As I’ve been on a personal quest to elevate my web presence, I’ve been thinking a lot about the elements of a successful author website.
Two of the major players are the newsletter and the blog.
In this post, we’ll compare the two and determine which is more useful for the writer.
How authors use a blog:
A blog is a professional form of writing in which you’ll share “thought leadership” with
your followers. In other words, you write about things you know a lot about in an attempt to provide valuable information to new site visitors. In exchange, they’ll provide you with an ever-growing audience.
Pros of a blog:
SEO-rank: Consistently posting on a blog is one of the easiest ways to boost your website’s SEO. If you take the extra two minutes to add a meta description and tags to your post before you release it, it will be much easier for search engines to find and index. What’s that mean for you? More traffic.
Passive Income: Blogs can also be lucrative, too. No, you’re not going to make money from the blog itself, but you can use the blog in ways that generate revenue. For example, promoting affiliated deals or leaving your readers with a call to action to buy one of your books is a solid way to generate some extra cash.
Cons of a blog:
Blogging can take up a lot of time. Trust me, I thought long and hard about it before starting mine.
Time Consumed: When I said “consistently posting,” I mean it. If you want your blog to do anything, you need to create content that both readers and Google’s search engines can count on. Find a schedule that works for you, but shoot for at least two posts a month. A weekly post would be even better.
Lag Period: Additionally, blogging has a very slow growth curve. If you share enough quality content, the readers will come--that’s how it works--but there’s a big question of when. It might take three months. It might take three years. Just stick to your guns, stay persistent, and it will pay off in the end.
Pro-tip: Always share your post on as many channels as you can. If you write a post, push it out on all your socials. The more links that point back to your site, the better.
How authors use a newsletter:
Newsletters are a growing list of subscribers who have provided you with their contact info. Any time you write a new book--or a new post, even--you can send out the can’t-miss info in a blog.
Pros of an author newsletter:
Loyalty: Newsletters are one of the most powerful weapons of a writer. With your list of subscribers, you have a direct line of communication to your most devoted fans. Sending out newsletters shows your followers that you’re thinking about them, and if you’re sharing thought leadership with them, it shows them that you care.
Selling Products: Newsletters are a very easy way to sell products because your subscribers are the people that care the most. As soon as your new book goes live, send out a newsletter with the ordering info. Then, wait for a few days and repeat the process. Your response rate will be far better than any social media post that goes out to all your fans.
Selling Placement: Another great feature of a newsletter is that you can sell placement once your following is big enough. In other words, you can offer to promote something for your readers based on the number of subscribers you have. Your ad might say, “For $___, I’ll review and share your book with my readers.” Something like that. The bigger your list grows, the more money you can make off every single newsletter.
Cons of an author newsletter:
Set-up: Creating a newsletter list is simple. Getting subscribers? That can be a whole different story. While there are many different approaches to doing this, often a simple “subscribe here to join my mailing list” isn’t enough. Instead, people usually want something in return. I recommend a lead-gen piece, much like what I did with Leaderphors. I wrote a short ebook, and you can have it for FREE… if I can have your name and email address.
Easy to forget about: I’ll admit it. I have been the number one offender of this in the past. The truth of the matter is it’s very easy to forget to send out a newsletter if you don’t have much “news” to share. During the pandemic, I let my newsletter slide, and it’s taken effort to get my response rate to climb up to what it was. If you can make a habit out of sending a monthly newsletter--even for just a short update--it will keep readers updated and engaged without making them feel like spam.
So, is a blog or newsletter better for an author?
The short answer…
There are a lot of factors going into this: how much time do you have, what are you trying to accomplish, where do you want your career to go, and more.
The ideal solution is BOTH.
If you have the time, these two work as a perfect pair. You can write a blog and share it in a newsletter, or you can blog about how to write a newsletter. See, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
If you do not have time to maintain both, don’t worry. Just weigh the pros and cons and figure out which is better suited for you.
Or, better yet, if you’d like to handle your newsletter and blogs over to professionals, be sure to check out my content consulting agency, Content Ninja.
More great sources:
And, another useful skill: How to create an author newsletter that isn’t terrible, from Medium.