How To Publish Your Own Newsletter
I get a lot of requests for information on how to set up and operate a newsletter.
This article is intended to help those of you who are interested in running your own
newsletter get it started.
Before you begin working on your newsletter, you need to consider why you want to go
through the trouble of publishing one. With smaller newsletters, your objective should
be to promote yourself and your product and/or services. Do not plan on making money
off the advertisements. However, you can give away free ads to attract subscribers. More
on this later. Do not think you are going to get a lot of business of a newsletter with
100, 500 or even 1,000 subscribers. But as your newsletter grows it will eventually
start producing for you.
The most common format for newsletters is plain text. The reason is that many e-mail
reader programs can not handle HTML or other special formatting. For example, if you are
an AOL subscriber and you use fonts, centering, colors, and different font sizes in
your newsletter, and send it to people who are not on AOL, the non-AOL subscribers will
receive only the text and not the special formatting. And it will probably be very messy
looking. If you want everyone to be able to read your newsletter, you should keep it
plain text. There are some ways around this that we will discuss later.
The first thing you need to do is to decide on a topic. This should be a topic that
interests you. Publishing a newsletter is work, and you will do best doing something
you enjoy. Just because you are marketing, for example, shampoo does not mean you can
not do a newsletter on cooking or fishing. Cooks and fishermen wash their hair too. You
will just have to work a little harder at relating your product or service to the topic
of your newsletter.
Once you decide on a topic, you should subscribe to several newsletters dealing with
that topic. Read a few issues of these newsletter and pay close attention to how they
are laid out, what is discussed, and what is offered. Your best education will come
from observing others.
Once you have your topic, you must then decide how you are going to lay-out your
newsletter. You should make a rough draft of the contents of each issue. My lay-out is
usually something like this:
Third Article or Special Section
Each of the above is usually separated by some kind of separator and an advertisement.
Your next step is to go ahead and put together a test newsletter just as if you were
going to actually mail it out. You do not need real articles or real ads, just make
something up to go in those areas. For separators between sections of your newsletter
use hyphens, pound signs, or most any other character you see on your keyboard.
You need no special software to write your newsletter with. I use Notepad which comes
with every Windows operating system. In fact, you should not use Microsoft Word, Word
Perfect, or any of the other popular word processors. Word processors usually do not
space your characters properly for newsletter publishing.
Each line of your newsletter should be either 60 or 65 characters in width. With word
processors, two 65 character lines might not be the same width. Give it a try with
yours. Type copy and paste the two following lines into your word processor and you
will see one will be longer than the other even though they both contain 30 characters.
By the way, the AOL mail reader works like a word processor, so these two lines will
not be the same length for AOL users either. If you prefer to use your word processor
instead of Notepad, you can. You will have to play with the fonts and the margins to
get a properly formatted newsletter.