Sunday, June 17, 2018

My Crazy Idea for an Email Newsletter

In the previous post I introduced the idea of bringing back the newsletter with a twist. Instead of just a list of blog post links, I want to build a community. I also stated that this newsletter would be different than any other newsletter. A bold claim, true, but I would like to think it's accurate.

Would you rather have a 2,000 email subscriber list with little sense of community if any at all or a measly 25 or 50 member list that engages with the content on a regular basis? Since I worded it that way, the answer seems pretty obvious. Engagement means everything, and that is my ultimate goal.

How will I keep the list fresh? How will I ensure that only those who engage with the content remain on the list? In other words, I don't want to send emails to ones who never open it. I know you've done it because I've done it. I've signed up for a newsletter, but I never read them. And I definitely never engaged. Sometimes I delete them as soon as I get them.

As a culture we are tightening the grip on unsolicited email. That's a good thing, for it's a waste of time to send repeated emails to someone who will not open them. But someone's interest may wane--hence the need to put an unsubscribe link at the bottom of newsletters. I don't want to mess with automated newsletters--at least right now--so I'm going a different route.

I'm going to try the manual method. If you want to receive news from me, send me an email. I'll provide the email address at the bottom of the post. If you want to continue to receive emails from me, be active in the community. More about that later, but the important part right now is that if you don't want to receive emails from me after a certain point, you can either email me and tell me so, or simply do nothing. My manual method will eventually filter you out.

You see, building my email subscriber list will be dynamic. Everyone who replies to a newsletter (basically just an email) will be added to the next rotation. Everyone who votes in a poll will be added to the next list. If you are silent after a newsletter goes out, I won't immediately knock you off, for there could be tons of reasons why you don't respond. You might respond with the next email.

I'm going to use this manual method as a means to learn what to do and what not to do. And I'll need your help in doing so. I'll rely on comments, questions, critiscms, and the like. Tell me when I'm doing good, and question me when I'm not making sense. Tell me when I'm definitely not doing it right, but please be kind.

I'm going to be keeping an extensive spreadsheet.

I'll keep track of who is active with the newsletter and who isn't. I may email the non-responders occasionally, asking them a variety of things, including but not limited to: one, do you still want to receive the emails, and two, what can I do to improve the community?

This idea may fall flat on its face. I may shout from the roof tops for a while and get very few if any people to sign up. Time will tell. If you are reluctant to sign up, send me an email and tell me so.

"I'm not actually signing up," you could say, "but I wanted to tell you how stupid of an idea this is."

I'm fine with that. Maybe you could help me improve on the idea. Maybe you could help me work out the kinks.

But the opposite may also be true. This thing could grow to a point that I can't keep track of everything. There may not be enough hours in the day even if I weren't working outside the home. At that point I would have a couple of options. One, stop doing it manually and use one of the newsletter services online while still trying to maintain some sense of community. Or, two, stop making the list so dynamic. I may not be able to respond to every comment or action from a community member. Or I might have to change the way I do polls, surveys, and such.

At first, I want everything to be manual. I'll talk more about this when I get to Cover Wars, but in addition to a public vote via a poll on the blog, I want to engage subscribers via the newsletters. At the most basic level, that would be a subscriber replying to a newsletter, saying something to the effect of, "I like such and such cover for such and such reason."

And at first I will probably reply to each and every comment like that in an effort to build the community, to get to know people, but after a while, I will hopefully have to automate or streamline a thank you reply, picking and choosing what I reply to personally. For example, if I get a hundred replies to a newsletter, not everyone will get a personal, detailed reply from me. Seeing a reply posted on the blog might be thank you enough.

But that's enough rambling from me. I would like to get your thoughts.

Please email me at 

Remember: by emailing me you aren't automatically signing up for something. If anything, I want to keep the subscriber list small until I figure out what I'm doing. Let's have a conversation.

Once again, here's the email address:

Hope to hear from you soon. Peace.

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