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What are evergreen email sequences?

Kristian Freeman
Kristian Freeman

In my last blog post, I wrote about a few tips for making the process of writing a weekly newsletter easier. In this blog post, I'd like to present a totally different idea of how a weekly newsletter could look: one where you aren't sitting down every Monday night writing emails, or coming up with fresh content every. single. week.

The answer? Email sequences. Specifically, a technique I first heard about from Joel Hooks, founder of – evergreen email sequences.

🌲 Shadow Newsletter for Evergreen Emails in ConvertKit
For years I spent immense amounts of effort broadcasting one-off emails to to my newsletter. Millions of them! This is fine, a broadcast does the job of delivering your emails to the eager recipients at the other end of the wire. Mission…

The idea is fairly simple: instead of writing a new email from scratch every week, create a sequence of high quality emails that are sent out on a recurring schedule, and when a new subscriber joins, just start them at the beginning of the sequence.

Of course, you need a platform that supports sequences. My platform of choice for emails like this (as it is for Joel, and many others) is ConvertKit. Using ConvertKit's built-in sequences feature, you can even keep people in a sequence when you run out of emails!

To show you how to do this, I'll create a new sequence in ConvertKit called "Evergreen Newsletter". Inside of the sequence, I'll set up two initial emails: one, an introductory email to send immediately when a new subscriber joins, and second, an "end of time" email that will sit at the end of the sequence, often scheduled for a unrealistically distant point in the future, like 9999999 days. This email will indicate that a user hasn't completed a sequence, so even if ConvertKit runs out of things to send to the subscriber, it'll happily keep them in the sequence, waiting for the next time you do have something to say.

Practically, evergreen email sequences are a really good way to keep people invested in a project or in your list even if you aren't churning out "greatest of all-time" content on a weekly basis. You can fill up an evergreen sequence by simply picking your best work in the past, like blog posts or free resources, and dedicate an email to each of them. An added benefit of doing this over being on the hook for a weekly email is by the time a subscriber gets caught up with your most recent work, they're far more likely to be acquainted with all of your past work as well – neat!

There are particular situations where evergreen newsletters are harder to pull off. If you run a newsletter based around timely, weekly content, you may find that it's super hard to take an email and essentially freeze it in time. My weekly newsletter, Bytesized Weekly, has this exact problem – as a weekly software development newsletter, it's very possible (and common) that something I'm writing in this week's issue will be completely out-of-date in a year. I still haven't cracked the nut of how to do this with my own newsletters, but I see a ton of people very successfully running evergreen newsletters: Chris Biscardi's is one of these, where I can distinctly remember the content of many of his emails (his most recent on running Discord communities was super interesting) and, from his perspective, I can imagine that it's a fairly "set it and forget it" process.

Have you successfully deployed evergreen newsletter sequences? Want to figure out how to do it with other tools besides ConvertKit? Come join us in the Mailing List Hackers Discord, where we chat about this stuff and dive deep into the day-to-day of running and growing mailing lists, by becoming a member here!

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Kristian Freeman

I'm a programmer and writer — I also founded Mailing List Hackers! I love to teach, write, and make stuff online.