You know that having an email newsletter and building an email list is essential for your blog. The question is, how do you run a newsletter?
Running a newsletter yourself
Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of this option.
Advantage – You Control Everything
When you operate your newsletter yourself, you have full control over all the aspects of the newsletter. You decide everything about the newsletter – from the subscription policies to how the newsletter looks.
This gives you the maximum possible control over your newsletter and your email list.However, please note that most modern email newsletter services like Aweber.com also provide you a great degree of control – without any associated hassles.
Advantage – You Completely Own Your List
You have all the emails, and these details are stored on your own hosting account – it is not stored on someone else’s servers.
Also, there is no possibility of someone shutting down / banning your account and you losing your entire list. (Again, most of the newsletter service providers give you an option to export your lists periodically so that you have a backup on your local computer).
Disadvantage – Deliverability and Spam
The main reason you send out an email newsletter is that people can see it right in their inbox, and can read it at a time convenient to them. What is the point of sending an email if it never even reaches the recipient? Or if it marked as spam and sent to the junk / bulk folder?
This is the biggest problem with a self hosted email newsletter – the delivery rates of such emails are very low, which means you can not benefit fully from your list.
Also, if even some people mark your emails as spam, there is a high risk of ALL your emails being blocked by ISPs. Do you really want to risk this?
Disadvantage – Need Technical Knowledge
With great flexibility comes great technical issues! Hosting your own newsletter would mean you need to know a least a few technical things – this is especially true if you are using a PHP script based newsletter, since it would need some knowledge about PHP and databases.
Here are some of the options when it comes to hosting a newsletter yourself:
- PhpList (hosted script, free)
- Newsletter (WordPress plugin)
- Wysija Newsletters (WordPress plugin)
- WP Autoresponder And Newsletter Plugin (WordPress plugin)
Note: I have not used any of these, since I use an email newsletter service provider for all my blogs (Aweber)
Using a Newsletter Service Provider or an Email Marketing Software
There are 100′s of newsletter service providers and email marketing software available in the market that can help you run a newsletter.
Here are the pros and cons of operating your newsletter using them.
Advantage – Deliverability and Spam
If you need only one reason to go with a third party email newsletter service provider, it is the delivery rates.
These companies specialize in sending emails – sending emails to people’s inboxes is their bread and butter. This means they take every possible step to make sure that the emails reach the recipients and are seen by them!
In other words, these services make email delivery extremely efficient, so that you can reliably convey your messages and make the maximum profit from your email list.
Advantage – Very Easy to Manage
Setting up a newsletter, creating a new newsletter and sending emails is extremely easy with these service providers. Most of them provide drag-and-drop features which make it extremely easy to manage these things. Basically, they make it idiot-proof!
They also take care of all the installations and upgrades, so that you can focus on what you want to do and are actually good at!
Advantage – LOTS of Features
Email newsletter service providers and email marketing software companies are specialists, and therefore, they provide tons of features for you to use.
As we saw, they make setting up the newsletter very easy. They also provide features like lightbox based opt-in forms, which increase your opt-in rates many fold.
Most good services like Aweber.com also provide you great deal of analytics and tracking – you can see where people signed up from, how many emails were opened, which links were clicked, and a lot more!
Disadvantage – Involve a Small Cost
The only disadvantage (if we can call it so!) of using a third party email newsletter service is that it is not free. You do have to pay for their services.
But remember, you have to treat your blog professionally – especially so if you are blogging for money. So, consider this cost as an investment – something that would pay for itself many times over in due course of time.
And its not even that costly. I use Aweber, and they start at just $19 per month – now that’s less than something you casually spend on eating out just once!
Verdict – How Should You Run Your Newsletter?
Now that we know the benefits and drawback of self hosted newsletters and newsletters by using third party services, it is quite evident that using an email newsletter service provider is the best option.
You do spend some money on it, but the cost is hardly something that would break the bank. And if you consider all the advantages this money is going to buy, the choice is obvious!
Why Should You Start With a Newsletter Service Provider / Email Marketing Software Right Away
Now here’s something you need to keep in mind.
If you are new to blogging, you would think of using the self hosted, free option to begin with just to test the waters, and then think of switching to a good email newsletter service provider if and when you are successful.
This is a mistake many new bloggers make, and I strongly urge you to not fall for this. Here’s the reason.
Any good service provider would want your list to be clean – they would want the list to be double opt in, so that:
- They comply with all laws, and
- Their delivery rates remain high
They would not allow you to simply import any existing list that you have built. When you import your list, they would send out an email to everyone on that list and ask them to re-confirm their subscription!
You can imagine what would happen, right? Most of the people would NOT confirm their subscription, and you would end up losing up to 95% of your list! I have made this mistake in my early days and have burnt my fingers – please don’t repeat my mistake.
Please do yourself a favor – if you take your blog seriously, invest a little in a good email newsletter service provider, and start with them from the beginning.
As I mentioned earlier, I have been using Aweber as my email newsletter service provider for many years now. I use them for all my blogs and mailing lists.
Their service is very reasonably priced (their plans start at just $19 per month), they offers great deliverability, and they have some awesome features that increase your opt-in rates many fold.
You can try out their service completely FREE – just enter your details below, and you are good to go!
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