Why Starting A Newsletter Might Not Be Right for You
Not everyone is suited for a newsletter. When the focus shifts from giving to taking, then misguided intentions come to the front.
It’s easier to advocate the impact that can be made. Let’s flip that and state why it might not work.
Let’s take a candid look at the world of newsletters and why they might not be the right move for everyone.
The Potential Of A Newsletter
I am an advocate of why a newsletter elevates your world and the role you play in it.
When I started my newsletter, one thing I didn’t anticipate was the ability to build closer connections, over time. Every relationship I have built in the world of work over the past ten years has been through the You Are The Media newsletter.
If we’re familiar with each other, perhaps the newsletter was the place our relationship started?
It’s easy to share with you the reasons to begin, but some ways can steer you in another direction at the beginning. I’m going to redefine the conventional notion of a newsletter and lay the forks in the road.
When it works, your newsletter elevates everything you do and fosters a closer connection between you and your audience. It all hinges on doing it right, but it’s not a path for everyone.
Why Starting a Newsletter Might Not Be Right for You
You may have the best intentions to get going, the day you want to publish, the logo that’s going to stand out, and the social posts to tell everyone what’s going to happen.
Let’s have a reality check and highlight the unexpected pitfalls and why a newsletter might not be right for you.
Silence starts to speak louder.
You need a topic or a theme to build around, this way it gives you the momentum to keep going. A newsletter has nothing to do with how well your business is doing, or repeating the same message in every send.
What happens when you solely look at you and the business, is that you start to run out of things to say, or your work becomes repetitive and flat.
When you begin, it’s not about the utopia of an abundance of subscribers, it’s about having something interesting to share, that not everyone is exposed to.
THINK ABOUT/ACTION – Grow an idea bank. Gather work you find interesting and jot down ideas and what you read, watch and listen to. Figure out how they relate to you and your world. Over time, you mine ideas from different places.
Your aim is without direction.
It’s important to ask ‘What’s the point of my newsletter?’ Without a clear goal, your audience is adrift. If you want to start a newsletter as you see others doing it, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be the opportunity you think it will be.
This is why so many newsletters just fade out. There was no goal in mind and then the drive to keep going.
THINK ABOUT/ACTION – Know the purpose of what you want out of the newsletter. Is it to build your profile? Is it to draw people to read your deeper thinking? Is it to build a community? Is it to draw people to your services? Is it to showcase your creativity and ideas? Is it to the spokesperson for your industry? Is it your eventual goal to generate leads? Is it a mechanism to build your network? Is it to explore a topic you love and believe in?
The draw is what you can take.
You can’t start with the aim to continually take from people. Newsletters aren’t just platforms to push products. Whilst selling can be part of your format, if that’s all you’re going to do, then growth and buy-in will be extremely slow.
It’s about giving value that people can’t find elsewhere. You can still use email to sell, but perhaps a newsletter isn’t for you. A newsletter is built around stories, experiences, and ideas, bringing people together. An email is more about what you want from someone else. You send, you request.
THINK ABOUT/ACTION – Is there an angle or approach you can share that people cannot get elsewhere? Are there features of your newsletter that only subscribers can get? Perhaps it could be an offer from someone else? Perhaps it is a section that only subscribers can see? Can you collect ideas from around the web and then share your own perspective and a summary that reflects what you believe in?
Consistency is a problem amidst chaos.
If you are already swamped or unwilling to make a compromise on something else, don’t add another layer.
When I began the YATM newsletter, I had to take something else out of my life to make it work. What I took out was playing (or watching) football on a Monday evening. A newsletter commands regularity, if you can’t commit, what happens is that it can burn you out and the promise you made to others lets everyone down. If you are not willing to make a trade-off when you start, it can prove difficult to find your consistency.
THINK ABOUT/ACTION – Can you put time aside when you know you can work without distraction? Is there a time of the week when the focus is on what you can share and collate? To help you, find quotes or posts from others that support your idea or give a perspective that backs up what you want to share.
You can’t see beyond a misguided profit machine.
A newsletter is never about you, it’s about gathering others at the time you promise ie. when you send. You can’t look at a newsletter as a shortcut to making quick money, it’s about the relationships you build and the closer associations others have with you.
THINK ABOUT/ACTION – Balance is key, the work you create can’t just be about promotion, it’s about relationships. If you lead with value and ideas, why not close your newsletter with ways that others can work closely with you and a reminder of what you do. What has helped me over the years is an 80/20 balance, where 80% is on the work for others and 20% on what’s happening and for people to buy and commit.
Feels slanted to endurance not enthusiasm.
You have to have an interest and curiosity around the area you want to become better at, or known within.
A lot of what I have done is to throw myself into the arena and then document how it went. That way, I can put my own scope on what I have discovered. This is different from telling people what they already know and can find anywhere else within your industry.
THINK ABOUT/ACTION – Newsletters aren’t immune to fatigue, you need a deeper interest beyond asking ChatGPT to give you ‘top five things to know about…’
What is it that you can’t stop, or even become fixated by (and share with people regularly)? What can delve into that gives you enjoyment, ties into your business and doesn’t feel like work? When you can be continually motivated, you realise your work improves and becomes more distinct over time.
You are drawn to the metrics over the audience.
This is when you have confusion about who you are doing this for. The goal is to find the right people to come to your campfire. This goes beyond wanting a large audience, so you can tell others how to have a large audience or wanting people to subscribe from anywhere, just because they can.
When your focus is just swayed by the data, you do it at the peril of the people you are doing it for.
THINK ABOUT/ACTION – Can you change your way of thinking from looking at the desire for lots of people to being creative and improving on what you’ve started? That way, over time, people will start to remember you. What if you created your own space that people felt compelled to head to?
This means you keep track of the people who are with you and join in, these are the right metrics to figure out.
In a world that champions the merits of newsletters, this path isn’t a universal fit.
They demand far more than a great logo and your best intentions because you want to begin. A newsletter isn’t about siphoning from your audience; it’s about giving, sharing, and forging meaningful bonds.
Starting a newsletter today isn’t a means to an end—it’s a commitment to a journey of exploration and connection. It’s about understanding your role, knowing your audience, and weaving a narrative that matters.
And if you find yourself aligned with these ideals, if you’re driven by curiosity and the desire to contribute, then maybe, just maybe, a newsletter is your canvas. A canvas on which you paint insights, stories, and experiences that shape not only your brand but also the community you nurture.
Remember, it’s not about starting a newsletter because you can; it’s about crafting a newsletter that matters. It works when your compass is what you stand for, your guide the value you deliver and your destination of a community united by feeling a part of the whole effort.