Kathi Lipp and Kelly Wilbanks are back in the fourth and final episode on creating killer newsletters. The first week we talked about why to even have a newsletter, followed by the components of a great newsletter, and how to craft the newsletter. Have you wondered what the key ingredients are that make your readership want to keep coming back? Join in to find out about:
- Connecting with your audience
- When to go deeper
- Finding the alignment
- The feedback loop
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Meet Your Hosts
Author, Speaker, Communicator Academy Creator and CEO
Kelly Wilbanks lives with her husband and three young daughters in Eastern Washington. On any given day there is either a DIY project, gardening venture, or little mermaids in the hot tub. After overcoming several difficult obstacles in her life, Kelly has come to see anger as a super-power. She wants to help women wisely weaponize their passion to overcome any obstacle in their way. You will find stories of her mistakes and occasional triumphs on her Facebook page “Inspired Resourcefulness” or her website www.kellywilbanks.com.
Transcript of this Episode
Read along with the Podcast!
Writing at The Red House Podcast # 211
Creating Killer Newsletters – Part Four
Kathi – Well, hey friends. Welcome to the Writing at The Red House Podcast, where we gather at the table to break bread, and tell tales with some of our favorite writers and speakers, who love to serve God and their audiences. I am back for our fourth and final episode of Creating Great Newsletters with Kelly Willbanks. Kelly, welcome back.
Kelly – Thanks so much for having me, Kathi.
Kathi – Speaking of coming back, that’s what we want our newsletter readers to do. We want them to come back time and time again. So, you say one of the keys to getting your readership to come back again and again for what you have, is to be concise and consistent. So, tell me what you mean by that.
Kelly – So, when I say concise, I mean, gosh, don’t fill their inbox with long letters that, either don’t have anything to do with your brand. I feel like you get invited to somebody’s inbox, and that’s like getting invited into their home. When you go into their home, you don’t want them to pull out their slides from their summer vacation and trap you. Sitting there for hours, it just feels almost like an abuse of your time. When I think about the newsletter and being concise, it’s just getting to that point. There’s definitely times when I’ll go through and edit out paragraphs. What is the main point that I’m trying to get to? Because I’m only going to have their eyes for so long. So, let’s get in there and get it done. How can we encourage them in as short a time as possible?
Kathi – I heard this great thing. I love Barbara Kingsolver. Have you read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle?
Kelly – I haven’t. I need to put that on my list.
Kathi – Oh, Kelly, you’re going to love that book. It’s one of my favorite books. Here’s what I love. She talks about comparing writing. She’s normally a fiction writer, but Animal, Vegetable, Mineral is her stunt memoir. She talks about the difference between fiction and non-fiction being like, she was originally planting gardens in Arizona, and her brother was on the East Coast. On the East Coast, you create a garden by pulling out all you don’t want and just leaving the things that you do. In Arizona, you create a garden by fighting the soil, fighting the weather, and putting things in the ground that you want to grow. She says that’s the difference between fiction and non-fiction. Good fiction is creating what you want. Good non-fiction is pulling out all the unnecessary. That, I think, is a great newsletter, too. There are a million things we could put in there. There are so many recipes I try each week; so many books I’m reading. So much of that stuff, but I only want to keep in the things I absolutely know will connect with my audience.
Kelly – I think that is such a great analogy. It resonates so much with me. I’m sure with our listeners as well. Yeah, you’ve got to take out the weeds, so people can see the beauty of the actual garden.
Kathi – Oh, and by the way, if you own the print copy of the book, it’s not in there. It’s an audio extra. Sorry guys. I happen to own this book on Kindle, a hard back, and Audible. It’s one of my top ten favorite books ever. I reread it every year. I just got done rereading it, so it’s stuck in my soul. Yes. Keep out any nonsense that you know isn’t going to have a direct impact on your reader. Then, you talked about that you’ve gone through this really recently – finding your message. I really do encourage people, even before they find their message, to do a newsletter, because it will help you find your message. But, talk about the struggle, ‘cause the struggle is real.
Kelly – The struggle is so real. I went to The Red House back in October. I was so excited to go. It was so wonderful. So when Covid 19 and the pandemic is over, and we can travel again, or there are safety measures in place you guys all have to go to The Red House. It is amazing. Kathi didn’t ask me to say that.
Kathi – Thank you. I feel like it’s kind of a special place, and it’s getting more special with every chicken we buy.
Kelly – They didn’t have chickens when I was there, so it’ll be fun to go back. When I went there, it was really the start of a journey for me. That was in October, and now it’s June, and it’s been hard, y’all. It has been hard, because you have to be in this introspective place. James Rubart, “the label on your bottle” is kind of his metaphor for it. You need people who give you feedback, but also your own introspection to find that message. Sometimes it’s gifted from the heavens and sometimes you just have to pull out all of the weeds in your garden to see it.
Kathi – I don’t know anybody that it has been gifted from the heavens for. We’re probably not friends anymore if they told me it was. That just annoys me.
Kelly – Bethany Howard, did she say, “Permission Granted” was ‘cause she was yelling at her dog? He wanted to go outside and go to the bathroom and she was like, “Permission granted!” and it was this eureka moment.
Kathi – I do know for a fact that Bethany used “finding kindling” for years, and we said, “We love you Bethany, but nobody knows what that means.” So, even though it came to her in a moment, the struggle is real.
Kelly – It was germinating for years. So, once you have your message, though, that’s really going to inform your writing. It’s like this umbrella that you get to use to shield out all the other stuff, so that what you have to say to your readers is on message. It’s the thing God put in your heart to say. When you find that, it’s so illuminating and so freeing. I remember one of the very first podcasts I’d listened to, when I found Communicator Academy, back when that’s what this was called, she talked about finding your niche. I was, “How do I do this?”
Kathi – You and I have had many discussions on this, and you finally found yours. So, tell us what it is.
Kelly – Inspired Resourcefulness – Pursuing the Life You Want with What You Have On Hand.
Kathi – I love that so much. I think that’s tremendous. You know, we’ll put a link in the notes, so people can find you. Now, Kelly, tell us about the feedback loop and what that means for newsletters.
Kelly – Well, when you write a newsletter, you’re writing to a person, you know? I’ll just do this aside first. One thing you can do, if you’re trying to figure out who your audience is, is to think about different people in your life, and how you would write to those people. You may come up with a topic, say your garden. Well, you may talk to your grandma, who’s gardened for years, differently than you would to somebody who’s a novice. Right? So, when you prepare your message, your audience is always your focus on what you’re saying. So, you asked about the feedback loop. That is so critical when you are writing to your audience. Part of that comes from people being asked. You’ve got to ask them, “What do you think of this? How do you think you’d utilize this tool in your life?” People want to respond. We’ve seen that time and time again. A lot of those responses and questions can generate new ideas for the newsletter. It can take you in a deeper direction than you though. You could have thought, “Wow, I thought I was being pretty clear about that, but I can see how I can explain it further.” That can generate a whole newsletter in itself, or a series of newsletters. Sometimes, you can creatively get stuck in your own little log jam. Getting to hear from readers is a way to pull some of those pieces apart, and get the water flowing again.
Kathi – I think it does help you understand, “Do I go deeper on this subject? Or do I need to stay on the surface, ‘cause people still aren’t connecting. Or maybe I need to abandon it altogether.” When you were talking about finding your message: I love that you are doing Inspired Resourcefulness, but here’s the thing. I’m jazzed by it. Kelly’s jazzed by it. The right people, I believe, will be jazzed by it. But you have to put the material out there to see if your audience, or your potential audience, if there is an audience for that. That’s part of the reason we went from Communicator Academy to Writing at The Red House. Communicator Academy sounds like it could be for anybody, corporate or whatever. Writing at The Red House is personal. We’re getting cozy. We’re going to figure this out together. That’s the kind of conversations that I believe inspire change. You have to figure out who your audience is, what they want to hear, are you the person to deliver it, and where all that meets. That’s when, when you’re in your flow like that, I feel like, that’s just not just hitting your stride. That’s Holy Spirit. That’s Holy Spirit pushing you forward.
Kelly – Preach.
Kathi – This is the way. Walk in it. So, let’s walk in it together. So, it’s still hard, but it’s simple. When things are too complex, it’s hard to walk forward in it. So, when you can say, “No, this is what I do.” Yes, I think that’s a really interesting concept, but it’s not the concept that I am supposed to talk about. Or it’s not the concept that my audience wants to hear. So, we have to find that alignment. You’ll know when you find that alignment. I love this. You have a freebee for us. I hate to call it a freebee, ‘cause it’s a valuable resource, but you created it just for our audience. It’s a checklist called The Author’s Guide to Creating a Killer Newsletter. You’re going to be able to go through this and create your own newsletter that’s going to match the needs of your audience, plus get you the results that you’re looking for. Kelly, this has been such an excellent series. Thank you so much for being on with me.
Kelly – Thanks for having me, Kathi. It’s always so fun to talk with you.
Kathi – Guys, I can’t wait to hear what you think about what Kelly has talked about, if you have further questions. We are going to make sure she comes back and she can answer those. Friends, you’ve been listening to the Writing at The Red House podcast. Thank you for spending a little time getting better at what God has called you to do.