you'd probably want to do a full review there, but if your topic is more broad, drop a line in your newsletter to say the crepes at xyz place are excellent.
34. A Sentimental Piece of Jewelry/Art
Do you wear your great grandmother's pendant? Do you have art from a sketch your grandfather did 50 years ago? Snap a picture, share the story.
35. Blog Income
Sharing your blog's income is a great way to get more subscribers because there's a fraction of your readers (actually a fraction of all readers) who want to know the nitty gritty income details. How do you make money? Don't publish details on your blog, save them for your subscribers!
36. Blog Stats
How many page views/visits/etc did you get? Again, it's not a great idea to share that information on your blog where everyone can see it, but it's a great way to entice people to sign up. “How many visits did we get this month? Sign up for the newsletter to find out!”
37. An Honest Note About a Company You're Affiliated With
When you're an affiliate of a company, you're an unofficial spokesperson, so if something bad happens (say, the company you're affiliated with had a computer in their cars that lied to emissions tests, for example), tell your audience. Don't try to distance yourself by staying quiet. Distance yourself by saying, “hey, that was really stupid of them, my team is working really hard to remove any links to that company, thanks for your patience.”
38. Something You Learned in the Comment Section
Who doesn't love nuggets of wisdom found in the comments section? Unfortunately, most people don't read the comments section, so if a reader told you something you feel like everyone should see, take the opportunity to tell your newsletter subscribers.
Do you take pictures? Share those, with a caption. Do this in the middle or toward the end of a longer newsletter.
40. Recent News
What happened in your niche that you learned about? Remember, your readers aren't as tuned in as you are, so even if you think they've seen something before, chances are, they haven't. Share news.
41. Profile Someone You Admire (Outside the Blog World)
Who do you admire in Hollywood? What about a great writer? Talk about the things you admire about someone, and here, make it outside the money-on-the-internet crowd.
42. A Joke
“There was a big fight at the seafood restaurant. Three fish got battered.”
43. Content Curation
This is one of my favorite ways to share other bloggers' content with my audience. Remember, we're reading so much more than our audience is, so when we find a blog post that makes us sit up straight and pay attention, we should share it. Share three posts from others in your newsletter.
44. Organization Tip
“This week's tip: spend 15 minutes cleaning your house before you open your computer every morning. You'll be amazed at how much cleaner your house is.”
Something like the five things you should do first thing in the morning. Make it silly, or make it real.
46. Something That Resonated on Social Media
Did you see the guy pretending to be customer support for Doritos after they released rainbow Doritos? He's hilarious.
47. Write About How People Use a Product in Your Niche
I loved this post on Roasty Coffee. What's in your niche that your readers would get a kick out of seeing?
48. Ask for Advice: What Would You Do?
Are you at a crossroads? Do you have a decision you're looking for outside assistance with? Tear down the barrier, and ask your audience what they'd do in your situation.
49. Profile Your Contributors
Do you have other people writing on your site? Working behind the scenes? Doing social media? Virtual assistance? Write a few lines about them, especially if they're available for more work!
50. Quick Reader Photo Challenges: Purse, Desktop, Unread Emails
“Take a snapshot of your unread emails and reply back with it.” Then, showcase that on a new blog post. Keep asking for things like that. Your community wants to be involved!
Okay, friend, you've gotten to the end of this post. You should be full of ideas by now. Go open your newsletter client (we use Aweber) and send out a newsletter! Don't wait!