Article #76, December, 2008
Create Your Newsletter in Phases!
Do you ever get overwhelmed thinking about starting an email newsletter? You don't even know where to start, so you never do?
It is not as difficult as it seems. The trick is to break the big project into several smaller phases. Here are the smaller phases to consider:
If you think about doing all of this at once, you will have a difficult time focusing, so just concentrate on one phase at a time. For education, you can read fr'ee articles, ebooks and websites, and take fr'ee teleclasses. You can do all of this without leaving your computer.
One area you will want to learn a lot about is different options for content. Before you begin and throughout the process, every time you start to feel stressed, tell yourself that you do not want to put all kinds of content in your newsletter! It will be way too long if you try.
Here are some options for content you should investigate:
- articles, around 500 words or less and do not have to be written by you
- top 5 or top 10 lists, 3 Keys, etc.
- advice column (Dear Coach,...)
- book reviews
- interviews of experts
- resources you recommend, like websites, information products or services
- before and afters, could be pictures of your work
- monthly or weekly promotions or specials
- recipes, only if applicable to your business
- case studies, your clients' or others' clients
Of course, there are many other options for content, but these are all fairly popular. During your education project, just learn about everything without judgment. You will make your decisions later. However, you should begin thinking about how you feel about the different options. Are there any that you are excited about?
NOTE: If you write your own articles, be sure to write them in such a way that you could use them for other purposes, like posting on article databases to promote your business, or packaging together into products later.
You also need to learn about the technical aspects of doing an email newsletter (by the way, also referred to as an ezine). If you jump in and begin sending out your newsletter without understanding the options for sending and the spam rules, you could hurt your reputation on the web.
You will want to learn about single vs. double opt-in, unsubscribe and other CANN SPAM rules. For example, did you know you are required to have an actual address in every mass email you send?
If you are not following the rules, more and more people will report you as a spammer, even if you are not. This can get you on a blacklist, and it can be difficult to get off the lists with all the ISPs and spam blockers.
Research comes next. I recommend you sign up for a few newsletters published by your competition (only the successful ones) and a few marketing experts, to see the content and execution in action.
You can also see how they are sending out their newsletters. I highly recommend against sending it out yourself. You should use a service, and I do recommend double opt-in, especially if you plan to grow your list over time. See who the experts use, then research who is best and who fits with your goals.
Expect the execution phase to take longer than you expect! Once you have signed up for a service, give yourself time to go through the tutorials and training materials offered by the service, then it will take awhile to put together your first one.
Be patient with yourself. It takes time to get the hang of this. It is really like completing 3 projects, so give yourself enough time and space to learn and research. The email newsletter is one of the best ways to keep in touch with your prospects and clients for very little investment.