Just over ten years ago I set out on the journey of self-employment, a journey I’ve continued to travel ever since. (Yes, I reckon I’m basically unemployable now.) Soon after venturing out onto the road I discovered that self-employment necessarily comes with self-promotion as a passenger. So I did what everyone else was doing in the days before Twitter, Facebook and even blogs: I put together an email newsletter.
The first newsletter came quite easily. I got a second out about six weeks later and another a few weeks after that. Then I got busy for a bit and let it go for a couple of months. Then a friend did me a great service: he rang me and asked why I hadn’t published in a while.
Wow! I thought – someone noticed! All of a sudden I realised the power of regularity: that if I wanted my newsletter to get any attention, it had to become routine.
From that point on, I published my email newsletter religiously, on the third Tuesday of every month, for the next eight years. Towards the end of its run I had over 1,000 subscribers – not a lot compared to Shane Warne’s Twitter followership, but still a fair number in the consulting game.
The newsletter worked for me in a number of ways.
First, it kept me ‘front of mind’. I knew people who admitted they didn’t have time to read it but had passed my name on to others because the recognisable email header had reminded them that I still existed.
Second, it became a tool for showing that I could provide value to my clients and potential clients. Every month I would be passing on some useful piece of wisdom (admittedly some months were better than others).
Third, it forced me to write new material, to the extent that my first book was essentially a compilation of the better newsletter articles.
And finally, the very fact of its being regular created a habit, which made it easier to keep it regular.
I finished up that email newsletter when I changed the direction of my work in 2009. Subsequently I decided that email was getting a bit hard (things had changed since 2001) and time was becoming compressed, which led to the birth of a two-monthly paper publication nearly two years ago. I’ve kept this regular too and, again, it seems to work. (This blog, on the other hand, is another story – note to self to take my own medicine here.)
The point is that if you’re going to do a newsletter, e-newsletter or even a blog, you should commit to publishing on a routine basis. Keep it short – it makes it less onerous. Don’t put everything in the first issue – spread it out. But most of all, stop idling at the side of the road and get out there amongst the traffic.Print This Post