8 Proven Ways to Structure your Newsletter for More Reads (with Examples)

Having your newsletter following a defined and clear format not only makes it easier for you to write it. It also makes the value in it much more apparent for people on the verge of signing up for your newsletter.

By showing how you deliver the value makes it easier to see what’s in it for them. Promising “industry news,” “curated links,” or “business tips” is very vague and doesn’t give them a clear image of how they will gain from signing up to your newsletter.

?  News from the climate movement

✅  5 thought-provoking environmental articles each week

By using a specific format – how you structure the content in the emails – you show them the exact value they’ll get.

Before you start

Each newsletter needs a clear niche. A defined audience it targets. Writing for “everyone” won’t work because you don’t have the time or money to reach everyone.

Newsletters are having a renaissance, and to stand out you need to narrow down. The more defined your target subscriber is, the more value you’ll deliver to them. If you know them well, you can help them solve their problems better.

? Define the topic 

The topic – what you are writing about – is most certainly already there. It is probably the reason for starting a newsletter in the first place. 

Make this as narrow as possible (you can always expand on it later). When you think you have your topics set, ask yourself if you can narrow it down even more.

“Marketing for startups.”

?

“Marketing for no-code startups.”

The fewer people you write for, the more value each of them will get.

??‍? Define your target audience

Know who you are writing for. The easiest way is to give them a title or position. It could be CEO, environmentalist, stay-at-home mom, product person, or no-coder.

Again, when you have your audience persona, try narrowing it down even more.

“Environmentalists”

?

“Environment advocates in the USA.”

8 ways to structure your newsletter

The amount of work you’ll have to put in will differ significantly depending on the format you choose. Make sure you aren’t taking on too much in the beginning. 

A good idea is to create the first newsletter before you have any subscribers. This will give you an understanding of the maximum time it takes to put it together (the first one will always take much longer than the next ones) – and also gives you something to show potential subscribers.

The Digest 

The Digest contains a lot of content in a very condensed way. A short description and a link to the full content make it easy to skim and find what you want to read.

Great for curate and share lots of different kinds of content – blog posts, news, videos, podcasts, etc. 

When to use this:

Suitable format if you run a community of some sort (Slack, forum, Telegram) and want to keep people updated on what is happening. 

How to:

? Divide into sub-sections (e.g., topic or type)

? Use lots of white space

? Write short, explanatory texts

Example: No-Code Founders

(Click image to see the full e-mail)

The News

Slightly different from The Digest is The News. Here, you share fewer links, but with each piece of content, you add your take.

The idea is to give the “full” story in a few paragraphs, and then allow the reader to read more by clicking the link. 

It is crucial when using this format to make it easily readable. Use pattern breaks such as bullet points, titles, images, and colored links to make it easy to skim the content.

When to use this:

If you write about an industry where a lot is happening, giving your subscribers a way to keep themselves updated will provide them with a lot of value?

How to:

5️⃣ Limit the number of articles

??‍? Write with your personal touch 

? Use titles, spacing, and bullet-points

? Add images and gifs

Example: The Hustle

The Visual

Even though email is seen as a text-based medium, using visuals works excellent in a newsletter. We are very visual creatures, and images that aren’t just there for eye candy – but add to the story – will increase the value to the reader.

When to use this? 

Some audiences are more interested in visuals than others. If your audience is in any kind of digital industry, visuals will most certainly add to the narrative and be appreciated. 

How to:

?‍♀️ Use a common design style

? Keep the image size to a minimum

➕ Each image should add, not repeat.

Example: Product Person

The 1+1+1

We also seem to love everything that comes in 3’s. Finding three sub-topics within your topic and sharing one thing from each will make it easier to deliver emails for a long time. 

In No-code Coffee, you get a person, tool, and a project from the No-Code world. It becomes much more concrete to the potential subscriber than just promising “3 things about No-code”. 

It is also very easy to expand your content later on, to more than 3. For my side-project, Vanlife Buzz, I share four things from the van-living universe.

When to use this:

Thanks to having clear limitations, it’ll be easy for you to find the content. It’s also simpler for your subscribers to share their tips on what you should feature – because they know exactly what it is about.

How to:

? Choose three unique sub-topics

? Have a system to save ideas

Example: No-Code Coffee

The Trend Report

Email is an excellent format for diving deep into one specific field. One of the most valuable things to know as an entrepreneur is what will be the next big thing in the industry. 

Choose one specific part of the industry, and go all-in. Share problems and solutions, innovations and releases, thought and predictions from experts, etc.

When to use this:

This format is one of the most time-consuming because it needs to be entirely factual. Dru Riley spends 10-15 hours for each report on Trends.vc

The upside is that the content is often evergreen – valid for much longer than what you send in The News email. 

This means you can re-purpose it for other platforms, such as blogs or social media – to get more ROI on the hours you put in.

How to: 

? Keep a list of sources to trawl

? Send short, templated emails to experts

? Cross-post on other platforms

Example: Trends.vc

The Idea

What could be better than getting the idea together with the entire action plan? The Idea format gives the reader a complete (if yet compressed) blueprint. 

Share the concept, why it is a good idea, how to set it up, how to monetize it, and how to grow it. Add and subtract as fit.

When to use this:

If you have more ideas than time to execute it, this is the perfect format. If your audience are freelancers, entrepreneurs, business owners, or anything similar – you’re spot on.

How to:

? Keep an idea log

⚒ Be extremely concrete

? Include the ‘Why,’ not only How

Example: Startups from the Bottom

The Lessons

Learning from others is what most people get the most value from. In The Lesson, you share what others have done to succeed (or fail) in steps that are easy to follow. 

This is an excellent way for you to get to know thought leaders in the industry because it will need you actually to interview the people you write about.

When to use this:

Also, quite a time-consuming format but much appreciated if you are in an industry where a lot of inspiration is taken from those that have done it before. 

? Interview though-leaders

⌨️ Write the interviews out

? Find the most relevant parts

Example: Growth Lessons

The Break-down

Just as listening to what others have done to succeed, seeing what they have done is a learning experience. With The Break-Down format, you pick apart a particular piece of content, product, or process and emphasize the parts that made it successful. 

When to use this: 

If your industry focuses a lot on what is produced and how. Works best for digital industries, but would probably work equally fine for physical products.

How to:

? Show the steps to success

? Use visuals/screenshots

? Describe ‘why’ it works

Example: Swipe Files