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.
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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:

* Editors Corner
* Article One
* Classified Ads
* Article Two
* Third Article or Special Section
* Subscription Information
* Legal Information

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.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

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.

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