On Newsletters by Amy Boucher Pye

Screenshot from the Flodesk app

I was looking at my Mailchimp account the other day, and realized that I sent out my first newsletter five years ago. Oh fun, I thought, I can share about the delights and joys in the next missive. Then I looked more closely and realized that was only a test newsletter, and that I took a year before I actually wrote my first missive (which I sent in May 2018). I wasn’t exactly regular with the practice, and took seven months before sending out the next one in December 2018. After that I must have made a New Year’s resolution to write monthly, because in January 2019 I continued the practice and have done so ever since. 

What took me so long to get regular in this practice? It’s something that my friends in publishing said I should implement but it felt like one more thing for the to-do list. One more piece of writing for which I wasn’t paid and didn’t have a deadline. And so I put it off, month after month, until my mentor encouraged me to commit.
Three-and-a-half years on, I’m so glad I did. Yes, writing a monthly newsletter (you might embrace a weekly or twice-a-month one) takes me time and effort, but it gives me a place where I feel so connected to my readers. I save the first sharing my news of contracts and projects for those on the list. From them, for example, I gathered my launch group for my recent book, 7 Ways to Pray. And I have special offers for them too.
My monthly newsletter is a vehicle for me to give back to my readers – and that’s how I view writing the newsletter. Yes, my recipients will be the prime candidates to buy my books and attend my retreats and courses, but I see them as people I can resource, not people I can take from. And that’s why a distinctive with my newsletter is that each month I include a prayer practice for people to try out. I’m all about prayer so this seems a natural exercise to include. You will come up with something unique to you, no doubt.
I’ve also started in the last couple of months, with the help of fellow ACW member Lucy Rycroft, who is a social-media/Canva/marketing whizz, doing giveaways. I keep it simple for people enter the giveaway, just asking them to reply directly to my email and they can even leave the email blank. Here’s the language I used last time:

Let’s keep the logistics simple – just reply to this email to consider yourself entered – you can leave the email blank if you wish. Please do so by [date] as I’ll make the selection on Friday. 
Then start up a spreadsheet with the names and email address, wait a few days as you open the emails with delight, and then select the winner through a random number generator you can find online.
And people respond! I find that some people do indeed just reply with a blank email, but others jot a lovely note when they enter too. Here are a few comments from the past month:
  • Kia Ora Amy from Aotearoa New Zealand! I love your emails and I’m looking forward to reading one of your books very soon!
  • It's exciting knowing a lot more about you. I too love books and prayer and if I had more time too, it will be gardening. So, we do share some things in common.
  • This is a reply for the giveaway, but I wanted to say thanks too. I was prompted from your article in Christianity magazine to restart the prayer of examen a couple of weeks ago which I'm finding helpful at this time.  And I then led a small group session about it too using your article and ideas from the chapter in your book. Thanks. 
Isn’t that wonderful? Those are the first three comments I scrolled through from my filing system (Evernote). The warmth and good cheer that writing a regular newsletter generates shines through.
In terms of logistics – I used to use Mailchimp, but the fees once you get past 2000 subscribers become steep. So in an act of faith that I’ll grow my list (!), I’ve moved over to Flodesk. I really like the flexibility and design features it has as a service as well. Here’s a link with my referral code that gives you 50% off your subscription of unlimited emails for the first year. It makes the price $19 (USD) a month that first year.
I also adore Canva, which makes it easy to create graphics. I pay for the professional account as then I can access any of the designs without getting charged for the add-ons bit by bit.
For me, connecting with readers through this monthly practice is amazing and wonderful. Hearing from them about how they’ve encountered God through something I’ve written or led makes me feel grateful and pleased. If you don’t keep a mailing list to engage with your readers, I hope you’ll think about moving forward with one. If you’d like to join mine, you can do so through this link (which takes you to my landing page in which I give away a prayer resource—the incentive, something else to explore).
Sending you blessings, good cheer, and lots of wonderful engagement with your readers!

Amy Boucher Pye is a writer, speaker, and spiritual director. She’s the author of four books, including 7 Ways to Pray: Time-Tested Practices for Encountering God. Find her at amyboucherpye.com and on socials—Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter

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