Episode #83: Bonus Q&A: Soulful & Simple Email Marketing [Rebroadcast]

In this q&a episode I continue the conversation about doing email marketing in a soulful, simple and creative way.

Ruth Poundwhite 0:06
You’re listening to creatively human with honest conversations about what matters to us and how it really feels to build an online business, put our work out into the world, make an impact in our own unique way, and importantly, to get well paid for it. I’m your host, Ruth Poundwhite, business mentor to quietly ambitious humans. Hi, and welcome back to a bonus episode of The creatively human podcast. So a few days ago, I published an episode all about my email marketing philosophy. So if you haven’t listened to that, please do go ahead and listen. And I re recorded I recorded a new intro for it basically going into why now more than ever, I really believe really, really believe in the power of email marketing, especially in an age of social media addiction comparison, itis, and noise, annoying algorithm changes, and all of that stuff. But this episode is actually a q&a. And I originally recorded it a couple of years ago. But yeah, it goes into more of the philosophy diving into a few specific questions about how to actually go about your email marketing, including Let me check. Some of the questions are how often should you show up in people’s inboxes? How do I generate ideas and plan? How do I choose which content goes on the blog versus Instagram versus the newsletter? What are my favourite emails to receive? What are the basics? Talking about privacy policy? And how do you create an email marketing strategy based on client needs? Or should you write from the heart and send whatever you want? So that’s what I’m covering in this episode? Before we dive into the answers to those questions, let me just tell you that my email marketing course cultivate is now open. We’re about to get started for a live round where you will get one to one access to me included via voxer office hours. Fox is like a messaging app. By the way, it’s really fun, really powerful. But yeah, cultivate is all about building an engaged and quality email list and selling more of what you do, basically, using email to make selling easier to make your whole life and business easier, like a human who cares about people because I know that sensitive humans don’t want to annoy people and don’t want to be icky. We’re not about being icky. And too salesy. We’re about doing your business justice, making your life easier, and, you know, nurturing relationships with our people. Anyway, it’s called cultivate, you can find out more at Ruth poundwhite.com forward slash cultivate. Doors are closing really soon. They’re closing on the 24th of February. So do be quick, if you want to join in, I haven’t done a live round of this programme for ages probably won’t be doing a live round for a while. And like I said, doors are closing anyway, so you won’t be able to sign up. So yeah, go to Ruth poundwhite.com, forward slash cultivate. If you have any questions about the programme, just send me an email to hi at Ruth poundwhite.com. And hope you found this episode useful.

So the first question is, how often should you show up in people’s inboxes? And it probably won’t surprise you to hear that I don’t have a definitive answer for this, because I don’t think there’s any right answer for this question. I think it comes down to a few things. So firstly, you’ve got to be honest with yourself and think about what can you realistically commit to because it’s all very well and good to think that it might be great to show up in people’s inboxes every single week, if the reality is that you’re going to find that really stressful. And that if that stress is going to lead to you just like petering out and not doing it at all, then that’s probably not a good idea. So I think it is really important to ask yourself, what do you really want. And if you’re new to sending a kind of email newsletter, then it’s also important to just accept that it’s going to be a bit of a learning curve, it’s going to take you a while to get in the groove of it. So for example, with my email newsletter, I started off writing it once every week. And I actually started my email newsletter before I kind of started this podcast and my new business. I was blogging for a little bit, and I didn’t really know where I was going to take it. So I started the email list with very good intentions. But the thing is, because I didn’t really know what I was doing. And because I didn’t know exactly what I wanted out of my email list, like I didn’t know what I wanted to give people out of it. But I also didn’t know what I wanted to get out of it myself personally, I found it difficult to stay consistent. And I would go ages without writing sometimes. And then once I got into the groove a bit more, I decided that once a week probably was a bit too much for me. So I changed it to once every two weeks and that seemed to be my sweet spot for a while I really stuck to it a lot better. And it gave me the sort of momentum I needed. And once I got that momentum going, the email newsletter became just a regular part of all my work. And now I’ve gone back to Weekly and it’s really Fine in terms of my workload and what I’m used to, and I know exactly what I’m doing with my email newsletter. And it’s just really easy for me every week to have something to say to people. But I’m not afraid to miss one if I need to. And I do do that sometimes. And I’m not afraid to send extra emails sometimes if I have something special going on. And obviously, I don’t want to bombard people with emails, but it’s totally fine to send an extra email every now and again. Of course, if you’re worried about GDPR, which is the data protection laws, of course, I’m not a lawyer. So don’t take this as legal advice. But you’ll want to make it clear to people when they’re signing up what they can expect. So I recommend you don’t box yourself in by saying something like, I’m only going to email you once a month, or I’m only going to email you once a week, just say that they’ll signing up to your email newsletters, and from time to time promotional emails and freebies, or whatever. And that kind of covers you for everything. So yeah, I don’t think there is a definitive answer to the question of how often you should show up in people’s inboxes. I think that it’s important that people remember who you are, and why they subscribed. And I usually ask clients to think about how they react to people’s emails. So for example, I’m signed up to several newsletters, I’m signed up to a few from online shops, and they might email me like every day with new products. And to be honest, I personally find that a bit annoying. So I’m likely to unsubscribe. I’m also signed up to bloggers and creative newsletters, and they email me anywhere from a couple of times a week to once a month or even once every few months. And I find that with all of them. As long as they’ve got a clear thing that they’re saying in their newsletters, I tend to remember who they are, whether they email me every week, or every few months. So that kind of makes me feel like it’s okay to recommend you emailing within that kind of timeframe, in whatever way feels good to you. And when you do start emailing, remember that is totally okay to change your schedule whenever you want to if you need to. It’s also worthwhile seeing the response you get, it’s worthwhile thinking about how you feel about what you’re sending, and how you’re coming up with the content ideas. So yeah, that is my answer to the question, which is basically there is no answer. But it’s important just to think about it and be intentional about it. And I would encourage you to try and make a commitment even though that commitment, commitment can change, try and make a commitment to doing it on a at least semi regular basis. And over time, I hope you’ll find that it’s really really worth it like email marketing, at first can feel really slow. Especially if you’ve got hardly any subscribers, you can think like, why am I doing this, you don’t get that instant feedback that you do with social media and things. But trust me, email marketing is so powerful. It’s so powerful in so many ways. It’s so direct, but it’s also really great if you’re an introvert who just doesn’t want to like be talking to people on social media all the time. And I think a lot of us probably want to be a bit more mindful about how we’re using social media. So email is a sort of, it’s a, it’s a way to connect with people on your terms, and also on their terms because they get to choose who they allow into their inbox. And that is a privilege to be allowed into someone’s inbox. Anyway, I’m going a massive tangent about this question. So I’ll go on to the next question. The next question is, how do I generate content ideas and plan for content? Which is a really interesting question. And I have,

I have many, many ways that I come up with content ideas. But when it comes to my email newsletter, the way I write to my subscribers is a little bit different to the way I would write to people reading my blog, it just feels that little bit more personal, I suppose it’s like, not that I do public speaking. But if I did, I suppose it would be the difference between talking to people here on this podcast and talking to a group of people in a room, a much smaller group of people. I guess that’s the sort of analogy that kind of highlights the way I see my email content has been a bit different my blog. And I think because of that, because of the fact that it is a bit more personal, I tend to often write whatever I feel like at the time, things that I’m working on at the time, sort of behind the scenes updates, sometimes, sometimes I will share something that’s more like what I would put on my blog. So for example, like a how to, on whatever topic relating to business. But yeah, it tends to feel a little bit more personal. And in terms of coming up with ideas, I have a list in my phone. It’s basically the same thing I do for ideas for the podcast ideas for the blog ideas for Instagram captions, I have a list in my phone. And whenever an idea strikes me, and the reason I do it on my phone, not on my computer is because my phone’s always on me and it’s really quick to write it down. So yeah, whenever an idea strikes me, I will write add it to the list, and I do have Separate lists for each of those different types of content. But if there’s an idea that I’m not sure where to go yet, I just put on a general list. So yeah, it’s basically the same as coming up with ideas for any other kind of content. If you’re really stuck for ideas, there are some things you can do. Like looking at your most popular posts on your blog, or Instagram and seeing what people resonated with noticing the questions that they’re asking you. You might even be inspired by other people’s email newsletters. And I’m not saying to write the same thing that they’ve written, but perhaps someone’s written something and it sparked an idea or a question. Yeah, sharing kind of personal behind the scenes updates. Of course, it really depends on what your kind of area is what you’re writing about. But yeah, and in terms of planning in advance, I think with my email newsletter, actually, I’m a lot less rigid than with anything else. So not that I’m actually rigid at all with any of my contact planet, I have this kind of combination of planning in advance, and then picking from whatever I’ve done in advance and choosing the one that feels right for me in that moment. But with emails, I think I’m even more sort of, I go more with the way I feel at the time. The exception to this rule is when I’m launching something, or I have a special event or thing going on, like for example, right now, as I’m recording this, I am running a free email challenge starting in a few days, and then in July, I’ve got a community project going. And then I will get a bit more strategic and try and at least tie in some kind of topics, with the things that I’ve got going on, because it’s just a good way to mention them more and tell people about what you’re doing. I do actually have an E book all about content planning. It’s called Spark. Actually, let me give you a proper link for that. It’s Ruth poundwhite.com, forward slash, spark hyphen, ebook. And yeah, it’s really affordable book. But it’s, it’s goes into all the different techniques I use for generating content ideas, and that can be applied to your emails and blogs and all that. So yeah, basically, the short answer to that question is, it’s kind of similar to coming up with blog posts, and other kind of content is just, I have a feeling for which would go better in my email list, and which would go better on a blog, and stuff. And that actually ties me into the next question, which was, how do I choose which content goes in email newsletter, or the blog, or Instagram or the podcast? And obviously, I’ve covered a bit of that already, because it’s, it’s often about how I feel. And going back to the first question when it when we were talking about how regularly to send an email, I mentioned how it takes you a while to find your groove with how you write emails, and how often you write them. And I think this is really important to mention again, here because I think the more you do it, the more you’ll get a feel for the role that your email newsletter plays in your whole sort of content ecosystem.

You may decide to include specific sort of sections in your email newsletter, like a lot of people will have like, I don’t know, an example like book of the week, or like, interesting links for the week, they might have a theme for the newsletter, write a little essay and include related links related to that theme. You might have to know a product of the month or you know, client testimonials, there’ll be like little extra things that you can add into an email newsletter to make it more of a multi layered thing than a standard sort of blog post. But yeah, in terms of my newsletter, and my blog, like I said, the newsletter is more sort of personal and intimate. And I do write a bit differently there. And I put a, you know, I put less pressure on myself in my emails than I do on my blog. My emails are really important to me, but I put less less pressure on myself in terms of just how I write them the style, I don’t know, it’s very, very personal. But yeah, it takes practice. And I would suggest that you try a few different things, you try switching things up if it’s not feeling good. And when you find the right way, it does feel right. So I’ve only recently found the right way in my newsletter, in terms of the different categories. So I have a little essay, I have a little, a little section about working with me, I have a little section about what’s new on the podcast. And then I have a section called the week’s extras, which is basically anything else I want to include, which is often links to interesting things or links to stuff I’ve got going on. And that’s it. And that took me a while to reach that kind of format. And it’ll probably change again. But for now, it definitely feels right. And then I’ve got something else to say when it comes to knowing which content goes on which platform. And that is it’s fine to put content on several platforms, because the truth of the matter is that we all have limited time and energy and it’s really hard sometimes to think about coming up with the best content for all your platforms. So for example, every now and again, I will take one of my users email newsletter essays and publish it on my blog. I don’t do this very often because I do want my newsletters to be something special for my subscribers. But yeah, sometimes I’ll do that. And then I’ll obviously in the blog post, I’ll say that it was from my email newsletter and give people the opportunity to subscribe if they like it. I will also often take a little bit of a snippet or an idea from the email newsletter and use it as an Instagram caption. Sometimes I will totally reuse content. Like for example, I’ve got a few blog posts that I’ve actually turned into podcast episodes. And one time I even took one of my Instagram captions one of my longer deeper Instagram captions and turned it into a newsletter. So these are just all different examples of how I’m sort of reusing and repurposing and recycling my content. And I know sometimes people worry about it. If it’s not like unique to a certain platform, Will people notice? will people be annoyed? I always say, just come back to how you would feel if you notice someone doing that? Or would you even notice someone doing that? Personally, I would not be annoyed at all, I think, you know, I support people wanting to make the most of the content that they’re putting so much work into creating. So I am a massive fan of repurposing in that kind of way, like not literally posting the same thing in every single place every time. But doing it in a really organic, natural way, sometimes here and there. I thought of something else to add here, actually. And that’s the importance of prioritising which content does the most work for you. Because it can get very overwhelming when you’re trying to create loads of content for your blog, for your Instagram, for your podcast for Facebook, for emails, it can get really overwhelming. And for me, I know, I have to just drop the ball on certain content sometimes when I don’t have enough time. And for me, that really ends up being my blog, because my Instagram and my email and my podcast are all really, really, I guess they’re more immediate, they’re kind of return on investment. A blog definitely has its place and blog content can do so much for you when it’s up there for a long time and people will find it, you know, yours after you’ve posted it.

But yeah, I just wanted to mention that because sometimes you do just have to prioritise and you do just have to drop the ball on certain kinds of content. And that’s okay. Anyway, I hope that helps. The next question is what are some of my favourite emails to receive, so I am subscribed to quite a lot of email newsletters, and I haven’t actually done any prep for this episode. So I haven’t written it down. So I’m going to do it off the top of my head, I would definitely recommend signing up to Paul Jarvis’s emails. This is business related, but the reason I love it is because He always gets me thinking differently. And for me, things that get me thinking differently, are really, really important. Like, I like to be challenged on the same old way of doing things that everyone says, and yeah, his email list is really, really good. If you want an example of someone who’s doing a really interesting sort of newsletter, with loads of different things included loads of different links, and loads of different subjects, and who actually has a paid version of the newsletter. So she invites people to sign up, pay a bit extra to get a bit more content, then the newsletter is and Friedman. And you can find that on an friedman.com, I usually find something really interesting worth reading in that newsletter, I’m finding it really hard to come up with examples off the top of my head. So I really should have worked on this in advance. I’m really afraid of missing someone out. But anyway, I’m going to mention Sarah taskers email newsletter, just because it is an example of a way to do something a bit unique. That’s like kind of simple, but really useful, because she sends out interesting Instagram hashtags. And she actually is also an example of someone who does not always send her newsletter out regularly, but you don’t forget it. And when it comes, it’s useful. So yeah, there’s that. I also love Kelly deals newsletter. She’s a feminist marketing expert. And that always gets me thinking as well. So I definitely recommend you signing up to that. So yeah, these are just a few examples. And I guess, something they’ve all got in common. Is there something a little bit unique about them, perhaps a unique perspective, or a unique kind of content? There’s loads of other email newsletters that I love. And I’m really sorry that I didn’t plan this in advance. But yeah, those are definitely some that worth looking at. So the next question is, what are the absolute basics? And where should you start the absolute basics, and I actually did go over this a bit in my previous podcast episode. So I do recommend you listen to that. But the absolute basics are, you need to sign up to an email marketing service provider, so that you can send your emails properly, you need to have a signup form, so that people can actually subscribe to your emails. And you’re also going to need to have a privacy policy because of the data protection rules under GDPR. So going back to choosing a service provider, I recommend, I mean, you can look around and Try and compare all the features, but it does get a bit of a lot because there are a lot of different service providers. So I always recommend you just go with someone that someone you trust recommends. The two that I always recommend to people are MailChimp. And the reason I recommend that is because they have a free plan, although they have just changed it a bit. And it’s not as generous as it once was. But yeah, it’s good to have a free option if you need that to get started. The one I personally use and I really like is ConvertKit. And I’ll actually talk a bit more about these two options in question coming up. So I’ll go back to that. Creating a signup form. Yes, there’s a bit of tech involved. But you can keep it as like tech free or tech light as possible by just creating a landing page and linking to that, if you can manage doing a bit of code, then you can get a bit of code for a signup form and add that to your website. Oh, and I should also mention, you need to give people a reason to subscribe. So don’t just have a form that says, sign up for emails or sign up to my newsletter. Think about what do people get when they sign up to your newsletter? What do they get out of it? write a sentence or two to describe that, and include that on the page. And then a privacy policy, you can go to a website called termsfeed.com. And you can get a free privacy policy there. Obviously, like I said before, I’m not a lawyer. So I don’t trust this as legal advice. But yeah, it looks pretty good. And if you use MailChimp, I believe that you can use their privacy policies to keep things easy. And what you’re supposed to do is include a link to the privacy policy on any page where you’re going to ask for an email opt in. If you go on my website, Ruth poundwhite.com, you’ll see that I’ve got my privacy policy linked, right where the signup form is, which is the way to do it to make it clear when people are signing up in order to comply with these data protection laws. Sign up to my free email challenge because that is going to go over all this stuff. And it’s going to give you all the links you need. So that’s at Ruth poundwhite.com forward slash email challenge. And it’s starting on the 10th of June. But if you’re listening to this after that date, then you can still sign up and you’ll still get some information. But yeah, it’s a four day challenge. And I’m going to keep things really simple. So if you’re spinning your wheels go about getting started, then sign up to the challenge. That’s Ruth poundwhite.com forward slash email challenge. The next question was actually about how to create a privacy policy for collecting emails, but I’ve already covered that. So onto the next one. Several people have been asking me about my thoughts on alternatives to MailChimp, because MailChimp has recently changed their free plan, I believe they’ve changed how they count the total number of subscribers, they’ve removed some features like automation, and basically a lot of people with their current email lists are probably going to have to start paying, I still recommend MailChimp, if you want a free option, because I think it’s really important to be able to get started, even if some of the features are limited. And you can worry about that stuff as you grow. Eventually, I do think having an email list should pay for itself, like my email list more than pays for itself. So it’s totally worth paying. They provided that I use is ConvertKit. And the reason I went with them initially and this was several years ago was because they had really, really powerful automations. I mean, they still do have them, it’s just that a lot of other service providers have changed, and they do have them as well. But yeah, at the time, other service providers didn’t really offer that. And I and I loved it because I my philosophy is that I’d really like to just send people what they really want to hear from me. So these kind of automations that you tag people with different subjects or remove people from different newsletters so that you can kind of tailor the experience a bit more. Before I used ConvertKit. I did use AWeber for several years, they were perfectly fine. But I do prefer ConvertKit I kind of like how ConvertKit are really tailored towards bloggers and creatives, so they kind of know what we need out of it. Whereas services like MailChimp, and AWeber are a bit more targeted to sort of more ecommerce and things like that. But yeah, they all share many features, the pricing is a bit different ConvertKit I think comes out a bit more expensive. But to be honest, I really do actually like the ethics and the transparency behind the company. Kelly deals who I mentioned, has a really good email newsletter, something I’ve learned from her is to think carefully about where we spend our money in our businesses. And if we have the money to spend on a service that shares kind of ethics and values that we do, or that is run by women or people of colour, and things like that, then we should use the money we have in our business to support businesses like that. Now ConvertKit is run by white man, but the team is very diverse. And I actually follow the founders blog, Nathan Berry and he talks a lot about sharing profits with his team and doing things differently. And I just really admire that so that’s another reason why I like ConvertKit but yeah, whatever sounds good to you out of all that MailChimp like I said does have a free plan and if that’s what’s stopping you getting started then take advantage of that free plan because email marketing is so worth it. Okay, next question.

Unknown Speaker 24:55
Actually, I

Ruth Poundwhite 24:56
think this is the last question how do you create an email marketing strategy based on what your client needs? Should you do a survey? Or should you write from the heart and send whatever you want? Actually, I think this question ties in quite a lot with some of the questions I’ve already answered. I mean, firstly, it really depends on your area of business. But I suppose mostly here, I’m talking to kind of creatives and individual business owners, I think you have to find the balance between what you want and what your clients want. Because I’m all about building a business in a way that feels good and sort of works around you as you are as a person. So in that sense, I mean, you’ve got to write from the heart. Because if you don’t, then you’re not going to build the connection with people as you are, and you’re gonna end up stuck in a box of writing a certain thing that isn’t exactly right for you. On the other hand, I do actually recommend people do surveys and think about what their clients need, there’s a there’s a balance to be struck between what you want and what your clients want. And sometimes talking to your clients directly is the best way to sort of take the topics in a certain direction, when you may not have been sure where to go. So if you talk to your clients and ask them questions in a survey, things might come up that you didn’t realise would have been useful, because it’s really easy to sometimes get stuck on thinking that things we know obvious to other people, but they’re just really not like, for example, when I asked questions for this podcast episode on Instagram, a lot of people are asking, you know, questions like, how do I choose which content goes in the newsletter and which content goes on the blog, that’s something that I’m interested in talking about what I might not have come up with myself. So I think this survey is useful in that respect. But yeah, my philosophy is to follow your heart and to be mindful of how it’s going. So I’m not one to obsess over the track numbers or anything like that. But it is useful to make note, when you get certain replies, when people start sharing your newsletter, what gets people talking? What gets people opening the newsletters? What links are people clicking on, it is useful to bear all that in mind. And like I said, Don’t worry about getting it all completely right from the start. This is something that you’re going to learn as you go, you’re going to get a feel for it. You’re going to notice what resonates with people and what doesn’t. But also remember, even if people don’t reply to emails, it doesn’t mean that it’s not resonating with them. It’s really tricky with email marketing, to have that have that feedback to know that it’s working. But yeah, I hope that answer helps. Anyway. So they’re all my questions. I hope that this has been a useful sort of bonus episode for you, I really hope that you’ll have some momentum with your email list. And that in itself is going to really transform the way you, you share your work and you run your business and hopefully, it’ll mean less time on social media, and more time to introvert if you are an introvert. And don’t forget to go check out my email marketing course cultivate, which is open now until the 24th of February, it’s all about building an engaged and quality email list and selling more of what you do. Like a human who cares about people. We’re gonna cover, building your list, growing your list, nurturing relationships with your list, and really, really importantly, making selling easier through email marketing, so you can find that Ruth poundwhite.com forward slash cultivate. If you have any questions about it, please do email me Hi at Ruth poundwhite.com. And yeah, I can’t wait to support you in building this asset for your business. Thank you so much for listening to another episode of creatively, human. If you have a moment, I’d be so grateful if you could rate and review the podcast, it really does make a difference. And if you’d like to carry on the conversation or ask a question for a future q&a episode, there are three ways to connect with me on the Facebook group on Instagram at Ruth Poundwhite or my personal favourite, my behind the scenes newsletter. Just go to Ruth poundwhite.com forward slash newsletter to subscribe and keep doing what you’re doing because your work really does matter.


Note: at this time transcripts are automated and unedited, which means errors may occur. But we hope you find them helpful!

Show Notes

In this q&a episode I continue the conversation about doing email marketing in a soulful, simple and creative way. For a general overview of my heartful email marketing philosophy, listen to part one of this episode (#82). And if you want to build up momentum with your email list, click here to see my full course, Cultivate.

“Email marketing at first can feel really slow… but trust me, email marketing is so powerful in so many ways. It’s direct but it’s also really great if you’re an introvert who just doesn’t want to be on social media all the time.”

The questions I answer in this episode:

  • How often should you show up in people’s inboxes?
  • How do you generate content ideas/ plan for content?
  • How to choose which content goes on the blog/ instagram/ newsletter/ podcast?
  • What are your favourite emails to receive?
  • What are the absolute basics? Where to start?
  • How do you go about creating a privacy policy for collecting emails?
  • How to create an email marketing strategy based on client needs – or should you write from the heart and send whatever I want?

Links from this episode:

Other episodes you might like:

“It is possible to do email marketing – it’s possible to do any kind of marketing – in your own way”

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