Newsletters have been experiencing a boom for a while-from Lena Dunham’s Lenny to Dolly Alderton’s Dolly Mail, it seemed that everyone, at some point, has had a newsletter. The Guardian pondered about feminism and newsletters; Grazia has also previously run content about newsletters. However, what isn’t as mentioned is that there seems to have been a rise in newsletters about freelancing. But how can we go about building our own newsletters? What are the best newsletters to subscribe to for freelance opportunities?
Newsletters are the perfect way to make sure that your content arrives directly to your reader’s inbox.
Have a good idea for it
The best newsletters often fill a gap in the market; there’s usually a good reason for why they are needed, too.
Sara Tasker, author and podcast host of Hashtag Authentic, said: “I wanted to start building an email list as a means of direct communication with my audience. It was around 2014, and I was concerned about putting all my eggs in my various social media baskets. I started sending out simple monthly roundups of new or relevant hashtags on Instagram, and gradually that’s evolved to include longer Instagram advice essays, previews of my Instagram book, and other news too.”
Freelance Writing Jobs, a newsletter that every freelancer should be signed up to, was created by Sian Meades.
When asked how she came to create her newsletter, Meades said, “Freelance Writing Jobs came about after I’d had a total horror show of a year as a freelancer. I was exhausted, I wasn’t making any money, I had to postponed my MA because I couldn’t pay the fees for my second year. Then, as is often the way with freelancing, things turned around and I suddenly had work and I was still finding loads of freelance jobs I couldn’t apply for. So I decided to do something good with them. There’s isn’t a service in the UK for freelance writing jobs, so you have to sift through dozens of websites to find the ones that suit you. Job hunting becomes a job in itself!
“I was able to make the process easier for other writers. It’s been running for a year now and it’s become something so lovely and such a valuable resource for the freelance writing community. I love doing it.”
Think about the content and strategy carefully
Newsletters, if marketed aggressively, may experience a high turnover; this is not necessarily a good business model, as it is not as sustainable. Think about the value you could offer; do you offer a kind of service, like Meades? What are subscribers gaining? This helps the newsletter secure a long-term future. And if you blog, make sure you don’t only share blog posts.
“There’s a real range in quality, and most people aren’t doing a brilliant job,” Says Tasker. “The only ones I stay subscribed to are those that offer something of real value – many are just selling constantly or aggressively marketing funnel techniques. These might convert to immediate sales better, but they also create a rapid subscriber turnover rate. As a means to building long-standing relationships with your customers, word-of-mouth buzz and the ‘like, know, trust’ factor, offering something of authentic value is key.”
Make the design adaptable and streamline your content
The visual element of the newsletter is important, otherwise, it may just end up looking like spam. I know I am more likely to send an email to ‘junk’ if it’s all text.
Meades recently switched service providers: “When I switched to MailChimp I built a basic template and just edit that each week. We hired designers for the Domestic Sluttery templates – they’re different each day and my design skills do not stretch that far.”
It’s also good to streamline content in some circumstances; Meades continues: “I gather jobs throughout the week, using Twitter, email, LinkedIn, dozens of saved searches, and then I sift through the best ones before compiling them (usually with a film on the background). I only feature around 25 jobs – I’m really careful about what I list and if it looks shoddy or badly paid, it doesn’t make the cut.”
Tasker explains her advice for freelancers wishing to get started: “Start with MailChimp (it’s the easiest to use) and think about what you can offer that adds real value to people’s inbox. The sweet spot is making it so good that you almost think you should charge for it – then you can add in promotion for your products and services on top, and nobody will mind. Also, make sure your sign up forms are GDPR compliant so you don’t have any hiccups down the line.”
Sian: “Tinyletter is a really nice place to start! You can have up to 5000 subscribers for free. Don’t regurgitate content that’s elsewhere. No one wants to subscribe to a newsletter that’s just content from a blog you link to on Twitter anyway. It really helps to have a schedule, and a solid reason to start a newsletter otherwise you’ll get bored and so will your readers. My favourites are those with a specific focus or from people with a story to tell. I want to know what I’m getting when I open an email, but I want to be surprised, too. The best emails do that. Oh, and don’t sweat the unsubscribes – we don’t talk about them much but they happen all the time.”
Finally, it’s also important to consider the cost of a newsletter, long term. After a certain point, services such as MailChimp begin to charge. Consider trying to get a sponsor on board to offset the overall cost.
And the top picks of newsletters? Subscribe to Freelance Writing Jobs for weekly freelance writing jobs; The Bloglancer has opportunities for Bloggers; The Professional Freelancer has pitch opportunities and general discussion, and Journo Resources specialises in media-specific jobs and awards.