Why waste your time (and mine) on a newsletter!?

What motivates you to subscribe to someone’s newsletter?  When you do sign up, what (if anything) prompts you to actually open, read, and engage with them?  I asked this question to my community on Facebook and was a bit astounded by the response.

I was surprised not by the ideas and feelings my community shared – in fact, I shared most of them.  What surprised me was the flood of responses – 31 to be exact (not including my own responses).  Some of which were very long.  Clearly I had hit a nerve.

I asked the question because I was planning on launching a new newsletter.  I wanted to stay closer in touch with my community, and dialogue with them about issues facing transformative leaders.  But to be honest, I wasn’t sure that a newsletter was a good idea.

The truth is, that currently I subscribe to very few newsletters and read even fewer.  But as I received and dialogued with those who responded, I became much clearer what I (and others) hate about them, as well as realizing that there are a few that I (and others) absolutely love and read faithfully.

So this is what my community told me they love and hate…

About Frequency: I’ve been advised by marketing experts that newsletters need to be published at least twice a month for your readers to remember you, and many say it’s better to publish weekly.

But my community told me they resent being ‘pummeled frequently and repeatedly’, something that simply adds to the noise and overwhelm.  While they may appreciate an occasional flurry of more frequent issues if the topic is of interest and value, they’d much prefer to receive ‘an occasional or unpredictable gem’, written when the writer is inspired, rather than driven by some marketing formula.

About Content: My community hates useless information, content that is trendy, or focused on sales and marketing tactics. What they want is…

  • Resources and information, that are genuinely helpful.
  • Insightful or meaningful articles that are deep, well-written and thoughtful or contain cutting-edge perspectives
  • Inspiration in the form of poems, quotes, art and images of nature.
  • Connection – they want the author to share in a way that’s real, transparent and deeply personal.  And they appreciate deep questions that prompt them to reflect, discover and share their own wisdom.

About Approach, tone and attitude: My community will unsubscribe if the writer doesn’t have respect for their intelligence, wisdom and time.  Owning one’s expertise and perspective is one thing, but being preachy, teachy or assuming they are ‘more or better’ than the reader is quite another.

What they wanted instead touched me deeply.  They wanted a writer who can ask, “how can I best connect with my people and fall in love with them” (Julia Kious Zabell).  Or someone who asks “am I the writer or the holder of sacred space in a more public way?” (Bobbye Middendorf).

So there you have it – what my community loves and hates about newsletters – occasional or unpredictable gems containing valuable resources and information, articles of depth that share cutting-edge perspectives, creative inspiration and real connection.

Because the list is so close to my own, I adopted it as the guiding vision for my own newsletter.  A bit daunting, perhaps to live up to, but the best visions stretch us.

If this describes what you want in a newsletter, please do subscribe by entering your name in the box to the left. I want to dialogue with a community that is excited by the collective challenge of building a better world, and deeply value your role in this magnificent challenge.


P.S. You can read the entire conversation at: https://www.facebook.com/marilyn.daniels.3762/posts/10151909542197744?comment_id=29825338&offset=0&total_comments=17 If you can’t access it, please send me a friend request which will then give you access).  If you’re a business owner, it’s worth talking to your own community to see what they say.




  1. Wonderful article Marilyn!! Really helpful!!

    • Thanks, Deborah! I imagine the answer might change a bit depending on who your community is… but I know ours is pretty similar!

  2. Thank you Marilyn, for this soulful article and invitation! What you say is precious and meaningful, and really resonates with me. Deep gratitude and good wishes to you!

    • Thank you, Ursula! Was hoping to see you at the Jungian event Maria organized at OISE. Hope all is well in your world! Blessings…

  3. I echo the sentiments above!

    Thanks for asking the deep yet also relevant question and being open. And then sharing the wisdom you are getting… On a personal note, I see you through this post and your recent newsletter walking the talk very well. Thanks for being a model.

    • Thank you, David. Much appreciated. It helps to have others in conscious community like yourself who are helping to push those boundaries of what it means to have a heart-centred business.

  4. Katherine says:

    Thank you for this, Marilyn! I’ve just sent out my own flurry of emails, with the intention of being helpful (each focused on a particular offering of mine, in more detail than I’d written in the newsletter itself), but also slightly cringing inside, hoping that it would not be “too much” for my community. Some people unsubscribed — and that felt OK; it’s definitely a place of internal questioning, though, finding the balance between offering what might feel like “too much” to some people, and what might be heaven-sent (“Oh, THANK you for the reminder!) to another. It’s a dance. I like to be adroit in my dancing… and most often, I am. The rest of the time? I’m trying to just let it go, and flow on to the next move, trusting that I — and everyone I touch — will find our ways…. I love being in connected conversation with you…

    • Oh, Katherine, I know the feeling! It’s such a brave and vulnerable thing to put out a newsletter! It may not seem like it for someone who is receiving it but SO much time, love, editing, inspiration goes into it and then it’s released to the winds (the servers) to do with what they will! It’s so heartening to get those notes of appreciation back, like yours! (BTW, your inaugural newsletter was really beautiful and I received lots of inspiration for mine). xx

  5. It is lovely to witness someone listening deeply, in a public and obviously very personal and private way. I applaud the courage it takes to dismantle one form of business/practice and to re-invent yourself in a way that is congruent within yourself without assurance that this will ‘fit’ your audience. We assume it might, may pray or wish that it will, but your stepping out (after a time of involuntary stillness) feels to me like part of the new wave of leadership. Not from familiar strengths, but from a profoundly grounded humility. More please!

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