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How to write better email newsletters by copywriter Ashlyn Carter of Ashlyn Writes


last updated:
January 12, 2018


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Hey! Ashlyn here, OG copywriter for creatives—reporting for duty. 

Let's get you a message so tight you can bounce a quarter off of it. Around here, we serve up science-based storytelling strategies the creative set.  Even while raking in more than 1.26M in agency work since I've been at it, I firmly believe working from a place of rest (not hustle) IS possible—and I want the same for you. Words matter. Best be sure they work (and oui, with math) ... and know how to party while they're at it. 

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Reading time: 7 min.

What can you do to finally get over that fear, write better newsletters, and be confident that your audience and readers are going to soak up all the great content that you have for them?

Today, I want to give you 5 ways you can write better newsletters for your creative business.

Hang out in the entrepreneurial world for 30 minutes and you’ll hear someone say how you’re dead in the water without spending time cultivating an email list, so that’s not what today’s post is about.

Clearly I love email marketing tips and copywriting—it pays the bills around here!

From the call-to-action one-page swipe file we had when I helped write copy for a major airline, to drafting email blasts for a chef and his 11 restaurants and Alpha Delta Pi’s international organization, let’s just put it this way: I’ve learned a lot about email marketing since I started hitting “send” on big campaigns back in 2011, and have TOTALLY learned a lot of things the hard way. ????‍♀️

But that’s where you stand to benefit, wink.

In this post, I’m assuming you KNOW you need to have an email list …

… but I’m answering the question I hear most often that comes next: “Okay, I started an email list. What do I say?”

How to write better email newsletters by copywriter Ashlyn Carter of Ashlyn Writes

In this post, you’ll learn

  • Why I believe email marketing can help you work from a place of rest—not hustle—and my 2 go-to courses for learning how to get started
  • 5 steps for how to write a good email newsletter
  • 2 Convertkit ninja-tips—plus a 30-day free trial. ????


Hit it!

Why Email Marketing Works

This past week at my mastermind meet-up in Waco, this quote stuck with me the most:

We have to build businesses that run when we can’t.

I think that in a nutshell is why I believe so fervently in copywriting. Marketing copy should be doing the heavy lifting for you when you walk away from it—not to be sleazy (because I HATE the whole “sip mai-tais and work from the beach with your laptop” entrepreneur thing and “your email list is like an ATM!”—ew!), but there are a few benefits to making money when you sleep as a small business.

We’re lean teams—if we have a team at all—and wearing all the hats, but solid copywriting can sell when you can’t.

Life happens, babies happen, funerals happen, and some days, weeks, or even months, we need to (rightly) rest.

And that’s why I love email marketing, automation, and simply showing up regularly. It’s the #1 generator of revenue for us, where I’ll spend my time, and the VIP people that get first dibs on everything in my world.

If you’re stuck on how to even start a newsletter, there are 2 basic, getting-started programs I always recommend:


5 Simple Ways to Get People to Read Your Newsletter

Okay. But NOW what—you’ve put opt-ins in place, you’re starting to see your ConvertKit or Ontraport number tick up … now what?? What do you say? And how do you get them to open YOUR newsletter when 100 other people are fighting for their inbox attention?

Taking a wild guess and thinking you may freak out a little bit before you hit that send button on your newsletter each time, no matter how big your list is.

BUT—before you jump into these 5 tips, I want you to raise your right hand:

I want you to commit to showing up regularly, whatever that means for you.

It may be monthly it may be weekly. But becoming your audience’s master problem solver and consistently showing up in their inboxes isn’t just going to benefit your business from a profitability standpoint, it’s become one of the biggest blessings to get back emails each week.

Yes, this means you’re going to be a content marketer for your business and serve like crazy before you ever ask for the sell.

They want your content, they raised their hand for a reason. And if they don’t like it, let them be on their merry way—it costs to have people on your newsletter anyway. Aim to serve so well that even if a subscriber never buys from you, they walk away with great tips, killer insight, and are influenced by your story.  

Can you commit to me that?

So, let’s jump into those 5 things so you can know what to say in an email newsletter.

1. Have a formula.

It’s going to be a lot easier if you know what you’re going to say and have a paint-by-number approach. One formula I learned from master copywriters and I’ve put to work myself is PASOP, which I explain in the video.

  • An easy way to know what to say in a newsletter is to start with the end in mind: you want to drive to your latest blog, podcast, or video. Back up a bit and think of the problem your audience would be faced with before that. Talk about it—show them you know what it’s like, and …
  • … agitate a little.
  • Then, give a solution, maybe it’s 3 tips, or an easy action item or learning that they can implement immediately.
  • But you know what they say, mo’ money mo’ problems, so now, I want you to explain this new opportunity they have. Maybe after they wanted to know how to encourage their nervous fiance before kissing in front of a complete stranger photographer for engagement photos, they need to know what to wear. Maybe after they know the psychology behind colors, they’re ready for a designer to lead them through picking brand colors for themselves.
  • And this is the NEW problem, which, you can solve with a call to action button to your latest blog post that answers it.


This formula helps you stay on task, not go on a tangent.


2. Use a great subject line to get those open rates up.

I could teach a whole workshop as a copywriter on email subject lines, but today I just want to give you one quick tip: Start a swipe file.

Your subject line is the first and sometimes the only thing a subscriber reads in your email. This can be the simplest thing to tweak that will have a greater impact on opens and clicks.

This is going to give you a ready-to-go database of copy swipes, and endless inspiration when you’re drafting your own email newsletters.


3. Talk conversationally … like, really conversationally.

I recently had a client that didn’t want to start sentences with “and” or “but,” because she wanted to stay professional.

However, we don’t read online like we used to: typing like you talk will help you sound less robotic.

Even famous copywriters and authors agree: when it comes to sales copy, grammar rules don’t always apply. Think about it, you don’t say “in which palace does the queen of England live” … you say “what palace does the queen of England live in?’

That means start some sentences with a conjunction, and ending some with a preposition.

Also, line break often—give people the opportunity to feel like they’re working down the page.


4. Make sure you’re landing in your subscribers’ inboxes

No matter how great your content is, if it never gets to your subscribers, your work goes unnoticed. A lot of things affect your email filtering from the ISP to the inbox, but the 4 most important things according to researchers are:

  1. Subscriber Engagement
  2. Limiting Negative Metrics
  3. Authentication
  4. Content.

So let’s talk about that Content one.

Where do your Target or J. Crew emails go if you’re on Gmail? Typically the promotions folder—they’re full of images and complex HTML.

Plain, simple emails? They’re more likely to fall in the primary inbox, period. This is why I’m obsessed with ConvertKit, my email marketing platform. Fancy templates aren’t the answer people! You can try out ConverKit for free for 30 days right here. >

If you ARE using images, add alt text. Here’s how to add alt text in ConvertKit:

How to Add Alt Text in ConvertKit Ashlyn Carter of Ashlyn Writes copywriting tips


5. Give one call to action.

I test this on my audience a LOT, but typically my emails that have ONE thing to click on as the hero piece of content perform best.

I know it’s fun to give a round-up with a million things for them to read and click on, but just know that if it’s confusing: what you REALLY want them to click on, they won’t click through to your content and keep reading.

Make it super clear, and drive to one big piece of killer content at a time.


How to Split Test Subject Lines in ConvertKit

One other thing I have loved about ConvertKit is the ability to A/B split test different subject lines as a small business, just the way I did when I wrote email marketing campaigns for corporate clients—what a great feature!

You just pop in two different subject lines, and Convertkit does the work for you: 15% gets one, 15% gets another, and after 4 hours, the winner goes to the rest of your list.

How to Split Test Subject Lines in ConvertKit Ashlyn Carter of Ashlyn Writes copywriting tips


So, if you struggle with writing newsletters for your email subscribers, I hope these tips help you write better newsletters!

Having a strong email content strategy definitely can make you extra money as long as you have a sustainable, effective email marketing plan: You know what to say to your subscribers and how to say it.

Reading Time: 7 Minutes Reading time: 7 min. What can you do to finally get over that fear, write better newsletters, and be confident that your audience and readers are going to soak up all the great content that you have for them? Today, I want to give you 5 ways you can write better newsletters for your creative […]


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comments +

  1. kjs11j says:

    Ashlyn I am obsessed with this per usual

  2. Kate Bartley says:

    Thank you! very helpful!

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