Video #4: The Art of the Newsletter Swap
Joining a Newsletter Team
As I’ve said before, self-publishing doesn’t have to mean alone publishing. To this point, we’ve talked a lot about sharing your landing page and list on your own, but you can absolutely team up with others too. Thousands of authors every year connect with one or more writers in their genre for newsletter swaps and newsletter group promos.
When you go above and beyond as part of these marketing endeavors, you can develop a good reputation and be a part of additional opportunities. And if you have your automation set up and proper expectations for your readers, then you’ll get the best possible return for your newsletter swap efforts.
Here’s What You’ll Learn
- How to work with other authors in a newsletter swap.
- How to work with a group of authors in a newsletter group promo.
- What you need to do to fully promote and get the best possible results out of your swap or promo.
Here’s What You’ll Need
- Enough time to watch the video and complete the homework.
- A willingness to work with others while remembering that many hands make light work.
- An understanding of how to deal with people.
From Solo to Yolo
There’s only so much an author can do on their own to get the word out without spending a decent amount of money. Even if you like the solo nature of self-publishing, there’s something to be said about making “relationship building” a part of your author life. In addition to keeping you from feeling lonely, it gives you a group of like-minded people to commiserate with. There are a lot of benefits to working with others.
I’ve found that from doing things like newsletter swaps and group promos, I’ve met new friends and opened up incredible opportunities. You don’t have to be a social butterfly or turn in your introvert card, but if you want to grow faster, it’s smart to leverage your connections with other people.
The easiest way to dip your toe into the shallow end is to start with a single newsletter swap with one author. This involves you sharing a link to a relevant author’s newsletter freebie or paid book and the other author doing the same for you. You can connect with this person individually, or you can use a service like StoryOrigin to set up one of these solo promotions.
When you’re first getting started in this, it makes sense to reach out to potential partners once you’ve gathered at least 50-100 subscribers on your list. You may get some rejections when you start asking people, but even I get rejected sometimes for swaps (but it’s very worth the “no” answers to get the “yes” answers).
Group Promos for Everyone
The next stage in the swap game is the group promotion where multiple people share each other’s landing pages or lists all at the same time. When a group of authors each with 100+ subscribers all share a promotion to their own lists, each of the newsletters has an opportunity to grow. Much like regular swaps, you can organize these yourself (that’s how we did it in the old days) or use a premium service like BookFunnel or StoryOrigin.
If you demonstrate that you’re on-time, organized, and enthusiastic with swaps, then more authors will want to get involved. This will up your chances of success. And as I mentioned before, you can also make friends with some of these authors and come out with collaborators and comrades to make this whole self-publishing thing a little more fun.
Worth It for Premium Promos?
Back in the ancient papyrus days of digital self-publishing (2015 or so), if you wanted to organize a swap or a group promo, you connected with authors via email or Facebook. Nowadays, you still have the option of setting it up yourself, but if you pay a monthly or yearly fee, you can tap into the networks of BookFunnel and StoryOrigin.
In the past, when I’ve run these kinds of things on my own, they required long email chains and spreadsheets to keep track of things. This may be something you enjoy. But if you don’t want to run the entire backend of the promotion yourself, then consider ponying up for one or both of the services.
Simply put, some things in publishing are worth paying for, and these services sit firmly in the “worth it” camp.
BookFunnel & StoryOrigin
Both BookFunnel and StoryOrigin work well to make the process of individual swaps and group promos a little bit easier.
After you’ve joined one or both, you look through their swap and promotion pages to see if your genre is represented. From there, you look to see if you meet the requirements of the promo and then you apply to join.
I think when it comes to these sites, you get a lot of benefits from being the one organizing swaps as you get to control the dates and the people involved. At first though, it’s totally fine to just join a few promotions to see how they work.
Being a Good Team Player
Each promotion has certain rules in place about when you’re supposed to share the promo and how many times you plan to email or post on social media. When you’re a part of these promos, I always recommend doing even more than what’s asked of you.
Yes, these sites do have a sort of “reputation” feature that you want to score well on, but it’s really just about being a mensch and trying to do what’s right for the other folks in the promo. Doing more than what’s asked of you (a.k.a. overdelivering) will pay off in the long-run and will likely help you to grow your list faster and with higher quality.
Feel free to connect with your fellow swappers on social media to deepen your relationships and improve your future opportunities.
Promoting the Promo
Create one or two templates that you can use for your swap emails so that it’s easy for you to add in new links for each promo. Adapt your template to create a social media version so you can share the promo using some of the same tactics from Email Challenge Video #2.
Urgency can make a big difference with readers taking action, so feel free to share when a promotion is in its “last day” to get folks from your list to sign up.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to the more experienced members of your group promo to see if they have any tips or tricks for spreading the word about your swap. You can even sign up for the other author lists yourself to see what these folks are doing with their emails to help you learn and grow as an email marketer.
Things to Keep in Mind
Scheduling: Only sign up for a swap that you’ll be able to give the time and attention it deserves.
Production Calendar: If you’re running a newsletter swap or promo, make sure that it fits around your upcoming launches (since you want to focus on your own book during launch time).
Group Projects: Remember group projects from high school? Not everyone in the promo will give it their all, but when you run your own swaps, you can remember and exclude the ones who fall short.
Make It Fun: Much like our Ad and Email Challenges, you can encourage each other and cheer on your successes to make it a positive, happy, and healthy environment.
Thousands of Readers
There’s the old maxim about how when given the choice of one million dollars or a penny doubled everyday for a month you should take the penny (which yields five million dollars).
When you start with swaps and group promos, it feels like you’re putting in a lot of work to get pennies worth of subscribers, but you can double those pennies over time. At the start, you may only get dozens of signups with each effort, but these results can really compound quickly leading to hundreds of newsletter signups.
And while some of these people may be reviewers rather than buyers, once you’ve got over a thousand people from your hard work, those extra reviews become totally worth it. Plus, with your very personal and kind autoresponder at work, you’ll also start to gather more fans at the same time as your swaps help you find new author friends (a win-win!).
Video #4 Homework Option #1
- If you are not on BookFunnel or StoryOrigin, search for swap groups in your genre on Facebook.
- Join 1-3 groups and observe what the posts are like and what people are asking for with swaps and promotions.
- Write a post detailing what you noticed with those posts and how you would craft your own post for a swap.
- Post this in the Email Challenge Facebook Group with the hashtag #EmailVid4.
- Go ahead and Swap a comment on another post in the group to encourage your fellow challenger.
Video #4 Homework Option #2
- If you are on BookFunnel or StoryOrigin, check out both the author swap and group promo pages.
- Are there any promos or swaps in your genre? If so, what are the requirements for those promotions?
- What would be your next step in connecting with a swap author or joining a promo?
- Share your answer in a new post in the Email Group with the hashtag #EmailVid4.
- Please comment on another author’s homework post with some encouragement, GIFs, stickers, and/or recipes!
Video #4 Extra Credit
- Write out your plan for participating in a group promotion and when you would want to place this in your schedule.
- What would you do to promote the event and what are some of the challenges you might need to overcome?
- For extra, extra credit, you can actually apply to a promotion!
- Share your extra credit in a post in the Facebook Group with the hashtag #EmailVid4EC.
- And remember to please provide a fellow participant with some lovely commentary as well.
In The Next Video
In the final video of the Email Challenge, we’ll talk about the next level of newsletter growth: paid advertising.
Paying for each subscriber you gather is not for the faint of heart, but it can be the most scalable over time. And by thinking of future big things with your email newsletter, you can give yourself additional incentive and excitement to push forward on the advice from Videos #1-4.
We’ve got our Live Q&A today at 3pm ET, so I hope to see you there.
Thank you so much for being a part of our Get More Subscribers Challenge!
Bryan and the Email Krewe