On Monday mornings, my personal inbox is a hailstorm. 25%-off sales, blog posts from every industry site I subscribed to, spam from 3 sites I once used to look at house paint, and 400 emails from J. Crew (I exaggerate, but it’s a lot). I’m sure you can relate.
And beneath all of those layers, there are 10 emails I want to read: 2 blog posts, a message from my aunt, a bunch of imgur links from friends, and 3 solid gold personal email newsletters.
I open the first email newsletter and bask in its glory, clicking on links to interesting news items or brands of nail polish and getting a little respite from my day. The personal email newsletter doesn’t ask you to do anything. The personal email newsletter only gives and gives.
If you haven’t come across a personal email newsletter yet, you might have no idea what I’m talking about.
Personal email newsletters are the new trend in self-promotion. They’re like blogs, but instead of asking your readers to come to your webpage, click around, make some comments, and follow you on social media on top of everything, the only thing your readers have to do in an email newsletter…is read.
One reason you might write your own newsletter is to create a personal brand. I’ve mentioned before that I work here at Skillcrush, design websites as a freelancer, run my food blog, and co-own a restaurant. It sounds like a lot – too much – to fit on a business card. And I talk to Skillcrush students who run into a similar issue.
So we end up with several Internet “identities.” Maybe on Twitter you’re a coder, but on Instagram you’re a mommy blogger, and during the day you’re a sales rep. If you write a newsletter, you can brand yourself and fit all of those identities under one umbrella – you. Your name and your personality become your brand, so you don’t have to worry about trying to make sense of all the different selves you inhabit throughout the work week.
And the topic and tone of a personal email newsletter can range dramatically based on your personality. Some look more like a list of bookmarked news items, some are stream-of-consciousness journal entries, and others look like “favorites” lists or product reviews.
And most of these personal email newsletters hail from a new platform with a cult following: TinyLetter. You know those company emails you get from MailChimp? TinyLetter is the pared down, personal version of those templates.
Maybe you’re not concerned about personal branding. Maybe you’ve already sorted that out and you market yourself with a clean one-liner. The other awesome secret about personal email newsletters is that they can make you money. Shhhh.
Banner ads in emails can pull in double the income as those on static blog pages. These days, ad sales on blogs usually can’t bring in enough cash to support you. But ads are making a comeback in the email newsletter, and product placement does even better.
So you build up your following, then market your newsletter to a few companies, and then, voila, you’re making cash just by telling your readers about your new favorite productivity app.
How to Launch
It’s easy! I started an email newsletter just to see what it’s like, and it only took me half a morning.
- Visit TinyLetter.
- Start an account.
- Fill in your details.
- And start sending emails.
- There’s even a cool Twitter embed function, so you can start building up your list of subscribers.
Before you dive in, subscribe to these letters and get some ideas:
- This Week on the Internet, Jessica McCarthy
- The Ann Friedman Weekly, Ann Friedman
- Hardly Working, Rena Tom
- A Series of Tubes, Amanda Mattos
- Austin Kleon
- Just Another Crowd, Sean Bonner
- Coucou !, Lana Labermeier
- Worst Behavior, Adam Serwer
- Sunday New York Times Digest, Matt Thomas
- #Awesomewomen, Stacy-Marie Ishmael
- Professional Excellence, Leslie Bradshaw
- The Lunch Read
- Hot Pod, Nick Quah
- Waco Is Still Here, Randle Browning
and don’t forget mine!