Newsletters: How to launch a successful one

Man Reading Newspaper, by Mike Prince, from Flickr, Some Rights Reserved

This is going to a very meta post because I’m writing about a post from another newsletter about newsletters from the writer of another newsletter.

A couple of days ago, I spotted this very good newsletter from Poytner about journalism tools, and today, Ren LaForme offers up praise for a morning newsletter that he gets from Buffalo, New York, a place where he hasn’t lived more than a decade ago.

It’s both informative and interesting. It’s packed with voice — from individual reporters on the top stories and freelancer Brian Meyer on the roundups, with the occasional edition from Max Kalnitz (a fellow Spectrum student newspaper alumnus) — without losing its institutional authority

In praise of the morning newsletter, by Ren LaForme, Poynter

It’s a great summary of what makes a great newsletter, and being a newsletter about journalism tools, he also links off to a brilliant post by solo businessman Paul Jarvis about newsletters, which are critical to his business. Reading Paul’s post makes me wonder if newsletters are the new blogs – a personal publishing vehicle that helps a person build a professional profile.

Paul has a lot of pithy advice about newsletters, and it’s really useful. He lists three styles of newsletters that are successful, although I’ve seen others list more. For Paul, most successful newsletters are either long-form writing, the roundup (which is my newsletter) or news.

To be successful, he says that you first need to remember that you have to write, and I’ll say that I started doing my newsletter more intentionally to get me back in the habit of writing. I was offering up too many excuses and letting my perfectionism get the best of me. I felt like I needed something weighty to say to write, and slowly over time, the barrier to what was substantial enough to write became greater. Writing a quick summary of my newsletter, lowered that barrier, and it got me back in the habit of writing. The momentum now feels self-sustaining.

I also like this formulation that Paul has about the magic of newsletters:

Newsletters are interesting because they’re the only form of communication where 1:1 and 1:many exist in the same place.

My newsletter approach, by Paul Jarvis

As he says, writing a newsletter needs a cadence. I’m quite surprised that I have been doing this thing almost daily now since last autumn. I have had to flex how I do this as my work schedule changes, but I’ve been able to commit to it more as I got into it more and got more subscribers.

Paul has a great list for how to start your own newsletter. I’ll highlight just point number two:

Where do those people who should be on your newsletter currently spend their time? Who do they currently read? Who has these people as part of their audience already?

All in all, if newsletters are part of your work or are on your agenda, then you’ll want to bookmark Paul’s write-up of his approach.

Right, I better get back to prepping for my newsletter launch at work next week. Thanks for reading, and if you have a story that you think should be in my international media and journalism business letter, please drop me a link on Twitter, @kevglobal.

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