Your email newsletter on LinkedIn? with Michael Katz

If you struggle with consistently sending your own email newsletter...

...whether because you worry that you have nothing worthwhile to say or

....because you can’t figure out the technical piece, this post and podcast for you.

I talked with the very funny Michael Katz of Blue Penguin Development (no, he doesn’t have anything to do with penguins).

He’s a marketing consultant who specializes in email newsletters for professional services firms and providers.

In our chat, we delve into the value of using LinkedIn’s new newsletter feature to start your own and what the heck should you write about – no matter how you send it out – which is a perennial question from writers and non-writers alike.

Here are a couple ideas for baby steps you can take to get your newsletter out:

Choose from the two we discussed – based on where you are in your process and which makes the most sense for you. (Only you know what that is.)

  1. I suggest you read Michael’s newsletter (at michaelkatz.com -- in this recent issue, he references Lady Gaga Oreos!) Then, as an exercise, write your version using his strategy or approach. It doesn’t need to be perfect or even very good. It’s just an exercise and no one will ever see it (unless you send it to me, which you are welcome to do). 
  2. Michael’s suggested baby step is to just get that first newsletter out – which may or may not seem like a baby step to you. If it does, then do it. Because, as he said, they get easier as you go. But you’ve got to get going so your prospects can marinate in your content before any newsletter magic will happen.

So listen to the episode here (and below):

If you like what you hear, we’d love it if you write a review, subscribe on Apple Podcasts and sign up for Quick Tips from Marketing Mentor.

And if you're just getting started, check out my 7-step guide to marketing for creatives. 

Transcript of #441 with Michael Katz

ilise benun

Hi there. This is ilise benun, your Marketing Mentor. And this is the podcast for you, if, and only if, you are ready to leave the feast or famine syndrome behind, and I mean for good.

If you struggle with consistently sending out your own email newsletter, whether because you worry that you have nothing worthwhile to say or because you can't figure out the technical piece, this episode is for you. I talked with the very funny Michael Katz of Blue Penguin Development, and no, he doesn't have anything to do with penguins. He's a marketing consultant who specializes in email newsletters for professional services firms and providers.

In our chat, we delve into the value of using LinkedIn's new newsletter feature to start your own newsletter, and what the heck should you write about, no matter how you send it out, because that is a perennial question from writers and non-writers alike. So, listen and learn.

Hello, Michael. Welcome to the podcast.

Michael Katz

Good to be here. Thank you.

ilise benun

You're welcome. Please introduce yourself.

Michael Katz

Hi, I'm Michael Katz, and my company is called Blue Penguin Development.

ilise benun

“Don't ask me why.”

Michael Katz

“Don't ask me why.”

ilise benun

I love that. In your newsletter recently, or somewhere, I saw you said, "Yes, that's the name. Don't ask me why."

Michael Katz

I really should come up with a good answer after 20 years, but I really don't have one.

ilise benun

Well, to me, that's just, in a way it says, what you call your company really doesn't matter all that much. I really believe that—if you're doing all the good marketing that you need to be doing and positioning yourself—but with that said, tell us what you do.

Michael Katz

I raise penguins. I am a marketing consultant and I specialize in email newsletters.

ilise benun

And for any particular niche or market?

Michael Katz

Yes. I've had a broad range over the years, but in the last, at least 10, maybe even 15 years, I work exclusively with small, professional service firms: financial planners, consultants, recruiters, leadership coaches. What they have in common is, it's really hard to tell what's different between one and the other. In fact, maybe there isn't a difference. One accountant and another accountant is the same. A newsletter is particularly good for this kind of differentiation between people like that.

ilise benun

Um hmm. And you basically do the newsletters for your clients?

Michael Katz

To varying degrees. So, I do the entire thing, in terms of back end and the tech and all that. I mean, my goal is, they should have as little to do with it as possible. However, I do zero research. So, either I straight up ghostwrite it because I interview them. Or, after we've done a bunch of work about who the audience is and the voice and all that, and then we have a conversation each month about, ‘what are you going to write about?’ many of them, they write the first really bad draft, and I fix it. As long as I have the raw material, I can work with it, so it depends on how much they want to do on their own.

ilise benun

When you say, "I don't do any research," is that part of your process and your policy, or is that just because you don't think you need to?

Michael Katz

Well, I mean, there's any number of ways to do it. Sometimes, I'm asked by someone, "Hey, can you write? We need a newsletter once a month. It's going to be on real estate law. Go off and write it." But I don't do that. 

My belief is that if you want to differentiate yourself, regardless of what you do, it's your perspective on real estate law or accounting or management consulting. And so, I always say, “I'm a juicer and my clients are oranges.” They have decades of knowledge. Their problem is, you can't drink an orange. 

What I'm good at is forcing them to explain it to me. And, because I'm not an accountant or attorney or whatever, they have to simplify it because you have to remember their audience is not other attorneys, it's someone like me. So, they don't have to do any research, because they could talk for a thousand years about whatever they do.

I go in there and say, "Okay, given the topic we're going to discuss,"—and that's something, we come up with a whole bunch of topics in the beginning process of setting it up to start—I'm like, "Okay, tell me about this." And I just keep pestering them until they explain it, which they can find annoying but I get it out of them, and then I write it, hopefully in their voice. 

After a while, I get really good at figuring out how different people write or speak, and they may have to fix certain things like, "Yeah, this isn't quite right” or "I wouldn't use that phrase," but the idea is to remove them as much as possible from the process, because they'd rather have nothing to do with it.

But to me, it has to be a combination of their insight, as well as a fair amount of their personality and even their personal story, if they're willing to share it. Because to me, like I always say, “You have no idea how medically capable your doctor is. You don't even know your doctor went to medical school.”

If you love your doctor, it has nothing to do with medicine. It's the way she talks to you or the way she listens or interacts. So, there's a real personality aspect in hiring a professional. Again, whether it's the guy who fixes your car or your kid's guitar teacher, it's really not about capability. You have to have capability, but the problem is, everyone you compete with as a professional is, at least on paper, just as good and technical and credentialed. So, the personality stuff really comes out in a big way.

ilise benun

You know, you're touching on something that I think about a lot and that Ann Handley has said very concisely, and I wish I had said it. She said, "A newsletter should be more letter than news," and I assume you agree with that.

Michael Katz

Yeah. I mean, it's funny. I can Google anything, today, in terms of straight-up facts. So, if I want to know how to change a tire, I'm just going to Google it. So again, if you just took the made-up example of an auto mechanic talking about ‘here's how you change a tire,’ I suppose it's somewhat useful, but it's certainly not unusual. 

But, if he or she talked about, ‘I'm driving into work today and I hit a thing, and it caused my tire to break, and here's what you really have to think about when you're driving,’ it's like, it's really more insight than just how-to. And I agree; the more you can include your own, like we were joking earlier about your dog barking, that kind of stuff, people connect with that. It's very human. And I think ultimately, your decision to hire, let alone like, whoever you work with is based on that connection; even though it sounds so non-business-y. But I found that, especially among people like us—solos and very small companies—that's our superpower relative to the big companies. I mean, that's why the big companies have to hire celebrities and make up cartoon lizards selling insurance. They're trying to put a human face on a big company. So, I try and get my clients to reveal their actual human face.

ilise benun

I don't know if you're aware of this, but in my framework of the Simplest Marketing Plan, I focus on three main tools which, I propose, when you use them together on a particular market, that's what works. And the three tools are what I call: 

  • Strategic Networking
  • Targeted Outreach—which is cold calling and reaching out to people one-on-one 
  • Content Marketing—high value, pain-point, quality, content marketing, in the form, ideally, if you do nothing else, of an email newsletter. 

Because often, when you do all those three things together, you get what I call ‘newsletter magic’—which is when you've been in touch with someone through your newsletter for a while and then, one day, they respond to a really old one and say, "I've got a project. Can we talk?" 

I just want you to respond to that idea of where it fits into the marketing mix, if you will.

Michael Katz

Yeah. That experience is exactly what I found for myself and my clients. My entire business works that way. Nothing wrong with making cold calls, but I just couldn't do it. I don't even like talking to people I sort of know. So, I don't call strangers. I've never made an outbound call, in terms of getting business, in my entire time doing it. Not to say you can't, but all I do is publish a newsletter, and it's sort of derivatives now on social media and all that, and I do this strategic networking thing—I'm really good at staying in touch with people. And the perfect client is the person who says, "I've been reading your newsletter for two years, and we want to talk." The guy who Googles, like in my case an email newsletter, and then calls me, it's like a bad blind date. The chances of that being a good connection are really small. You don't know each other. They have some perception of you and whatever. So, the newsletter is really good at sort of turning cold calls into very warm calls. Plus, when somebody calls you, it's a completely different conversation than if you call them.

ilise benun

And I refer to what you're describing there as having people ‘marinate’ in my content for as long as they need to.

Michael Katz

That's good. I'm going to steal that.

ilise benun

You're welcome to it.

Michael Katz

Thank you.

ilise benun

So, with all of that said, then, one of the things that prompted me to want to talk to you about this is this new-ish feature on LinkedIn of being able to do your newsletter on LinkedIn. And I noticed that you were doing it, and I love your strategy because there's so many different ways to do it, and I just wanted to pick your brain a little bit about out your own evolution of thinking about this. Maybe start by explaining to me, as if I didn't know, which I kind of don't, what does it mean to have a newsletter on LinkedIn?

Michael Katz

I've kind of come full circle on it. I don't know. At least two years ago, LinkedIn started letting a select group of people—and as with all group things LinkedIn, nobody knows who the select group is or how they're chosen or whatever—do something that they hadn't done before. So, for a number of years, you've been able to write what they call “an article,” which is essentially a blog post, a long-format article that you post on your account, and people who are your contacts and followers will see an alert of that in their notifications and in their stream, and that's okay.

Then, they started doing this thing where they do call it “a newsletter,” where people can actually subscribe to be notified by email from LinkedIn when you “publish,” and again, nobody knows how they rolled it out and whatever. 

When I saw that a couple years ago, I thought, "Oh, I really want to do that." I'm waiting and waiting, and one day, it shows up. I've been granted the capability. And then I'm just about to go do it and suddenly I think, "Wait a second. Do I want to publish on LinkedIn?" Because my concern was, I have a newsletter with a mailing list of my own that I publish through MailChimp. What happens if my subscribers start leaving that and saying, "I'd rather get it through LinkedIn?" Even though they're both my subscribers, I've sort of cannibalized my own list. And that's why I say I came full circle, because the thing you have to be concerned with, with any platform, is that they make all the rules … LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook. As we've seen, they can throw people off. They can decide, ‘we’re going to do this, not that.’ They're an intermediary between you and the end user.

The thing I love about email is, nobody runs email. It's a completely distributed system. There's nobody in charge, and so the only people who decide that you can't send to them are the recipients. There's nobody in the middle. 

I used to use a different email provider and I recently switched over to MailChimp. All I did was export my mailing list, canceled my account with the old people, and started up with MailChimp. Well, if you have a newsletter with LinkedIn or followers on Facebook or whatever, you can leave, but you can't take it with you. You are literally building a business on rented land. So, I had this concern: Now, wait a second; I don't want to be beholden to LinkedIn. What if you do it for three years and LinkedIn, one day, says, "We're not going to do newsletters anymore," and they shut the whole thing down. However, I started talking to some people I knew who had been granted this magical power earlier...

ilise benun

Which I have not, by the way. I cannot figure out how to do one for myself. So, I don't think I've been granted the magical power yet.

Michael Katz

Just to tell you and any of your listeners, if you go to the “write an article capability,” when you get in there, there's a new button called “Newsletter.” It's either there or it's not.

ilise benun

Right. It's not for me.

Michael Katz

Yeah, so one day …

ilise benun

 Usually … I don't have it.

Michael Katz

Well, that's what I thought. I'm a newsletter guy! But it's a good reminder that they make all the rules, and you're just like, whatever. So, then I thought, "Okay, I'm not doing this," but then I talked to some people and what they had said was, they didn't see any indication that it was hurting their ... it was cannibalizing their list, and so I thought I'd do it.

ilise benun

And for yours, Michael, let's just describe the strategy a little bit, because I thought it was kind of brilliant. You basically publish an abridged version, a shortened version, of your longish—yours tends to be, in my opinion, long, but also a really good read always, so, people read it. But you do … so you do an abridged version on LinkedIn. And then you say, "If you're reading this on LinkedIn, you're reading an abridged version and you're reading it late," which I love.

Michael Katz

Right.

ilise benun

“So, if you want the real one, click here,” and that takes them to sign up for your real newsletter on your email, where there's no intermediary. Right?

Michael Katz

Right. So, I'm going the other direction. I want to take those LinkedIn readers and have them sign up for, “the real thing.” And I have seen that work, because when people sign up, I ask them, "Where did you hear about me?" and I'm getting a whole bunch of LinkedIn people. 

What's interesting, though, which I like, is the people subscribing on LinkedIn … you can't export the list, but you can see who they are. And they're sort of unlikely people who really would never even hear about, let alone subscribe to, my newsletter, like people, maybe, I used to work with; my kids are grown now, so their friends are now connecting with me on LinkedIn, so they might subscribe. These are what I would think of as ‘unlikely people’ are subscribing. Plus, people who already subscribe to my newsletter. So, it's a funny thing.

The other thing I do is, I don't publish current newsletters. I've been publishing for a long time, so I may go back and grab one from four years ago, publish that, and most of your readers don't read most of your newsletters and they certainly don't remember …

ilise benun

What?!

Michael Katz

Yeah, I know. Sorry.

ilise benun

Explain that, because I think most people don't understand that.

Michael Katz

That's in my case. In your case, they're reading them all. (Laughter).

It's almost like I'm doing a “best of” and getting in front of people, and my strategy has been, I publish my newsletter every other week, so I'm publishing the LinkedIn ones on the every other ‘other week,’ in between.

ilise benun

Okay, wait. You publish every other week? Because, to me, it feels like weekly.

Michael Katz

It's so funny. Some people think it's weekly. Some people think it's monthly. No, it's never more than every two weeks. I mean...

ilise benun

I don't believe you, Michael.

Michael Katz

The pace is every week. I have a friend who's been doing it. He's published like a thousand newsletters. No way. I couldn't do that. But every other week, I find is, if you like writing it, I think that's the ideal. 

Almost all my clients are on a monthly schedule, just because they have real jobs. They couldn't do it every other week. Plus, it would double their cost in paying me, but I find every other week is good. People think it's weekly.

ilise benun

Why is that?

Michael Katz

Well, I mean, it just sort of reinforces the idea that nobody's paying a lot of attention. Here's another's shocker. Nobody is paying attention to anybody else, really. They don't know. Sometimes I'll skip … it'll be a third week, because I skip. Nobody ever says, "Where is it?"

It doesn't matter. I think it is the cumulative effect, the marinating thing. I always use the metaphor: it's like exercise. It's like, if you skipped a day of exercise, it doesn't make a difference. And if you never exercise and then exercised for eight hours one day, it also would make no difference. The benefit is in over time. It's the same thing.

ilise benun

Right, compounding interest.

Michael Katz

Yeah.

ilise benun

It's about investing. You're investing in your business, and in your list, and in your people. I think when you don't send out a newsletter, when you drop the ball because you're too busy, I feel like you're betraying your people and giving up on them—not so much on yourself. What do you think of that?

Michael Katz

I totally agree. I would also say, even though nobody knows how often you publish, I'm very strict with my clients about their publication date, because it's so easy to stop. At this point, there's no risk that I'm going to stop publishing my newsletter, because it's just part of my life. But for my clients, we'll pick a day, second Thursday of the month or something, and I am all over them because your newsletter is never going to be on fire. You could push it off a day and nobody would notice. But, you push it off a day, and then it's two days, and then it's a week, and then it's like you just abandon the whole thing. So, you really got to be strict. I always say, "Look, if you publish 12 in a row for a year, you can take a break." But until it's becomes part of your real schedule and your marketing DNA, you got to keep doing it. And I agree—if you want people to anticipate and follow you, you got to be out there all the time, or they're going to move on.

ilise benun

Let's connect this, then, to content strategy, because this is really one of the biggest obstacles people seem to have is: "Oh my God, what am I going to write about? What do people want to hear about? Why would they want to hear from me?" and all those kind of psychological obstacles that people put in front of them. How do you to think about that?

Michael Katz

Well, on the whole, "Why would they want to hear from me?" it's sort of like, why would they want to hire you? I mean, again, just take a made-up example. You don't have to be the best carpenter on earth to have somebody like me hire you, because I don't know anything about carpentry. You know lifetimes more about whatever it is you do than the people who would hire you. That's part of why they hire you. So, you're way over the bar on knowledge, whatever it is you do.

In terms of how it works, I think of it, it's like a magazine. You've got this body of knowledge. You have to think about, who's my target audience? It's not, like, Planet Earth. It's, who wants the type of carpentry information I know? 

So again, use that example. My brother-in-law builds houses; he's a carpenter. So, whenever he comes to my house—he lives like three hours away—which is like twice a year, soon as he shows up, I get him a cup of coffee and I walk him around my house. “What do I do about this? Do I need to fix that?” And he'll be like, "Ah, you better take care of that right away," or he's, "Ah, don't worry about it." Like, I don't know.

What's interesting to me is, he knows stuff that, while he is drinking a cup of coffee, he can answer my questions. Again, it's true for everyone on this call relative to what you know. I know nothing. I don't want to know a ton. I want to know Carpentry 101. But if he were writing a newsletter, is he writing to a homeowner or a commercial business? Someone who knows a lot, somebody knows a little? How old is the person? Because that affects the language you might use.

So, you really want to pinpoint who the audience is, and I say, "Look, who's your perfect client? Who do you want 10 of? What do they look like?" Everyone with a little work can answer that question. Like I said in the beginning, I want small professional service providers, so that's who I'm writing to. 

And then, each newsletter is just a little bit of, sort of I think pretty basic insight stuff, not how to ... it wouldn't be how to build a deck or something. It would be the kind of thing my brother-in-law would be like, how to buy the right kind of hammer or why you should never buy lumber on a Tuesday. I don't know. But it's all this stuff that he just sort of knows from having done it for years. That's the real insightful stuff that you can't easily Google. And then people just start to see you as a source of information.

The other thing to realize is, the vast majority of your readers will never pay you anything. They're just going to take the free information, but that's okay. You don't need them. You need a tiny fraction who say, "You know what? I'm not building this deck. I don't know how to do it. Let's just call that guy who's been writing the newsletter." I mean, it's so funny, but it just works that way. It's very enhanced word of mouth when you create, as you were saying, ‘quality content.’ People follow you for the information, and some small percentage of them eventually say, "Let's just have her do it."

ilise benun

There are two more things I want to cover before we wrap up. One is, I want to go back to the idea of the LinkedIn newsletter, but maybe as an alternative to something like MailChimp, as a way to get started because LinkedIn is where the market is. 

And then I want to wrap up. I like to give my listeners a baby step that they can take based on our conversation. I may ask you what that baby step is, or I might suggest one to you. But that was the brainstorm I had last week when I started looking more closely at these LinkedIn newsletters, which I haven't done one for myself since I don't have the magic power yet, but I thought, so many people struggle—who especially aren't designers, right—with the technology and figuring all of that out, that gets in the way. What if they just did it on LinkedIn? What do you think of that?

Michael Katz

Well, it's way better than not doing anything. I mean, because again, if you're just on LinkedIn kind of posting stuff, and here's an article and you're like, "Hey, great, great. Congratulations, ilise,” or whatever people do on LinkedIn, at least I know you're alive, but that's not really demonstrating anything about what you do, how you think.

The reason I like long-format writing, as you said earlier, that you need to give people some content that actually shows you know something. And again, I guarantee you know plenty, so that's not the issue. It's a way, without getting into any MailChimp or anything else, to just start publishing long-format content. And yes, you'll be amazed how fast people subscribe. I mean, because what happens is, the day you launch that newsletter, LinkedIn will notify all your connections that, "This person just launched the newsletter. Do you want to subscribe?" It's like a one-time thing, they'll do that. And then people can subscribe over time, but you'll get way more on Day One.

I think it's a good way, if you've not been publishing and writing anything, to just sort of get your feet wet. There's no risk. That technology is no more complicated than using LinkedIn. So, I do think it's a good place to start.

ilise benun

I agree with that. I'm glad you do, too.

Michael Katz

Yeah.

ilise benun

All right. So, in terms of a baby step, let's be thinking about mostly people who haven't gotten their newsletter off the ground yet. Maybe they've been thinking about it. Maybe they've got a few drafts of things written, but it's just not perfect, or they don't feel ready, or they don't know enough people, or any number of things that might get in their way. What would you say is a good first step?

Michael Katz

I think the hardest part is the first time you hit Publish, or Send if it's a newsletter, because you get all these ideas of like: "Who am I to share information? And what do I know? And what are they going to say?" And all that. It's a funny thing. The opposite of raving success in this world is not failure. It's anonymity. So, no one's going to email you back and go, "That's the stupidest thing I ever heard." If it was absolutely terrible, which it won't be, you'll just be ignored.

And so, again, it goes back to this idea that people just aren't paying that much attention to other people, and so your 10th newsletter or LinkedIn post will be way better than your first, but you have to write 9 before you get to 10. 

So, my advice is always just ... well, two things: Make a list of the questions you hear from clients and potential clients. What's the stuff people are always asking you? I get to all the, "How often should I publish? What time of day? How long should it be?" I mean, it's the same questions over and over again, because people all start at the same place. Make a list of that stuff, and then just answer the question. And then just, whether it's MailChimp or whoever, or you do it on LinkedIn, just post it.

You'll get some thumbs up. You'll be surprised. Someone you went to college with, you haven't heard from, will be like, "Oh, great job." It's very satisfying, and you'll get better and better at as you do it. 

As you said earlier, it's amazing, the people who sort of come out of the woodwork. Very unlikely people come to you. And a lot of people will spread the word about you, even though they're never going to hire you. Again, your college roommate or it's a guy across the street who suddenly sees it will send people to you. So, it's a really amazingly effective word of mouth tool.

ilise benun

And I think a big part of that, also, is you will never know what people are saying about you or how they're thinking about your newsletter, when they get it, because they're not going to go out of their way to tell you, but there is an effect, whether you know it or not. That's what I keep trying to harp on.

Michael Katz

Absolutely. And, one day, in the future, you'll be at some event and somebody you've never seen on earth, or heard of, will come up to you and go, "I love your newsletter." And you're like, "Wow."

ilise benun

That's right.

Michael Katz

You don't know what's going on out there. I mean, someone once said, I don't know who it was, that customers are not on/off switches; they're volume controls. So, there's all these people out there, who, some of them are a second away from hiring you, and other people on your list are a second away from unsubscribing, and everybody else is sort of in between. And you can't tell, because most of them are invisible until they call you. So, you just have to keep doing it. Again, like exercise, you don't go to the gym and do 10 pushups and go, "Where are the muscles?" You got to keep doing it. By the way, it gets easier and enjoyable, like exercise, where if you do it for a while, you'll miss it if you stopped.

ilise benun

I love that. All right. I actually have a baby step idea that I wanted to run by you, also, because one of the struggles, as I said, is just figuring out what to say. What should my content be? 

Over the weekend, I started thinking about—because as I'm getting older, Michael, I seem to be spending more time remembering things, lately—and I started remembering how in the '90s, I studied Creative Writing at the Writers Studio with a poet named Philip Schultz. For years, we did what I would now call, “mimicking the masters,” basically. He just had us read the masters and then do our version of a paragraph.

I thought, let's give the baby step of read, maybe one of my favorite of your newsletters or your favorite of your newsletters, and then write your version of Michael's newsletter, because it's not like you're going to send it out, right? No one's going to send it out. It's just an exercise. It's a writing exercise, whether you're a writer or not, to just get in the habit of writing a newsletter and trying out different approaches until you find the one that works for you. What do you think of that?

Michael Katz

Oh, I love that. I really do, because what's so hard for people from starting from scratch is sort of just figuring out the flow and putting the pieces together. So, the idea that you would take somebody else's and just put it in your voice, and even the way you might organize this stuff. Oh, I think that's great. I mean, a big piece of this, too, is getting comfortable with your own voice because it feels weird at first. It's like doing a webinar on Zoom in your office where there's nobody there, and you can't see anybody, trying to sound natural. And I do think it's important for this tool, it ought to sound like you talking. I should recognize you when I hear it, and I think the mistake people make is either they're too kind of business-y or they take on this Joe Podcast persona that's, like, way over the top.

And so, it should sound like you're having coffee with somebody or, and so again, if you're having coffee with a friend and they say, "Hey, I don't really understand this. Can you explain it to me, Carpenter Friend?" My brother-in-law would go, "Yeah, yeah, just, here's what you do." So, that exercise, though, that you describe is great because it removes the whole, ‘what do I write about thing?’ And if there's structure there already, and now it's just, can you figure out how to put it in your own voice—oh, that's brilliant. I love that.

ilise benun

It's yours, if you want it, I'm going to use it. I'm going to give it as a baby step, but you just gave me one other thing I wanted to talk about with you, which is the way your newsletter is also a podcast. I don't know anyone else who does that. Can you please explain that?

Michael Katz

Yes. My newsletter is technically a podcast because I do it in audio. I mean, podcasts are usually, think of this kind of thing, you're interviewing somebody or whatever. But back when podcasts began, I thought, "Oh, why don't I do that?" 

So, what I do is, every time I publish, I record it. And it's not word for word, but it's pretty close because I write the way I talk. So, it's really easy. I just turn on my computer. I use something called Audacity, which is a free download on a PC, and then I just sort of speak it. And what I find is, first of all, the whole thing only adds about a half an hour to the process. Probably 10% of my people who open my newsletter click the link. And so, without a lot of extra work, I'm creating something that's for people who want to hear audio.

I mean, there's some people who are hearing impaired. There's some people who like to listen while they drive. So, it's like you're getting to another portion of the population who just prefer to listen, and it's easy, and it's free to be on iTunes. So, I'm on iTunes. Big deal. But occasionally, I'll have somebody who reaches me from that direction, who then signs up for the newsletter, and I look at it as, the hardest part is writing the thing. Then, to put it on audio, to put it on your website as a blog, to put it on all the social, are just giving you other ways to reach other people; as opposed to 15 years ago, you'd write your newsletter and you'd send it out, and that was it. There was no blogs, and there was no anything. It was just gone. So now you’ve got all these other ways to use it, and a podcast is a great, pretty easy step to do.

Ilise benun

Awesome, Michael. I feel like we could talk forever about newsletters, and so we’ll definitely have to do this again, but for now, I want to thank you and tell the people where they can find you and your newsletter online.

Michael Katz

Yeah. They can find me at michaelkatz.com, and scroll to the bottom of the page, and you can subscribe, and it is a lifetime commitment, though. You can never unsubscribe. So, be ready.

Ilise benun

(Laughter) Awesome. Thank you so much, Michael.

Michael Katz

Thanks for having me.

ilise benun

I forgot how funny Michael is, and full of good ideas, healthy perspectives rooted in reality, and very apt metaphors, too. Right? Now, I want you to follow Michael's excellent example, so you can have newsletter magic, also. So, here are the baby steps you can take. In fact, you can choose from the two we discussed based on where you are in your process and which makes the most sense for you. Only you know what that is.

Now, I suggested that you read Michael's newsletter, which you can find at michaelkatz.com, and then as an exercise, write your version using his strategy or approach. It doesn't need to be perfect or even very good. It's just an exercise, and no one will ever see it—unless you send it to me, which you're welcome to do. Or you can follow Michael's suggested baby step to just get that first newsletter out, which may or may not seem like a baby step to you. If it does, then do it, because as he said, they do get easier as you go. But, you've got to get going, so your prospects can marinate in your content before any newsletter magic will happen. That's how it works.

So, did you learn a little something? I hope so, because that's how this works, one baby step at a time. Before you know it, you'll have better clients with bigger budgets. Speaking of better clients, they're probably not going to fall in your lap. That's why I keep hawking my Simplest Marketing Plan. If you want to build a thriving business on your own terms, you need the new 4.0 version for 2022. It's not too late to get it, and it is packed with all new content, including six new case studies and six new lessons. You also get three different planners, plus access to the free monthly Office Hours group coaching session, where you'll meet other creative pros who are practicing what I preach and taking control over their business and their life. You can find it all in the marketing mentor shop at marketing-mentor.com. And, I'll be back soon with more conversations with creative professionals who are doing what it takes to ditch the feast or famine syndrome. Until next time.