6 Things I’ve Learned Re-branding My Newsletter

When it comes to being an author and being a blogger, there’s one thing that everyone will say you have to have.

If you’re looking into starting a blog or you’re trying to get a book published, everyone will tell you the same thing.

Start an email list. Get a newsletter.

I’ve been blogging since May 2012 but it wasn’t until November 2016 I decided to hop on the newsletter train. Of course when I did I had no idea what to do with it.

Revamping my blog for the new year was a great idea not only for the blog but for me to look at the way I’ve been doing things. There were certain things on the blog I didn’t like and changed. There were some things I did on the blog and I didn’t like my process for doing it. I took a look at my newsletter and past emails I’ve sent out and cringed. I am no longer wondering why my list is slow to grow.

I now know what was working and what wasn’t. And here’s what I’ve learned.

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1. Show Your Thanks When People Subscribe

I’ve read many articles on the internet that all say the same thing:

“Have a lead magnet for your newsletter!”
“Throw in a freebie as an incentive for people to sign up!”

While that’s all well and good, I don’t want my readers thinking I’m dangling a cookie in front of their face luring them to my email list.

I started blogging to have an author platform, yes, but I always wanted to meet more writers and readers. I want to gain connections and make friends. When people subscribe to my newsletter, I’m flattered they care enough about my writing and about my aspirations to join me on my journey. I’m excited they feel inspired by me and believe they have something to learn from me.

So yes, add a freebie for new subscribers, but not to make your numbers grow. Do it as a genuine thank you.

2. Add A Welcome Email

One of the changes I made to my newsletter was that I added a welcome email. Why didn’t I have one before? Well, I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know how important it was.

Going along with the point above, having a welcome email is important because it shows your subscribers how much you care. It’s exciting when the numbers go up, sure, but these are real people who care about what you have to say. They feel like they can learn from you and are excited for, for example, a new book you’re writing.

So add a welcome email to show your thanks and excitement to anyone new who decides to join you.

3. Add A Goodbye Email

People come and people go. That’s life.

I’ll admit, it was weird writing a goodbye email because it was as thought I was anticipating people to unsubscribe. Writing a goodbye email is just as important as having a welcome email. It shows the people you care and it’s just a polite thing to do.

Say farewell as though you’re waving goodbye to an old friend. Maybe they unsubscribed because your content was no longer relevant to them. Maybe they left because they realized they didn’t like what you had to offer. Maybe you emailed too much. Or maybe you hosted a giveaway and they just wanted a shot at the prize. There’s nothing wrong with any of those reasons.

So, say thanks for the memories and while you’re at it, feel free to add a poll or something asking why they unsubscribed. They may or may not respond, but every feedback helps.

4. Less Is More But More Is Also More

When I first started my newsletter I had a couple thousand followers and thought to myself, “All these people follow and read my posts, so why wouldn’t they subscribe for more content?” Then, bam! I made a newsletter. And guess what? Barely anyone subscribed.

When starting an email list, you need to ask yourself a couple important questions:

  • What makes my content so special?
  • Why would people want a newsletter from me?
  • What exclusive content can I give to my subscribers?

It’s not rocket science, but it’s not easy. People sign up for newsletter because they want more. More content, more freebies, more advice and information, etc. People just can’t get enough. So what can you do that gives them what they’re looking for? How can you help them?

You may not get this right away, I know I didn’t. But it’s something to think about.

Meanwhile, less is more because while people want more, they don’t want multiple emails from you a day. I’ve heard people who send out newsletters once a week, twice a month, once a month, once every two months, etc. Everyone blogger does it differently. Every subscriber has their own opinion. An email a day may be annoying to some, but not to others. You can’t please everyone. So, find a schedule that works for you without bombarding your readers.

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5. Quality Over Quantity

Picking up from the “less is more” bit, remember that quality chumps quantity. You don’t want to send a couple sloppy emails each day. If you have something important to say, say it in a short and sweet message. If you want to do a wrap up and talk about your month or something, put effort into it.

Big newsletters should be spaced out and written nicely. Small updates and news here and there should be spaced out nicely as well, but short and sweet.

6. Treat It Like The Business It Is

Where you would be today if you had no support? What would your blog look like if you had no readers? How well would your books be selling if you had no fans? How can you sell something if you don’t shamelessly plug it and spread the word?

People start email newsletter because they have something to promote. Their blog, their shop, their book, anything. You’d be nowhere without your readers, your fans, your supporters. That’s why I say you should do most everything for your readers. You have to do something for yourself once in a while though.

Overall, your newsletter is promoting you and your work. You don’t want to dangle that cookie in your readers’ faces but you need to make a living too.

So, be proud of your work. Be excited with how far you’ve come. Show off your newsletter like it’s the latest trend.

With that said, who wants to SUBSCRIBE to my newsletter?

Do you have a newsletter? What are some tips and tricks that worked for you? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to chat!

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Writing Goals For 2018

How many times do we set resolutions for ourselves and never follow through with them? How many times have I published a blog post at the beginning of January with a list of novels I was going to work on or complete?

And how many times did nothing get done?

I’ve always set goals for myself when it came to my writerly habits. However, one thing that I never did was set an actual deadline.

Sure, I’ve always said I’d have the whole year to work on X, Y, and Z. 12 months should be plenty, right? By December 31 I’d have so much accomplished. Then what?

A deadline is a deadline, but when it’s set by you, and the deadline is so far away, you tend to push it to the side. There are no real consequences and it’s easy to procrastinate.

My past self had an epiphany back in November or December and I realized that I need more than a large deadline with many goals. I need a deadline for each goal. I need a schedule to tell myself what to work on and when.

So, that’s exactly what I did. I’ve created a concrete schedule for myself and have publishing plans and everything.

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Wattpad

The Scribe – This will be published on January 8. I ended up getting a little behind due to the holidays, but that’s alright. I’m looking forward to it and I hope you are too.

Take Over – This will be published in April. I’ll spend now through March editing, rewriting, and editing again.

Brave – This will be published in July. I’ll outline in April, write in May, and spend June editing and doing rewrites.

Silhouettes – This will be published in October. I’ll outline in July, write in August, and edit and rewrite in September.

Novels

George Florence – This poor guy has been running in circles in my mind for years now. I’ll be spending my January time planning and organizing the whole series. I have the first novel written so for the months after that I’ll be editing and rewriting. I plan on having it completed in August.

The Lost Girl – The first draft of this has been written since April 2017 (I think?) from Camp NaNo. To give myself some time with George, I’m going to start this novel back up again in June. I’ll edit, rewrite, edit, rewrite, etc. and have it done for November.

Perplexed – This is a mystery short story collection. I’ll be writing two short stories a month through June leaving me with 12 stories total. Then from July through December I’ll be editing, rewriting, looking for beta readers and advanced reviewers, and overall just prepping it for self-publication. I’m thinking of a January 2019 release date, but that may change… if it changes, it will be earlier.

Unwritten – This is another novel from a fairly recent Camp NaNo. I’m editing this monthly with my writing group. So this is kind of a project that’s on the back burner to everything else. Though I’m hoping to keep up with the edits each month. I’m hoping this will be done by 2019.

Side Projects

Poetry – I want to work more on my poetic skills… or gain some skills, I mean. I would like to write 1-2 poems a month, though if I skip a month or two I won’t be heartbroken about it. I have so many other writing projects to worry about, but I do hope I can somewhat keep up with it.

Short Stories/Articles – Yes, I have Perplexed in the works, but I want to submit shorts and articles to other blogs/websites as well as contests and magazines. It’d be nice if I could submit something once a week, but I’m aiming for 1-2 a month. I don’t want to burn myself out and I want to be able to submit quality pieces.

Screenplay – I used to write scripts back in the day when NaNo’s sister site, Script Frenzy, was a thing. It was every April but there wasn’t much interest so they turned it into a second Camp NaNo. I miss it though and I found script writing to be interesting. I’ve always wanted to get back into it and there’s an idea that’s been nagging me for a while. I tried writing it into a novel and it didn’t work. I tried a short story and novella and that didn’t match either. I have a trailer in my head and I’m thinking I might try to write a screenplay for it. This is not a priority if anything it’s at the very bottom of my list. But, time permitting, I wouldn’t mind trying my hand at scriptwriting again.

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I’ve always been a hard worker, but I’ve also been one to get overwhelmed with my goals and panic too much.

“Will I make it?” “What if this comes out terrible?” “What if I promise something and can’t finish it on time?” You know the drill. Those little people in your head nag you and just want to kick you down.

But I think I’m finally ready. I’m in a good mindset and I’m eager to get started on my life. I already took some pretty big risks and tried some new things in 2017. I think 2018 will be the bigger and better version of it all.

Do you have any writing goals or deadlines for yourself this year? What are you currently working on? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to chat with you!

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Hello, 2018!

2017 left as fast as it came in. Now here we are in 2018 and I’m sure tomorrow will already be 2019.

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At the end of every year I sit back and reflect of the things I did and the things I didn’t do. Then at the beginning of every year I make lists and more lists and plans and goals and decide, “This is the year of me!”

Well, as long as you work hard, take care of yourself, and be kind and support others, every year is the year of you.

I had so many plans in 2017 and I implemented a lot of them, but time does get away from you as does life. If I had an opportunity to hang out with friends or family, I did. My biggest goal was to quit my job and while that was scary, I did it. Not only did it free up a lot of time for me to write and blog, but it allowed me to have a bit of a social life as well. I finally feel like a semi-normal young adult.

There were some plans I made for 2017 that didn’t come to fruition because I didn’t have the knowledge or the tools to implement them. So, did I complete all my 2017 resolutions? No. However, I’m prepared now more than ever to finally get started.

What are my resolutions for 2018?

Reading

For my Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge, I’m pledging to read 52 books. Again.

For the last two years I’ve pledged 52 books and surpassed that both times. 52 books in a year means one book a week. I know I can do that and then some.

As for actual books, I want to read more mystery, short stories, and poetry. Depending on what I find and what mood I’m in, who knows if that will happen. So we’ll see.

Writing

I have a lot of writing goals this year. So many in fact that I’ll be talking about it all in a post tomorrow.

Just know that I’ll be finally utilizing my Wattpad account this year, I’ll be doing plenty of self-publishing research (yikes!), and I’ll be focusing a lot on submitting to contests, magazines, and other websites.

It’s going to be a busy year.

What’s up for the blog in 2018?

Well, for one thing… have you noticed any changes? Yes, I finally re-branded the whole blog! I have a new theme, all brand-new graphics, I’ve updated old pages and added new ones, and I even re-did my entire newsletter.

I did all of this myself and it took me a couple of months to get it done. It was a lot of planning and eye-straining at the computer, but I can at least say I have a good grip on how Photoshop works now! It’s always fun to teach yourself something new.

With that said, please take a look around the blog and let me know what you think. I worked hard and, if I say so myself, I think it came out pretty good.

Schedule

For the most part, content and the overall schedule will remain the same.

WEEKLY

Monday-Thursday: Article posts based on the current month’s theme with the occasional guest post or author interview. One Wednesday a month will be WIP Wednesday as well.
Friday: Time to Write, a creative writing prompt
Saturday: A book review
Sunday: Short Story Sunday

MONTHLY

Guest Bloggers: Guests will appear on my blog 1-2 times a month
Author Interviews: I will interview published and non-published writers 1-2 times a month
Mystery Month: The fourth annual Mystery Month will be in May. Yes, the past three years it has been in June, but I changed it to May. (I don’t remember why I changed, but I’m going with it.)
July & August: I’ll be reading two books a week during these two months (book reviews for Tuesday and Saturday) and there will be a few bookish events such as readathons, book bingo, and more.

Making Connections

I know I say this every year, but… I swear I will be better at reading and commenting on other blogs!

For a while now I’ve been focused on my own blog and writing and it’s taken up a lot of my time and energy. Now that the bulk of it is done, I’m planning on spending at least one hour a day reading and commenting on blogs I follow. Plus, I want to seek out a few new blogs each day.

Hold me accountable here, people.

Anything Else?

Etsy Shop

I’m opening an Etsy shop! I’m super excited about this. I was hoping to have it ready for today, but I still have some last minute touches to do for some of my items.

It will officially open this month in January, though. I’m almost done.

The shop is called Spilled Ink Press Shop. I wanted it to be just Spilled Ink, but the name was taken. So I tried Spilled Ink Shop and that was taken… it suggested Spilled Ink Press Shop and even though it’s long I realized the abbreviation is SIPS and I find that hilarious so I went with it.

Anyway, I’ll be sure to make a note of it here when the shop officially opens. I’ll also send out something in my newsletter.

Newsletter

Speaking of, I re-did my Newsletter! Please feel free to head over to the Newsletter page and check it out. If you’re not already subscribed, please consider doing so. There are some goodies in it for you if you do.

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Happy 2018!

So that’s that. Other than my writing goals which I’ll talk about tomorrow, I think I covered everything. 2018 is going to be an ambitious year for me. I hope I make it, but I know I’ll have you guys by my side. You have no idea how grateful I am for your support.

With that said, please be well and be kind. Allow yourself to be extra creative and stay positive. Shoot for the stars but remember to accept help and support along the way. Pat yourself on the back once in a while and encourage others. You can do it.

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Goodbye, 2017!

It’s crazy to think that another year has already come and gone. I feel like we just said goodbye to 2016 and hello to 2017.

2017 was a great year. It had its ups and downs of course, but most of it was good and a lot happened.

2017 was crazy but in a good way. A lot has happened with my writing, my blogs, and my real life.

My writing is usually all over the place, but I finally buckled down and came up with a plan for my novels. Through NaNoWriMo and my own writing sessions, I’ve prioritized my novels. I’ve set goals for 2018 and know what I’ll be working on and when.

When I started this blog 5 and a half years ago I’ve always talked about finding an agent and being traditionally published. However, the more people I meet on here and talk to, the more authors who contact me for book review requests, and the more research I do, I realize that traditional may not be the best route for me.

I’ve never done anything traditionally. I left high school halfway through my junior year to go to college. I already knew what I wanted to do with my life and didn’t want to spend any more time learning the Pythagorean Theorem. I quit my job knowing I’d be better off being my own boss and, eventually, make a better income.

With that said, I most likely won’t be self-publishing anything in 2018, but the plan will be in motion. I’m excited and freaking out at the same time.

Both of my blogs have been doing great. Kris and I have made plans for the new year to better Double Jump and we have new things planned for the blog and beyond (yes, beyond).

This blog is going to go through some major changes as I attempt to make it look more professional and more “me.” I have a lot of cool things planned for this blog for next year as well, but it will all come to fruition in time.

My real life has been interesting as well. A few ups and downs, of course, but overall it was a good year. I took a lot of risks and have been working hard. Through quitting my job I haven’t just been focusing on writing and blogging, but I’ve also been taking that extra time I have to get together with friends and family.

I remember at the beginning of 2017 I kept saying this was going to be the year of me. Apparently, it was just the year of planning. Then again, I wouldn’t have my 2018 plans set in motion if certain things in 2017 didn’t happen.

I often think to myself, “Where am I going to be this time next year?” It’s hard to tell since so much can happen between now and then. All you can do is work hard and persevere.

Stay determined and passionate about what you do, but take the time to be with friends and family. Work hard, but try new things and find new hobbies. Take breaks and take care of yourself.

There are only 3 days left in 2017. Are you freaking out yet? I am.

I hope you all had a great 2017! What was your favorite part or the most memorable thing that happened to you? Let me know in the comments below!

December 2017 Wrap Up

December 2017 Wrap Up

Reading

I ended up reading a lot this month. I’ve been keeping up with my one book a week but barely. Then last week I read 4-5 books. I don’t know how that happened, but I’m not complaining. They were all good books and now I have a decent head start on reviews for January.

Writing

Writing has been going and going well. I’m still finishing up my edits on The Scribe. My original plan was to get it on Wattpad at the beginning of January, but it may be delayed a week or so. It’ll still be posted in January, but I had more rewriting to do than planned. Then I took a couple days off for Christmas. We’ll see how it pans out.

Blogging

I’ll admit, I got behind on my blog posts. I am no longer a month ahead, but the posts are planned. I just have to write them for January. I’ve been more focused on the blog itself and upgrading my newsletter, both which are coming along great! Only a couple more days and all will be revealed.

Overall

December was hectic, but I feel like I got a lot done. I visited a lot of friends and family. I worked hard, but I made time to relax. I’m looking forward to starting 2018!

Posts to Remember

1. December/January 2017/2018 Writing Contests
2. Meet Sacha Black [Author Interview]
3. Using The Rainbow Editing Method [Editing]

How did December treat you? Did you accomplish your goals? Let me know in the comments below!

Prepping The Blog For 2018

December is busy with the holidays and life in general. For a blogger, it’s 100-times more busy.

Not only do bloggers have to bog during the month of December, but they have to prep their blog for the new year as well.

I’ve been planning for 2018 since September/October – early, I know, but I get excited – but it wasn’t until December that I started putting it all into place. Thus, stress and panic sets in as the holidays get closer with the new year right around the corner.

Each year I try to think of bigger and better ways to improve the blog. I’m proud of how far its come and I like how things are run now, but you need a change every now and then; especially when you have big plans for 2018, blog aside.

I use Pinterest a lot for everything. I use it for blog and social media help, research for my writing, among plenty of other things for creativity or life in general. It’s one of those sites are super addictive and I end up over-researching or one thing leads to another that I end up veering off from what I was trying to look up in the first place.

It’s funny because I went on there the other night just to browse before bed and there were so many pins that had “2018” in big, bold letters… or numbers, I guess.

Pins are popping up for me about, “How To Start a Blog in 2018” or “Most Effective Ways to Use Pinterest in 2018.” It amazes me how people know what 2018 is all about a month before it actually gets here. Then again, it shows the posts are recent and it gets people to click on them, so who am I to judge?

My point is, people start planning for the new year long before the new year is in sight. I mean, I had most of my December blog posts done in the middle of November so I could focus on things for January.

I was looking back at my posts for this month though and I realized how all over the place it is. I talk about a theme each month and December is usually about editing or blogging in general, but not this year.

I feel like my posts this month have been on a mini vacation. My posts have been random and certainly not as informative as past months, but I have to admit that it feels good. It feels good to not worry about daily posts as I work on other projects, on and off the blog.

Most of the posts for this month will all be reflections of this year and looking forward to the next year. This post, in a way, is kind of a reflection. Or it was supposed to be and it turned into a ramble instead.

I’m looking forward to 2018 though. I think it’s going to be a successful one.

Are you prepping for the new year? Making new goals and getting ahead? Let me know in the comments below!

WIP Wednesday: December 2017

We’re already about halfway through December. I had a lot of projects lined up for this month in an attempt to get myself prepared and ready for January and beyond in the new year.

I’ve been working extra hard and, surprisingly, it’s been going well.

What am I currently working on?

THE SCRIBE

I’m currently working on two projects right now. One is The Scribe, which was my NaNoWriMo novel last month. I’m currently editing it, hoping to finish the first draft by Friday so I can retype/rewrite it.

As I’ve been editing, I’ve realized a lot of things… not necessarily wrong, but just didn’t quite fit. In other words, I have to rewrite the entire beginning, so… we’ll see how that goes.

Hopefully, that will be done this week because I also hope to get through the second draft by the end of the month.

UNWRITTEN

I’m also editing another novel, Unwritten. I wrote that for Camp NaNoWriMo in April. I’ve been submitting a chapter to my local writer’s group each month. I’m finally getting around to looking at their feedback.

I’m going to edit the chapters I’ve received feedback for and edit the rest as well. So for the new year, my group should be reading the second draft material.

What’s the easiest part?

I actually have a good schedule down. I created a calendar for December and wrote in what I want to work on which days. I’ve been using Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Fridays to edit. I aim to edit each piece for at least two hours a day. While the process has been a bit slower than I would like, I’m making progress, so there’s no room for complaints.

What’s the hardest part?

I decided to do all this in December. The first week was slow because I had so many other things going on such as catching up with old friends and early Christmas parties.

Still, we’re about halfway through the month and I’ve been making good progress. So we’ll just have to see how the rest of the month goes!

What are you currently working on? What are your goals? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!