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Stand out from the Crowd: Simplicity Tips from Amy Lynn Andrews

Posted By Stacey Roberts 10th of December 2014 General 0 Comments

MERRY (1)

If you’ve been blogging for long, you’ve no doubt heard of Amy Lynn Andrews.

Plain-language blogging tips, tricks, and tutorials are Amy’s game. And while everyone gets louder and brighter on the internet in order to catch your attention, Amy is whispering. And it works.

Amy covers everything from How to Start a Blog to How to Make Money Blogging, and sends out arguably the most useful newsletter on the planet every Sunday morning.

I wanted to know how the simple life made a difference to her blogging experience – if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed with all we’re supposed to do and use and read and be as bloggers, I hope this is useful to you. Slim down, pare back, focus on your priorities. Amy would want you to!

The Useletter

I asked Amy how she settled on her very different style of newsletter (and was reminded again how important an email list is):

“I wanted to reduce my dependence on other sources of blog traffic, like search, social media and referrals. I also liked the idea of permission-based marketing which gives me the power to go to my readers instead of waiting for them to come to me. In a nutshell, an email list was a more controllable digital asset for me,” she says.

“Once I decided to go in this direction, I knew I needed to stand out. Everyone is building a list these days; my emails had to be super valuable. I chose to leverage the reputation I had already built on my blog, which is the provider of helpful tutorials and in-plain-English content. I decided to focus on quick, bite-sized tips in my emails. I called it The Useletter because they are tips you can use.”

So did this simple template evolve over time, or was it planned from the outset?

“The basic, (mostly) text-only format has always been the same and it suits me well for 3 reasons: I like quick tips, I struggle to write blog posts and I’m lazy when it comes to including images. :)

“It was also somewhat inspired by NextDraft, the wildly popular daily news roundup written by Dave Pell.”

So what gets a coveted spot in The Useletter? How does Amy decide what’s most important? 

“I love to learn and my favorite online pastime is hunting for useful information. The internet is full of impressive people who share amazing tips and tricks. Whenever I come across something that makes me think, “Hey, that’s a great idea!” or “Oh, that’s handy!” I file it away to be included in The Useletter.

“I follow dozens of blogs and newsletters. I read ebooks, magazines, books and anything else I can download or put on my Kindle. I’m a huge fan of podcasts. Videos and webinars are often great sources of information too. Basically, anytime someone is talking about blogging or online business, I take note!

“Most of my reading material is funneled through Feedly where I categorize it according to my main topics. If it makes the cut as I scan through, it gets saved in Evernote, my holding tank for The Useletter tips. (Here’s how I use my editorial calendar.)”

Simplicity Gets Results

I think the simplicity works because it’s a little unexpected for an email. I’ve tried to format it in a way that people can quickly glean what they want. And I do my best to include a variety of actionable tips that doesn’t require reading a whole blog post to get the main nugget.”

It’s not only The Useletter that is frill-free: Amy’s website has been streamlined to make the most important things the focus and set aside all else. How has that worked for her? 

“I’m still experimenting with it, but yes, it did [improve The Useletter signup rates]. However, I’ve debated about switching it back, simply because I frustrate myself when I go to my site to lookup a post and I have to click through the home page first.”

So simplicity is a theme for her. But why?

“I appreciate simplicity in my own life. The more I’m online, the more complicated it feels. There’s just too much – too many graphics, too many apps, too many choices, too many ads, too many social media options. There’s too much vying for our attention. Simplicity makes life breathable.” [Tweet that!]

Simple Advice for Bloggers

Observe, listen and respond – to the people, not the gurus. Over the last few years, one of the clear messages I’ve heard from internet users is they’re suffering from information overload. They can’t keep up. And yet, bloggers and online business owners continue to churn out content at an astounding rate (I’m guilty too!). There’s nothing magical about simplicity, it’s just that simplicity is an antidote to a common pain point.

In Mailouts

Practice the art of empathy. Put yourself in your readers’ shoes. What would they appreciate? How can you help them? When it comes to online communication, email is intimate. Treat your subscribers with respect and they’ll stick with you for the long haul. Do your subscribers really want your email? Would you?” [Tweet that too!]

Simple Advice for Email Signup Rates

You can’t create sign ups, but you can create enticing content. Let the usefulness of your emails speak for themselves and others will eventually start promoting for you. Of course you can make your sign up form clear and conspicuous or offer a great lead magnet (i.e. freebie), but in my experience, word of mouth is a whole lot more effective.

After that, make your subscribers hesitant to unsubscribe, lest they miss out on what you’re going to send next!”

 

Wise words! I know I’ve been yearning for more simplicity in my blogging – I want to get to the heart of sharing something without sacrificing too much time and energy to do so. How about you? Feeling the pull to do more, be more? I’d love to chat in the comments!

Stacey is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more (so much more!) at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama (cat pictures welcome).

 

 

About Stacey Roberts
Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama, follow on Pinterest for fun and useful tips, peek behind the curtain on Instagramand Snapchat, listen to her 90s pop culture podcast, or be entertained on Facebook.
  • These days it’s quite hard to stand out from the crowd but if you do have uniqueness then even with simplicity you could stand out from crowd easily.Thanks for these wonderful tips,truly appreciated.

    • Stacey Roberts

      I hope they help!

    • Nice post!! Yes simplicity works and to get success you need to be clear and simple with your audience.

    • You’re welcome, Debarpan!

    • You’re welcome, Debarpan.

  • Hi Stacey,

    Simple is powerful. No way around that one, and that’s why Amy is so darn successful. She keeps it simple. I can tell by her writing style and delivery.

    My kinda gal ;)

    The more simple I’ve become the better results I get.

    I vibe with the complexity thing. Staying online makes one batty if they don’t refrain from the online bit every here and there. I too have been flummoxed by information overload from time to time but getting super simple and clear and focused helped me add power to my brand and my message.

    Simple works. Make your point. Get off of the stage. Stick to the basics. As you noted, it may not be sexy but I know people are listening and heeding Amy’s whispers among the bland, boring noise in the blogosphere.

    Thanks Stacey!

    Ryan

    • Stacey Roberts

      I agree, I’ve got to spend more time off the computer than I do on it, or I burn out. Simple = longevity for me!

    • This gets a 10 out of 10 from me, Ryan … “Simple works. Make your point. Get off of the stage.” :-)

      • Stacey Roberts

        I loved that too!

    • Thanks, Ryan. I think companies like Apple exemplify this on a larger scale. I think there’s a lot of emphasis on functionality and features (which are important, of course) but I think sometimes we miss the emotion attached to those things. Apple does great at addressing all three.

  • this tricks is same with my ways, good job mister, thank you

  • “…word of mouth is a whole lot more effective.” That’s true in all matters of business. I used to have a remodeling business and never advertized but stayed as busy as I wanted. Word of mouth is so important, so it’s extremely important to always tell the truth and be fair in all business dealings, whether it’s through online blogging, email marketing or what ever the case may be.

  • I did not hear about Amy Lynn Andrews but luckily now I do. This is great information. I also feel that there is too much stuff online that I can or need to digest. It is overwhelming. The longer I blog the more I long for simplicity, online as well as offline.

    These days, I focus more on removing instead of adding. From all the lifestyle improvements that I am working on. This is the one that satisfies and calms me the most. It is also an improvement that is easy to apply, once you get over the initial fears of throwing things away or leaving things out. Doing less and living a simple life is a mindset. Once you get into it, your hooked.

    The blogs of people like Leo Babauta and Amy Lynn Andrews show us the way, as they are great examples of successful simplicity.

    • Stacey Roberts

      Amy is great – she cuts through the clutter and gives you only what you need to know. I hope you signed up to her Useletter!

    • “once you get over the initial fears of throwing things away or leaving things out” <–so key. It's amazing how powerful the fear of missing something can be. We just need to stay in our own lanes and not worry so much about the race everyone else is running.

  • Stacey, thanks for sharing information about this amazing person. Indeed in this complex world full of even more complex people talking in difficult jargon, some body like Amy stands out with her simplicity and a sense of purpose to help people by communicating with them in easy to understand language. Where does she resides, I mean her blog?

  • Thanks for sharing this Amy. You’re correct. Simplicity does get results and I always appreciated the “keep it simple” rule. Complicated means doubting yourself and wasting valuable time.

    • Stacey Roberts

      I know! I totally over-think things when it gets complicated. I forget to go back to basics.

  • hey,thanks for this amazing post.good work.

  • And that’s why right now I’m focusing on revising and refining the content I already have and less on creating more and more blog posts. I’m also happy to see you mention the email newsletter as an important tool.

    For me however, having a free ebook or some other type of free help still works great to drive more signups than just the content alone.

    Thanks Stacey for sharing Amy’s work!

    • Stacey Roberts

      You’re welcome! You’ve reminded me I need to work on my email newsletter….

  • I purged my subscription list quite a bit but Amy’s Useletter is on the short list of blogs I’m keeping for 2015, including ProBlogger! I look forward to reading her Useletter on my iPad while drinking coffee on Saturday mornings before anyone gets up. I ALWAYS get at least one or two useful info from her email, like her link to Darren’s talk at WDS13. I never knew that video existed if it wasn’t for Amy’s newsletter.

    Glad to see her interviewed here! Thx!

    • Stacey Roberts

      How great was that talk! And all the photos of young Darren! I’m the same, I’ve unsubscribed from a lot over the years, but Amy’s is so short, so simple, and so useful, it’d be silly to cease receiving it.

    • Thank you, Karen, for keeping me on your short list. :) I’m so glad you enjoy it because I enjoy creating it!

  • I have been subscribed to Amy’s Userletter for about a year now and have used many of her tips and tricks. Amy keeps everything so simple and gets right to the point with the minimum amount of words – and that’s what most of us want. She reaches out to her readers and gives them what they want.
    Clean and simple is the key and she puts it into practice.
    Great interview with Amy, thank you.

    • Stacey Roberts

      She totally does! Gives me food for thought in the way I deliver info. She’s a good’un!

  • Thanks for the informative post,very well written with details explanation. just great. Thanks for sharing.

  • Amazing tips!

    You know what Stacey and Amy, simplicity is the word.

    When I started blogging, I was all amazed at the ways certain bloggers write and express. I used to look down on myself as I thought I couldn’t use such creative and beautiful words that they could.

    I stumbled upon Darren’s blog, Amy’s blog, I understood the power of words and not the beauty of words that could create a difference in the reader’s mind. Yes to be put precisely the simplicity of words we use!

    Wonderful post to learn and relearn ..

    • Stacey Roberts

      Yes, the power! So glad you found that.

  • Found out about this post from your Useletter. It works. Love scanning your emails for useful content… I almost always walk away with at least one helpful nugget!

  • You have really point out some awesome stuff to stand out from the crowd. Its really worth for me. Thank you so much !

  • RD

    Hi Stacey.

    Simplicity works amazingly.

    I think the best part is that it helps both ends the person writing the email, and the person who has to read it.

    This was an awesome post!