The LinkedIn Newsletter is finally here.
I remember a similar feature years ago, allowing group admins to send a weekly (I think) email to group members. This made groups one of the most valuable parts of LinkedIn.
Of course, that feature didn’t last forever. And it’s been a long, long, long time since they’ve had anything like it for normal people (in other words, not influencers). But the LinkedIn newsletter is here now, and I think you should consider using it. Here are seven key ideas, maybe tips, to use the LinkedIn newletter for yourself.
First, Just Start Your LinkedIn Newsletter!
Sometimes the hardest part of doing something like this is to just start it. Do the first newsletter. It’s pretty easy, really. On the homepage of LinkedIn, click the Write article icon:
On the next page it looks like you are starting an article… there’s a link somewhere there to create a newsletter. I didn’t get a screenshot of that (oops) but now that I’ve created mine, the options are in a dropdown. It defaults to my newsletter, or I could write an article:
From there you do a title (what LinkedIn calls a Headline), and then scroll down to write your newsletter (where it says “write here.”)
Adding a cover image is optional (I recommend going to Unsplash.com or Pexels.com to get royalty free images), as are links and images inside the newsletter. The key part is that you write something. It doesn’t have to be long, but it should be more than a few sentences. You can see my first newsletter here, as an example.
Second, Refine Your Personal Brand
I’m a nut for personal branding. I’m guessing I have hundreds of blog posts about personal branding on this blog. I also have my Pluralsight personal branding course that was recently updated. Please go watch that course (if you need access let me know, I might have an extra pass I can share). This is one of the key pillars of my messaging… your personal brand is critical.
You need to know how others perceive you and how you want them to perceive you. Then, figure out what you can do to get them closer to the “how you want them to perceive you” side. This happens through a lot of things… an email signature, your LinkedIn profile, how you describe and/or talk about yourself, etc. There’s A LOT you can do to influence your personal brand, much of which I talk about it in that course.
To get the most out of your LinkedIn newsletter you need to have thought through your personal brand. Every title, every article, even the images you choose, should reinforce what you want it to be. Again, go back to my first article here and see if you can figure out the branding I’m pushing.
If this feels uncomfortable, check out the book Brag! You NEED to read that.
Third, Create an Editorial Calendar
Hold on, hold on! Don’t close this tab yet just because I used marketing jargon! Basically what I’m saying is to brainstorm what you want to write about and then put those topics on your calendar… puts dates on them!
There are two keys to this step: First, understand your personal brand (as I just wrote about). Second, figure out your frequency.
If doing a newsletter feels overwhelming to you then set yours for monthly. That means you only have to come up with 12 ideas for the year. If you can commit to that, you have a solid year of newslettering before you need to decide of you want to continue.
The easiest way to do this is to think about your personal brand and how you want people to perceive you. What LinkedIn newsletter articles would help reinforce your brand? If I were a product manager (or an aspiring product manager), my 12 LinkedIn newsletter articles might include:
Biggest Product Manager Blunder of 2022
5 Product Manager Lessons Learned in 2021
3 Big Changes for Product Managers in 2023
My Journey to a Senior Product Manager
Product Management in the Software Space
I literally came up with those ideas in less than a minute. As you can imagine, even if someone didn’t open the email or click through to your LinkedIn newsletter, they start to get an idea of where your thinking and passion is. If I saw this from you, month after month, I’d think, “Oh, I have a friend who is super passionate about product management.”
Note: This gets you into the so-called hidden job market. Some of my thoughts on that here and here and here.
So brainstorm… come up with ideas. Share your journey and what you learn. You don’t have to have all the answers… maybe one of your LinkedIn newsletters is pondering questions! It’s key to have really good titles, though. Think of it this way: how can you share your personal brand using ONLY the title?
Fourth, Proof Your Newsletter
I dislike proofing my work. I always have. When I was in school I spent so much time on papers that I couldn’t image re-reading a second, third, or fourth draft. Same with my blog posts… I rarely do a full proofread before I hit publish (lucky for me I have readers who tell me what I need to fix).
But newsletters are different. Where a blog post can be updated easily, a newsletter with the wrong (or a bad) message can live in someone’s inbox, waiting to get forwarded, and have an impact on your brand in a bad way.
First, proof for typos and grammar. The stuff you learned in high school. One of my tips is to read your newsletter out loud, which can help you find a lot of errors. A friend of mine did a lot of proofreading and she would put a ruler on the page (she proofed catalogs) and then read BACKWARD (looking for typos).
Second, proof for the message. Does everything you write support the brand you want to share? Is there anything that could be construed as offensive?
I’m not going to tell you that you can’t write whatever you want. I will remind you, though, that many a career have been RUINED because of insensitive, unnecessary babbling about politics or other touchy subjects. I tend to stay away from stuff that could be deemed offensive not because I don’t have opinions about stuff but just because my objective is to share my professional brand on purpose, rather than spout off and say things that just aren’t relevant to my professional objectives.
Proof for the message. A grammar or spelling mistake every here and there can be looked over, but writing something offensive can get you in a kind of trouble you don’t want to be in.
Fifth, Get Over Your Ego and SEND the LinkedIn Newsletter
This is one of the hardest steps. It’s hard to feel like you are jumping up and down saying “Look at me! Look at me!” Starting to network or push (I mean SHARE) your personal brand can be very uncomfortable.
Let me share what’s more uncomfortable: a long, depressing job search.
I did this in 2006. It was long and depressing. It was discouraging and dark. It was exceptionally hard.
I would take the hard of sending a newsletter talking about my professional passion every month over months and months of a really hard job search. This is life and death (in some cases, it literally is). Learn to do hard things. Learn to put yourself out there. Learn to share your journey.
Heck, you might even get better are writing, which is a valuable soft skill. Any improvements in any area of communication is healthy!
Just send it. What’s the worst that will happen… no one will read your newsletter? Someone will find a word spelled wrong?
I’m not saying to be sloppy, but just send the dang thing. You will improve over time.
Sixth, Learn from Others
You can easily learn about copywriting or writing better headlines (titles). There are a billion blog posts and articles about this online.
Think about the newsletters you actually read, and what makes you want to read them. Are they story-heavy? Do they have statistics or lots of links out? Are they short or long? Do they feel personal and like an old friend?
Go into this LinkedIn newsletter thing as a learning experience. Recognize that you will improve over time, which means you aren’t going to be perfect (or maybe even great) at the beginning. When you see articles online, pick them apart. What do you love or hate about them?
Use all of this learning to write better LinkedIn newsletter articles… but don’t stop there! Use this to help you write better emails! Maybe your organization will let you blog for them… use that as a learning experience! Always be looking for things to help you write something that others will read, and be moved or inspired by.
Seventh, Keep Sending Your LinkedIn Newsletter
This can be pretty hard… but it’s so important. You have set your frequency and even title or topic ideas for each LinkedIn newsletter. Figure out how to actually prioritize this. Don’t skip a month. Consistency is your friend. People will come to expect your newsletter (even if they only read the title).
Don’t get any feedback? Keep sending it.
Don’t have many (any) subscribers? Keep sending it.
Feel like you aren’t great at writing? Keep sending it.
The magic can happen over time. Maybe the magic is that no one, except one recruiter, reads it once. And then they get you a job. Or, the magic might be that you learn more about written communication and marketing and take those lessons into your day job. Maybe this simply becomes a cathartic journal that allows you to get your ideas down, after having critically thought through them.
Don’t give up after the first newsletter. Don’t give up in the first few months. Just keep at it. One day you might send a newsletter to hundreds, even thousands of people who actually care what you have to say. By then your writing will be better and your audience will be ready to receive your personal brand.
This is intentional career management.