How to add value to your newsletter without discounts

Editor’s Note: We’re excited to welcome Megan Brame (an awesome woman who helps creative entrepreneurs grow and develop their businesses + hosts this podcast) to the blog for a guest post on how to add value to your newsletters without discounts. If you’re a regular Dear Handmade Life blog reader you know how important we think newsletters are to help build your brand and creative business. Remember these posts? How to create a newsletter that you (and your subscribers) love and Why sending regular newsletters will improve your creative business. For further reading be sure to check out our friend Meighan O’Toole’s post on 7 types of content for your newsletter. Now onto Megan. -Nicole S.

How to add value to your newsletter without discounts from Dear Handmade Life

Back when I was running an award-winning skincare business, I never thought much about my mailing list. I’d put out a notebook with a pen at shows, and have a popup on my website that offered 15% off their order if they’d subscribe to my list. And then, whenever I was in dire straits, I’d send out a flash sale to my list hoping that any profits I’d make would cover rent.

And I’d make, like, five sales. So I’d have to scramble…it became a pretty crappy cycle that I got stuck in, until I changed my perspective on what my mailing list was for.

First thing’s first: Why didn’t the flash sales work? Because there wasn’t a relationship with my customers outside of me yelling “SELL! I HAVE THINGS TO SELL! BUY THE THINGS I HAVE TO SELL!” Essentially, I wasn’t trying to have a conversation with my customers. Instead, I was yelling at them when I was in an emergency. It was intrusive because it was so sporadic and, to be honest with myself, I bet that many of my customers had totally forgotten they were even on my mailing list because there was no regular communication.

I’m going to bet right now you’re thinking “Yeah, but I don’t want to bother my customers or make them angry.” And I get that. I really, REALLY do. We all get ridiculous amounts of email and you adding to the noise will just make you feel like you’re becoming a nuisance.

There’s a trick to this, and like DMX I’m gonna give it to ya. Ready? Your mailing list will not despise you if you give regular content that is valuable.

Let’s get real here: there are people that will hate the amount of regular emails you send. They’ll unsubscribe. BUH-BYE! Don’t even worry about those unsubscribes…I mean, how much money do you think you were making from them anyhow? Those people aren’t your customers and they aren’t someone that wants to be part of your circle so don’t even sweat it. They’re off the list, so they don’t get into the party. Velvet ropes are up and they’re not invited.

So now we’re okay with getting rid of the chaff, what’s next?

Rethink the goal of your list. When I pivoted into helping other businesses succeed, I kept seeing over and over again that as an “infopreneur” (I hate that term, btw), if I didn’t have a mailing list, I was dead in the water. When I began to learn the why behind this, it surprised me that I hadn’t had heard this as much when I was making physical products, because it really is key. Having a newsletter is a key tool in developing a relationship that is outside of your website. It can be used to sell, yes, but it can also be used to give.

If you’ve ever read a business book or taken a course, then you’ve probably heard of the KNOW. LIKE. TRUST factor. If you haven’t: KNOW. LIKE. TRUST is what many (400% include myself in there!) consider essential to creating a sustainable business.

Think of it like a funnel: First people come to your site, and there’s a lot of them. Then, if they’re into what you’re selling, they try to find out more about you and the business (Know). From there, they drill down to figure out if they relate to you (Like). From there, they begin to feel comfortable supporting you (Trust). KNOW. LIKE. TRUST. is so important when it comes to asking someone to buy your products because it establishes a rapport and makes them want to support you instead of another company. Much like making a blog is a great way to increase your authority, so too can a newsletter increase your status in the minds of your customers.

So how do you do it? Being in the face of your customer all the time is gross if you don’t know what to say. I’ve unsubscribed from numerous newsletters all because they sent me nothing but crappy sales in stuff I wasn’t ever interested in. You know whose newsletters I’ve kept?

Why? Because their emails are plain, they aren’t all over the place with imagery or colors. They’re simple. They send them weekly. All of their emails are essentially just blog posts with a link or two. They’re rarely about selling to me but more about either teaching me something about business OR teaching me something about them.

And, I like those women. I’ve never met any of them in person but I DESPERATELY want to be BFFs with all of them (seriously, Chalene? I love you.). I didn’t get on their lists to get a discount, I actually got on their lists because they all had free guides that I wanted. Now that I’m writing this, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a discount from any of them!

Over time, I began to learn about each of them, and their regular weekly emails kept them in the forefront of my mind. I’ve purchased things from a few of them, the others I have intention to when I’m ready to work on the skills they teach, but I wouldn’t think of going to anyone else outside of them for the same product. Why? Because I know what they’re about, I like their personalities, and I trust they know what they’re talking about. So much so that I refer OTHER people to them, because I want to support those women since they’ve given me so much value for free.

One final thought: You know where the term “newsletter” comes from? Old timey holiday letters families would send each year to update friends and loved ones about the family. They weren’t sent out with “HEY HEY HEY HERE’S SOMETHING YOU CAN BUY THAT I MADE” but instead were sent to continue a bond with the recipient, wishing the reader well. You see what I’m getting at?

So what should you send out to your mailing list?

Do you want the run-over, or a detailed list?

Run-over: Send things that provide value and work into KNOW. LIKE. TRUST. Peel back the curtain to your business and show your customers how things are made, what inspires you, tell a story about where you started and why you started. Send style guides, recipes, printables, etc. Basically: things that aren’t about making a sale, but about building a relationship and creating a connection.

Detailed list: I mentioned a few things in the run-over, but I have a guide that has a year’s worth of newsletter ideas (click here to download for free). Use them all or use a few, but all of them provide value by keeping your customers in the know. It also keeps you at top of mind and pushes your competition out. Good luck!

Megan Brame

About Megan:

Megan Brame is a 5x award-winning entrepreneur that spends her life in her tiny Brooklyn apartment, helping other creative entrepreneurs grow and develop their businesses. You can find her on or on Twitter @meganpluscoffee.

How to create a newsletter that grows your creative business from Dear Handmade Life

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