13 min read
These days, the best news isn’t found in magazines or the newspaper, or even on the web.
Nope. These days, the best news is found right inside your inbox.
Despite being invented way back in 1971, email is far from dead. With over 4 billion active users—yep, that’s a B—email continues to be the most popular way for brands, businesses, and creators alike to reach their audience.
It’s no wonder: email newsletters are fast to put together, cheap to distribute, and you’ll never have to worry about gatekeepers or fickle social algorithms again. Plus, email newsletters are an easy business model to monetize—even with a relatively small following of avid subscribers, you can make enough to support an independent business.
Finding the perfect idea for your email newsletter, though? That’s a whole different problem.
Should I send curated links, or write something new every week?
Can I use the same template for each edition, or should I just write text-only emails?
How do I know what topics my subscribers want to hear about?
What’s worse: much of the advice and newsletter examples out there are only applicable to brands—brands with dedicated design teams, professional copywriters, and far bigger marketing budgets.
So what’s a creator to do? Well, the truth is you can launch an email newsletter and start building your community—even without a fancy marketing team.
With a ConvertKit Free account you can share what you love on a consistent basis with your newsletter to connect with your followers and grow your business.Create your free newsletter
To help you get started, we dove into a few of our favorite email newsletter examples from independent creators—artists, writers, educators, and even bakers—to bring you ideas, inspiration, and advice on how you can launch your own email newsletter.
Let's dive in!
Spend a few minutes looking through your favorite newsletters in your inbox right now, and you’ll probably notice a few common patterns they all share:
Ever see a sender’s name pop up in your inbox, and you just know it’s gonna be great before you even open their email?
That’s a pretty clear sign the writer is onto something good.
The best email newsletters are entertaining, engaging, and personable—and they give your audience something they can’t get anywhere else. Readers instantly know that email could only have come from you or your brand before they even open it.
Dense Discovery is a great example of this. While much of creator Kai Brach’s weekly newsletter is dedicated to curated links, book reviews, and other content, he always takes the time to write a short personal intro for each new edition and ask subscribers to reply and share their comments on how they’re doing.
I get it: you’re busy. It’s easy to let your newsletter fall to the bottom of your to-do list when you’re already juggling client work, teaching online courses, or just generally running your business.
But consistency is key when it comes to growing an audience. The best newsletter creators stick to the same schedule, week in and week out. Choosing a consistent publishing frequency makes it clear to new subscribers what they should expect, building a habit around reading your content—and building trust that you can deliver what your newsletter promises. Committing to a set schedule also keeps your newsletter from falling off your agenda—it becomes a habit instead of a burden.
Nearly every week for the past seven years, Paul Jarvis’s weekly newsletter The Sunday Dispatches has graced the inboxes of his 35,000 subscribers. Every Sunday morning, he shares stories, essays, and the (very) occasional sales pitch, only taking a break for scheduled vacations.
If you remember one thing about great newsletters, it should be this:
Your newsletter is about your audience. Not you.
For your newsletter to grow, you need to provide value right from the moment new subscribers join your list. You need to write to a specific audience with a specific set of problems and interests. Avoid switching back and forth between topics—write one week about the best newsletter tools to grow your business and the next about how your pets are getting bigger every day, and your subscribers will quickly be making a beeline for the unsubscribe link.
One of the most relevant email newsletters in my inbox comes from Lindy Alexander. Lindy teaches freelance writers how to grow their business on her website The Freelancer’s Year, and every week she shares a new email packed with tips, tricks, and lessons from her years spent writing for clients. She doesn’t try to make her newsletter interesting for everyone—but she does provide insanely valuable advice to her target audience of freelance writers.
If you do feel the need to target different audiences with the same newsletter, consider segmenting your audience. Tools like ConvertKit make it easy to split subscribers into different groups based on their interests, experience level, and shared struggles. For example, you could try sending more personal updates to subscribers that regularly reply to your newsletter, or you could target subscribers who show an interest in a particular topic with a sales offer.
Just remember: You’re writing for your audience, not for you.
Email newsletters are incredibly flexible—and they certainly don’t need to be bland and boring. Your newsletter can include a weekly round-up of blog posts, curated content, news, and interviews, or even a peek behind the scenes of your company.
To help inspire you, here are a few different types of content you can include in your newsletter:
Of course, you don’t need to include all of the above in your newsletter. Say you’re a business coach—you might highlight recent blog posts, relevant industry information, and client success stories. However, if you’re a musician, you might prefer to include videos from your latest concerts, exclusive content for subscribers, and links to purchase your merchandise. Always consider your audience—and what they would be interested in reading—when choosing which content you include in your newsletter.
If you’re still needing inspiration for what to include in your email newsletter, look no further. Check out these five outstanding examples of email newsletters, and consider using some of their ideas and content in your next edition.
Baking maestro and owner of Milk Bar, Christina Tosi brings her unique energy directly to her fans’ inboxes with her weekly newsletter, Bake Club.
Packed full of yummy goodies, each edition combines her delightful personality with new recipes, cooking tutorial videos, and plenty of user-generated content (including a special birthday shout-out message for subscribers). She also uses email to help promote her weekly Instagram Live episodes of Bake Club—a free weekly show that includes games, prizes, and a baking demo.
For Christina, her newsletter is the perfect medium for reaching her audience—and her fans get something new and tasty every week.
Look out for: How Christina makes user-generated content a huge part of every edition of her newsletter.
Anne-Laure Le Cunff is a productivity powerhouse. Since launching Maker Mind, her weekly newsletter, in July of 2019, she’s attracted more than 20,000 subscribers eager to read practical productivity tips backed by neuroscience.
How did she manage to grow her audience so fast? Two words: consistency and originality. While she admits to never quite knowing which topics and articles will resonate, writing a new article on her blog every day helps maximize the chance that her writing will strike a chord with subscribers. Each weekly edition includes links to Anne-Laure’s original articles on her block curated links to interesting content, updates on her growing membership community, and a short personal message.
Look out for: How Anne-Laure combines original writing with curated content to thoroughly cover each topic.
Every week since 2013, writer and artist Austin Kleon has shared 10 things he thinks are worth sharing with his 75,000+ subscribers.
Each edition includes at least 10 (but often far more) highly curated links covering a wide range of topics, from creativity and art to homeschooling and productivity. But there’s one thing you can be sure of after reading Austin’s newsletter: you’ll never be bored.
Lots of people start newsletters because it’s one more box to tick on their Content Checklist™. Please don’t be one of these people. It’s hard for people to love things that are made without love.- Austin Kleon
Look out for: How Austin uses carefully curated links to grow a thriving community—without writing new content each week.
“Art is an enduring relationship with the world,” explains fine artist and author Kimberly Brooks on her blog First Person Artist. Since the early 2000’s, she’s been sharing articles, interviews with other artists, and—more recently—videos of studio visits with her subscribers.
Kimberly brings the same invigorating passion to each newsletter edition as she does to her art. Whether she’s interviewing an artist, describing the creative process, or promoting her educational books, her words flow like paint on canvas. Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist, you can take plenty of inspiration from Kimberly’s newsletter.
Look out for: How Kimberly integrates her personal stories and ideas while still writing about a specific topic.
After leaving the hustle and bustle of a career in product management behind, Jay Clouse now devotes his professional life to helping artists and creatives take the plunge into self-employment with confidence. In his weekly newsletter, Work In Progress, he shares insights and inspiration from both his own personal experiences and stories from other successful creators on how they built their businesses.
Jay’s weekly email keeps things simple. He eschews flashy design for a straightforward text-based email, making it feel more like you’re hearing from a friend than a marketer. His language is friendly, personal, and inviting, and he always asks readers to respond and let him know what’s going on in their worlds. In this way, Jay is able to promote his courses and membership site to his audience without feeling overly promotional.
Look out for: How Jay maintains his personal touch with subscribers through friendly and inviting language and simple design.
Sure, you might not have a dedicated marketing team, or a professional graphic designer on-hand.
But there’s one monumental advantage you do have that others don’t:
When people subscribe to your newsletter, they want to get to know you—your thoughts, your work, and your perspective. Those unique insights set your newsletter apart from other creators—and keep your subscribers coming back each week.
So if you’ve been struggling to find the right idea for your newsletter, grab a free ConvertKit account and start collecting some ideas. If you’ve been putting off that next edition of your newsletter for too long, take inspiration from our examples.
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