Jen, one of my e-newslettter readers, wrote last week to ask which is better, blogs or e-newsletters. I gave her my stock answer (see below), although frankly, as I reread it today, I think the technology is a little bit beside the point.
As a solo professional, I think the question is, how can you systematically, position yourself as expert, stay in touch with your existing relationships, build trust, attract the “right clients” while filtering out the “bad clients,” find your voice, and not spend too much time or money in the process? For me, E-Newsletters fulfill all that and more. But if you find you can get most of these things done using some other approach (blogs or whatever), I think you’re on the right track.
Here’s my response to Jen…
Good question. Three big advantages of a newsletter over a blog as a marketing tool for professional service providers (my focus):
– A newsletter is an email; a blog is a web site. Emails arrive in the inbox, the place all of us check constantly. If you put your stuff on a web site, I may never go back. Yes, people can subscribe to your blog, although I guess at that point it becomes an e-newsletter.
– A newsletter has a schedule (monthly usually); a blog doesn’t. Just publishing monthly on a schedule is the hardest part of having a newsletter for my busy professional service clients. Telling them that they can now publish whenever they feel like it is like telling someone that their gym is now open 24 hours a day… most people have trouble just getting in there twice a week. So the lack of a schedule isn’t an advantage, it makes it harder to do (witness how many blogs start strong and then fizzle out to nothing). And frankly, even if you did publish twice a week, who really wants to read all that anyway?
– Newsletters are about strengthening relationships with the people you already know — it’s relationship marketing on a larger scale. I’m not (particularly) interested in boosting my Google rankings, the key benefit of blogs that’s always cited. That’s fine if it happens, but way too random and in terms of a strategy, I ignore “strangers.” The best clients are those who know you over a long period of time and one day call.
Thanks for getting me thinking, Jen!
Insightful as always!
It’s a little funny to see this post title and content listed next to your blog, Michael! 🙂 I’ve been researching this question for a while now, and few are willing to side one way or the other. It’s like paper or plastic: the population is closely divided, so you may need both to serve the public.
There certainly seems to be an expection that bloggers will publish more frequently than once a month; once a week seems to be a minimum. To combat the lack of deadline, there is now an editorial calendar plug-in for WordPress, which you can find here:
Not to worry, though. Even bloggers admit that an e-newsletter is critical because building that email list to be able to communicate directly is the end goal.
Hi Evelyn! Great points — and thanks for the editorial calendar plug-in. Hadn’t seen that before!
I liked where you went with this post. The comparison between newsletters and blogs can really be likened to comparing apples to oranges. Newsletters and blogs are very different and it is a mistake for people to think they can be compared. Creating a newsletter is more specific to giving information about the company, where blogs are a way for companies to become a thought leader within their niche and create a specific personality. Also newsletters do not need to focus on SEO as they are delivered and not stumbled upon.
Great work I am really glad I found this site!
I’m glad you found it too! Thanks for your comments here and in other parts of the site today.
Is it as easy and natural for you to be funny (i.e. to show your personality, which is your secret sauce) in a blog post as it is in an ENewsletter issue? My hunch is that it isn’t.
Hi Jean! At this point it’s definitely harder for me in such a short format to get the humor and personality thing in there. So I tend to default to just the facts, which really isn’t as interesting.
But I’m hoping it’s just an acquired skill on my part and not a limitation of the medium. When I first started writing newsletters I found the “short” format of less than 1,000 words constraining too, until I got the hang of it!