david hieatt

Newsletters are no longer important. They are vital.


In terms of using social media to grow your business, we are all looking for the next new platform or app. We want to find that magic ‘Multiplier’ that gets our story out to the world.

But there is a danger that by doing just that, we are ignoring the tried and trusted tools right under our noses that, well, just work.

Take the simple newsletter. It is one of the best ways I know to build the community and culture of your brand. Like a tree needs roots, a brand needs to build its roots too.

A great newsletter can do that. And yet most people ignore it, dismiss it, or if they use it, use it poorly. Yet, this tool, in the right hands, is as powerful as they come.

Here are some tips I have learnt from doing lots of newsletters.

10 tips for a great newsletter.

1, Share. Don’t just sell.

No one likes a friend who only talks about himself. And no one invites them back to their dinner parties. Sure, you’re doing interesting things.  Sure you’re amazing.  Sure the world needs to know you exist. But, a great newsletter works by you sharing how you think about the world, and not just what you have to sell in this world. It’s not all about you.

2, The job of the editor is to edit.

This is one busy world. Attention is what you are after. But time is what no one seems to have. If you want people to spend time, their precious limited time, reading your darn newsletter, it’d better be good. So you need to spend a ton of time on it. Find new things. Find old things. Find amazing things. Put the hours in. Get known for finding great likeminded stuff. As their trusted editor, it is your job to find ‘the gold’ on their behalf. So they don’t have to.

3, Make it feel like a place of calm.

Design your newsletter so it is simple and uncluttered. Create a calm space for them to press the pause button. Where you can have a quiet 5 minutes by yourself to be inspired. Calm also comes from having regular features. And a consistent voice. In a world of information overload, less is indeed very welcome thing. Our heads are so full of stuff; your newsletter should feel like an escape from a frantic, frenetic world.  That way, people look forward to it.

4, Use the best tools.

I have tried many different newsletter tools, but I find MailChimp to be the easiest to use, the most flexible, and they are forever making it better and better. I also use Instapaper to help me save great stuff that I find. Again, super simple but incredibly powerful.

5, Don’t over use it.

It’s a great tool. Use it sparingly. The unsubscribe button will tell you if you have got it wrong.

6, Don’t under use it, either.

Social media is brutal. People forget you pretty damn quick. It’s nothing personal, everyone is just so busy. So how often should I send a newsletter? Well, that’s a tough one. You will just have to find the right balance. But like your car keys, that isn’t always the easiest thing to find.

7, Stick at it.

If you think that doing a newsletter will suddenly transform your business overnight, you may have to think again. But overtime, if you stay relevant and stay interesting, your newsletter will become an important tool for your business. Yes, it will have spurts of crazy growth. But mostly it will just grow nice and steady. The biggest thing you will have over your competition is that you just stick at it, when others have long ago given up.

8, Keep it short.

Get to the point quick. People are busy.

9, Be you.

No one else can be you. Be inspired by others, but don’t follow them. Share things you are passionate about, not what you think will get the most likes. If it matters to you, then share it. Let it come from you. When you write, make it feel like you are speaking. Warts and all. Developing your voice won’t come in just one newsletter, but it will come overtime.

10, Ignore the rules. (Including these ones.)

There are many rules for a making a newsletter, but if you listened to all of them, then you’ll just become like everyone else. The reason you are going to stand out is because you will break some of the rules. Stay true to how your saw it in the beginning. Don’t follow someone else’s formula. Create your own.

Click here for more info on my Do workshop 'How to build a great brand with very little money. London. Dec 5th.








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Hi David,

Having read another massively useful post I'm compelled to write and ask you if you have ever considered mentoring? I run a small sales company in Bristol and I've been trying to do one thing well for the last two years - make creative businesses easier to buy - which of course means trying to do about a million other things well and quite frankly I'm struggling to see the wood for the trees and stay focused on my original goal.

I know the secret is in there somewhere but being so deeply in it means its hard to take a birds eye view of what we really should be offering. Is this something you might be able to help me uncover? I know you're a busy man but a little advice or guidance would go a very long way...

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