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Friday, January 6, 2012

Tips to Success for Writing Great Newsletters and Building a Profitable List

Have you been thinking about how to write your own newsletter, but find yourself stumped about choosing layouts, formats and design ideas? Many people looking to build a targeted list want to make their own newsletter, but need some direction when it comes creating business, classroom, personal or internet marketing newsletters. This article will help you with tips and examples of what to do and what not to do as a newbie newsletter or e-journal publisher eager to build subscribers.

1. Determine design and layout

The first thing you need to determine is the design and layout. If you're moving from a print-only newsletter, it's very important that you don't lose your branding, i.e., you need to keep most of the colors and font styles that your readers are already comfortable with. The key is to not lose your existing identity.

If this is a first time effort for you, then of course, you are open to many options. Don't torture yourself with design decisions. Practice the KISS principle and keep it simple. Look around at newsletter directories for subjects similar to yours and create a "swipe file" in your favorites. Copy these sites into that folder for future reference and come up with ideas for your own unique style.

2. Don't get carried away with slow loading graphics

Be considerate of your visitors with slow Internet connections and keep graphics to a minimum.

3. Choose colors carefully

Keep in mind that colors in printed materials may appear unattractive and may even distract your readers focus when viewed on screen. Be careful here; strive for a consistent appearance on all your business communications. Always use existing logos when possible.

4. Email newsletter line lengths should be kept at a minimum

Be aware of line lengths and watch for the "disappearing end of line" (this could happen in both email and web newsletters). Make sure you accommodate small screens when formatting paragraphs. It's a good idea to go to your file menu and choose "View In" and test the appearance for all resolutions.

Plain-text, email-only newsletters force you to limit your design options. However, limited layout doesn't have to mean lousy layout. Email newsletters can benefit from even the most rudimentary graphic design: use spaces or other devices to separate articles; break articles up into easy-to-absorb paragraphs.

5. Always Test

Don't be lazy. Before sending out your email newsletter, ALWAYS send yourself a copy. See what your readers see... make final adjustments to line lengths and/or line breaks.

6. Practice using these basic elements in each issue:
  • title
  • date and/or number
  • masthead or contact information
  • ISSN
  • how to subscribe and unsubscribe
  • table of contents
  • copyright statement
7. Don't forget to write it right

When writing, editing, and proofreading you should, at the very minimum... have someone else to proofread copy for typos and clarity.

Will you have an editorial board or are you on your own? At the very minimum, understand how writing for the web/email differs from writing for print.

8. How to publicize your newsletter and get subscribers

This isn't rocket science, but it is something that involves a lot of time and effort. So what can you do to bring in subscribers? Use web resources like DIGG, UTube, Article Dashboard and GOArticles to bring relevant traffic. Write articles on your newsletter subject and submit to several of the top known directories. Use Web 2.0 sites like DIGG and StumbleUpon to post your URL. Use Blog resources like Blogster and Squidoo to get the word out.

It's not likely you can purchase a targeted relevant list of email addresses to get you started. Unfortunately there's a lot of controversy about these internet lists and you certainly don't want to be accused of SPAM.

You should advertise your newsletter in print publications in and outside your community. And one commonly overlooked tip is to see if you can get other electronic newsletter publishers (related fields) to mention your newsletter. It's wise to have you own short, ready-to-use announcement. It makes it a lot simpler to include into their publication.

9. Manage your circulation

If you don't have one already, make up your own Privacy Statement. Your readers will want to be sure their name and email are protected.

Determine if your newsletter is going to be on a membership (closed) or open basis. Do you want any and everyone to join, or do you want a more targeted group to receive your newsletter?

Keep your subscriber list clean and up-to-date. "Bouncing" email comes with the territory, so be prepared to clean up the subscriber list regularly. Some list management software will perform periodic "probes" for inactive email addresses and notify you of inactive or duplicate email addresses.

10. Include as much contact information as possible:
  •  name of the editor or other contact person
  •  email address, postal address, telephone number, fax number, etc.
When subscribers give you feedback: , don't take subscriber "flames" personally, but do try to acknowledge and respond to reader suggestions. It a sound practice to let your readers know if you accept reader contributions and what sorts of contributions you look for. Be specific and include a contribution statement in each newsletter issue.

This last word of advice is most probably the very thing most newsletter publishers have trouble with. It can be the deciding factor to whether a visitor subscribes and whether readers unsubscribe. No it not content, although a boring newsletter won't keep anyone's attention.

In an instant a potential member or reader can vanish into CyberSpace in a nano-second. It has more to do than just how to write a good newsletter. Basically it's how well your newsletter looks the second someone visits and subscribes. If, when they receive it, and it appears unprofessional or, they are easily distracted by the colors and the format... they're gone. Bye! Adios! When you decide to make your own newsletter, you should consider professional HTML and MS Word templates.

When shopping for a good newsletter template, it important to keep in mind that free is free and does not necessarily equate to quality. It really doesn't matter if it's your business, school classroom or even a Christmas newsletter template, for less than a Red Lobster dinner, you can keep your readers interest and focus with quality professional templates. They will make a huge difference in the way your newsletter is perceived.

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