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.