This blog has been active since August 2009 and I have been publishing the corresponding newsletter since June of 2001. On top of that, I write a variety of other things, including the occasional magazine article. However, I’m not actually in the writing business, I’m in the LIMS / ELN implementation business. Thus, for several years, I’ve thought about consolidating the amount of writing that I do.
Initially, I cut back on the amount of unpaid writing I need to do by getting rid of the magazine articles that I write. Over time, I got a couple interesting and new opportunities and did do a bit more of that than I’d planned.
However, I’ve long realized that I don’t really need both a blog AND a newsletter. They serve slightly different purposes and slightly different groups of people. It’s not as easy as picking one over the other. The newsletter has a much larger readership, as I’ve been writing it longer AND spent a LOT more time getting people signed-up for it. On the other hand, the blog tends to get more new readers than the newsletter, although the newsletter does still get new readers, as well.
As such, I just sent the entire newsletter list a survey to ask them what they really think. It’s possible that they don’t really care which one they read. And when I say “read” I do mean to say that I’m not looking at the total membership to make these decisions, but only the actual “reads” that I see.
One advantage to the newsletter is that, while it’s totally optional, quite a few people actually do enter their company, title, phone number and address. Since I did promise all members that I’d never sell the list nor use it for other purposes, the next question is this – what would I really do with this information?
With the new mini-trend being to send paper newsletters in order to stand out, I had considered asking those people if they’d be willing to receive mailed newsletters. However, since so many people on the list are international, that already starts to sound both expensive and like a bit of a hassle.
Both the newsletter and blog provide statistics and raw numbers that I could use to analyze the readership, if I were so inclined, which I haven’t been, up to now. Well, that’s not 100% true but my attempts to more deeply analyze who reads which articles (i.e., which articles are most interesting to people who would be actual paid customers) have not amounted to much, for a variety of reasons.
The ultimate goal for all of us with small businesses is to balance the amount of things we do to promote and run our business yet still leave plenty of time to do chargeable work if it comes our way. These decisions are seldom clear-cut. While I’ll miss the newsletter or blog if I do end up retiring one of them, I doubt I would do it particularly soon, even if I did make that kind of decision.
Regarding the newsletter, I have five more articles in the queue, which I wouldn’t throw away. Plus, I just paid the annual fee for the tool that runs it all. So, it’s staying around for at least another five months.
In any case, whether I decide to remove one or the other, or to keep both, I will announce that decision in both places and with plenty of lead-time to know when the last article will be delivered.