Why I stopped my weekly newsletter

 
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I’ve been getting a couple gentle nudges from longtime followers lately, asking what the heck happened to The Clutch.

For those of you new here, The Clutch was my weekly e-magazine (I call it that instead of a newsletter, because the format was a graphic-heavy PDF rather than the usual email newsletter style). 

It’s with a mixture of regret and relief that I inform you …

I’ve decided to discontinue the Clutch.

I can’t really say for sure whether this is a “forever” thing or not. If I’ve learned anything in this career, it’s that circumstances are always changing, marketing strategies shift, and God knows my own approach to things is ever-evolving!

I’ve gone through enough change in my newsletters over the years (from release day, to weekly, to monthly,  to not-at-all, to back to weekly). 

I’m confident in my decision, but because so many of you went out of your way to tell me how much you enjoyed The Clutch during its short life, I feel I owe you at least some sort of explanation as to the sudden change.

It was no one factor, other than the fact that at one point it was the highlight of my week, and then … it stopped being that.

 

Here’s why:

 

It was time-consuming 

When I first decided to revive the weekly newsletter format, my plan was to do a sort of “weekly summary” in newsletter form—links to my upcoming books, links to blog posts I’d written, links to stuff I liked around the web.

The overwhelming response to this announcement was negative.

People didn’t want one email with a bunch of links, they wanted the newsletter all in one place so they could read it in its scrolling entirety.

The result, while fun and fancy for awhile, was hours worth of work. In my effort to remove the hassle for you guys, I took the hassle upon myself, trying to get all the "stuff" into one place so you guys didn't have to click.

The Clutch took me on average of 8 hours out of my week. The writing of content, gathering of content, image formatting, link collection, getting it all into a PDF. Could I have made it uglier? Sure. But that would have been off-brand to me, and didn't feel right. So, yeah. Eight hours that I think probably could have been better spent elsewhere, because …

 

The ROI wasn’t there

For those of you without corporate-nerdspeak in your background, ROI is Return on Investment … meaning the benefit (or return) on the time/money spent (investment). And because time is money, especially for an author, the Clutch wasn’t paying out. My subscribe rate stalled, my open rate was solid by author newsletter standards, but still hovering in the 50% range. Meaning only half of recipients opened the newsletter, of that 50%, even fewer of your clicked on the link to actually read The Clutch. Which, I wouldn’t even have minded if it was all for the fun of it, but …


It quit being fun

I’m like a turtle. Most of the rocks thrown my way hit my shell, but every now and then one hits an exposed limb, and I retreat inward. This is one of those times. The Clutch is intensely personal, and when a bit of snark about it came my way, I found myself second-guessing myself, constantly self-censoring, making the level of effort even less worth it, especially since …

 

Author newsletters are out of control! 

We authors are always struggling to figure out a way to reach our readers, and it’s always changing. As Facebook changed its algorithms, showing our posts to fewer and fewer people, newsletters saw a big revival. E-mail marketing came back in a big way, so most authors now have an email list. You know many contemporary romance authors are out there? Thousands. At my last signing, the overwhelming response from readers was that they got more newsletters than the could keep up with. I don't blame them!

And quite honestly, I realized I couldn't compete.

My philosophy has always been quality over quantity. It's why I've refused to do any of the author cross-promos to share newsletter subscribers, etc. For me it's never been about the number of subscribers. But I came to accept that at the end of the day ... I'm just one more newsletter. I felt a bit like I was screaming into what was already a lot of noise.

 

Technical difficulties

Lastly … e-mail marketing systems are pissing me off. They’re not cheap, and increasingly, The Clutch was being sent to people’s spam folder, despite every effort on my part to follow MailChimp’s rules/suggestions on how to NOT be flagged as spam.

I did research on other platforms, with similar issues. I get that everyone’s being affected, not just me, but it’s one more reason why the hours spent each week just stopped feeling worth it.


So where does that leave us?

I still have a newsletter, but going forward, it'll be for release day notifications only. If you want to stay up to date on when I have a new book coming out, I’ve got you covered! You can sign up right here:

But as for my once beloved Clutch. I respectfully lay it to rest.

I’m not going away, I’m merely withdrawing a bit. Authors these days, especially contemporary romance authors, are expected to constantly be out there, connecting, being accessible, present, bringing information to other people. I need a little break from that.

I’ll still be here, on my website. I’ll still be sharing my favorite shoes, and my writing tips, and my planner systems. I get that many of you don't like author websites--you want the info delivered directly on Facebook, no click required.

Guys, that's just not my style. I'm playing the long-game here. I intend to have a career that lasts decades, I want the words I write, whether in a book or blog, to last longer than the hot-minute they do in a Facebook post.

That said, I promise to post links to Twitter / Facebook every time a new blog post comes up. And, despite the death of Google Reader (WHY?!), there's always the good old-fasioned RSS feed, for those of you with a RSS reader installed:

I'm still here. Still talking.

Just not in a weekly newsletter.

NewsLauren Layne