[Note: I first wrote and published this article about 5 years ago. But it still strikes me as relevant and useful.]
But when you think about it, it’s not so strange at all.
Just think back to the days before blogs existed.
It wasn’t so long ago.
Back then, where did you turn to find interesting, engaging, timely, and topical news and information?
The answer for many of us is that we signed up for some great newsletters. We didn’t go to Web sites for the latest information and opinions, because in those days most sites tended to be too static.
If we wanted to know what was new, important, and interesting, we turned to newsletters.
Here are four ways that good newsletters share the same qualities as blogs.
1. Good newsletters and blogs seek to engage your attention at a personal level
At least, the good ones do.
Often when we sign up for the feed for a blog, it’s not only for the information it delivers. That information is often available in other places too.
We select the blogs we like in large part because of the person who writes them. We like their voice, we enjoy their perspective, we connect with the way they write, we generally agree with their opinions.
Essentially, we are attracted to blogs not only because of the information delivered but also because we are attracted to the writing and the writer.
The same is true of some of the best newsletters.
I’m not talking about the sales emails that masquerade as newsletters. I’m talking about the newsletters that deliver information in a voice that connects with us on a personal level.
We watch out for those newsletters, and look forward to reading them.
2. Good newsletters and blogs both deliver timely information
This is one of the reasons that most of the best newsletters are published at least once a week.
Of course, your schedule will depend in part on the industry you are in. If your information has a very short shelf-life—in some areas of the financial industry, for instance—you had better be publishing your newsletter more than once a month.
But if your topic is geology, well, not too much will likely change over the course of a couple of weeks.
A good newsletter takes advantage of its publication schedule by letting its readers know that each issue will tell them something that is important to know right now.
In that sense, newsletters work in the same way as blogs… providing readers with important, timely information.
3. Good newsletters and blogs expand their readers’ world with outbound links
The better blogs out there don’t have links that point exclusively to an associated Web site. They link to other bloggers, to articles, and to sites they think can be of interest to their readers.
Good newsletters do the same thing.
As an example, the BullGuard newsletter not only delivers timely information on protecting your computer against viruses, with associated links to its site, but also includes a list of “BullGuard Curiosities.”
These curiosities are sites that have nothing to do with BullGuard or viruses.
They are simply sites that are a little unusual and often very interesting.
So why do people open the BullGuard newsletter? For two reasons… to find out the latest in the war against viruses, and to check out the latest “curiosities.”
4. Good newsletters and blogs both invite interaction
Good blogs have their comments function turned on and encourage readers to participate and share their views.
The same goes for a good newsletter. While newsletters don’t have the functionality of a comments tool, they can include surveys, questionnaires, contests, and invitations to their readers to write back.
In fact, some newsletters will include a fair percentage of content derived from reader feedback.
Interaction makes readers feel included. It makes them feel part of something. And it for sure helps increase your newsletter open rate.
It is tempting to optimize your newsletter for immediate click-throughs to a money-making page on your site.
That’s a short-term strategy, and it will engage only a small percentage of readers.
While there is nothing wrong with those money-making links, a better newsletter will find a balance… a balance of great content, interesting links, interaction… and a money making link or two.
Like a blog, a good newsletter is a long-term asset.
And, like a blog, a good newsletter has a sense of continuity.
The plan is to engage and keep the attention and interest of more and more people, for many years to come.
So next time you write an issue of your newsletter, give some thought as to how a good blogger would do it.
About the author: Nick Usborne is an online writer, copywriter, author and coach. Read more…