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Publishing Your Own Newsletter: Part 7

  |  November 14, 2001   |  Comments

In the seventh part of a multi-part series on how to publish your own newsletter, Alexis Gutzman discusses five must-haves for a successful newsletter, and how to find content.

Part of running a successful business is knowing what to do yourself, what to hire others to do, and what to outsource altogether. Payroll is an obvious candidate for outsourcing. Perhaps somewhere in the last six parts of this series, you decided that, while you really would like to publish a newsletter, you simply don’t have the cycles free to do it in-house.

For more information about publishing your own newsletter, check out these other articles from Alexis Gutzman’s ongoing weekly series:

Publishing Your Own Newsletter
Alexis Gutzman gives an in-depth walk-through on how to start your own newsletter. Part one of a multi-part series.

Publishing Your Own Newsletter: Part 2
The second part of a multi-part series on how to publish your own newsletter, Alexis Gutzman discusses how to clean up and perfect your email list.

Publishing Your Own Newsletter: Part 3
Alexis Gutzman discusses the pros and cons of sending HTML vs. plain-text versions of a newsletter, and how to know which one is right for you.

Publishing Your Own Newsletter: Part 4
The fourth part of a multi-part series on how to publish your own newsletter, Alexis Gutzman discusses the ins and outs of designing your newsletter.

Publishing Your Own Newsletter: Part 5
Alexis Gutzman reviews four newsletter-mailing solutions and discusses the finer points of creating and sending a professional newsletter.

Publishing Your Own Newsletter: Part 6
Alexis Gutzman outlines the features to look for when selecting a newsletter service.

Publishing Your Own Newsletter: Part 7
The seventh part of a multi-part series on how to publish your own newsletter, Alexis Gutzman discusses five must-haves for a successful newsletter and how to find content.

Publishing Your Own Newsletter: Part 8
Alexis Gutzman discusses how to manage undeliverable email messages, and the importance of keeping your lists clean.

Five Must-Haves for a Successful Newsletter
Even if you decide to outsource your newsletter, you’ll still have to handle many of the functions yourself. A successful newsletter requires all of the following:

  • A purpose for the newsletter. What will you provide via your newsletter, other than your weekly specials?
  • A voice. Who will be talking to your subscribers? The voice of Corporate America is not all that appealing. Personalize it by creating a likeable voice that will speak to your subscribers. Notice right now, that I’m not giving you advice in the abstract, I’m talking with you about this process. Don’t have your newsletter talk at the recipients, have it talk to them.
  • Constant promotion. Rare, indeed, is the newsletter that grows on its own. If you decide to publish a newsletter, you’ll need to promote it everywhere your business is promoted. Add its name to your signature file. Offer people a way to subscribe "above the fold" on your home page and any other pages that search engines rank highly.
  • Content. What will you say on the theme of your newsletter each week (or whatever interval you publish)? You’ll need consistent, high-quality content that recipients can’t get anywhere else or aren’t likely to come across elsewhere.
  • Distribution. How will you distribute your newsletter? Parts 5 and 6 of this series covered this in detail.

Of the five must-haves I listed above, only the last two really lend themselves to outsourcing.

Finding Content Providers
There are many places you can look to find people willing to create content and distribute it for you. I heard from a reader from India who runs Ezynes.com. For a price you won’t match in the U.S., they’ll write the content and do the distribution, or just write the content. For whatever market you’re publishing, make sure the content rings true and sounds like it was written by a native speaker. That is one thing that impressed me about the samples this reader sent me. There was no discernable foreign intonation.

You can also look for writers at eMarketplaces such as eLance.com and Guru.com. Be sure to check references and writing samples. Make sure that the person or company whose services you enlist is able to meet your deadlines and speak with the voice that you want to convey. If you work with a company, get a guarantee that you’ll work with the same writer every time. This way, you’ll avoid having to train several writers in your voice.

If you continually see the type of content you’d like to provide on a news and information site such as internet.com, see if you can syndicate the content. One good thing about syndication is that you’re sure the content will be high quality. That’s one of the big "ifs" when outsourcing.

Content Expertise
Another place to look for writers is among content experts. To whom do you look for expertise in your field? Contact them and see if you can’t arrange some combination of pay and barter in exchange for frequent contributions. You will likely pay more than if you obtained a writer from eLance.com or Guru.com, but you will also be far more likely to get content that your readers will be willing to open, read, print, and forward.

There is so much information available for free on the Web that yours will need to stand out both in terms of quality and in terms of relevance to keep from being deleted before being read. Tune in for Part 8, which will cover tracking who is reading your newsletters.

Alexis D. Gutzman is an author, speaker, and consultant on e-business and e-commerce topics. She’s the producer of The Online Marketing Report. Her most recent book, The E-commerce Arsenal: 12 Technologies You Need to Prevail in the Digital Arena, was named one of the 30 best business books of this year. For up-to-date information about her research and speaking engagements, visit The Alexis Gutzman Group’s Web site.

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Goodman is founder and President of Toronto-based Page Zero Media, a full-service marketing agency founded in 2000. Page Zero focuses on paid search campaigns as well as a variety of custom digital marketing programs. Clients include Direct Energy, Canon, MIT, BLR, and a host of others. He is also co-founder of Traffick.com, an award-winning industry commentary site; author of Winning Results with Google AdWords (McGraw-Hill, 2nd ed., 2008); and frequently quoted in the business press. In recent years he has acted as program chair for the SES Toronto conference and all told, has spoken or moderated at countless SES events since 2002. His spare time eccentricities include rollerblading without kneepads and naming his Japanese maples. Also in his spare time, he co-founded HomeStars, a consumer review site with aspirations to become "the TripAdvisor for home improvement." He lives in Toronto with his wife Carolyn.

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