I found Abby Glassenberg through her podcast, While She Naps. Several people recommended it to me and when I finally gave it a listen, I was instantly hooked. Her podcast is different from so many others in that she is peppy, without being annoyingly so. She keeps the conversation going and doesn’t overpower her guests with her own opinions. Have you noticed that some podcasters talk more than their guests? Ew. She frequently interviews two people at the same time, which I also enjoy.

When I started my own email newsletter, I turned to the peeps in my FREE private Facebook group. Abby and many others in there helped me figure out how to differentiate the content between my blog and newsletter. This was a major lightbulb moment for me. Abby’s biggest piece of advice was just to get started. So, I did. I’m tweaking it as I go, but really love the individual responses I get when someone hits, “reply”. XO, Caitlin

“Can you put me on your mailing list?” People asked me this question for years when I first began showing and selling my work way back in 2007. I’d sorta nod and say, “Oh sure, but you can just follow my blog if you want.” I’d jot down their email addresses in my notebook and never look at them again.

Although my customers expected me to have a mailing list, and conventional business wisdom universally advises small businesses to have a mailing list, I stubbornly refused to start one. I couldn’t get past the feeling that sending out a newsletter would be a sort of aggressive self-promotion that would be off putting, both to me and to those poor souls who’d signed up to receive it. It’s one thing to write a blog post about your new work and it’s quite another to invade someone’s inbox with it. That just felt like showing off.

So for years I didn’t have a mailing list. My business was perking along, blog readership was growing at a steady pace, and I was feeling fine without one.

In 2012 I started creating PDF patterns for my soft toys to sell online. Selling digital products was a huge boost to my bottom line and my business began to really grow, becoming profitable for the first time. I decided to get serious. I incorporated my business, I opened a bank account, I began doing weekly bookkeeping and I made a New Year’s resolution that I would start a mailing list in January of 2013.

After some hours spent watching MailChimp tutorial videos, I got a template set up and stuck a sign-up form on my website. I added “write newsletter” to my to-do list and “send newsletter” to my calendar, but I still felt really paralyzed. What was I supposed to put in this thing?

In the first six months of having a newsletter I did a lot of experimenting. I tried showing behind-the-scenes shots of my studio, I write up some customer profiles, I explained the back story behind some of my designs. Sometimes I sent out a newsletter every two weeks, sometimes once a month, but every time I fretted and stressed when I hit send, worrying that I was annoying my fans rather than helping them.

By June I’d nailed down what my goal was for my newsletter – I wanted to be a go-to source for news on sewing, blogging, and small business. That goal helped me to determine the content of my newsletter (a round-up of links on these three topics from around the web) and it helped me to figure out how often to send it (weekly, so as to be timely and relevant).

Since then, my newsletter has become a vital part of my business and is the single most important thing I do each week. My blog traffic doubles on the day I send out my newsletter. It’s incredibly effective at driving sales to my shop and it’s deepened my relationship with my readers, dozens of whom hit “reply” and write back to me. Key players in my niche subscribe to my newsletter and through it I’ve gotten opportunities to do paid work in my field. I now of 6,000+ subscribers and about 30 new people sign up each day.

I no longer worry that I’m irritating my subscribers by sending them a newsletter. Because I know that what I’m sending is valuable and useful to them, and that they receive it voluntarily, I now see my newsletter as a little gift that I send out to my best customers and fans every single week. I love writing it and I think they really like receiving it!

I wish I had started a newsletter back in 2007 when that first customer asked, “Can you put me on your mailing list?” Although I didn’t, I’m so glad I realized that it’s not too late to begin.

And it’s not too late for you, either. If you’re interested in getting started with an email newsletter (or revamping one you already have) my new ebook, How to Create a Powerful Email Newsletter: The Comprehensive Guide for Creatives, will get you there. A terrific email newsletter is a huge asset for your business. Get started!