The Secret to Filling Your Inbox With Newsletters You’ll Actually Like
Fact: I receive 10 email newsletters every day and read all of them from start to finish.
Other fact: I wasn’t always this dedicated.
The first time I ever subscribed to an email newsletter, I immediately unsubscribed when the first message came in. In my mind, the newsletter felt like an intrusive piece of spam that I was too busy to read.
The same thing happened the second time I tried to subscribe to an email newsletter—and the third.
So, how did I go from detesting a newsletter the second it arrived in my inbox to reading almost a dozen of them every day? Here are the steps I followed (that you can, too!) to litter your inbox with only the newsletters you’ll actually want to read.
1. Figure Out What You Want to Get Out of an Email Newsletter
A lot of people subscribe to newsletters because they feel like they have to or because they feel like it’ll make them more informed. However, if you hate the newsletter or feel like it’s spam, you won’t end up reading it or learning anything.
Take some time to think about what you want in an email newsletter. Is it a daily or weekly update on industry news? An entertaining break from work? Quick career advice? Personally, I was looking for a quick way to catch up on daily news and pop culture, since a lot of my writing and interests revolve around those things. Thus, I look to a lot of entertainment and news websites to see if they have what I’m looking for.
In contrast, a friend of mine subscribes to a series of Wall Street newsletters that come in hourly because he works in finance and wants to stay updated on what’s happening in his world so he can impress his colleagues and boss. Would I ever subscribe to one of those? Heck no—but that’s okay, because it’s all about what you need to get in your inbox.
2. Make Sure Email is the Right Channel
We live in the tech age where we’re all constantly inundated with information: Twitter, Facebook, email—it never stops. So how do you know if newsletters sent to your inbox are the best way for you to receive your information?
Basically, you need to think about whether you want this information delivered to you, or if you want to seek it out on your own time. There are pros and cons to each: By having it delivered to you, you don’t have to put in effort to look for it, but it may come at a distracting time; by seeking it out on your own, you have to put in a little more effort but can choose exactly when you receive the information.
For information you really want delivered to you—such as anything you want to keep up with in real-time or things you want to make sure not to miss—email is probably the best option. But for anything that would be distracting if you got it in your inbox during work or that isn’t time-sensitive information (think food blogs or BuzzFeed), you may want to consider subscribing on an RSS feed or following on Twitter or Facebook instead.
3. Start With One Newsletter and Commit to It
When I first started subscribing to email newsletters, I would binge-subscribe to seven or eight newsletters in the span of an hour. Obviously, as soon as they started arriving in my mailbox, I would feel overwhelmed by the sheer quantity and unsubscribe to all of them moments later.
My advice is to start off with just one newsletter, preferably a weekly one so you don’t get overwhelmed with the extra emails in your inbox. As I learned, it’s so easy to just want to delete emails that aren’t necessary (read: that aren’t from your team or clients). If you care about getting the information, you have to make this newsletter part of your routine.
Can you commit to spending three minutes reading one newsletter each week? Most people can, so give it a shot. Even if you don’t click on the links in the newsletter, just getting into the habit of reading it is a great goal.
4. Don’t Read Every Word
People who write newsletters know that you’re just skimming through them and will probably click on one or maybe two of the links they provide, at most. So they usually make them pretty easy to scan. I usually take anywhere from two to 10 minutes to read any given newsletter, depending on how much time I have or what I want to know. That’s the beauty of email newsletters: It’s about what you want to do.
Additionally, the more you read a newsletter, the easier it’ll be to skip to the parts you like, read those, and then move on.
5. Pick Newsletters You Actually Like
This seems obvious, but I feel like too often people subscribe to newsletters because they want to like them or don’t want to miss out on one gem of information. But remember: A newsletter is one of the only pieces of email in your inbox you can control. You can’t stop your boss from sending you 12 consumer reports in a row or that annoying recent grad from asking you to coffee every week, but you can control the newsletter. So why not make it something you like?
Instead of subscribing to every newsletter under the sun, take a look at the publications you read on a daily or hourly basis. Chances are they have a newsletter (or many different ones) you can subscribe to.
Need more inspiration? Here are a few of my favorite career-boosting newsletters to get you started!
SmartBrief has multiple newsletters honing in on different industries or specialties, meaning no matter where you work, you can probably find one to help you get ahead. Each brief has the headlines you need to know—gathered from the best publications around the web—with a brief summary of the information, so you don’t even have to click through to get a little smarter. SmartBrief on Your Career is definitely our favorite.
Looking to work your career muscles a little? Skillcrush’s newsletter is jam-packed with tips and tricks for gaining new marketable skills, with a special focus on tech skills. Subscribing to this is an easy way to get your professional development rolling.
For scientifically proven ways to improve your productivity, creativity, and health, look no further than this weekly newsletter. You’ll walk away from reading it feeling a little more superhuman.
theSkimm is quite possibly one of the best email newsletters out there (in my opinion). Founded by two former producers at NBC News, this daily newsletter goes out at 6 AM and includes short bits of news you need to know. The writing is pithy and young, and the motto says it all: “We read, you Skimm.”
If theSkimm isn’t your thing, this is a great alternative. This twice-daily email newsletter goes out Monday through Friday and gives you the lowdown on the day’s most pressing news stories as they progress.
Tech Leadership News is a weekly email newsletter that gives you commentary on the most up-to-date tech news out there. It’s a must-read for anyone in the industry who’s looking to stay on top of things.
This website features a great series of weekly newsletters that cover everything from tech to education, and you can even receive newsletters with events happening in your particular city.
Obviously, The Muse sends a totally awesome daily newsletter that contains a couple of really great articles you can quickly read to move your career forward. Bonus: By signing up, you’ll gain access to the ultimate career-boosting resources at Muse U.
Becoming an email newsletter evangelist doesn’t happen overnight, but I promise that it’s totally worth your time.
Lily is a writer, editor, and social media manager, as well as co-founder of The Prospect, the world’s largest student-run college access organization. In addition to her writing with The Muse, she also serves as an editor at HelloFlo and Her Campus. Recently, she was named one of Glamour’s Top 10 College Women for her work helping underserved youth get into college. You can follow Lily on Twitter.More from this Author