Building an email list is nothing new - it's a tactic that savvy internet marketers have been using for well over a decade. But for a lot of bloggers, email marketing is a struggle. So we're starting our Building Your List series to help food bloggers start, grow and leverage the power of their email lists!
Today's article contains loads of email newsletter content ideas perfect for food bloggers.
If you've been following along with our Building Your List series then you know that in the first week we outlined why bloggers need to have an email newsletter list, and since then we've covered other topics like which email newsletter platforms are best for bloggers and how to get started growing your list.
So that's all great - you've got your platform, you've started building that list but here's the big question...
...what on earth are you going to talk about?? And how often are you going to talk about it?
How often should you send out your email newsletter?
Before you can figure out what you're going to talk about, you need to have an idea of how often you're going to email your newsletter list.
This is going to take some trial and error but here are the most important things to know:
Consistency is the key when it comes to emailing your list. You can choose to email twice a week, once a week, once every two weeks or once a month. But one of the worst things you can do is email your list randomly - especially with long gaps in between newsletters.
By having random, long gaps between newsletters you run the very real risk of having subscribers who don't remember subscribing to you. And that can lead to mass unsubscribes, which is demoralizing. But even worse, people who unsubscribe may report you as spam or report that they are receiving your emails without subscribing - and that can affect your standing with your newsletter marketing provider. All because it's been so long since your last email that they truly don't remember signing up and now they're MAD. You do not want angry subscribers.
Choose a Mailing Frequency That Works For Your Audience And You
The frequency with which you email has to work for you and your audience. Can you be consistent sending out two emails a week? Do you have the time or enough content? Or would once every two weeks work better for you? If you have a VA who is a good writer, this is a task you might be able to give them which gives you the ability to email more frequently. If you're on your own, be realistic with your time so you can maintain consistency.
We recommend committing to a minimum of once a month. That's frequent enough to stay in your subscribers minds while giving you lots of time to create a good, well written, newsworthy email. If you love to write and have enough useful things to say, write more frequently.
Watch your audience for email fatigue. When we first started our Food Lovers Newsletter we were sending it out every other week with excellent open rates and solid click-throughs. But after reading in multiple food blogging groups that once a week was the gold standard, we started to wonder if we should up our frequency. We had the capacity with our VA and we had more than enough content.
So we tested once a week emails for about 5 weeks. Our unsubscribe rate shot through the roof, and our open rate sank like a stone on the third and forth emails. It was just too much for our audience. We dropped back down to every other week and things stabilized quickly.
Once a week or even twice a week could be perfect for your audience. So could once a month. Test this out and adjust accordingly. Your email newsletter provider gives you lots of stats and information to make testing and reporting easy. Do what's best for your audience, even if everyone else says you should do something different!
Remember - your email subscribers have the potential to be your most engaged and loyal supporters and will usually be the ones to buy anything that you sell. You really need to make your emails work for them!
Email Newsletter Content Ideas for Food Bloggers
One of my favourite things about email newsletters is... SEO is totally irrelevant. You can write for the joy of writing. You can include multiple unrelated topics. You can write like you're sending a juicy letter to a friend.
Focus on conversation and personal interaction and don't forget to cultivate your voice - be it warm and friendly, sharply witty, a friendly cheerleader, or no-nonsense, helpful and concise. For a writer, it's your chance to loosen up and shine!
While the door is wide open for you to write anything you like, we'd like to caution you on a few things before we dive into content ideas.
Don't Turn Your Newsletter Into An RSS Update
RSS email updates have gone out of fashion so don't be tempted to simply send out your latest blog post to your readers and call it a day. They can get that on your website already. They subscribe to your newsletter for the little extras and new content.
That's not to say you shouldn't share your newest content - you should. Have a section of your email that covers the latest on the blog that they might have missed with links to any posts you've written since your last newsletter.
Another way to share new content is to talk about why you wrote the post or the recipe fails you had getting to the final version or other behind the scenes things. Anything you maybe left out because you didn't want it to impact user experience or your SEO on your site can go in the newsletter.
You know how you have an awesome idea for a blog post or an IG photo and you forget to write it down and a week later you can't remember what it was... just that it was awesome? That's not just me, right?
Keep a newsletter content file somewhere - on your computer, your phone, in your FBC blog planner. Whatever works for you. Any time you have an idea, jot it down. I keep a running task in Asana for mine. Any time I see an article or a podcast or some other content I think would be suitable for a newsletter or come up with a great idea, I drop into into the task. When it's time to write a newsletter, I have all the bits in one place and I can either write it or pass it over to our VA. Easy peasy!
25 Content Ideas For Your Food Blog's Email Newsletter
This isn't an exhaustive list - it's just meant to get your creative juices flowing. Use it as a starting point and as you get to know your readers better, you'll have even more ideas of what to include.
You can do a single subject newsletter or include multiple topics or a mix of both. Experiment and test.
And don't forget to ask your subscribers for feedback. Let them know in every newsletter that they're welcome to reach out to you by replying to the email. You can even ask specific questions to get them to reply. And always respond to those emails. That you took the time to send a reply can mean the world to a lot of people and solidify their loyalty even further. Be open to negative feedback if it's constructive. It's a way to improve your readers' experience!
Here's 25 content ideas for your newsletter:
1. Weekly tips for your niche: whatever your niche, be it allergy friendly recipes or Vancouver's restaurants, include a weekly tip or two like how to make allergy friendly granola bars or the opening of a new Vancouver restaurant
2. An exclusive recipe that's not on your blog - why not develop one recipe per month that's just for your subscribers? Later you can collect those recipes into an ebook and use it as a lead magnet for your list or even sell it.
3. Links to other resources that aren't yours but that subscribers would find really useful - like a YouTube video on a certain cooking technique, a podcast episode on cutting back refined sugar or link to a list of Montreal's most decadent desserts (maybe don't put those last two in the same email...)
4. Short, printable one page guides or cheatsheets - if they fit on a fridge, that's a constant reminder to them of where they got that great info. You can use a google doc or Word to create them and then PDF them - just make sure they have your branding!
5. Infographics - if you're like me you get a lot of infographic designers asking you to share their food infographics on your site and while they may not be a good fit for your website, they can be a fun addition to your newsletter. Offer to share them there. Or hire a designer to create one or two a year for your based on your content.
6. Seasonal things you're loving right now or great finds or deals in your niche (be careful including affiliate links in your newsletters - this may violate your Terms of Service, particularly with Amazon).
7. Occasional newsletter exclusive giveaways - surprise giveaways that are just for your most loyal followers are always fun (as we mentioned here, we don't really recommend using them to grow your list but they are great to reward your existing list). You can follow up in your next issue with the name of the winner. Get them to send you a photo of them with their prize and share that so everyone can see!
8. Share behind the scenes - a link to a blooper reel on YouTube, or quick snap of the chaos of your kitchen after a recipe development session.
9. Highlight old content - newsletters are a great way to recycle evergreen content that most of your list has probably never seen, especially if you've been blogging for more than a year or two. This is great for highlighting old seasonal content for Easter or Christmas or other significant food seasons. If you're a restaurant blogger and need some evergreen content ideas as well, we have lots for you too.
10. A link to your latest posts - as we mentioned above, you should include links to your latest content in case some people missed it (like a mini-digest) but don't make it the focus on your newsletters.
11. A challenge or email series that encourages them to follow along. This can also be a great way to take your list to the next level as we'll talk about in future articles. It can be something simple - in fact you probably want to start simple with a 5 day challenge (leave the weekends out when people are busy).
12. Seasonal content - as we mentioned in #9, seasonal content is a great one. Theme newsletters around significant food holidays and turn them into mini-digests of your seasonal content all in one place. Our most popular newsletters every year are the ones we send out at Easter and Christmas. We always do an entertaining themed newsletter in December with links to all our appetizers posts, our entertaining on a budget posts and our mega Cookie Swap post. People love this because they don't have to search your site (and many won't even think to do that) - you've curated it all in one spot for them and dropped it in their inbox!
13. Personal stuff - your audience likes to know you're a real person with guilty pleasures, flaws and all. You don't have to (and in some cases probably shouldn't) share the most intimate details of your life if that's not your jam but you can share some of the little quirks and hobbies that make you... well... you! Share the books you're reading, podcasts you're loving, Netflix shows you're digging, that great movie you saw last week - and it doesn't have to be food related. Ask them what they're reading right now or ask for their recommendations on what you should read or watch next or where you should eat on your next trip!
14. Answer your reader's most frequently asked questions - we all get those questions... the ones that people ask over and over again. Make a list of them and start answering them in your emails. This is great if the questions you get don't easily translate into a blog post for your site. A lot of bloggers get questions about how they take their photos or how they started their blogs - those aren't really relevant content for your blog but it could make for a great newsletter.
15. A charitable cause that you support and why - this is pretty self-explanatory. Most of us have a charity that's near and dear to us - so why not talk about it if you're comfortable with it? You might drum up some extra support for them!
16. Share photos of your recipes made by your readers - create a hashtag for your recipes and let your readers know that if they use it you may share their pics on social media AND in your newsletters (this can also encourage readers to open your newsletter to see if you shared their pic - and be sure to link to their Instagram account if they share it on IG)
17. The biggest mistakes you've made in your kitchen - share some of the biggest kitchen fails and what you learned from them - don't forget to link to a post on your site that incorporates the right technique or to the recipe you failed at.
18. Introduce your team - if you have people helping you out, introduce them to your readers. It could be your VA, your spouse, even your graphic or web designer. Do a little mini-interview with them and share a photo.
19. What's in your pantry - share your favourite food finds or the five things you always have in your pantry that mean you can get on the table in minutes. You can also do this with your favourite kitchen tools.
20. Poll your readers - do not ignore this one! Your newsletter subscribers are your most loyal and engaged fans. When you're planning new content or want some feedback on what they'd enjoy seeing or need help with ask them! They'll love that you value their opinion and you'll know what your most important readers want to see.
21. Team up with blogger friends - share some of your favourite blogger friends and what they're doing (keep it in your niche) and get them to do the same for you to their newsletter subscribers. It's a great way for you both to reach new audiences.
22. Themed newsletters - create a newsletter editorial calendar just like you would for your blog and do some themed newsletters. The themes can be seasonal or just topics that work well for your niche. This can make it easier to figure out what to write about. You can could do one themed newsletter a month and one that's more random.
23. Feature a reader! - this might not work for everyone but if you run a Facebook group or do challenges where readers are regularly in contact with you and each other, why not do some mini-interviews and feature one person every month. You can do these via email with 3 or 4 standard questions like "what's your favourite kitchen utensil?", "what's your favourite meal to cook?" They don't have to be fancy or complicated. And of course, drive it back home to your content by asking which of your recipes they love to cook or which of your restaurant suggestions was their favourite (and link back to it of course!)
24. Your latest news - share any events you attended, any speaking engagements you had, any cooking classes you're teaching. And don't forget to share upcoming events as well - you want to let everyone know what you're doing in case they want to come watch!
25. Sell your stuff - one of the beauties of an engaged newsletter list is that when you have something to sell, they are the ones who are mostly likely to buy. Whether it's a book, a product, a class... these are your people. They're the easiest ones to reach and don't require you to spend ad dollars. BUT, there's a reason we left this one to the end. Your newsletter list should never become a constant sales pitch. That will lose your subscribers faster than you can blink.
For every sales pitch you send out, have at least 2 to 3 newsletters that are focused on really useful content. This ratio is variable - if you send newsletters out more frequently you'll need to put more space in between sales emails. Ie... if you email once a week, you'll probably want to limit a sales email to once a month. This is another thing you'll want to test.
Remember that in earlier posts we reminded you that being allowed into somebody's email inbox is a privilege and a sign of trust. If you abuse the privilege or break that trust it can take a very long time to get it back again. The people who subscribe are your most valuable audience and you need to take care to treat them that way. If you do you'll find they're some of your most fiercely loyal fans.
- Email Marketing For Bloggers: Why Bloggers Need an Email List
- 5 Email Marketing Platforms for Bloggers
- How To Get Started Building Your Email List