How to Create a Newsletter to Publicize Your Online Business - dummies

How to Create a Newsletter to Publicize Your Online Business

By Greg Holden

After you do your planning, the actual steps involved in creating your online business newsletter are pretty straightforward. Because you’re just starting out, you should concentrate on producing only a plain-text version of your newsletter. Later on, you can think about doing an HTML version as well.

People like receiving inside tips and suggestions in plain text; they’re happy that they don’t have to wait for graphics files to download. On the other hand, a simple layout with colors and small photos can work well. It’s a standard layout provided by the e-mail marketing service Constant Contact.

Before you do anything, check with your ISP to make sure that you’re permitted to have a mailing-list publication. Even if your newsletter consists of a simple announcement that you send only once in a while (in contrast to a discussion list, which operates pretty much constantly), you’ll be sending a lot more e-mail messages through your ISP’s machines than you otherwise would.

Keep the size of your newsletters small; about 30KB is the biggest e-mail file you can comfortably send. If you absolutely must have a larger newsletter, break it into two or three separate e-mail messages. Reducing the file size of your newsletter keeps your readers from getting irritated about how long your message takes to download or open.

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When you’re all set with the prep work, follow these general steps for an overview of how to create and distribute your publication:

  1. Open a plain-text editor, such as Notepad (Windows) or SimpleText (Mac).

  2. Start typing.

    Just because your newsletter is in plain text doesn’t mean that you can’t spice it up. Consider the following low-tech suggestions for emphasizing text or separating one section from another:

    • All caps: Using ALL CAPITAL LETTERS is always useful for distinguishing the name of the newsletter or heads from subheads.

    • Rules: You can create horizontal rules by typing a row of equal signs, hyphens, or asterisks to separate sections.

    • Blank spaces: Used carefully, that lowly spacebar on your keyboard can help you center plain text or divide it into columns.

    Be sure to proofread the whole newsletter before sending it. Better yet, ask an objective viewer to read the text for you. Ask him or her to make suggestions on content, organization, and format, as well as to look for typos.

  3. Save your file.

  4. Open your e-mail program’s address book, select the mailing list of recipients, and compose a new message to them.

  5. Attach your newsletter to the message or paste it into the body of the message, and click Send.

If you’re sending many e-mail messages simultaneously, be sure to do your mailing at a time when Internet traffic isn’t heavy. Many popular newsletters, such as eWeek News, go out on weekends, for example. Other e-commerce providers, such as 1ShoppingCart.com.

Don’t flood your Internet service provider’s mail server with hundreds or thousands of messages at one time; you may crash the server. Break the list into smaller batches and send them at different times.

Be sure to mention your newsletter on your web page and provide an e-mail address where people can subscribe to it. In the beginning, you can ask people to send subscription requests to you. If your list swells to hundreds of members, consider automated mailing-list software or a mailing-list service to manage your list.