How To Write a Kickass Newsletter Fast and Easily


(Bri Castellini) #1

Nearly every speaker at every indie film conference and festival has the same advice: build a mailing list. Email has been proven time and time again to convert more engagement than any social media platform; Seed&Spark estimates that email converts 20% of followers to action while social media lands around 1% per platform, so if you don’t have a mailing list, now’s the time to start. But a monthly or even quarterly newsletter can be a daunting commitment, particularly if you’re in between projects and have nothing new to update or announce. Read on for tips on keeping any frequency of email newsletter topical, engaging, and easy to put together.

Section 1: The most recent/biggest announcement

This shouldn’t be a surprise to most people, but it’s worth mentioning that the first section of your newsletter should be the most important, because people are busy and you can’t depend on them to read the whole thing every time. Have an upcoming crowdfunding campaign, a season premiere or finale, or a brand new project to announce? Write a short paragraph about the most topical thing you have to announce, include a photo or poster image, and you’re done.


Section 2: Secondary news (if applicable)

Listen, sometimes you’re not going to have multiple things to let your friends, family, and fans know about, especially if your newsletter is monthly. Examples of secondary news to include:

  • New press write up, podcast interview, or video review

  • New film festival official selection or screening opportunity

  • New closed captioning on projects

  • New casting announcement

  • Updates to announcements from previous newsletters

Just two sentences, a photo, and a link will do. Sometimes, you don’t even need that!


Section 3: Team updates and/or related news

Something I wish more filmmakers did in their newsletters is highlight people other than themselves, particularly when they’ve worked with certain cast and crew on multiple projects. A week before you’re set to send out your newsletter, send an email to your team and ask if anyone has personal/professional news they’d like to share. People’s slow months often don’t align, so this is a surefire way to always have something fresh and interesting to include.

Additionally, or alternatively, you can share industry or thematically-aligned news that’s popped up since your last update. For example, if your content is female-led or made primarily by women, share news regarding women in film and TV. If your content is about relationships and dating, share news about the latest dating app drama, if your content verges on sci-fi, share space news, etc. This is another way of bridging less exciting months for your own updates but still remaining topical and worth reading.

Section 4- every link ever

The final part of your newsletter should be the same regardless of month. Basically, link to every piece of content you’ve ever hoped to find an audience for and every social media platform you’re active on. The point of newsletters is to keep your audience engaged regardless of your latest premiere date, and oftentimes just getting an email from you will prompt them to rewatch or finally take a look at your content. Make it easy on them.


Miscellaneous Tips

  • Save a template on your preferred newsletter platform, whether it’s just a copy/paste one in Gmail or a saved design in MailChimp, so you can just swap in information without reinventing the wheel every email
  • Keep it short, and include lots of links so if people are interested in more information they can contribute to website and video views
  • Be consistent about the frequency of emails. If you claim it’s a monthly newsletter, you better be sending out monthly newsletters
  • If you’re worried about an upcoming slow month, save an announcement or two to use later
  • Keep a list throughout your month anytime something exciting happens so you can easily pull from it when it’s time to compose
  • Be clear about your calls to action- what action you want your subscribers to take as a result of reading your newsletter (examples: ‘watch the new episode,’ ‘support the show on Stareable Enrich here.”). Including too many CTAs will just confuse people, so make sure the things most vital to you and your success are first and foremost.

Do you have a newsletter? Leave a link to subscribe in the comments!

(Arthur Vincie) #2

This is great advice! I’ve been cranking out a monthly newsletter for several years now. I can add a few pointers.

  1. If your email manager offers plaintext and HTML emails, use both. Some folks prefer plain text emails. You’ll have to do some extra work but your email will be readable on any device.

  2. I made a database in FileMaker that automates most of the formatting work, organizes the individual items within each email, and spits out an HTML AND plain-text version (the plain-text version always needs a little cleanup). You can do the same in whatever database program you use. Or use an Excel or Word template with some macros. Whatever you do make it as easy as possible to add stories.

  3. Make sure your design works well on mobile, tablet and desktop devices. Sometimes a great design on one looks terrible on another.

  4. I will also put out special emails for big announcements - getting an award, kicking off a crowdfunding campaign, and holiday greetings.

  5. I strive to have news stories about people other than “me” or “my projects.” This is a great way to build community and also promote the work of your friends, peers, cast, crew, etc. It also (selfishly) helps keep the email full of content.

  6. Pay attention to your bounce reports. Try to replace unsubscribes with new subscribers. This is the hardest part for me honestly. I find it extremely obnoxious when I hand out a business card to someone I meet and then a week later I find out they put me on their mailing list. Follow up with people and ask them first. Offer to put news of theirs in upcoming blasts.

  7. Learn some HTML and CSS if you don’t know it already. It will help you troubleshoot formatting problems. Web editors have come a long way but nothing beats looking at the code.

  8. It’s okay to repeat stories. I have some screenings in March that I just posted in today’s newsletter. I’m going to repeat those in March (another advantage of storing stuff in a database).

  9. I don’t like to have a lot of images in my emails - people want to read the content, and too many images means more time spent loading (also some spam filters will just block the email outright).

(Bri Castellini) #3

@BetaTester FYI- all this advice can EASILY be applied to a monthly update template for tier supporters! Just lock a Stareable page Update with all the above information, so only supporters at your preferred level have access!