It seems like everyone and
his dog is publishing an e-zine these days, and from what We've seen, the
dog's may be better than most. So why -- if there are so many e-zines out
there -- do you need to publish one? The answer is simple: If you have a Web
site where you are selling goods and/or services you need to establish an
opt-in list of visitors to your site.
The majority of people who
visit your site won't buy from you the first time, but by offering them a
chance to sign up for your e-zine you get a chance to extend your
communication with them, establish a relationship and possibly turn them
into a customer sometime down the road.
Right about now you're
scratching your head saying to yourself "But I don't know the first thing
about publishing a newsletter; where do I start?" That's where We come in.
We are going to lead you down the primrose path and show you exactly what
you need to do and just how to do it.
Step No. 1
The first step is to decide
on a title for your new e-zine. You may want to incorporate your business
name into it or choose something related to its theme. For example, if your
company name was "Bob's Automotive" you may choose something like "Bob's
Automotive Press." Speaking of themes, your e-zine's theme needs to relate
to your site. If your site is a pet supply store then your e-zine should be
on animal care and tips, or training. If your site sells your services as an
online marketing consultant, your e-zine should center on teaching people
how to market and promote their own Web sites.
Step No. 2
Now that you have an e-zine
name and you know what the theme is, you need to decide where your
newsletter will live. This is often referred to as list management. Your
best bet is to outsource it or check with your Web host to see if it
supplies list-hosting services as part of your account. Don't think for a
minute you can manage an e-zine with just your e-mail program. A list can
grow to a substantial size and you need to prepare in advance for this from
the very beginning.
If you're trying to save
money, I'd highly recommend you sign up with one of the many free list host
services available. They work great, and make it easy for people to
subscribe and unsubscribe at will. The only trade off to using a free
service is the advertising they will place at the very top of your e-zine
for the privilege of your free account. But remember, they are hosting your
list for free so they've got to get something in return.
Here are some list hosts
you may want to try:
Yahoo Groups http://groups.yahoo.com
This is my personal
favorite and the one I use for managing all three of my e-zines. I've been
with them since the old days when they were called EGroups (before Yahoo
bought it). The service works great and is free in exchange for a banner ad
they place at the top of each issue. You can also have the ad removed for a
nominal fee. Make sure you set your list up as "moderated." This keeps
outsiders from posting to your list, which is something you'd only want if
you were setting it up for two-way discussion.
Cool List http://www.CoolList.com
Another free mailing
service similar in functionality to Yahoo Groups.
Another online leader when
it comes to list hosting. It is free to set up, offers easy step-by-step
instructions and they have excellent customer service.
Group Mail Software http://www.Infacta.com
If you are daring enough to
want to download some free software to manage your list you won't find
anything better than Group Mail. It's an excellent tool for handling and
mailing to large groups of people. There are also some free handy plug ins
you can download that will increase its versatility.
Now that you have an e-zine
name, a theme and a place for your list to live, what's next? Getting
subscribers. You need to make sure you add a subscriber sign-up box on every
page of your site to encourage sign ups. Some people resort to adding a
pop-up box, but I wouldn't as most people say they find them very annoying.
If you do decide to go the pop-up route, create one that only pops up when
the visitor exits your site.
As far as how often you
should publish, you want to shoot for two to four weeks. If you go longer
than one month between issues, your subscribers will forget who you are and
if you publish weekly it may become overkill. But whatever you do, pick a
publishing schedule and stick with it. Consistency is key. If you say your
e-zine will be published on the seventh and 23rd, then you need to do your
best to get your e-zine out on those promised dates.
Publishing an e-zine is an
essential step in any online marketing campaign. By following the simple
directions I've outlined above you'll be well on your way to building your
very own opt-in list -- and that my friend, is worth its weight in gold.
In Part 1 of this series we
discussed how to start your own newsletter. Now we move on to the nitty
gritty: formatting and finding content.
Formatting Text e-zines vs.
HTML format is a highly debatable subject. At this time, most e-zine
publishers stick with text, and I strongly recommend you follow suit. Many
people are still using e-mail clients that cannot read HTML messages; others
prefer the speed, ease and security of receiving their e-zines in text
format. It is safer to use the format that is compatible with the largest
number of users.
But there are other readers
who appreciate the design quality and visual appeal of an HTML newsletter.
So what can you do to please both sides? You can always publish a text
version and include a link to an HTML version online. This is what I do and
it seems to make the majority of my subscribers happy. It does call for
twice the amount of work since you'll have to make two versions of your e-zine,
but in my opinion it's well worth the extra effort.
So what is a text e-zine?
Basically, it's just an e-mail with some special formatting applied to make
sure it's readable by everyone, no matter what e-mail client they may be
using. You'll want to stick to a fixed width font like Courier or Monaco,
and you'll need a plain text editor like Notepad or Textpad. One drawback
with Notepad is it has no built-in spell checker, so I'd advise you to
download Textpad or something similar. Many free text editors can be found
at download sites such as Jumbo.com and http://www.Download.com.
You'll need to set up a
template for your e-zine so its look will be consistent, issue after issue.
This should include your e-zine name, date and issue number at the very top,
followed by a table of contents. If you're not sure on how it should look,
you can obtain some free e-zine templates by sending mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the very end of your
newsletter template you'll want to include a paragraph on how to subscribe
and unsubscribe, copyright information and advertising information. It's
vital that you include unsubscribe information in each and every issue. Do
not hold people hostage by making it next to impossible to get off your
list, it won't be appreciated and is not only considered unprofessional, but
it could get you into real trouble with Spamcop.
When typing in your text
you need to keep your line length at 65 characters per line and hit a hard
return at the end of eachand every line. This is imperative. If you allow
the words to wrap automatically, the e-zine your readers receive may have
lines chopped off mid-sentence and will look terrible. By using the hard
return you'll be ensuring that your newsletter will be readable and
attractive in the majority of e-mail clients. Never type your e-zine in all
caps, as this is equivalent to screaming.
I highly recommend you
write at least one original article a month for your newsletter; more if you
can. It's OK to include work by others on an occasional basis or for filler,
but your e-zine will carry more weight if you take the time to write your
When you do need outside
content, here are some excellent sources:
You may also download the
free e-book "400 Articles You Can Use in Your e-zine" at
http://www.web-source.net/web/Free_Ebooks/Writing_Publishing/ You'll also
find other very handy e-books for publishers at the above site you may want
to download as well.
Another idea for getting
original articles to reprint in your e-zine is to go to Egroups and
subscribe to article announcement lists like
http://www.web-source.net/articlesub.htm They will supply you with a steady
stream of new articles you can publish on a daily basis.
Don't forget to visit this
site which is a fantastic resource for online publishers:
As you can see, there are
many online sources that exist solely for the purpose of helping e-zine
publishers succeed. With the massive amount of information available to you,
there's really no reason you haven't started your own e-zine.
In this final installment
in a three-part series on e-zine publishing, we turn to the nitty gritty of
finding subscribers and selling your valuable ad space.
Now that you have a
terrific looking e-zine and interesting content, where do you find
subscribers? I was hoping you'd ask. In order to grow your subscriber base
you'll need to promote your e-zine every chance you get.
The first thing you need to
do is include a sign-up box on each and every page of your Web site. And if
you can, offer a free sample copy by autoresponder. To set up a free
autoresponder check out www.GetResponse.com.
Some publishers swear by
pop-up boxes to increase their subscriber sign ups. If you go this route, I
encourage you to opt for the kind that pop-up upon exit, not upon entering.
You'll find some software to help you with this at
www.codelifter.com/pop5index.html or look at www.DynamicDrive.com for some
The next step is to get
your e-zine listed in as many online newsletter directories as possible.
You'll have to do your homework by searching the engines for directories
where you can add your listing for free. This is an important step because
many people look to these directories when looking for newsletters. Some of
Remember, many of these
online directories will allow you to post your ad rates as well -- a double
bonus that allows you to pick up new subscribers as well as advertisers.
Announcement lists are also
good for promoting your e-zine. Search at groups.yahoo.com for lists that
exist for the sole purpose of announcing new lists. You'll also want to
participate in online discussion boards with a good signature line that
mentions your e-zine. You'll find some great boards to post to at
Other great ways to grow
your subscriber base include swapping ads with other publishers and writing
articles to submit to other publishers for possible publication in their
e-zines. Again, a strong signature line is imperative. Try some of these
sites for swaps:
Free Software to keep track
of your swaps:
Other e-zine Publishers you
can swap ads with:
Free directory of e-zines
and other helpful resources for today's e-zine publisher:
The handbook of e-zine
EP Digest offers many
Submit your articles to:
If you don't mind paying
for opt-in subscribers you can pay a small fee for them at World Wide Lists
or try Marty Foley's List Builder Service. I've used both of the above
services extensively and they're truly remarkable for growing your list
quickly. These are opt-in list builders, not spam techniques. Make sure you
know the difference.
If you're interested in a
great e-book that will teach you how to grow your list try "Website and
Ezine Promotion Made Easy", which is not free but worth the money.
Once you reach a minimum of
1,000 subscribers you'll be able to start selling text ads. Do not include
too many ads in your newsletter or you'll lose a lot of subscribers before
you even get started. You need to make sure you're including useful content
and not just a billboard of ads, or your subscribers will be reaching for
that unsubscribe button in a hurry. It's really a balancing act, good
content with a few ads mixed in.
If you can, it's a smart
move to start collecting demographics from the very beginning. This will
give you an idea as to the types of people that subscribe to your e-zine and
will be helpful to ad buyers who will want to know what "target market" your
e-zine hits. If you set up a short form asking the basics like gender, age
and occupation, and ask new subscribers to fill it in upon subscribing,
you'll be amazed at how easy it is to actually collect this type of
Here are a few sites that
will help you to sell your available space:
Publishing an e-zine is the
most important tool you can have when it comes to promoting your Web site.
An opt-in list of people who want to hear from you on a regular basis is
priceless, and the actual process of writing your own e-zine and connecting
with people is an inspiring experience in itself. It's a genuine way of
building a sense of community around your site and opening the lines of
communication between yourself and potential clients.