Search
Close this search box.

Why I Don't Write Long Emails

And would rather not receive them either

 

“Writers must therefore constantly ask: what am I trying to say? […] Then they must look at what they have written and ask: have I said it?[…] Examine every word you put on paper. You’ll find a surprising number that don’t serve any purpose.” — William Zinsser, “On Writing Well”

I think the same applies to email writing.

I receive so many emails every day from newsletters, colleagues, friends and strangers. I usually don’t want to spend more than a few seconds reading them and assume other people feel the same way.

That’s why I try to make my emails as concise as possible. 

I assume people have only 30 seconds to give me while they’re visiting their inboxes, and want my recipients to feel as grateful as I feel when I receive a short, succinct, to-the-point message.

Some people out there are great at writing short emails. 

Others are not.

3 Email Senders I Like and 1 I Don’t

I love being emailed by Henneke from Enchanting Marketing.

Henneke doesn’t tell me a 1500-word story thinking I’m automatically interested in it because I subscribed to her newsletter. Instead, she writes a few lines to raise my interest and then leaves a couple of links in case I want to continue listening to her.

I like that a lot. 

I also like receiving George Kao’s and Derek Sivers’ emails for the same reason.

But aren’t people supposed to be interested in what you have to tell them if they’ve subscribed to your newsletter?

I wouldn’t make that assumption.

A while ago I subscribed to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s email list. I wanted to hear from him. But when a newsletter is 5695 words (I’m not joking) you could be the most interesting person in the world but, no, I’m sorry. 

Usually, if I unsubscribe, it’s because emails are too long (or because I get bombarded after I sign up). 

Keep in mind, though, that I’m not an email marketing specialist. I just don’t see newsletters as tools to send valuable content. Rather, I view them as round-up summaries that tell the reader about what articles I wrote during the week or what podcast episodes I published. 

I also use them to ask questions and inform my subscribers about what courses or services I’m offering (if I’m offering any).

You may view newsletters differently — and that’s okay 🙂

What I Do to Make My Emails Short

It’s simple: I edit them. That’s all. Whether I’m emailing a colleague, a friend or a subscriber, I think spending a couple of minutes editing my message is worth it. 

No one has ever thanked me for that. But I’m not doing this to be thanked. I’m doing it because inboxes are crowded and I don’t think they’re the right place to sit down with a cup of tea and read stuff.

Blogs, newspapers, magazines and books are — not email inboxes.

But I also understand that people are busy and don’t have time to write short emails, especially if they’re working.

Succinct writing requires time. 

So I’m not blaming anyone except for Arnold.

***

 

Thanks for reading. You can check a recent email I sent to my 265 subscribers. You can join my private email list for more succinct emails too.

Click on my glass of beer to sign up for Better Writers, my weekly newsletter for online writers who speak English as a second language. I share writing tips, insights, and resources to help you do one thing: become a better writer.