Converting a newsletter into a blog


Kevin O’Keefe writes about converting an email newsletter into a blog, and references Lorelle VanFossen’s post wherein she describes her struggle to explain to the management of an organization the differences between "pages" and "posts" and the thought process that went into deciding what should be what.

Kevin’s take is that structure is a secondary concern, and that’s true, but as someone who has just gone through the same process myself, I’ll tell you what I think.

First, I decided to have pages, or "psuedo-static web pages" as Lorelle describes them, for several obvious choices (about, blog, contact, newsletter, and products) and also one for articles. I chose to have an article page because I wanted to have a variety of detailed, evergreen articles available for browsing by visitors, without relying on category tags to "advertise" their existence.

This strategy has worked fine in the few weeks I have been writing this blog, but it has presented a challenge as well. Now, when I add a new article, I reference it via a new post. But I would prefer to put the contents of the articles into the post itself so that readers can get the full article delivered to them via their "reader".

What’s more, I believe many of my posts qualify to be annointed as "articles". So, from now, my strategy will be to put all new articles into posts and periodically harvest posts and paste them into pages. While that means there will be some duplication, it also means readers can find information via tags (which append to posts) or by browsing the articles.

As for the bigger issue of converting from newsletter to blog, I’m keeping both. Kevin mentions a number of advantages to making the conversion, including the indexing of search engines (leading to more traffic) and the archival nature of a blog, but there are advantages to maintaining the email newsletter as well.

For one thing, most subscribers to my (any) newsletter don’t (yet) use RSS, so unless they think about it, they won’t visit the blog. That means they’ll miss information. In fact, without a reminder, they may never to return to the blog, and that’s not good for either one of us. While I don’t (presently) intend to repeat the entirety of my blog posts in my email newsletter, I do intend to regularly remind readers of new posts, and that’s good for both of us.

In addition, having an email newsletter allows me to offer special information and offers to "my list". Blog readers who aren’t subscribed the newsletter won’t get this information or offers (so if you have not yet subscribed I enourage you to do so!)

Finally, writing for the newsletter "feels" different than writing for the blog. Sure, they are both public, but I feel a certain kinship with my newsletter subscribers, and while that may change as I gain experience with the blog, right now, my subscribers are special. I hope they feel the same way about me.

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  1. Understand point of ‘Pages’ now David. I have some evergreen content on my site.

    For those not using RSS, just use an email subscription on the blog. It’s worked well for our clients.

    Understand connection with newsletter but overtime, I’ll think you’ll find those reading your blog via RSS, though a minority of your readers, will heavily influence a large number of people. The ‘influencers’ are other bloggers, reporters, and program coordinators – all with large audiences with which they’ll be sharing your content.

    Nice blog, keep up the good work.