For years I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the difference between a blog and a newsletter. I keep seeing smart people saying that I need to have a newsletter, that a blog alone isn’t enough. A few years ago when I was planning for Think Like a Rock Star to come out, I started seriously investigating this whole newsletter thing. I started subscribing to ones from a lot of people that were supposed to be smarter than I was.
Wait, why are you calling this a newsletter?
What I noticed (and this really confused me) is that 99% of these supposedly smart people were using their newsletters just to resend their latest blog post. Seriously, I subscribed to one newsletter from a guy that has hundred of thousands of ‘followers’ on Twitter, and each newsletter email I got from him was little more than ‘Hey check out this post I wrote on…I think you’ll like it! (Link Here).’
So if you were already subscribed to his blog via email and getting his new posts directly straight to your inbox already, why would you also subscribe to his newsletter, which was just linking to his latest blog post (Which you had already read)?
See? Confusion. It seemed like most of the ‘smart’ people were using their newsletters to replicate their blog subscriptions, and that didn’t seem very ‘smart’ to me.
Then there’s Ann Handley. Ann has a biweekly newsletter called Total Annarchy. It’s delightful. Everyone loves Ann’s emails. Everyone raves about Ann’s newsletter, so I subscribed. Ann’s emails were different, she didn’t just re-link to her latest blog post, she wrote a new ‘post’ for her emails. Actually, they were like letters, and everyone seemed to love them because they were. So I thought that was interesting…but I still wasn’t getting the importance of a newsletter vs a blog.
A blog and a newsletter serve different audiences
Then I ran across a site that explained the difference perfectly for me:
A blog is a tool you use to meet new people, whereas a newsletter is a tool you use to make a deeper connection with people you already know.
Perfect! This really helped me understand the difference not only between the two tools, but also the difference in the two audiences. This explained why Ann’s emails seemed more like letters she was writing to a friend, because she’s writing to an audience (her newsletter audience) that already knows her!
Two content channels, two content strategies
Many content creators use a blog as a tool to build awareness for themselves or their employer. Once people are aware of you and your content, you want to build a deeper relationship with them. A newsletter, is one of the forms of content you can create and provide to deepen a relationship with people who know who you are.
If you think about it, this makes complete sense. If someone isn’t aware of who you are or what you do, asking for their email address to sign up for your newsletter isn’t the smart play. But if someone is a regular reader of your blog, then you offer them the opportunity to get a different type of content via your newsletter, then that can be an appealing offer!
If you have a newsletter, how are you using it differently than your blog? Do you have a different content strategy for both, or do you tailor your strategy for each?
John Haverty says
Interesting… Good idea about the newsletter being more like a letter. Not something I am doing for my site (newsletters), but I can see that working for you or other sites. Good advice!
Christoph Trappe says
There’s certainly place for what I call blog notifications and e-newsletters.
Blog notifications (like what WordPress allows and what I use on my blog) push out updates to people when new posts publish.
e-newsletters should be a bit more curated and in a perfect world personalized to the end-user. Personalization means more than Dear First Name.
Steve (JoeBugBuster) Case says
I use the WordPress notifications now. Once I’ve got more subscribers there, I’ll think about a newsletter (containing different material).
Thank you for a post. Now I too clear understand a difference between newsletter and blog. I consider it is needed to use Newsletter it is a good instrument.
Stefan Cornel says
When you are a big news agency you can send newsletters to your subscribers. Most of the blogs use the newsletter feature to promote and add more readers to their posts.
Andrea Frazer says
This was actually very helpful. Thank you! I have a growing newsletter and often thought, “Why not just post this newsletter to my blog?” but it felt so impersonal. I LOVE this description. And how about this: perhaps I just need to be more consistent with all my writing websites and continually pump out original, authentic stuff. What a concept! LOL> thank you!!!!
Mack Collier says
Hi Andrea, thank for reading and commenting! So as always, the way I use my newsletter and this blog is evolving. What I’ve started doing with Backstage Pass (My current newsletter) is I will sometimes repost an issue of the Backstage Pass HERE on my blog. I do this typically to add some new information to the topic, but to also give my blog subscribers a taste of what the newsletter is like, and ask them to subscribe. But the actual content of the newsletter remains completely different from the blog.