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A good newsletter is hard to beat. More importantly, people want quality content they can count on. With a well-written newsletter, marketers can engage subscribers and organically grow their lists.

In our quest to shed light on our favorite newsletters, we’ll be sharing a different recommendation every time. In the second installment of our “Newsletters You Should Know” series, we’re talking about Total Annarchy.

(Be sure to check out our last post about The Hustle if you missed it!)

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Introducing Total Annarchy

Total Annarchy is a biweekly newsletter from MarketingProfs’ own Ann Handley. If you’re not familiar with Ann Handley, she’s a marketer, author, entrepreneur, and an all-around content natural.

But even with her successes—or perhaps, because of her successes—Handley’s newsletter didn’t exactly live up to her other content. The newsletter was a project that, until 2018, Handley had largely abandoned. Wanting to increase the quality of her messaging, Handley started her email renaissance and began writing a biweekly newsletter.

Total Annarchy serves a larger purpose than just another marketing channel, however. Ultimately, Handley understands the value of an engaged email list. She connects with people who want a professional guide and a real person they can support. Email is one of the top sources for influential information, and Handley knows this:

Email is the only place where people (not algorithms) are in charge. — Ann Handley at Content Marketing World 2018

Because of this, Total Annarchy features anecdotes, writing tips, trends, and media recommendations. But the messages are far from scattered. Handley utilizes a classic formula to engage readers: introducing her content with a personal hook, then segueing into a broader, actionable point.

Each issue of Total Annarchy then wraps up with related recommendations and event updates. Twice a month, readers can learn about one of their favorite marketers, discover applicable tips, and plan for future events.

How it started:

When did Total Annarchy begin? There are a few answers to that question. You could say it began in 2013, when Handley began writing an email newsletter.

On the other hand, you might cite 2018 as the real beginning of the newsletter, since Handley revamped her emails and focus for the project. But perhaps the beginnings of Total Annarchy start long before 2018 or 2013 (with slightly more romantic roots).

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Above is an excerpt from Ann Handley’s childhood diary. She wanted to be a writer, but it took her some time to realize she needed an audience and a disciplined writing regimen. Total Annarchy is the confluence of those two factors.

As mentioned above, the newsletter began in 2013, but it served as a supplementary marketing channel rather than a newsletter. Handley wrote a few updates a year before a friend contacted her and said, “Hey, what gives?”

In other words, why wasn’t Handley writing more? After all, didn’t her business focus on communicative content and engagement?

This question was the catalyst Handley needed, because it reminded her how much she missed having a direct line with followers. She wanted to do more than reach people. She wanted to resonate with them, too.

Now subscribers have an efficient line of communication with Handley, and they have clear expectations when signing up for Total Annarchy. Subscribers can expect to receive two educational, personally relevant emails a month.

Who it targets:

While this newsletter may seem tailor-made for writers, it actually seeks to appeal to a broader audience. According to Handley, the emails are written for those who “share [her] love of writing and books, but also marketing, content, and business.”

If you’re looking for frequent, scannable content, Handley’s newsletters may be less appealing than, say, her Twitter. These emails are written like in-depth lessons, making them ideal for self-educators. And unlike social media feeds, these newsletters are the content, rather than just supplementary.

While Handley links to related mediums, her newsletters are individually-told stories, and each one has an actionable thesis.

So, even if you’re not an essayist or journalist, Total Annarchy can assist you as you hone your professional skills, using a combination of digestible tips and content. Best of all, the newsletters are sent at a palatable twice a month, so you’re unlikely to be overwhelmed by send-frequency.

What you can learn from it:

Total Annarchy is an excellent read for both newsletter readers and email marketers. Here’s why:

As a reader

While statistics show the effective nature of email marketing, virtually nothing compares to word-of-mouth recommendations. Handley uses both marketing strategies in her newsletters.

By providing links to the media currently inspiring her, readers gain access to reliable, quality recommendations through email. In this case, good content breeds even more good content.

Plus, if you simply enjoy good storytelling, Handley delivers. Her messages often include firsthand stories to further illustrate her arguments. These insights into Handley’s life ensure Total Annarchy is never dry or impersonal.

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As a marketer

As a marketer, there’s no shortage of lessons to learn from this newsletter. Aside from usable advice and long-form content, Handley has an incredible understanding of voice.

In marketing, it’s critical to achieve a clear, individual persona—whether it’s for your brand or as a professional. Handley’s writing is fresh, fluid, easy-to-read, and most importantly, interesting.

Consider how you can use content to develop your own persona. How can you align educational information with personal experiences for your messaging? Total Annarchy cleverly illustrates how marketing and personal content can coincide, benefitting both marketers and customers.

Wrap up

Total Annarchy dates back to 2013, but its 2018 makeover transformed it into the esteemed newsletter it is now. Marketers, writers, and professionals utilize Handley’s free, educational content to improve their skill-sets.

Are you thinking about building a newsletter? Already have one? If so, consider how you can incorporate some of the tactics used by Total Annarchy into your own work.

Want to see your favorite newsletter listed here? Tell us in the comments below. Or start your own newsletter by signing up with Campaign Monitor today.

This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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