Nearly every speaker at every indie film conference and festival has the same advice: build a mailing list. Email has been proven time and time again to convert more engagement than any social media platform; Seed&Spark estimates that email converts 20% of followers to action while social media lands around 1% per platform, so if you don't have a mailing list, now's the time to start. But a monthly or even quarterly newsletter can be a daunting commitment, particularly if you're in between projects and have nothing new to update or announce. Read on for tips on keeping any frequency of email newsletter topical, engaging, and easy to put together.
This shouldn't be a surprise to most people, but it'sworth mentioning that the first section of your newsletter should be the most important, because people are busy and you can't depend on them to read the whole thing every time. Have an upcoming crowdfunding campaign, a season premiere or finale, or a brand new project to announce? Write a short paragraph about the most topical thing you have to announce, include a photo or poster image, and you're done.
Listen, sometimes you're not going to have multiple things to let your friends, family, and fans know about, especially if your newsletter is monthly. Examples of secondary news to include:
Just two sentences, a photo, and a link will do. Sometimes, you don't even need that!
Something I wish more filmmakers did in their newsletters is highlight people other than themselves, particularly when they've worked with certain cast and crew on multiple projects. A week before you're set to send out your newsletter, send an email to your team and ask if anyone has personal/professional news they'd like to share. People's slow months often don't align, so this is a surefire way to always have something fresh and interesting to include.
Additionally, or alternatively, you can share industry or thematically-aligned news that's popped up since your last update. For example, if your content is female-led or made primarily by women, share news regarding women in film and TV. If your content is about relationships and dating, share news about the latest dating app drama, if your content verges on sci-fi, share space news, etc. This is another way of bridging less exciting months for your own updates but still remaining topical and worth reading.
The final part of your newsletter should be the same regardless of month. Basically, link to every piece of content you've ever hoped to find an audience for and every social media platform you're active on. The point of newsletters is to keep your audience engaged regardless of your latest premiere date, and oftentimes just getting an email from you will prompt them to rewatch or finally take a look at your content. Make it easy on them.