An email list is the best way to communicate with your audience. Many of us marketing people agree on that. In the [highly unlikely yet still maybe could happen] event Facebook is wiped off the planet, at least you have a way of reaching your customers.
Side note: the way that Facebook's algorithms are set up, that isn't too far off the mark. You know that your business page's reach on Facebook has been declining, right?
That said, it can be daunting to think of what to write every week. Hell, even if you're just sending an email once a month, it has to be informative, entertaining, and have a rockstar subject line that gets people to open. And THAT is a tall order.
(Or you can let your reputation precede you and you can write your emails like that every month so even if your subject line is a little weaker, people know what to expect from you and will open the email anyway. Still, it's a tall order.)
The bottom line is you want to use your email to connect with your readers. You want them to open and read and learn from it. It's the best way to build trust with your audience.
Ah, but the key is knowing what to put in those emails to get people to open. We're not looking for a boring newsletter. We want the good stuff. Let me present for your consideration: 10 Non-Promotional Emails to Send to your Mailing List.
1. A Surprise Freebie
Maybe I have "trick or treat" on the brain, but who doesn't love a surprise gift? This can be an exclusive offer just for the top people who open your emails or it can be across the board. Create a freebie and let it loose. Have no expectation that it'll come back to you. Just send it to be a nice person. You'll be surprised what you'll get back in return.
2. A Personal Letter
This works a bit better if you have a smaller email list, but the effect will be massive. Instead of sending out a mass email to everyone, write an individual, personal note. Try to offer something valuable to the reader based on what you know about them. Perhaps they're always commenting on your blog posts; tell them you appreciate it! If they've purchased a shitton of your candles, let them know how much their support means to you.
3. An Exclusive Introduction to a Blog Post
My favorite emails to read are the ones that have some exclusivity to it (as if you couldn't tell from the first two suggestions). These are the emails that are more than just a copy and paste of a blog post. There's something just for me, whether it's a personal story that acts as a preamble to a blog post or a tip that isn't included in the post; I get to hear more from you because I'm in with the in crowd.
4. A Piece of Advice
The content of my emails are mostly made up of advice. Sometimes it's about marketing, sometimes it's about being a graceful business owner, sometimes it's about time management. Regardless of the specific topic, I make sure that there's a lesson someone can take away from this email and/or a tactic they can implement. People don't buy from people they like, they buy from people they trust. Show that you're a leader in your field, whether it's as a coach or as a baker.
5. A Story
Humans crave connection. Tell your audience about you. Dazzle them with a story. Share a story that reveals who you are as a person rather than a business. For example: if you started your screen printing company because you tried screen printing for the first time at a hands-on museum workshop with your mom and it sparked something in you to make it your life's work to share beautiful prints in an accessible format, tell that museum story!
I feel like this needs a caveat: only share what you're comfortable sharing. Even if it's a bit scary to pull the curtain back, you need to be 100% secure in your decision to unveil this piece of information. Once it's out, it can't be taken back.
6. Work that You've Done
If you are a service-based business, this is for you. Similar to giving advice, sharing client work is a great way to build trust. It shows that you know what you're doing (and that people have paid you to do it) and emphasizes your aesthetic that may be attractive to someone else. So go ahead and share a design you made for someone's website or copy you wrote for them.
7. Brag About a Client
Also similar is bragging about a client. Did they take a piece of your advice and have a 6-figure launch? Has someone recently had a huge breakthrough after a coaching session with you? Brag about how awesome they are and how much they're killing it (with permission, especially when there's confidentiality to watch out for).
8. A New Product
You don't have to do a hard sell here, but it's great to share what you've make. Like #6, but for product-based businesses, highlighting a new pottery piece is a great way to share recent work you've done and get people excited to see more.
9. A Link Roundup
Everyone has a million links secreted away on Pinterest, Feedly, Pocket, Instapaper, Facebook Saves...you get the idea. Send out a link roundup! You know your email list's demographics, so you know what would appeal to them. Find a few favorite useful, thought-provoking, and/or just plain funny links, toss them into an email with a sentence about what each link is and why it'll help them, and off you go.
Bonus: if you can segment your email list, you can get really tactical about this. For example: if someone joined your mailing list from your opt-in about Instagram hashtags, you can assume they're interested in Instagram and you can tailor the content to them.
10. Something You're Obsessed With
If you've really been digging something and it needs to be sung about from the rooftops, do it! This is a great platform to share the particular item and why you love it so much. Include what it is (duh), where to find it, and why it's so kickass. Boom, another way to build trust with your audience and humanize yourself at the same time.
In case you couldn't tell, I strongly believe that an email list is a direct link to your readers and/or customers and it's a fool-proof way to help you to build a relationship with your subscribers so they know, like, and trust you. These emails can showcase a product or service, but the goal isn't to sell anything. It's to inform and build up the connection so they're primed to give you their money (almost) without you asking for it.