social media

[359] How to create an email newsletter people look forward to receiving

Are you putting off launching an email newsletter because you don’t know what to put in it?

Or perhaps you started sending an email newsletter...and then hit ‘pause’ because you weren’t sure if the content was right for your audience?

If that sounds familiar, you’ll love this podcast on how to create an email newsletter that people actually look forward to receiving. In it, I cover:

  •  What to include in your email newsletter
  •  How often you should send out your email newsletter
  •  The ideal word count for your email newsletter 
  •  The best layout for your email newsletter 
  •  How to get people to subscribe to your email newsletter

And a whole host of other useful tips and tactics to create a successful email newsletter

{Click on the player above to listen to the podcast episode and/or read on for a detailed overview. Scroll down to the bottom to read the show notes including all the links mentioned in this episode}


First off, the most important thing you need to know about your email newsletter is that it’s not about you. It’s about your ideal customers/clients. So - unless you have a Kardashian style audience of people who are fascinated by your daily life - your email newsletter shouldn’t be ‘news’ about you and your business. It should focus on your ideal customers/clients problems. 

What is an email newsletter?

While this may sound obvious, a lot of people get this wrong. A newsletter is any regular email you send out to your current/prospective clients. It doesn’t have to contain pictures or a fancy layout (although it may). It can just be plain text. The key thing is it must add value and help you nurture the relationship.

What makes a great email newsletter?

Your newsletter is, effectively, a lead magnet i.e. a piece of content you create to attract your ideal customers/clients (or nurture your relationship with existing ones). 

A great lead magnet solves a specific type of problem for a specific type of customer/client, offers a transformation, gives a quick win and (crucially) leads your subscribers towards a paid product/service.

Learn how to create an effective lead magnet for your business. 

For example, the Instagram expert Sara Tasker has a monthly newsletter where she shares new and interesting Instagram hashtags that will be useful for her audience. I look forward to receiving it because I know I’m going to get some fab new hashtags to try. 

It solves a problem for me because researching hashtags take time - and is not the most enjoyable job (which is why I look forward to receiving it). So Sara is saving me time on something I don’t like doing. She has an online course specifically for Instagram growth, so her email newsletter is perfectly aligned with one of her paid offers. 

Entrepreneur Marie Forleo sends out a weekly email about her latest Q & A Tuesday YouTube video - which contains valuable tips on business and marketing. These free videos add value and build trust, so when she launches her online marketing programme B-School, people are queuing up ready to buy. 

Remember an email newsletter isn’t just about attracting new customers/clients. It can be about nurturing your relationship with existing ones. 

I send an email every Friday morning to update my audience about my latest podcast episode. And anyone who buys my Media Diary - an A4 desk that includes key dates and awareness days you can use to plan out your content for the coming year - also gets a monthly email newsletter. This includes additional awareness dates and news of new films, books and TV shows (things we wouldn’t necessarily have been aware of when creating the diary) to spark content ideas. Because this email newsletter is adding value, subscribers often email back to thank us for sending it.

You Are the Media founder Mark Masters, sends a weekly email (every Thursday at 6am GMT/BST) with news, ideas and inspiration around content marketing and audience growth. Amongst other things, this email helps him nurture his relationship with existing and prospective attendees of his annual You Are The Media live event. I spoke at the event in Bournemouth in June and it was clear this weekly email was instrumental in filling the room at that live event. 

Pro tip: Remember that solving a problem for your subscribers doesn’t necessarily have to be offering tips/advice. Solving a problem for your audience could be making them laugh or giving them something beautiful to read during their coffee break (the very reason I subscribe to Alexandra Franzen’s newsletter). Whatever adds value for your audience. 

How to find out what you should include in your email newsletter?

If you already have an email list, ask them what they’d like to hear about. Don’t ask them an open question e.g. ‘What would you like me to include in my email newsletter?’ If you do this, you’re asking them to think really hard - which means it’s far less likely they’ll reply. 

Instead, give them three or four ideas you have for your email newsletter content and ask them to choose the one that feels like the best fit for them. This way, they have to do less thinking, which means they’re far more likely to reply. Once you’ve got them in a conversation, you can always ask further questions to find out if they have any ideas of their own (some will volunteer anyway).

If you don’t have an email list, follow exactly the same process with five to ten of your ideal clients/customers. And/or ask your social media followers.

Do remember that the only way you will truly know what your audience want to hear about is by putting content out there and seeing how they respond. This can be scary, but it’s the only way to truly find out what kind of content your subscribers really need. 

How long does your email newsletter need to be?

The rather unsatisfactory answer long as it needs to be. 

I subscribe to some newsletters that are just a few lines long but solve my problems. Others are more in-depth. Make it as a long or short as it needs to be for your audience. 

Does an email newsletter have to include pictures/or have a fancy layout?

If you’ve got the resources to do it and you think it would work for your audience, go ahead and do it. But plain text is absolutely fine. In fact, there is a lot of research to show plain text emails actually perform better than those with images. 

And remember an email newsletter doesn’t have to be completely text-based. You can share video, audio, infographics, for example. 

It all comes back to what your audience needs from you. 

How often should you send out your email newsletter?

The rather unsatisfactory answer is: as often as you feel that you need to and probably more often than you think. 

The key thing is that you’re adding value and you’re tracking your results and tweaking and adjusting as necessary. 

For example, Kennedy teaches entertainers to get booked out with clients. He sends a daily email to his followers and makes a paid offer for his membership/events in pretty much every email. It’s delivering consistently good results for him. 

Your email newsletter is only too frequent if it’s not delivering results for you. 

Don’t panic if you get a few unsubscribes from your newsletter (or even one or two people who email to say your emails are too frequent for them. What is too frequent for one person is often fine for another). You only need to worry if it’s happening regularly. 

Bonus tip: Always try to provide an opportunity for people to ‘talk back’ to you if possible e.g. ‘hit reply and let me know what you think about x or y.’ The more conversation you can generate, the more effective your newsletters will be. 

How do you get people to subscribe to your email newsletter?

The key thing to remember is that no one wants to subscribe to a newsletter. Another piece of junk in their inbox that they probably won’t open. So don’t ask people to subscribe to your newsletter. Instead, sell the value e.g. ‘Sign up for my monthly hashtag newsletter and save yourself tons of time on hashtag research.’  or ‘Register for our monthly Media Diary newsletter to get additional awareness days and key dates you can use to help with your content planning.’ 

Here’s 39 surprisingly easy ways to get people to join your email list. 

What kind of email newsletter can you create if you have a product-based business?

Many product-based business owners think the only email newsletter they can send is one with discounts/offers.

If the only thing you’re doing is offering discounts, you’ll have no trouble getting people to sign up to your email newsletter. But you may struggle to get people to build the kind of loyalty that results in repeat sales. 

A more savvy approach can be to think about how people might be using your product. A good example of this is my Media Diary newsletter.  Sending a monthly newsletter with additional awareness days and ideas not only adds value, it also reminds people that we exist - so other relevant products go on sale, I’m already top of mind.

So don’t just send information about your products, send information about how people can use your products (or products like yours). 

For example, if you sell garden offices, send tips on how to style your garden office, how to keep it warm in winter or cool in summer. This is a practical content for past clients and aspirational content for prospective clients. If people see you as a source of useful information - rather than someone who is trying to sell them stuff all the time -  they’re far more likely to want to buy from you.

If sell homeware and gifts like my client Penelope Hope founder Nadia Newton, you can create seasonal content that helps your subscribers - and helps you make sales. 

The great thing about a newsletter is that you can make it seasonal. For example, Nadia recently launched a range of beach bags. Creating a summer newsletter than includes a round-up of the most stylish beach accessories of the summer (that includes her beach bags) would be a great way for Nadia to add value and sell more of her beach bags. 

She could also do similar round-ups for Mothers’ Day gifts, Teachers’ leaving presents and, of course, Christmas gifts. 

Bonus tip: Don’t be afraid to include competitors’ products in your round-ups. While it might sound counter-intuitive, if you position yourself as a helpful person/brand, you’ll build loyalty and trust - making people far more likely to buy from you. 

If you have a product-based business position yourself as an expert in the type of products you sell - rather than someone who sells stuff. That is what will keep your customers coming back to you - time and time again. 

Should you sell in your email newsletter?

Absolutely yes. If it’s appropriate, do make offers in your newsletter. But make adding value your number one priority. 


Podcast shownotes

  • Why your email newsletter is not about you (2:20)
  • What is an email newsletter (and why it can just be a simple email) (3:48)
  • What makes a great email newsletter (and why it’s like a lead magnet) (5:03)
  • Four things your email newsletter needs to do (6:58)
  • Examples of some great email newsletters (7:52)
  • Creating an email newsletter that solves your ideal customer or clients problem (14:28)
  • How to present your email newsletter and how long should it be? (15:23)
  • How often should you send out your email newsletter (19:07)
  • Who should you send your email newsletter to (and GDPR considerations) (23:10)
  • How to get people to subscribe to your email newsletter (without asking them to subscribe) (25:10)
  • Tips for creating a product based email newsletter (27:59)
  • How to add value and sell in your email newsletter (34:12)
  • What a great email newsletter should look like (35:45)


Examples of great newsletters mentioned:

Park Run UK
Sara Tasker
Alexandra Franzen
Baby Centre UK
Marie Forleo
You are the media
Penelope Hope

Discounted 2019 Media Diary offer

[245] What you need to know about GDPR with Suzanne Dibble (podcast)

[300] How to Build an audience and why you need to  (podcast) 

[318] How to write compelling email copy (podcast)

[325] Three social media posts that will help you generate sales (podcast)

[333] 39 surprisingly easy ways to increase your email subscribers list (podcast) 

[335] How to create a high converting lead magnet (podcast)

[348] How to write social media posts that sell (podcast)

[358] 13 Ideas for engaging social media posts (for when you’re all out of ideas) (podcast)

How to write social media posts that sell (online masterclass)

Buy your ticket to my 2020 Content Planning Masterclass #2020Sorted

Build Your Audience Programme

How to create a high converting lead magnet course

Order your special offer 2019 Media Diary*


Social Media Video Engagement Playbook 

Social Media Engagement Playbook

LinkedIn Content Strategy Playbook

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[358] 13 Ideas for engaging social media posts (for when you're all out of ideas)

Do you ever have those days when you’re all out of ideas for social media posts? 

Or maybe you’re just tired of posting the same old stuff and looking for some fresh ideas to brighten up your social media feeds. 

If this sounds familiar, you'll love this podcast episode. In it I share 13 ideas for engaging social media posts. This list of go-to posts will you keep you going...even when you’re feeling at your most uninspired. And you can use them across all social media platforms including Facebook (pages and groups), Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn & more. 

Click on the player above to listen to the podcast episode and/or read on for a detailed overview. Scroll down to the bottom to read the show notes including all the links mentioned in this episode}



1. Opinions please

Got a new product/service to launch? Ask your followers to help you decide on the name/title, which logo design you should use and/or which colour you should stock it in. 

2. How I made this

Shoot a time-lapse video of you that shows us how your product is made. N.B. If you have a service-based business, record your video with Loom and show us how you put together a talk/learning resource.

3. Behind-the-scenes

Give us the reality behind something you’re working on e.g. you sitting up late proofing the workbook for your live event, stuffing goody bags in the corridor or fulfilling last minute orders for Christmas. 

4. Tips and tactics 

Share a tip e.g. how to add captions to videos, hit the top note in a power ballad or stop your bread shrinking after baking. If you have a product-based business, share a tip about using a product like yours e.g. how to arrange art, how to store handbags in a small space or the best way to cleanse your face.

5. Questions, questions

Ask a question that’s bugging you in your business. Wondering whether to include postage in your prices, provide lunch at your next event or start stocking a new product. Ask your followers what they think. 

6. Show us your workspace

Shoot a quick video of where you work. For more engagement, ask your followers a question about it e.g. should you move the desk under the window or paint the walls in your brand colour. 

7. Grenade 

Share an opinion you know will divide people e.g. why you hate social media videos, motivational memes and/or being called ‘hun’ or ‘lovely’. 

8. Playtime

Show us how you ‘play’. Share a snap or video of you running, playing the piano, baking cakes…or whatever you like to do to relax. 

9. Show awareness 

Use an awareness day/key date. Show your followers how you cook pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, cuddle your cat on International Cat Day and doing nothing on National Do Nothing Day. For more ideas on awareness days, check out my Media Diary. 

10. What should I wear? 

Post a pic of yourself wearing an outfit for an upcoming event and get us to give our opinion. Even better, give your followers a choice of style/colour/look to choose from. 

11. Can you guess what it is? 

Share a tool/resource you use in your work and get us to guess what you use it for

12. Oops I did it again

Share the outtakes from your latest social media video or podcast recording. Or share the pictures that didn’t make it to your feed (e.g. the cat walking across your Instagram flatlay). 

13. Pets and children 

People love cute pics/video of pets and children... so share away. N.B. If you’re nervous about sharing pics of your children, there’s plenty of creative ways to include them...without having their faces on camera. 

Want more? Head over and download the full 23 ideas here

If you are struggling to get engagement on social media then you can buy my social media engagement playbook here.

Podcast shownotes

  • Who should listen to this podcast? (2:13)
  • How to create a buzz around your new product or service by asking for opinions (2:38)
  • Creating content from showing people how you make something in your business  (4:11) 
  • How showing behind the scenes of your business can engage your audience (8:18)
  • Create content from sharing a practical tip that will help your audience (11:31)
  • How sharing business dilemmas with your audience can generate content (13:51)
  • How to create a behind-the-scenes tour of your workspace  (19:28)
  • How a grenade post dividing opinion can give you tons of engagement (21:41)
  • How to make people remember you by creating content about what you do when you are not running your  business (29:00)
  • How to take an awareness day and create content around it (30:24)
  • Can’t make a decision? - ask your audience to vote (32:09)
  • Interesting tools or kit for your business? Ask people to guess what it is (33:50)
  • Bloopers! Save the outtakes on your videos/audio and share with your audience (35:14)
  • Share cute animal photos - it doesn’t have to be serious or corporate all the time (36:50)


Download the full 23 ideas for engaging social media posts

Record your screen with Loom

How to add closed captions to your videos using Rev and Kapwing (blog post) 

How to write social media posts that sell (online masterclass)

[300] How to Build an audience and why you need to  (podcast) 

[322] How to create a content plan for your business  (podcast)

[325] Three social media posts that will help you generate sales (podcast)

[329] What’s working on Facebook right now with Liz Melville (podcast)

[348] How to write social media posts that sell (podcast)

[355] How to create and launch your own planner for your industry (podcast)

[356] How to build your audience through Twitter (and create FOMO) (podcast)

[357] How to transform your Facebook group from ghost town to garden party (podcast)

Buy your ticket to my 2020 Content Planning Masterclass #2020Sorted

Build Your Audience Programme

Order your 2019 Media Diary*


Social Media Video Engagement Playbook 

Social Media Engagement Playbook

LinkedIn Content Strategy Playbook

Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn

[357] How to transform your Facebook group from ghost town to garden party

Does your Facebook group feel like a ghost town?

You’re showing up regularly, but you’re not getting much engagement. 

In fact you may be wondering if it’s worth bothering having a group at all.

If this sounds  familiar, you’ll love this podcast episode with Bella Vasta. 

In it she shares tons of valuable advice including what to post in your group (versus what you post on your page), how to get members to respond to your posts PLUS some ninja tips on selling to your group members (without being spammy or selly).

{Click on the player above to listen to the podcast episode and/or read on for a detailed overview. Scroll down to the bottom to read the show notes including all the links mentioned in this episode.}


Bella’s story

Bella started using Facebook groups to help promote her pet sitting business owner in Phoenix, Arizona back in 2012. It was only when her daughter was born prematurely in 2014, weighing just 350 grams that she really began to see the power of Facebook groups. 

During a six month long stint with her daughter in Neonatal Intensive Care Facebook groups not only allowed her to keep her business running. They also provided her with the support she needed to deal with having one of the smallest micro-preemie babies in the world. 

Since then Bella has gone on to open a number of other groups for her own business and is now recognised as one of the world’s leading experts on Facebook groups for business. 

Understanding the difference between Facebook pages and groups

To explain the difference between Facebook pages and groups, Bella uses the analogy of your front and back garden. Your Facebook page is like your front garden and your group your back garden. 

If you were hosting a party, you wouldn’t hold it in your front garden, explains Bella. You’d hold it in your back garden where your guests (all personally invited/vetted by you) could mingle and chat in a more relaxed, informal environment - without feeling like passers by were listening in on their conversations. It’s exactly the same in a Facebook group, where you’re the host, but your guests can start their own conversations and hang out with different groups of people.

One of the biggest differences is that conversations on your Facebook page are all started and led by you (what Bella refers to as a ‘dictatorship’ model). Members of your Facebook group are free to start and lead their own discussions (what Bella refers to as a ‘socialist’ model). 

While anyone can see and interact with the content on your Facebook page, only those personally/invited vetted by you can see the content in your Facebook group, which creates a completely different kind of atmosphere. 

How should the content differ on your Facebook page and in your group? 

This really depends on what you are trying to achieve, says Bella. But you will almost certainly need to be posting content that encourages discussion. And because the group is private, you may be able to tackle more sensitive/personal issues than you can on your own page. 

Bella recommends asking three questions to those wanting to join your group (the maximum allowed by Facebook). Ideally, this should include one question that asks them what their biggest challenge is right now (in relation to your paid products/services) and another that asks for their email address. 

She uses a resource called Group Funnel to collect the data from these initial questions and add it to a spreadsheet. This information can be used to generate content ideas for the group and for in copy on sales page. Used in conjunction with the tool Zapier you can also set up an automated email that welcomes new members to the group. This can be personalised with a video message, using a tool like Bonjoro.

Creating a content schedule for your Facebook group

Bella suggests planning your content ahead, using a resource like the Media Diary for ideas and scheduling posts inside Facebook. 

She recommends using questions, polls and Facebook Lives to generate discussion inside your group. 

And there are tons more ideas in her free download 23 Ideas To Get More Engagement In Your Facebook Group: 

Podcast shownotes

  • How Bella started her business and her first Facebook group (02:19)
  • Why people will listen to your personal story (10:10)
  • Why your Facebook group and page are like your front and back garden (14:40)
  • How people engage differently in Facebook groups and pages  (20:37)
  • How should the content differ on your Facebook page and in your group? (22:38)
  • Tips for managing your Facebook group as your group gets bigger (25:44)
  • How to get the conversation started and generate content in your Facebook group (and tools to help you) (30:43)
  • Bella’s tips for content ideas and questions to ask in your Facebook group (37:05)
  • Why you shouldn’t abandon your Facebook page (41:48)
  • How Facebook is making it easier to monetize and manage your group (45:10)
  • How to use video strategically in your Facebook group (50:45)


Get Bella’s download 23 ways to get more engagement in your Group

Bella Vasta Facebook

Bella Vasta Instagram

Find out about Zapier  Bonjoro and Group Funnel

[300] How to Build an audience and why you need to  (podcast) 

[326] The one thing you need to do to create a passive income (podcast)

[327] Why I am closing my 13.5K Facebook Group (podcast)

[329] What’s working on Facebook right now with Liz Melville (podcast)

[334] How to build a large audience without paid advertising with Callie Willows (podcast)

[352] How to sell in a Facebook group without annoying your members (podcast)

[355] How to create and launch your own planner for your industry (podcast)

Buy your ticket to my 2020 Content Planning Masterclass #2020Sorted

Masterclass: How to write social media posts that sell 

Build Your Audience Programme

Order your 2019 Media Diary*


Social Media Video Engagement Playbook 

Social Media Engagement Playbook

LinkedIn Content Strategy Playbook

Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn

[356] How to build your audience through Twitter (and create FOMO)

Does Twitter confuse the heck out of you?

If so, you’re not alone.

It's a busy, fast-paced platform that can feel overwhelming at times. But with the right strategies, it can be a powerful - and quick - way to attract and connect with your ideal clients. Plus it’s a great way to reach journalists and influencers in your space. 

In this episode Twitter expert and ‘FOMO creator’ May King Tsang explains how you can build your online audience through Twitter. She explains everything from hashtags and DMs through to Twitter Chats and using Twitter lists to cut out the "noise". 

Plus she shares tons of ideas on what kind of content you should be posting on the platform.

Even if you're already using Twitter, there's tons of practical advice and tips you can start using today.

{Click on the player above to listen to the podcast episode and/or read on for a detailed overview. Scroll down to the bottom to read the show notes including all the links mentioned in this episode.}


How does Twitter work 

For the uninitiated, Twitter is like a big online party, says May King. There are groups of people having topics about different topics. You can join conversations that interest you or you can start your own. Anyone you want to talk to is just one tweet or direct message away. And the best thing is you can ‘stalk’ people (e.g. prospective clients, journalists and influencers) and gather information that will help you make a better first impression.  And - unlike on platforms like LinkedIn, where people can see you’ve been checking out their profile - they will never know you’ve been listening into their conversations. 

Connecting with journalists on Twitter

Twitter started as a breaking news platform - and still is. So if you want to connect with journalists, Twitter is definitely the place to hang out. Journalists are actively looking for people to talk to for the stories they are working on. Following hashtags like #journorequest and #prrequest can be a great way to connect with journalists who are looking for stories - without having to send a single pitch or press release. 

Find out how to connect with journalists on Twitter. 

Twitter chats 

A Twitter chat is a public conversation that revolves around a unique hashtag  e.g. #contenthour (N.B. hashtags group together tweets on a similar topic). A Twitter chat can be ongoing, but more commonly are hosted at a regular time and/or day (e.g. once a week or month) - which is why May King compares Twitter chats to TV programmes.

Twitter chats are a great way to network with your ideal clients  - without even leaving your house. 

While she is not aware of any online lists or directories of Twitter chats, May King suggests carrying out a Google search for Twitter chats that are relevant to you/your industry. 

Find out how to take part in a Twitter chat. 

Twitter lists

If you’re following a lot of people, Twitter can feel really noisy, May King suggests creating Twitter lists of people you want to follow e.g. journalists in your industry, prospective clients, so you can follow along with what they’re up to. Twitter lists can be both public and private, so no one needs to know you are ‘stalking’ them.

How to reach out to prospects on Twitter 

One of the best things about Twitter is that anyone you want to talk to is just a click away - including your ideal clients. But blundering in and pitching people over Twitter is probably not the best way to go about it. If there is someone you want to connect with, you can start by liking and retweeting their posts (i.e. sharing their posts with your followers), then move onto replying to their posts and/or starting conversations with them on Twitter. Then, when the time feels right, you can ask them to follow you (if they’re not already) and take the conversation over to the direct messages. In the direct messages you have up to 10,000 characters to play with (as opposed to 160 characters in a standard tweet). 

Spending a bit of time ‘listening’ to what they are tweeting about first can be a good idea. That way you can establish common ground e.g. they like cats, went on holiday to Croatia and/or watch the TV show Casualty too. This can make it much easier to strike up a conversation later. 

Creating a great Twitter bio

Most people will decide whether they want to follow you within seconds of looking at your Twitter profile, which is why May King suggests spending some time getting this right. 

A good quality headshot is a must.  You can also use the cover picture (which sits just behind your profile pic) to promote your products/services. As May King puts it, this is basically your “billboard.” So for example, if you are running a live event, you can list the name of the event, date and venue and a call-to-action to buy a ticket. 

You can use a free design tool like Canva to create an attractive cover picture or hire a designer to create one for you. 

Make sure your bio (just 160 characters on Twitter) explains clearly what you do. If you have a branded hashtag (i.e. one you have created just for your business), you can add it into your bio. 

Twitter allows you to pin a tweet to the top of your feed (known as a ‘pinned tweet’). This is the first tweet, someone who follows you will see, so use this space wisely. You could share an amazing testimonial from a client and/or promote one of your products/services, changing it up as and when your priorities change.

What kind of content should you be sharing on Twitter

While there are no hard and fast rules about what to post on Twitter, as with all of your social media content, remember it’s not about you. It’s about adding value for your followers. Which is why the following types of content generally get good engagement: 

  • Content that educates your followers about your area of expertise e.g. helpful blog posts, tips, useful articles (and not just your own) 
  • ‘Live’ coverage of events you’re attending/speaking at (including photos and videos)
  • Conversation starters/polls 

Just because you’re using Twitter for business, doesn’t mean your content has to be serious. For example, May King recalls being at a conference and asking her followers whether they preferred pastries or fruit for breakfast (as that was what was on offer) and getting really good engagement. 

It’s important to give your followers a sense of the person behind the brand, which is why May King Tsang regularly tweets about her love of Karaoke singing and tea. While this might seem frivolous, it’s actually really important. 

“I think a lot of people, too many people are trying to jump five steps forward and try and close that deal but we can't close that deal before getting to know somebody getting to you know build a relationship with someone and build a rapport with someone and how do you get to know someone and build a rapport with someone? It is the small talk. The "What did you watch on TV? What did you get up to "at the weekend? Do you like bananas or apples?" That really helps build the relationship.

Podcast shownotes

  • How May King became a FOMO creator (04:25)
  • How Twitter works and how it can help your business  (11:49)
  • How to get publicity for your business by connecting with journalists on Twitter (17:00)
  • How Twitter chats can build your audience and business network (18:01)
  • How Twitter lists can reduce the noise and help you connect with prospects (22:37)
  • Key points about your Twitter bio and profile and why it needs to reflect what you do (28:07)
  • Types of content you can post on Twitter and why it’s really important to engage (32:32) 
  • How showing your personal side on Twitter can help people connect with you (36:56)
  • How to find clients and raise your profile on Twitter (41:21)
  • Why you need to ‘walk the talk’ and demonstrate you are an authority in your field on Twitter (45:40)


May King Twitter

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[267] How to get more engagement on Twitter (podcast)

[300] How to Build an audience and why you need to  (podcast) 

[334] How to build a large audience without paid advertising with Callie Willows (podcast)

[343] The three audiences you must build to create a successful online business (podcast) 

Buy your ticket to my 2020 Content Planning Masterclass #2020Sorted

Course: How to write social media posts that sell 

Build Your Audience Programme

Order your 2019 Media Diary*


Social Media Video Engagement Playbook 

Social Media Engagement Playbook

LinkedIn Content Strategy Playbook

Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn

[355] How to create and launch your own planner

Do you love the idea of publishing your own journal/planner…but feel unsure where to start?  

If this sounds familiar, you’ll love this podcast episode on how to create and launch your own planner. 

In it, I share everything I’ve learned from creating my own industry planner (the Media Diary), which is now in its fourth year. I break it down, step-by-step - from how to find out whether your planner will sell (without even creating it), to finding someone to design and print your diary, to marketing your planner. 

I’ll also compare the pros and cons of getting your planner printed yourself versus using a print-on-demand service like Amazon’s Createspace. 

{Click on the player above to listen to the podcast episode and/or read on for a detailed overview. Scroll down to the bottom to read the show notes including all the links mentioned in this episode.}

Step 1: Market research 

While it’s tempting to start with the creative stuff, it’s important to start by carrying out some research to see if there is a market for your planner or journal. Skip this step and you could end up wasting an awful lot of time and money. 

Remember that most online sales convert at just 1-2%, so if you’re hoping to sell hundreds or thousands of copies of your planner, you will need an audience to sell to.

If you already have an audience of people who would be likely to buy your planner/diary(e.g. an email list and/or engaged Facebook group) share your planner idea and ask for feedback. Start by asking quite general questions e..g ‘I’ve got an idea for a planner. Is this something you think you would buy?”

Don’t have an audience? Find 5 to 10 people you think would be the ideal customer for your planner and ask them if they can spare 15-20 minutes for a quick phone/Zoom call to get some feedback on your idea. And please read Step 5 of this post before you take your planner idea any further. 

Sadly getting a few positive responses isn’t enough to justify creating your planner. If you sense there’s some interest, you need to go deeper. This might include sharing your ideas/pictures on how your planner will be structured, what it will look like and how it will be laid out. Not only will this help you validate your idea, it will give you useful feedback that will help you create a planner your ideal customers actually want (rather than what you think they want).

While research is important, it’s worth remembering that you won’t know for sure if your planner will sell until you ask people to pay you for it. This is why I recommend starting with a test offer (more on that later). 

Step 2: Decide on a topic for your planner

Nice-looking stationery is all very well, but if your planner doesn’t solve a problem for people, you’ll probably struggle to sell it. 

If you’ve done your research correctly, you should have a good idea of the problem your planner will solve for your customers. 

Let’s take my media diary as an example. It’s an A4 desk diary that features key dates and awareness days that can help you plan out your content for the coming year. It is also has planning templates that can you help you create annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily content plans. So the media diary solves two key problems for the people who buy it: not being able to think of any/enough content ideas and not having a clear content plan to follow. Not publishing regular content can decrease your visibility, authority and credibility - which can have an impact on the bottom line of your business. 

Remember that your planner doesn’t necessarily have to solve a practical problem e.g. not being able to think of ideas. It can also solve an emotional problem/need, such as wanting to look stylish around your peers. 

At this stage, it’s also important to think about how you might build a community around your planner. For example, Danielle La Porte’s Desire Map brings together people who want a different approach to goal setting. People who want to create goals around how they want to feel rather than what they want to achieve. That shared identity and set of values is really powerful. 

Step 3: Plan the content of your diary - page by page 

In order to get a quote from a printer, you will need some key information.  This includes:

  •  How many pages you want
  •  Size (e.g. A4, A1) 
  •  Type of printing 
  •  Weight and type of paper 
  •  Finish (e.g. gloss/matt) 
  •  Type of binding e.g. spiral or perfect bound 

If you don’t have all of this information to hand, you won’t even be able to get a quote from a printer. 

This means sitting down and planning out exactly what you will include on every page of your planner - even down to how many pages you want for each month of the year. This is generally known as a flatplan. 

This is important because you can only print a perfect bound book (and, essentially, your planner is a book)  in multiples of four pages. This means that if you decide to add or take away content at a later stage, it could have a big impact on your project (and your budget). If you go for spiral bound, you can add or take away pages in multiples of two, but if you don’t plan out your content thoroughly beforehand, you could still create problems for yourself further down the line. 

it’s difficult to estimate how many pages you will need without knowing how you planner will be laid out.  Sites like Canva and Creative Market have planner templates you can browse for inspiration. Pinterest is also a great place to look for inspiration. 

At this stage, you also need to some research on the correct paper weight for your planner and best method of binding. If you want to create a product people can use (and possibly carry around with them) for a full year it needs to be hardy. 

Skip this stage and you could end up with customers complaining that the cover of their planner has ripped or that they can’t write it in (because the ink is seeping through to the next page and/or smudging everywhere). And the last thing you need is a ton of refund requests to deal with. 

Your printer will also want to know the weight of the paper you want on your cover and whether you want a matt or gloss finish 

Most printers will be happy to advise you and/or send through paper samples. It’s important to touch/feel the paper yourself before you get anything printed. I’d also suggest buying some different planners so you can compare size, binding and layout plus how easy they are to use. 

There are instructions on how to create a flatplan for your planner (and flatplan templates), a checklist of information you need to supply a printer with in order to get a quote and a list of all the printing terminology you need to know in my online masterclass on how to launch a planner for your industry. 

Step 4: Calculate your pricing 

Having mapped out the content of your planner and worked out your print specifications, you can start to gather printing quotes for your planner. I’d suggest getting at least three so you can compare. 

While it may be tempting to outsource your printing overseas this may not be the best practical solution. While it can be cheaper, if there is a problem with the printing, it’s much more difficult to fix if your printer is in China. This is definitely something to bear in mind if you want to launch a seasonal planner i.e. one that runs from January to January. Not only will you need to allow an additional time for the initial print and delivery, if you are unhappy with any aspect of the printing, it could take weeks (or even months) to fix. This is not to say it is a bad idea, but for your first planner it may be best to stay local.

Once you have some printing quotes, you can estimate how much it will cost you to produce each copy of your planner. Then, based on how much profit you want to make (and research on similar products on the market) you can decide on the price of your planner.  

When costing out your planner, remember you also need to include things like:

  • Packaging (and postage, although you may want to add this on to each order)
  • Fulfilment i.e. getting the planner packaged up and sent out 
  • Stripe/PayPal fees
  • Design 
  • Proofreading and editing 
  • Marketing 
  • Your own time 

There is a comprehensive list of the costs you need to consider in my online masterclass on how to launch a planner for your industry.

If you don’t want the hassle of organising your own printing, there is the option of using a print-on-demand service like Createspace, Lulu or Ingram Spark. With this option, you upload your artwork file for your planner to their website and, every time someone orders a copy, it is printed and sent to them. This cuts down on packaging and fulfilment costs, but you will still need to pay for design, editing and proofreading. 

While print-on-demand is often less expensive per copy, you also have less control over the process.  So if something goes wrong, it can be much more difficult to fix. Many people mistakenly think that using a large, established platform means you have a ready made audience to buy their planner. This couldn’t be further from the truth. You will still need to work really hard to market your planner. 

There is a detailed comparison of DIY printing versus print-on-demand in my online masterclass on how to launch a planner for your industry. 

Step 5: Do an audience audit

Remember that most online sales convert at just 1-2%, so if you’re hoping to sell hundreds or thousands of copies of your planner, you will need a large enough audience to sell to. You can use my audience calculator to see if you have enough people in your audience right now to make your target sales. 

If you don’t have a big enough audience, you have two choices. You can either focus on building your online audience to the size you need to launch a planner. This may take at least a year but could save you a lot of time and money in the long run. Here’s how to build an audience. 

Or you can explore the idea of doing a short print run to test your idea. This will almost certainly reduce your profit, as shorter print runs are generally more expensive. But it will also reduce the risk of you making a loss on your planner (and ending up with a stack of planners gathering dust in your loft/garage).

At this stage, you should also ask yourself some tough questions about whether you have the authority to launch a planner on your chosen topic. For example, if you want to launch a planner for yoga teachers, but you’re currently working in banking, you may find you don’t have the credibility to make enough sales. In this case, it would be better to spend some time building your audience before launching a planner. 

Step 6: Create a test offer

You can carry out tons of research, but won’t know for sure if anyone wants to buy your planner until you ask people to pay you money for it. 

This is why I believe you shouldn’t print your planner until you have made enough sales to at least break even. 

Instead, create a test offer. This is where you get a designer to create an image of your diary, create a simple landing page (a web page where people can only do one thing i.e. order your diary) and invite people to pre-order their planner at a reduced cost on the understanding that they may need to wait a bit longer for their planner. 

I use Leadpages for building landing pages.

Step 7: Pitch your test offer

Once your test offer is ready and you have worked out your ‘break even’ figure, you can reach out to your hottest leads and offer them the chance to purchase your planner at the pre-order price. I’d suggest making this a limited time offer. Your hottest leads are generally people you already have a relationship with i.e. those who are already working with you or have done in the past. As a result, high-touch strategies e.g. personal messages, voicemails and phone calls may be needed alongside automated emails and/or social media updates. 

Step 8: Hire your designer and printer

Once you’ve hit your ‘break even’ point, it’s time to hire your designer and printer to create your planner. For design, I’d recommend getting recommendations from friends, family and colleagues. Ideally, you should work with someone who has worked on similar projects and has a background in book/magazine publishing. 

Step 9: Create your launch plan

I’d suggest a 12 week run up to your official planner launch. 

  • Month 1: Warm up your audience by starting conversations and getting feedback on the planner you’re hoping to launch (See Step 1). 
  • Month 2: Focus on creating and launching your test offer 
  • Month 3: Having gathered enough pre-orders to break even, you can sell your planner at the standard price leading up to an official launch date when you post out the planners. 

Doing it in this way builds excitement and anticipation amongst your audience so that when their planner lands on their doormat they can’t wait to share pictures on social media. 

This should give you around 6 weeks from your test offer to ‘make’ your planner. I wouldn’t recommend leaving it any longer or your audience might get fed up waiting for it. 

Step 10: Launch 

If you have followed all the steps set out here, at this point, you should be able to enjoy the results of your hard work and watch the sales drop into your inbox.


  • Who should listen to this podcast (3:06)
  • How to find out if there is a market for your planner (4:05)
  • Who do you know that will buy your planner? (08:25)
  • How to decide on a topic for your planner (and what problem does it solve for your audience?)  (14:58)
  • What you need to know before going to a printer (17:09)
  • How to choose a printer (and why a local one is best) (24:22)
  • Key costs to consider when working out how to price your planner (26:53)
  • Pros and cons of printing yourself or using a print on demand service (31:37)
  • Key points to consider when thinking about your buying audience (38:37)
  • How to presell your planner before you create it (41:36)
  • How to market and create a launch plan for your planner (48:20)


Masterclass: How to launch a planner for your industry

Audience Calculator: Work out the audience size you need that you need with my audience calculator

Graphic design with Canva

Self publish with Amazon Create Space

Self publish with Lulu 

Self publish with IngramSpark

[300] How to Build an audience and why you need to  (podcast) 

[ 334] How to build a large audience without paid advertising with Callie Willows (podcast)

[335] How to create a high converting lead magnet (podcast)

[339] How To Build An Audience for an Online Course or membership (podcast)

[342] How To Build an Audience on YouTube with Jessica Dante (podcast) 

[343] The three audiences you must build to create a successful online business (podcast) 

Buy your ticket to my 2020 Content Planning Masterclass #2020Sorted

Course: How to write social media posts that sell 

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[353] How to grow your audience through Instagram Stories with Tyler McCall

Are you using Instagram Stories as part of your social media marketing strategy? Or maybe you're publishing stories but feel unsure how to turn them into sales ?

If you're keen to get to grips with Instagram as a tool for your business (and make it more than just a fun place to hang out, post photos and scroll through dreamy images of holiday destinations), you’ll love this podcast interview with Tyler McCall - an Instagram expert who teaches entrepreneurs to build their online communities through Instagram. We discuss the latest Instagram and Instagram Stories strategies you can use to grow your audience and sales.

{Click on the player above to listen to the podcast episode and/or read on for a detailed overview. Scroll down to the bottom to read the show notes including all the links mentioned in this episode}

About Tyler McCall

Tyler McCall started out in marketing for non-profit organisations. After developing a boutique social media agency as a side hustle, he fell in love with Instagram. Now he teaches entrepreneurs to build their online communities through Instagram. He’s particularly fond of Instagram Stories, where he can often be found in Target or on road trips.

Understanding your ideal customer (and why it’s vital for Instagram growth)

Back in 2016, Tyler had just a few thousand followers on his Instagram account. When he saw the kind of results his clients were getting with his Instagram growth strategies, he decided to apply them to his own account. Since then he’s grown his own following to over 30k.

If you’re looking to grow your following on Instagram, the worst thing you can do is focus on the numbers. What really matters is whether you’re attracting engagement, leads and sales from your ideal clients - and you don’t necessarily need a large following to do that. Tyler points to the recent example of Instagram Arianna Renee who has 2 million followers but was unable to sell 36 t-shirts for a new product line she was launching.

He tells students inside his membership community the Follower to Fan Society that he would rather they have a small, engaged following - who will actually buy from them - than a massive one who don’t want what they are trying to sell. "If you can't even get the 10 people, or 100 people, or 1,000 people who follow you right now to buy your stuff, what makes you think that having 10,000 or 100,000 followers is the solution to that problem?" he says.

The most important part is getting clear on the type of person you’d like to follow you - and that person must be someone who would actually purchase your products or book your services (or knows people who would). It’s not enough to think about their age, location and income, you have to understand their hopes, dreams, fears and desires, says Tyler. That way, you’ll be able to create high-quality content that really resonates with them.

Some people get stuck at this point - especially if they have the type of product/service that people only buy once. But Tyler thinks this is short-sighted. If you take the example of a wedding professional, for example, it’s tempting to think you can only capture buyers who are getting married (or thinking about it). But everyone knows someone who is getting married, so if you target your ideal customer and people who are like them (but aren’t necessarily getting married right now) you’re immediately casting your net wider.

How to attract your ideal followers

It’s easy to look at Instagram educators who have tons of followers and think it’s easy. All you have to do is post pretty photos, with great captions and a bunch of hashtags and your following will grow. But many of these experts grew their accounts a few years’ back when these strategies worked. But things have changed on the platform.

Once you’ve established who you’d like to attract on Instagram, you can’t just sit around and wait for the right kind of followers to find you. You have to go out and find them, says Tyler.

He suggests checking out your competitors’ accounts to see who is following them, then checking out those peoples’ profiles and engaging with them there. All of this takes time, but will help you grow your following more successfully - and make sales - in the long run.

What kind of content you should be posting on Instagram

Recent changes to the Instagram algorithm mean one post now lasts three or four days. This means you can get away with posting just a few times a week on your grid - and post on Instagram Stories every single day.

While there are no hard and fast rules about what to post to get engagement, Tyler recommends creating content that inspires, educates and/or entertains your audience.

You should be prepared to test your content to see what is of interest to your audience and not get attached to the results. This means being okay with posting content that may totally flop or bomb. Test different types of photos, captions, videos, quotes, memes and track the engagement.

If you have a product-based business, Tyler recommends making your account a place for your followers to ‘escape’. This means building a following around a vibe or intention rather than a ‘hey look, do you want to buy this thing?’ This is particularly true for product-based businesses who can get stuck in a rut of simply posting photos of their product.

“It could be a moment of beauty, a moment of humour, it's a moment of's making them [your followers] think differently,” he says.

He also suggests product-based businesses think about how they can inject a human element into their photos. “Show someone interacting with the product. Show someone using the product. Those subtle shifts in the content you create can make a huge difference for the value of the content for your followers, and it can also sell more, because people then understand the product itself and how they can actually use the product.”

How to create great content for Instagram Stories

The first thing you need to understand about Stories is that they are not generally about attracting new followers - they are connecting with and converting your current followers. So, there's not going to be much you can do using stories to grow your following.

So if you want to get your current followers to watch your stories, you need to make sure you are directing them there from your grid. So a great way to do this  for a product-based business, for example, might be posting the finished product in your feed, and then saying in your caption, "If you want to see how this product is made, go watch my Instagram story today." Then share the creation process in your story. Because stories disappear after 24 hours, you may need to go back and edit the caption later.

All great stories have a beginning, a middle and an end - and Instagram Stories is no different, says Tyler. So let people know what they are going to see first, take them on the journey with you and wrap it up at the end with a clear call-to-action.

This doesn’t necessarily mean posting your story all in one go (in fact, adding to your story throughout the day can help boost your engagement on Instagram). But posting three or different ‘storylines’ within a 24 hour period can work well.

Make sure you diversify your stories with a variety of content e.g. photos, talking head videos, graphics, text on screen. This will help hold your audiences’ interest.

And keep them interactive by asking questions and/or using the polling function, slider poll or quiz feature. The more you can get your viewers to talk back to you, the better your engagement (and sales) will be. “If you can strive to create a relationship and connection with people that's not rooted in your desire to monetise that relationship. Instead, it's rooted in your desire to just genuinely connect with those people, and that's really what makes all the difference in marketing on Instagram nowadays,” he says.

Get into the habit of giving at least one call-to-action that invites people to DM you, says Tyler.  If you can make it “easy and natural” for your audience to talk to you, that’s when you’ll start to make sales.  If you can get your audience used to chatting to you over direct message about your latest road trip, or visit to Target, when you do put up a post inviting people to book a discovery call, buy your product or sign up for your new programme, it will be far easier for them to reach out and make a purchase.

Many people worry that their life is too boring for Instagram Stories. If you feel like that, you can use stories to ask your followers to tell you about their lives. “Learn more about them, who they are, why they came to you,” he says. You may find some stuff there that will be really surprising to you - for example, they really enjoyed a picture or story you shared about your family or a holiday - which will give you confidence that your life is interesting enough.

Ideas for Instagram Stories

  • A day in the life (a behind-the-scenes account of your day
  • How I Made This (can be anything from a product to a set of coaching materials)
  • Tour - give people a tour of your office/studio
  • Tools/kit (Tyler has had great success showing his followers the tools he uses to record the classes for his membership)

How to make sales on Instagram Stories

Tyler has “story after story” of clients who are generating fantastic income via their Instagram Stories, with sales being made through direct messages. These include a member who landed a $25,000 social media contract from one DM and another who paid off $50,000 in credit card debt by selling her art through Instagram direct messages. “It’s proof that if you know who you're talking to, what you're saying to them, and how to engage with them... if you have those three things figured out, then anything's possible for you on Instagram,” he says.

How to track your success on Instagram Stories

He advises measuring two key metrics: retention (i.e. how long people are sticking with your story, rather than moving onto the next one) and the number of direct message you’re getting.

Adding captions can be a great way to increase engagement (remember most people will be watching on their phone, with the sound turned down). You can either type captions onto your story or, if you’re speaking directly to camera, use a tool like Kapwing to burn them directly onto your video.

Find out how to use Rev and Kapwing to burn captions onto your social media videos.

Podcast Shownotes

  • Tyler's business story (05:19)
  • The key things to grow your followers and engagement on Instagram (09:22)
  • Why you don’t need more followers on Instagram to get more sales (12:26)
  • Why getting engagement on Instagram isn’t about the visuals and hashtags anymore (16:31)
  • Why intentional engagement is key to growing your Instagram followers (17:55)
  • Why old Instagram strategies are outdated and no longer effective (20:20)
  • What you should think about when creating content for your audience on Instagram (23:45)
  • How you can use Instagram Stories to build connections and make sales (30:47)
  • Why you won’t need to sell anymore if you nail your Instagram Stories (38:10)
  • How to get your followers to watch your Instagram Story and what to post (43:08)


Tyler McCall Instagram

Tyler McCall Website | Free Instagram Masterclass

Get your ticket for 2020Sorted

[348] How to write social media posts that sell (podcast episode)

[346] How to look and feel more confident on live video with Ian Anderson Grey (podcast episode)

[343] The three audiences you must build to create a successful online business (podcast episode)

How to add captions to your video using Kapwing and (blog post)

Build Your Audience Programme

Order your 2019 Media Diary*


Social Media Video Engagement Playbook

Social Media Engagement Playbook

LinkedIn Content Strategy Playbook

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