Guest Post: Lori Snyder (read more about Lori below).
Quick quiz: How many email newsletters do you receive in your inbox every week?
Now, how many do you actually read?
If you’re like most of us, the answer to question one is somewhere in the vicinity of “a lot,” and the answer to question two is probably closer to “not very many”.
Hm. Think about that, because the way you answered is probably also true for your yoga students, the people on your email list.
So how do you become one of the “not very many” emails that are read regularly?
As a yoga teacher, you’re probably already writing an email newsletter (and if you’re not, read Why Every Yoga Teacher Needs a Newsletter to understand why it’s important). You have all good intentions to write regularly…and yet, when you actually try, nothing comes to you. You don’t know how to get started. Or you’re not feeling inspired.
So what ends up happening is you tell yourself that it’s okay, no one cares if they don’t hear from you regularly, and besides, it’s probably annoying anyway…and then you go and do something else.
If writing a newsletter has become your nemesis, never fear. Over the years of helping yoga teachers like you write newsletters, I’ve come up with a few failsafe tips.
Follow these suggestions and watch your newsletters flow more easily, be more fun to write, and get far, far more engagement from your readers.
1. Keep Track Of Newsletter Ideas Throughout Your Day
- This is probably the most important of all the tips because the biggest hurdle to writing a regular newsletter is not knowing what to write about. Here’s how to always have excellent topics ready to go.
- Get in the habit of keeping a notebook nearby when you practice, whether it’s at home or in a class. Whenever you notice something interesting, jot it down. This might be a reaction you have to a pose, a cool thought about ahimsa, or having an epiphany of some sort. These are newsletter topics! Let this notebook be exclusively for newsletter ideas.
- Use your voice recorder app on your phone and record whenever an interesting thought occurs to you throughout your day. Driving and get an idea for a sequence that might address carpal tunnel? Make a voice mail note.
- When something meaningful, interesting, or funny happens to you, make a note of it either in your notebook or as a voice memo.
- Did you write a social media post you like? Don’t assume everyone has seen it. Bookmark it for a possible later newsletter.
Reading a book you love or binge-watching your favourite show? Cool. Why do you like it? Think your students might like it, too? Make a note of it. Maybe there’s something in there that you can connect to a yogic principle. Or maybe it’s a guilty pleasure, and you can write about that. If your students know you love it, they will feel like they have permission to love it, too. Never underestimate the power of making yourself human.
2. Turn Those Notes Into A List
Once a week, set aside 10 minutes to transfer everything you’ve written or recorded to a list on your desktop. You can do this in a word processing program like Word or on a virtual corkboard like Trello.
Schedule this ten minutes into your week every week or it will never happen (yes, I speak from experience!). I do it every Friday afternoon when I’m a little burnt out from work and need to do something that requires less brainpower than editing a teacher training manual or working on my own writing.
Now you have a list of topics. Keep it going! Soon you’ll have more than you can possibly write, which means that whenever you’re ready to write a newsletter you’ll be able to pull up a topic that resonates with you in that moment.
3. When You Write, Use Your Actual Voice, Not The Voice You Think You Should Have
Okay, well…THIS might actually be the most important tip. Think of the newsletters you get that you actually read. What do they have in common? Most likely, you feel like you know that person. They feel real to you. You like how they write.
The best way to connect with the people who will love you and what you have to offer, the people who will fill your studio classes and retreats and workshops and privates and trainings, is by being exactly who you are.
It’s a common mistake, in the yoga community particularly, to think we need to write or speak a certain way, that we have to sound “spiritual” or “wise” or some such.
In my teacher training, we call this “yoga voice,” and it’s to be avoided at all costs. The moment you find yourself trying to sound like something or someone you’re not, you’ve lost your path.
So, if you are quiet and thoughtful, be that without trying to be witty. If you are earnest and sincere, be that. If you are funny and irreverent and love to swear, let it rip. If you are intellectual, address the ideas you love without worrying people won’t dig it.
Whatever you are, be that. Write with words you actually use and say things you actually care about and believe. That alone will go a long way in making your newsletters a must-read.
4. Don’t Start At The Beginning
When you first start to write your newsletter, skip over the introductory sentence or two and, instead, jump right into the story you’re telling or the information you’re sharing.
Most of us get so hung up trying to write the perfect opener that we never get to the fun part, the part where we actually say what we want to say.
So don’t try to start at the beginning. Start with the fun part.
Once you have that part written, then and only then go back and see if you need a beginning. The best writers all know that you usually can’t know the beginning you need until you’ve written the rest of the piece. And, you may be surprised to find that the “fun part” stands on its own and doesn’t need a beginning at all.
5. Don’t Worry About Being Original
We live in a culture where the idea of originality is ingrained into our very pores. It’s so easy to see an article or post on the same topic we were thinking of addressing, and decide that it’s already been done (probably better!) so why should we bother?
The truth is, just as every single yoga teacher leads sun salutations with a different energy, intention, and wording, every single person writing about the same topic will do it differently, with a different sensibility.
If you follow steps 1 and 3 listed above, you’ll have a set of topics specific to how you think, and you’ll write about them in a way that only you can. That, in and of itself, makes it original and interesting.
So don’t worry if what you want to write about seems trite. Don’t wonder if you’re experienced/interesting/smart/different/old/young/anything enough to write on a topic.
If it grabs you, if you think it’s interesting, then write about it or tell the story in your own words and voice, with all your quirks on full display, and send it out.
As a last thought, don’t worry about how short or long your newsletters are. There are people who write amazing short newsletters and people who amazing long ones.
Make it work for you. Because when you create a newsletter that shows who you really are, and you do it consistently, your people will find you.
Guest Post: Lori Snyder
Lori is the creator of Yoga: edit, which offers writing and editing services to the yoga community. A writer, book editor, yoga teacher, and former yoga studio owner, Lori particularly loves helping yoga teachers hone in on their unique writing voice and write their books, blogs, and teacher training manuals.