5 Lessons from 5 Years of a Weekly eZine

Written by Christine Kane

5 Lessons From 5 Years Of A Weekly eZine_1Five years ago today — with my heart beating a mile a minute — I hit “send” on my very first eZine.

Back then, I was still playing music, and my eZine was called “Live Creative.”  I had 3000 subscribers. Up til that point, I sent out a monthly update to my list (when I remembered to send it).  I was making about $150,000 a year.

In just five short years, my list has grown to almost 30,000 people. (We’ve added a zero.) My business model changed completely. And we’ve added a zero to our income – shooting Uplevel YOU well into the 7-figures for the last three years.

I’ve learned much from having an eZine, and I now teach my own signature blend of strategies to my students in my Uplevel your Business Program. Here are five of the most important lessons I’ve gotten along the way…

eZine Lesson #1 – eZines aren’t dead

Recently, an internet marketer (who was wearing so much hair product that he resembled the heat-miser) gave me his opinion on eZines:

“Ezines and newsletters? They’re dead. They don’t work.”

Hmmmm.  My subscribers never got that memo.

I make it a policy to do what works, regardless of the latest marketing wisdom being spouted off.  In my experience, eZines are not dead.

If your eZine gives value and gets real, your ideal client will open it over and over again. Yes, it does take focus and time to make this happen. (This is why I devote an entire module to it in my Uplevel Your Business program.)  So, while eZines aren’t dead… they also can’t be robotic, like so much of the email in your inbox.

eZine Lesson #2 – Consistency builds trust

One of my favorite moments at Uplevel Your Business LIVE this year:

A woman stood up at the mic to share how angry she was at me for leaving my music career to start Uplevel YOU, and how she threw out all of my CD’s, and told all her friends I had sold out.

“But I kept getting your eZine,” she said. “And one day, I saw it in my inbox and said to myself, ‘Hey, I liked her songs. Maybe I’ll like her articles. And I did! And I’m here!”

If I hadn’t been the one to consistently continue the relationship, she would’ve given up on me.  I had to show up.  Not just once. But over and over again.  Consistency builds trust. And people buy from people they trust.

eZine Lesson #3 – Weekly. Not bi-weekly. Not monthly.

When you first start an eZine, it may feel scary to be on a weekly schedule. It can seem like a lot. But it’s not. It’s actually much easier on you AND on your readers.

Here’s why:

When people come to expect your ezine on Wednesdays, for instance, they know it will be there, even if they don’t have time to open it. A monthly eZine can get confusing because they’ve had a lot of time to NOT think about you.

And second, when you deliver weekly, you can make it more “bite-sized” for people. You don’t have to fire-hose them with all of your news for the month.

eZine Lesson #4 – Get personal

My client Sue Ludwig is President and Founder of the National Association of Neonatal Therapists.  At Uplevel Your Business LIVE last year, I showed an example of Sue’s association eZine next to an example of another association newsletter in her industry.

Sue’s ezine connects, gets real and adds value. The other one is stiff, formal and “medical.” The audience laughed out loud at the staggering contrast. Both associations are trying to reach the same audience. But guess who has sold out her annual conference for three years in a row? Guess who is growing at a staggering rate, getting corporate sponsorships, and working with luminaries like Brene Brown and Jill Bolte Taylor?  Sue! Because she insists on being real. She is not afraid to have soul.  After all, her readers do!

The question of vulnerability is a big one these days. Many of us grew up with slick corporate models of business.  Yet, our clients and customers need models, not facades and phoniness. It’s okay to be real and get personal.  Share what you do and who you are, not just a slick exterior.

eZine Lesson #5 – Unsubscribes do not mean you suck.

Okay, listen closely here.

Do not…do NOT… DO NOT set up your system to email you every time a reader unsubscribes.  Similarly, don’t check your unsubscribes everyday. This is death to your confidence and it doesn’t serve you.

Analytics are important. Open rates are important. If you suddenly have hundreds of unsubscribes, that would be important.  However, the best way to keep track is to create a dashboard of the key numbers you need to view. Better yet, have your assistant gather the data… then you can review it weekly or monthly.

Got any lessons to add?  Got any questions for me about starting an eZine?  Let me know in the comments!

{19 comments ... read them below or add one}

Dr. Anna Garrett December 4, 2013 at 10:41 am

This is all so true! I remember when I started my newsletter and was sending it monthly…and you called me on it. So, for the last 3 years..week in and week out.. it goes out on Thurs. It’s now just part of what I do in my business. I always ask my clients how they found out about my services…and every time I get one that says “e-zine” it makes me smile. Makes the effort totally worth it!

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Teri Beckman December 4, 2013 at 11:05 am

Christine – Congratulations on all your accomplishments these last 5 years, you are such a positive force in the world. Finally, this year, I began sending out my e-zine regularly (hate to admit, it is bi-weekly!). I doubled my list this year from 300 to 600 subscribers. I want to double it again this year (maybe it will have to go to weekly!). It has been a great great way to regularly communicate with my peeps in a much deeper way than just trying to sell to them. Thank you for all the structure of the Uplevel Academy – it has been invaluable for my business.

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Glad Doggett December 4, 2013 at 11:06 am

I couldn’t agree more! Ezines are not dead. In fact, they are thriving in my part of the world. I help almost all my clients write/edit their ezines, and they consistently get amazing results.

Thanks for clearing up Hair-Product-Guy’s fear-based marketing message.

Creating consistent, value-based content and client engagement are the keys to marketing: Ezines help you do both.

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Bob Wingate December 4, 2013 at 11:28 am

Hi Christine and/or Staff @ UpLevel You-
I’ve enjoyed your DVD & also had a business friend/ associate order her a copy. She is going through it now. We plan to have lunch in the next few days & compare notes on your presentation.
I have some good news to share & also a question or two. I’m not sure how much advice you can or will share freely with me. I’d like to hire you as my personal coach, but with a monthly income of $400 or so, I need to get an UpLevel just to be able to afford your services. I must say first of all, I’m thankful that from A year ago up til now, I’ve gone from $0 and discouragement to $400 and encouragement.

I have taught Senior Adult guitar classes for the last nine months. I’m happy with some of the results- I’ve built a base of happy, satisfied clients, but am underpaid. We started with a six-week class for $25, and am now at $30 for an 8-week class. My 50-75 page workbook sells for $5.. I told the Activities Director at the facility where I teach that I wanted to jump up to $40 plus $10 for workbook. She said that she didn’t believe Seniors would pay $40-$50 for a class. Some of their art classes are $5/class plus materials. I mentioned the fact that they were getting a great deal once to a class, and a student, a retired college professor, said “We know it’s a great deal- just don’t raise the price!”.

Good news is- the local community college just wrote me yesterday, asking me to teach guitar for their spring semester. They charge $60 per student, but only $30 per class week for the instructor. They seem unable to budge on price. So with ten students, they make $600 and I make $240 of that amount. But they pay for all class materials.

My senior classes have gone well enough to expand from one class in March to two classes in the summer, to three classes starting in January. At $30 per student and 10-12 students per class, I’m potentially making about $1,000 per 8-week session.

These classes sorta involved out of a free church class that I have been leading. I’ve developed two mentors who are now helpers with the classes. One of them has advised me to go 501 (c) or non profit. Either way, I’d like to get a business or corporate sponsor to help us with some needs. We need to publish my workbook, buy some quality music stands- (I’m having to borrow them now)- perhaps some sound equipment, etc. I just got our class featured in the monthly Senior newspaper, plus a feature in our local newspaper this month. We performed at the local Blues & Jazz Festival, plus are doing four Christmas concerts this month.

I have also operated an online tee shirt store called NovelTees. I’ve got around 1,500 to 2,000 items on there, including tee shirts, caps, bumper stickers, etc. I’m only averaging about $25 a month in royalties. Zazzle hosts the site & they make about 75% of gross sales while I make about 25%. However, I’ve never paid a dime to run this site. My goal is to increase sales, start another online site at Cafe Press, and eventually run an offline site locally, with my own inventory, marketing to local & regional fairs & festivals.

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Bob Wingate December 4, 2013 at 11:40 am

-Continued-
I know I’ve been wordy in my “comment”, but just wanted to share my goals and frustrations in my slower-than-desirable progress. I tell myself sometimes, “even if you’re not where you WANT to be get, this is BETTER than working retail or minimum wage!”. And it is. But my dreams are much, much higher fir myself, and eventually for others that I will mentor. I want to do my own version of what Christine does. But first, I must get there myself.

Well- I hope SOMEONE there reads all of this. Your response is appreciated.

THANK.YOU–
Bob : )

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Christine Kane Reply:

Hey Bob – Thanks for your note – and hey, congrats on moving out and forward. I can’t find a question in here. There’s lots of story – but no clear question to answer. From the stories you are telling, it sounds like you are very “splattered” in all you are trying to do – and like you actually would do well to raise your prices!

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Mindful Mimi Reply:

Bob,
Where do you WANT to be? :-)
Are the seniors your ideal client? If they can’t pay what you would like to charge, who could?
Miranda

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Alle L'Eveille December 4, 2013 at 5:58 pm

When I started out many years ago, I was sending my newsletter every other month because I did not want to bother my audience. Then, I bumped it up to once a month. I was feeling pretty good about that. But as we have all gone more digital, a month is a longer perception of time than it used to be.

So, when I first started following your newsletter, I bumped it up to every other week. Then, I signed up for UYL and UYB, I bumped it up to weekly. I have been known to miss a week occasionally but I’ve been pretty consistent. My list is small but very high quality. You are right about it building trust. From a marketing viewpoint, it keeps me top-of-mind when someone wants to contract with me or recommend me. I get a lot of positive comments.

One of my subscribers has been a reader for over 10 years. Last month, she was ready to rebrand, emailed me, I met with her and signed her up for a branding package and she is my ideal peep. They don’t all go that way, but I am a strong believer in the enews/ezine.

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Christine Kane Reply:

Awesome Alle! (so wait a sec here… she’s been a reader for 10 years? 10? really? what was she reading 10 years ago?)

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Erica Quam December 4, 2013 at 6:39 pm

I have gotten my monthly eZine off the ground this summer after going through the Uplevel Your Business program. I’m am going to be a weekly eZine beginning January 2014. When I first tried to brainstorm a list of the topics I would write about, I already had writer’s block. Now, I’ve kept my eZine ideas on index cards as they pop into my head (learned that trick from you Christine in Uplevel Your Productivity) and already have some ideas for the first few months of the year. The process of writing these articles and putting them out there can be scary AND can build confidence for yourself as you build trust and give value to your readers. My last eZine article got picked up and reprinted for free by the very people I wanted to market to! Thanks for all you do and sharing how you have grown and built your list. It is inspiring and gives me hope and confidence in what I’m doing!

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Christine Kane Reply:

Go Erica! That’s great news! Congratulations!

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Maggie December 4, 2013 at 11:15 pm

Oh Christine!
I remember when it was called Live Creative and I LOVED it then as I LOVE it now!
I have been so deeply blessed by being a witness to your growth and growing and learning along with you.

The Gold Program also gave me the strongest foundation to develop an uplevelled life for which I am deeply and endlessly grateful.

Can’t wait to see what the next 5 years bring!

Creatively Uplevelly Yours,
Maggie

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Nneka, Working Mystic December 5, 2013 at 8:51 am

I appreciate the value of keeping in touch. Even though my readers don’t read every word or every eZine, they are stringing together a story over the weeks. As I talk to clients on Strategy Sessions, I’m hearing over and over again that they read something in my eZine – they usually can’t remember – and it applied to them. They implemented the tip. It worked. Now, they want more. I love the rhythm of it:-)

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Darla Van Horne December 5, 2013 at 12:56 pm

Christine, Just have to say how much I loved your song, and the message, the heart and passion that you brought to your performance. Thanks for sharing.

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Andrea Mock December 5, 2013 at 7:33 pm

Your story reminds me of a tech “expert” about 20 years ago tell me this Internet thing, it’s a fad.

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Tracie Thompson December 25, 2013 at 4:29 pm

Hm. I’ve been planning to do my first-ever Facebook contest/giveaway type thing, in mid-January.

Perhaps that would be a great way to launch an e-zine. This requires some thought.

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Mindful Mimi Reply:

Tracie! Cool. Share your FB site here so we can follow!
Oh and, intention first! Then decision! :-)
M

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Mindful Mimi January 8, 2014 at 10:04 am

Hi Christine,
I’ve come a long way since we first met in 2009!
I have been sending out weekly newsletter for a year now. And although my list is still small (about 300 people), it suits my ‘business’.
One lesson I have learned is indeed consistency. People now expect my newsletter at 10 am Friday morning. They enjoy it, take time for it, have their tea and take a little break while reading it.
Also, some of them contacted me after reading my email (or my blog before that) for a long time. So consistency brought them to me in the end because of the trust it built.
And the best thing about it is that subscribers who have not worked with me recommend me to their friends who then become clients. Indirect marketing ;-)
I love it.
Also, one great benefit of this weekly newsletter ‘duty’ is that you learn a lot through it yourself. First on the more technical (how do I do this?) level, but secondly on what format suits you, what do you want to talk about, who are your peeps etc. It keeps you focused on your business and allows you to tweak and perfect what you’re doing.
And it’s a great mean to help others and let them benefit from problems (and solutions) you found or your clients have struggled with.
I have been following you since 2009. I organised my first retreat in 2011, my non profit made a ‘profit’ last year for the first time. And although they are not the doubling/tripling income testimonials you have in your newsletter :-), they are right for me and my crowd :-) Totally authentic, totally doable, totally me.
Last year my word was UP and I have upped things quite a bit and I know 2014 will be a great year because of that (because last year’s word does not stop working once the year is over). This year my word is LIGHT and I will take it new levels, I know!
Thanks for all your support and newsletters over the years.
Miranda

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Jan January 12, 2014 at 10:46 pm

At the risk of being the laughing stock of this comment section, once and for all I am going to ask: “What is Ezine? Why would I need it? How I get into it and for what reason?What will it give me? and finally what I need to have in order to enter and succeed?

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