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Pondering Newsletter Cancelation?

By Jessica Albon

Stop sign
Image by asifthebes

Publishing a newsletter is hard work. Whether you publish weekly or monthly or quarterly, there’s research and writing, inspiration-finding, editing and layout to do.

And though the rewards are great, sometimes, that’s just not enough. You know I think newsletters are amazing–and you know I enjoy spending this time with you each week. I love the emails you send me. Your vote of confidence when you forward your issue, or recommend someone read NIF, that means a great deal to me. And, of course, the predictable Monday-morning *sales* boost isn’t exactly annoying.

But, sometimes I find myself wondering if I could put the time I spend on NIF to better use. I worry that I’ll run out of ideas, burn myself out on writing altogether, and start to be dreadfully dull.

Have you ever felt this way about your newsletter?

Because you might be considering ceasing publication of your own newsletter, I wanted to share with you some advice on how to proceed.

Take a break

Your first step should be to take some time off. You can either announce this to your readers, letting them know there won’t be a new issue for x number of weeks, or you can publish back issues to keep readers learning.

See how you feel during this time. You’ll probably feel relieved! I used to think it was the *time* that goes into a newsletter that makes it a bit exhausting. But after taking my own break, I realize it’s the emotional intensity of it–the worry about whether or not readers will like what I’ve written, the worry about delivery, the struggle to just plain get down to business and start putting words on paper.

Just because this time off is a relief, that doesn’t mean you should stop publishing. But, it does mean you might want to rethink your approach to your newsletter. You could hire someone to handle the parts that weigh most heavily on you, or you could cut out certain actions or concerns (set up a blog alternative and stop worrying so much about distribution, for instance).

Examine your business model

Does your business model absolutely require a newsletter? What are some other formats that could give you similar results (a 6-week autoresponder, for instance)? How else might you stay in touch with your readers?

Get out a pen and paper and spend at least 15 minutes brainstorming all your alternatives. Don’t edit yourself as you go–you’re just generating options, not making any decisions yet.

Once you’ve created a list of options, analyze them–which ones will help you make the *profits* you want? Which ones could genuinely replace the benefits you get from your newsletter?

Does your newsletter fill a part in your business model? Is it a part of the value you promise clients? What’s its role in your marketing strategy? Is it fulfilling its potential? How can you improve the newsletter so that it will better fill its place?

Stop seeing your newsletter as permanent

One mistake I noticed I’d made was that I’d just assumed that as long as I was running The Write Exposure, I would continue publishing Newsletters in Focus. But there’s no rule that says you have to stick with one way of marketing forever.

A newsletter is just a marketing tool. And, sure, it’s a great one. But that doesn’t mean it’s always the right one.

Have you been operating under the assumption that you’ll just publish forever, until you close (or sell, or otherwise stop running) the business?

Take a fresh look

I’m not suggesting you stop publishing. But, I’m not suggesting you keep publishing, either. Rather, I’d like you to take a new look at your newsletter. Is it meeting your goals? Is it flourishing? Or is it a weight on your shoulders that’s holding you back?

What if you decide differently? If you decide you’d like to stop publishing your newsletter, you might follow this three-step process:

  1. Write your readers.
    You don’t have to go into great detail, but do let them know the general story behind your decision. If you don’t, they may worry about you, which probably isn’t what you want.

  2. Put your archives up online.
    This is a good idea anyway, as it’s likely to increase your search engine rankings. By posting archives, you’re letting new visitors to your site enjoy some of that interaction with you.

  3. Keep an announcement list.
    Whatever you do, though, unless you’re closing the business, don’t close your list completely. Let your readers know that you’ll still keep in touch with them, and try to write your list every two months with a new product offering or special discount. These emails can be very short, but do send them.

Want to keep publishing?

If you do decide to keep publishing (and I certainly hope you do!) there are a few things you can do to avoid feeling burned out in the future:

  1. Take a break every so often.
    One publisher I know takes two months off a year from her weekly newsletter. Another takes every third week off. Just because you can schedule your newsletter to go out even when you’re not at your desk doesn’t mean you need to. Give yourself a break from creating the newsletter every now and again.

  2. Remember to take stock now and again.
    Marketing systems are great, and a newsletter is one of the best. But that doesn’t mean you’ll get great results if you publish mindlessly. So, every so often, take a look at your goals and where you’re headed and take the time to realign the two.

  3. Get support.
    Doing a newsletter entirely on your own can be absolutely exhausting. Whether you find a “buddy” to swap articles with from time to time, or you hire someone to take care of certain parts (or the whole thing), getting some support can really ease the burden of producing a fabulous newsletter issue after issue.

Your readers deserve an awesome newsletter, sure. But, *you* deserve a newsletter you feel great about, too. And, if you’ve started to feel exhausted by your newsletter, it’s time to do things differently.

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Comments

Diana Jan 23, 2009

What a fascinating article! It’s the first time I’ve ever read anything on this subject.

Much as I enjoy writing my newsletter, committing to a newsletter is traditionally like marriage, till death do us part.

So ezine-ing is not a life sentence!


Jessica Albon Jan 25, 2009

Thanks, Diana! I love your comparison of an ezine to a marriage; you’re so right–we do think it’s a life sentence when it shouldn’t be. The important thing is to not just give it up without giving it some thought. Just as starting an ezine should be a strategic decision, so should stopping one.