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Ilona Codes for Foundsiders

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How I write and send out newsletters that get almost 50% Open Rates and less than 0.5% Unsubscribes

Lots of times, I have mentioned that I love blogging and writing.

First, I started with hosting my own website, then I created accounts on different social media platforms, and almost a year ago, I joined the DEV community here to share my posts and insights with you, my reader!

The next logical step seemed to me is the newsletter launch.

Why did I decide to write and send out newsletters? Because...

It’s a big opportunity for me to dive deeper into my brand, my passion, my expertise, and what I stand for.

My reader's list is sacred to me. For instance, Twitter and Instagram and any other social media platform could disappear or change their algorithms/policy, and all the effort I put into connecting with my audience would be gone.

Newsletters are an excellent way to strengthen my relationships with my readers by offering valuable and useful content that reflects my professional and life experience.

Moreover, a newsletter can be an incredibly powerful distribution channel for bloggers in the future.

On the other side, crafting the perfect email newsletter can be tricky.

There are many variables to account for. And in order to create a fabulous newsletter and see it grow, as a result, keep in mind these five fundamental rules, when writing a newsletter, your readers would like to read:

Be a real-person, be yourself

Let's start here with an often ignored rule. Don't pretend to be someone else -- show your voice.

Always remember that you are writing to a person, so write content that you would read first.

Your readers are not as different from you as you might think, so there is a good chance that they will like that content too.

You don't have to sound super serious and use a formal language.

Build friendly relationships and use casual words instead. It's a natural thing -- we enjoy more communicating with positive, relaxed and friendly people, moreover, online.

As a result, you will show your personality through the words you are saying.

Readers will be more likely to invest their time in looking at what you have prepared for them.

You will be seen as trustworthy, reliable, and the one whose newsletters are worth to read.

Inform and entertain

All the best artists in the world have sources of inspiration, and as a newsletter creator, you should too. Start feeding your imagination!

You will not be able to write content that you like if you are not sure about what you like.

For example, I wouldn't have been able to make my newsletter interesting for my reader if I was not constantly learning new things, paying attention to details, and inspired by the environment around me.

You absolutely need to invest time and effort into creating useful and entertaining content if you want to create an engaging newsletter!

And once you are comfortable with the sort of content you are putting out, you can start to worry about all technical aspects of newsletters like the platform, deliverability, conversion rate, etc.

Add newsletter subject

Do you know that around 1/2 of newsletter recipients open an email with a new newsletter issue based on the subject line alone?

At the same time, 3/4 of email recipients report email as spam based solely on the subject line.

In other words: subject lines have the power to convince readers to open a newsletter email for reading!

Keep the subject line interesting: this is, more or less, the first thing your reader will see.

Capture their attention by making it exciting or worth their time to read, because your newsletter is not getting opened, it is not getting seen.

If you have great content to share -- you have to prove it in your subject line at the beginning.

Don’t be a jerk

Many bloggers know that email is still the best way of getting readers to take the action they want them to take. For example, reading their new blogpost.

Moreover, it's the best way to keep in touch with the audience/readers to net the highest conversions for blogger's websites.

But when the reader is no longer interested in a newsletter anymore, let them unsubscribe from it easily.

If there is no clear and visible link for that, it's violating lots of email rules and etiquette.

The worse situation is, having a link to "Unsubscribe" but not taking people that click it off your reader's list.

Keep the reader's list on the up by only having people on it that honestly subscribed to it.

To grow your reader's list efficiently, instead, try to provide so much value that people actually want to sign up for it. No jerk moves and shady tactics.

Make it habit for readers

Unfortunately, people usually forget that they subscribed to your newsletter.

Later they might receive an email with the new issue and not even realize it's coming from you.

They also may quickly unsubscribe or in the worse case, even report you as a spammer.

That's why make sure your newsletter uses the same basic branding as your website -- create a styled newsletter template with the "thank you" message in the end, which will tell the reader the reason why they are receiving it.

This is gentle reminders for readers about who you are and why they have signed up for your newsletter.

On the other hand, people may forget you quickly if you will stop sending out the newsletter consistently.

Because timing your newsletter right can be a powerful way to bind a connection with your readers, for example, weekly, and convert it into a habit to receive it, for example, on Monday morning.


Growing your reader's list might take some time. Be patient. Acknowledge those who have already subscribed!

A list of 100 loyal readers is more valuable than a list of 1,000 people who don’t even know who you are and what you stand for.

Nurture the list you have, use these tips to gain more readers, continue to give via your newsletters, and your open rates will be higher and growing and stable.

Ilona helps developers to succeed in their careers without stress via her weekly newsletter. Sign up and grab her networking cheat sheet as a bonus here.

Photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels

Top comments (5)

thatonejakeb profile image
Jacob Baker

Someone I work with is subscribed to an accountant’s newsletter that does particularly well With engagement. The reason being each time they include a little ‘challenge’ of sorts (usually something maths based) and encourage people to send in solutions. First couple or so only win something small/novel like a pen or a cup, but it seems to drive engagement to the point where he actively waits for it to arrive so he can try and win!

ilonacodes profile image
Ilona Codes

Thank you so much for sharing this hint! 👍
I will consider it for my upcoming newsletters. This approach seems not only engaging but also motivating for readers and encouraging them to wait and read a new newsletter issue.

ajfriesen profile image
Andrej Friesen

Beeing a grave digger for this old post but I still liked it and wanted to let you know that.

I am experimenting with a newsletter as well and the beginning is hard.
Started to mail my blog post to people. Got 2 people to sign up immediately.

Changed to a newsletter where I just link to my blog posts. That way I do not spam people if I released multiple post in a week and can add random stuff I find and do during the week without needing a full blown blog post.

Let's see what happens.

rooftopslushie profile image
Rooftop Slushie

Your title 50% open rate caught my eye - that's a crazy open rate! 😮I also run both my personal + company newsletter; does blasting out issues at different times have a big difference on your open rates? Personally I've only tried 6am and 9:30am (because Google suggested 9-11am), but the former has worked out better for me.

ps. There's this great resource that's all about running great newsletters called Not A Newsletter which you might find helpful! :)

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