Writing for an e-newsletter

I’ve been hosting a monthly e-newsletter for the IT team since 2006.  Anyone who’s tried to put together a newsletter soon realizes that content is a lot harder to come by than you think.  Most people probably give up after 3 or 4 issues out.  It’s not as simple as telling other people “create copy by this date” and then expecting it to all come together.

Here are some very simple guidelines to follow that will help:

* create a schedule of topic ideas for at least a year in advance

* track the content you have actually published so you don’t duplicate articles or topics

* be consistent on your delivery dates … if it’s always the first week of the month, make sure it happens then so your readers know its coming as promised

* keep a file of articles that pertain to upcoming topics

* don’t mess around with your design once you have it published unless it’s very subtle changes or it’s a total overhaul

* keep the newsletters archived in one spot on a website and publish that link as often as you can and always in your newsletter

WRITING

* keep your audience in mind, don’t write to impress — this should be all about normal dialog

* write in the same vocabulary that you use in every day speak

* be factual and always request permission for anything you are “borrowing” or want to quote, most people are very happy to share their materials as long as you credit properly

* don’t go on and on and on … 600-700 words is a great length for any article and you can always have part 2 in a future issue

We purchase a “content” service at work and I write the periphery and usually the lead in article only.  This service is built for IT companies and provided by Heartland Technologies.  The service is called “IT NEWS for YOU,”  http://heartlandtechnologies.com/enewsletters

Check out the examples of our company e-newsletter at http://perryprotech.com/news/archived-newsletters

If you commit to doing a newsletter (and it really is a great and inexpensive method of staying in touch with your customer base), create a plan, set aside the time you’ll need, engage people or services that understand your business for content and execution, track topics for each issue and then do it as planned.  Have fun!

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