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5 Things You Need to Know to Start a Newsletter

Reading time: 5 min.

Out of all 9 of my copywriting client calls this week — current clients and prospective clients — guess the percentage of the calls that talked about an email list or email newsletter?

What was that?! Did you say “100%?”

YOU ARE SO SMART! You is kind … you is important …

How to start an email newsletter: 5 Things You Need to Know #emailmarketing

Anyway, yes. The email list. The rage du jour in small business/creativepreneur land (and business land in general) these days … even though hint-hint, it’s not exactly a fad. Email’s been around since we were fighting yellow fever playing Oregon Trail, and I’m just pleased as punch as a marketer that people in my industry are starting to see what a life-giving business asset it is.

Well … when it’s used correctly. 🙂

If starting an email list is a twinkling in your minds eye … or you have an email list collecting dust and are rolling your eyes at me right now because you KNOW you should probs send something … OR you are just getting yours cooking, here are 5 things you need to know to get started.

1. A small list is just fine — focus on the RIGHT people.

Aka people who may pay you one day. Newsflash, I know.

Your Instagram follower account is plastered next to your name. Your email list? It’s known to no one … unless you ‘fess up. Truthfully, a more responsive list is your goal, not size. Never lose sight of the fact that there are HUMAN FACES beyond your email list numbers, and if you really believe you have something that can serve them, you’re gonna be fine.


Build to 1K. If you can build to 1K, and love them well with your messaging, you’ll have a great launch. If you already have 1K, build to 1K that are interested in one. specific. offer. Set a date 90 days from now, and get after it.

Here are some of my favorite list-building resources!

  • Amy Porterfield Episode #80, cultivating a list building mindset
  • Being Boss Episode #
  • ConvertKit*, my platform of choice if you’ve got a list under 10K
  • Videofruit’s freebie course

2. Commit to discovering your list’s wish.

In fact, get darn-near obsessed! Make it your mission. Learn where she gets stuck, where she gets her highs, where she finds freedom. Serve her in the gifting that you have where she needs help.

There are 4 questions I typically deep-dive into before creating any opt-in, service, or piece of content in general:

  1. What’s her #1 question when it comes to your offering?
  2. How did she try in the past to solve this problem?
  3. Whose opinion does she trust when it comes to this?

Example — many of my brides, it’s their grandmother or that architypical Southern great aunt she has!

4. What could help her right now when it comes to this? Tell me more.


This isn’t a quick fix, but it takes time. I have a little tough love for you, but schedule chats with 10 of target clients, and dig in. Get ’em on a 30 minute Skype date, take them to coffee, set up a full Thursday of calls.  Ask them these 4 questions — and then some! — and see what they need. They’ll tell you exactly what you need to build, and exactly what you content they want that’d be helpful. I promise! I know it’s not easy, but when I did this, it hands-down changed the game for me.

3. Don’t outsource your opt-in creation (at first).

I grew my list to more than 2K without ever hiring a graphic designer. “Ugh, Ashlyn that’s braggy … ” NOOO! Hear my heart, the last thing I want you to think is that I’m being outspoken about a list number (’cause like I said … it doesn’t matter as much as RESPONSIVENESS does!). I’m telling you that because I’d have let my inability to make a beautiful PDF hold me back if I didn’t adopt a “well, they need SOMEONE to tell them this/might as well be me.”

Takeaway? Use Canva for Business! Seriously. Import your brand colors and fonts, select a pre-designed template, drop in your brand images and copy, and save it. Boom. Done in a half-hour. As one of my favorite mentors says, keep it simple, get fancy later!

4. Nix your brand colors when it comes to the call-to-action on your opt-in page.

5. People are going to try to tell you how to run your business and your newsletter.

Did you get some unsubscribers? Cool! There’s now more room for your actual people. Whenever I freak myself out a bit at that number — which grows as your list grows! — I just think ya know, maybe they needed a little more breathing room in their life. A bit more whitespace!

People think you email too much? Also ok! When you’re a student of marketing — which you should be as a creative small business owner — you make data-based decision (at least I hope you do!). Emails aren’t fired willy-nilly. They’re calculated, planned in advance, and scheduled.

Study email marketing. Study content creation, and make a plan. Here’s my favorite $27 planner!

Ok. Let’s talk more email marketing and newsletter copy! What other questions do you have for me?

You may also be interested in …

Reading Time: 5 Minutes

If starting an email list is a twinkling in your mind’s eye … or you have an email list collecting dust and are rolling your eyes at me right now because you KNOW you should probs send something … OR you are just getting yours cooking, here are 5 things you need to know to get started.


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Get a front-row seat to sales copy tips & hacks I’m applying to write first-rate/top-shelf funnels for clients, what’s on my desk (and in my earbuds), and what lessons I’ve learned … sometimes the hard way. Hope you’re ok that I’m a little more personal here than I am in social media land. 😜

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