Do you struggle to produce an online newsletter to connect with your customers and build your list? Have you heard a billion times that you need an email newsletter, and you even know where to go to get one, and you even subscribe to newsletters so you know what they look like, and you still haven't launched yours? If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, you are in good company.
But your good company just go reduced by one because our member, Lisa Bilotta at Things That Work Natural Home and Body Care in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, has finally overcome her fear of newsletter publishing, and taken the plunge to make it happen. Lisa is very excited about having this monkey off her back, and we are excited for her. Here are some of the steps Lisa took to push this ball forward. Hopefully, they will inspire you too.
IBN: Which email service did you choose and why?
I chose Mail Chimp because it had the most options, and was the obvious popular choice, judging from the number of other small business owners who use and like it. The biggest draw was that it is completely free for a list of my size. Since my business is still in its first year, it is important for me to keep as many things as possible in the “free” category.
IBN: What was holding you back from launching an email newsletter for so long?
While I signed up for a newsletter service months ago, the interface was not as easy to understand as I hoped it would be, and learning it felt like eating an elephant. They have great tutorials, but they take time, so it kept getting put lower and lower on my priority list. I was also not convinced I could produce content that was interesting enough. Without this confidence, I was not in a hurry to take on this challenge.
IBN: What helped you get over those challenges and get started?
I gave myself a deadline. The last two big goals on my calendar for this year are “start newsletter” and “organize accounting.” I chose the least painful one first, and got busy on my newsletter.
My first year in business has been a great lesson in overcoming fear. Some tasks appear bigger and scarier than they really are, like this newsletter. I am finding that if take one step at a time (focus on one newsletter), instead of worrying about the big picture (how am I going to come up with monthly content?), it will eventually take care of itself.
IBN: What goals to you have for your newsletter?
My goal for the newsletter is the same as the rest of my business: to start small, to educate people, and to strengthen relationships that support my business. I know touch points are important in any business, and though I was staying pretty current on social media, I was missing a whole segment of customers without a newsletter.
In addition, a recent member resource from the Indie Business Network taught me that I was missing sales by not giving my customers occasional reminders of what I offer. A future goal is to use this as another sales tool.
IBN: What have been the results of your newsletter so far?
My first newsletter was for me. It was a small way to prove I could add another important facet to my business, and live through it. That one action has given me confidence, peace of mind and a sense of accomplishment!
IBN: Now that you've published your first email newsletter, how will you keep the momentum going?
I plan to publish my newsletter monthly, so I am positively motivated to look for new content and exciting ways to connect my customers to our community.
I will also add a separate newsletter for my wholesale customers, so I can keep them updated of news and special offerings just for retailers: bulk options, wholesale pricing changes, and community events their stores could benefit from. I am hoping it will differentiate me from the pack by staying in contact regularly, while offering them value outside of our sales relationship.
IBN: What words of encouragement can you offer to people who are struggling to get an email newsletter going?
One of the reasons I love entrepreneurship is that it embraces both fear and faith factors. We get to choose between copying what everyone else is doing or blazing a new path in everything we do, but it's not always an easy decision. The support I get from the Indie Business Network is unmatched. It has helped me when I felt completely blind and clueless, and it fortifies me when I am almost convinced of my next direction.
My advice is this: You have to first know what is right for you and where you are going. For example, there are some things other Makers do that I cannot do, simply because my focus is different. Sometimes, I have to look beyond what everyone else is doing, or creatively scale it down to my size. However, imitating others who have common processes, regardless of our business direction, is a great way to shorten the learning curve.
Find others Makers who have done what you are afraid of doing. Watch and follow them and ask for their help- the Maker community is full of givers and cheerleaders!