Building a Successful Email Newsletter

"Starting an e-zine" is widely touted as one of the best ways to build an audience on the Internet. Another method that's often recommended is to write articles and offer them as free content to e-zine publishers.

In principle, I agree with both of these recommendations. However, it's getting harder and harder for an email newsletter to get noticed because of the constant stream of new entrants. In addition, busy Net users and business people are hesitant to sign up for e-zines, because so many of them are of poor quality -- mostly made up of badly written free articles and thinly-disguised sales pitches.

If you're planning on starting an e-zine, I recommend the following:

1. Think of an e-zine as a way to serve your audience on the Internet and build a trusting relationship with them, not as a forum for pitching your products or services.

2. Choose a clearly-defined and specific niche.

3. Let your first priority be to offer real value to the reader through good-quality content.

4. Make a clear distinction between editorial content and advertising in the format of your e-zine.

5. Build your e-zine list on an opt-in basis only. Don't sign people up without their permission.

6. Be selective in accepting articles from outside writers. Prefer to pay money for a good article rather than to take a bad article for free.

7. Develop a thorough editorial process. Line-edit every article to eliminate typos, poor grammar, and vague and confusing passages. Also, do a good job of content editing, to make sure that you are publishing coherent, well-structured articles.

8. Commit yourself to a regular publishing schedule.

9. Exercise patience, recognizing that positive results may be long in coming.

10. Be prepared to spend time and money to promote your e-zine and build readership.

Understanding the request form...

  • What are you selling: Most email campaigns are selling a product or service. Name that product and/or service in this field. (for example: security services, accounting software)
  • Target Market: Name here who you see as the market or potential buyers of your product/service. (for example: home owners, accountants)
  • Size of your mailing: How many emails do you plan to send -- this will affect your potential revenue and cost. (for example: 100,000 to 250,000)
  • Your Time Frame: When do you plan to do your mailing? (for example: mailing within one month)
  • Campaign Details: Give a more complete description of what you are planning. (for example: I plan to do 3 sequential mailings to homeowners in New Jersey in order to sell a new security system.)
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