Lesson 3: To Narrow the Focus or Keep it Broad?
Lesson of the Week:
Newsletters with a Narrow Focus
The common advice to those just starting with online writing is "find your niche," and you'll succeed. This advice has merit because the internet is so large even a tiny niche can attract tons of readers and followers.
In fact, it's counterintuitive, but the more specific your writing becomes, the more likely your readers are to feel like a piece of content was written just for them.
Our advice to creators starting out is to bend the newsletter to their lifestyle, not the other way around. But there is nothing wrong with bending the newsletter to a specific and tiny part of your lifestyle if you enjoy it so much that you know you'll be able to stick with it.
Newsletters can be broad or narrow in terms of topics, and both can work very well. They can focus on one, some, or all of your interests.
Our examples so far have been broad. But we have plenty of examples of newsletters that are very narrow in focus that succeed.
Like this newsletter you are reading now, which is just about starting and succeeding with newsletters. And we have other examples from students of the Newsletter Launchpad starting and sticking with one focus.
This begs the question, are there any special considerations for newsletters with a narrow focus?
We know that your readers sign up for your newsletter for a reason. They expect you to entertain, educate, inspire, or provide solutions. When your newsletter has a narrow focus, your readers want to learn about that topic.
It's a constraint, but it's also direction.
In the Newsletter Launchpad, we believe in using the lens of "Giving vs. Asking" when judging your content. We will write about this more in future editions, but when you write on a topic you know and understand well, that is very clear "Giving" to your readers. Modern readers on the internet are pressed for time, but they all love receiving and hate when you ask them to do something.
So from that lens, what can you teach your readers about that subject? What is the latest news in the area? What are use cases? How can your readers apply the lessons to their projects?
Newsletters with a narrow focus make the need for your newsletter to "give to the reader" much more vital.
You need to consider how each piece of your newsletter is relevant to your reader and make it easy for the reader to digest.
Don't make the reader do homework or research to figure out if you are full of crap or know your stuff.
So "pick your niche" is good advice if you know, love, and can stick with something. But if you don't know what niche to pick, that's ok too. A broad newsletter that spans many topics can also be a great way to find your niche and later double down on what works. Like we have with the Newsletter Launchpad.
But remember that the most important thing by far is starting and sticking with your writing. If we put a single topic vs. multi-topic newsletter debate on a scale and compare it to publishing, they don't weigh anywhere near the same. Publishing weighs a ton, and the topic weighs a pound.
Newsletters of the Week:
Anish Dalal has a newsletter called Applied NLP with Anish. He does a great job of showing how NLP (Natural Language Processing) is relevant to his readers. This is an exciting area, as you can see by the debate over Google’s AI sentience. In his last issue, Anish showed a use case for semantic search and explained why his favorite article of the week is pertinent to the reader.
The Tone Knob newsletter focuses on brand voice. Nick Parker drills down on a brand every week, showing how brands communicate and the reasons behind specific branding. He finishes every newsletter with three lessons that you can apply to your own branding.
Tip of the Week:
Many newsletter readers skim through newsletters. Summarizing what they will learn in the beginning or what they have learned in the end can cause the reader to read more closely.
Thank you for reading. We hope you have a wonderful weekend. If you enjoyed this newsletter, please share it with a friend or two.
Louie & Chris
P.S. you can respond directly to this email. We read every reply. We'd love to hear from you.
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