Prepare Yourself for E-Newsletter Success

When embarking on creating an e-newsletter, you plan a lot of things: the editorial content, graphic design, database, and email service provider.

But in creating my own e-newsletter recently, I forgot to plan for one thing: success! On Tuesday morning at 11:30 a.m., I hit “send.” And for the rest of the day, my email inbox was inundated with congratulations messages from clients, friends, and even ClickZ readers who I’ve never met! The phone rang off the hook. Now, I’m up to my ears in new work beyond my already full writing schedule.

Not a bad problem to have! But I do see how I might have planned for this phase of my e-newsletter process a little better. I could have staggered the broadcast over a few days, or even a few weeks, for example, to better service all the requests for samples, proposals, and meetings.

Of course, I don’t anticipate the reception to subsequent e-newsletter issues will be this effusive. But it’s a promising beginning.

Now, I’d like to share one of several unspoken challenges in creating an e-newsletter that may be keeping you back from creating yours: the dreaded headshot.

No one likes to have a headshot done. Because most people only have this done once or twice in their career, there’s not a huge “knowledge base” about how to go about doing it.

For me, it brought up the usual horrors. A few years ago, I’d gone to one of those inexpensive headshot photographers who take pictures of aspiring actors. Well, for $99, I got what I paid for; a completely unusable photo, and a fear of ever being photographed again.

I knew a photo would give both my Web site and e-newsletter a more personal touch and enhance my “brand recognition” at networking events and conferences. It also helps when you meet a prospect or new colleague for the first time at a restaurant for them to be able to conduct a search for you in advance and see what you look like.

So this time, I took a different approach. I looked around my colleagues’ Web sites and requested recommendations for their photographers. I hit the jackpot when I got a referral to Denise Winters.

Denise is a pro at making a 40-something working mom like me feel comfortable. One approach that really did the trick was to take photographs on the street outside her studio. While it felt awkward to be posing on the streets of Second Avenue in Manhattan like a wannabe middle-aged model, the effect was more natural than a standard studio shot.

Here’s another perk of having a head shot taken in 2005 vs. 1995. It was all done digitally. I could see the photographs on Denise’s computer screen immediately, and take them home on a CD to review.

It also took the tension out of trying to find the “perfect” picture. Denise continually reminded me she could fix practically anything. That proved true. In looking at the photos, we found I squinted with one eye in a lot of the best pictures. Denise reassured me, “Don’t worry – I’ll just pop in an eye from one of your other photos.” I felt like the Bionic Woman — part real, part digital — but it really helped to have a little “work done.”

Another investment, besides the higher cost of a professional photo shoot, was buying the right outfit to wear for the photograph. In the ideal world, we’d all have a closet full of immensely wearable clothes for every photo op. I had to do a little shopping to find something that would help me telegraph the image I sought to portray; creative, professional and approachable, in a photo the size of a postage stamp.

Of course, if you’re one of those naturally photogenic business people who greet the opportunity to get a headshot with casual aplomb, these preparations (and my preoccupations) may seem excessively neurotic. But I have a feeling from talking to gal pals and colleagues that this is one of those unspoken impediments that keeps a lot of people from promoting themselves online.

If I can do it, you can, too. Try to get past the angst, and create an online presence that will enhance your bottom-line.

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