Kayla Hicks - Author Kayla Hicks - Author

How to Enhance Your Newsletter on Substack

5 min read

Knowing what it should focus on and what to offer is essential to a successful newsletter

Many authors want to build an email list and newsletter but don’t know where to begin.

Why is this?

Because authors often are still determining how they will draw in their audience. How they will maintain their audience. And how they will keep their content fresh.

So the first step to creating a successful newsletter is for you to determine what you are bringing to your audience.

Are you going to:

  • Share publishing and writing advice

  • Share information exclusively about your work

  • Do a mixture of writing advice and information about your work

  • Share information about other writers and book reviews

The truth is, once you figure out what your newsletter is going to include, you then need to be upfront about what your subscribers are going to receive.

Once you decide what content you are going to be providing to your subscribers, it is time to start planning and creating your content and a timeline.

When you format and create your newsletter, you want to ensure that it is easy for the reader.

First and foremost, having a specific and catchy headline and subject line for your newsletters is useful in engaging your audience.

For example, if one week your newsletter contains information providing writing advice in terms of book research, your subject lines may look something like this.

Doing something like this is way more insightful and engaging rather than Kayla Hick’s Newsletter.

Another example would be if you are introducing a new book you’re working on, maybe your subject line is Anyone up for a little bit of danger and a dash of romance? This is going to perk your subscriber's attention and initiate the follow-through to read.

And once you have developed an engaging subject line, you want to lead your readers through a tried and true format.

This means following a consistent format that is going to allow your readers to know where they can find the information they want in each newsletter.

Because even if we don’t want them to, some subscribers scan your newsletters for specific information they want and nothing else. And by maintaining a consistent format for subscribers, you keep their attention longer because they can find what they want when they open your newsletter. Which is what you want.

Something to remember for your content is how readers absorb information.

Many readers spend 1 to 3 seconds and often scan the information they read, so making sure it is easy to read is crucial. This means breaking up large chunky blocks of content so that it's easy for them to scan. And the best way to do so is to follow the structure of 1(sentence)-3(sentences)- 1(sentence). (You may notice how I formatted this article.)

Investing in something like Canva.com or Visme to create eye-catching images to sprinkle throughout your newsletter is also a great way to engage your audience.

When I began using Subtack, I found that I could also create custom buttons where I could add links for subscribers to click which is useful for many things. I was also able to create a comment section, a poll when I wanted to, or even a chat section to connect with subscribers.

Using these types of tools helps to direct your subscribers and keep them engaged.

A wonderful way to draw subscribers toward your newsletter is to offer some freebies.

Yes, you want to give some things away for free.

These freebies are going to depend on the type of content you have decided to focus your newsletters on. For example, if you are focusing on writing advice, you may share tools like planning sheets or timeline outlines for book projects. Or if you are focusing on your own writing and works, you may share a free short story that is linked to your book's universe.

Some freebies I have offered in my newsletters are:

  • Short stories

  • A whole book

  • Outlines to make a book

  • Publishing resources

  • Writing Prompts

  • Discounts on courses I’ve made

Again, the types of freebies you offer to readers will depend on the type of content you’re sharing.

But now the question is, how often do you offer freebies?

Freebies should be offered upon the subscriber's subscription to start. After this initial freebie offer, you should offer them throughout your newsletters. But this doesn’t have to be too frequently, because realistically, you aren’t always going to have something free to give.

Your goal is to keep subscribers there and give them the information they find valuable.

The hard truth is that as your newsletter picks up momentum, you are going to fluctuate between gaining and losing subscribers.

And this is okay.

Be consistent, do your research, and plan out your content and the subscribers who stick will find the information valuable.