Writing and publishing a newsletter is one of the most satisfying ways to promote your business, get involved in your community, or exercise those creative muscles. Imagine it: you are at the helm of your very own publication, organizing the content, calling all the shots. Sounds great, right?
It is great, but be forewarned: writing and publishing a newsletter takes a lot of work. You need to coordinate many things. Producing a newsletter can overwhelm even the most seasoned writers and business professionals. The following tips will help you organize and get your first issue out without problems.
Plan the Format
You need to decide the format of your newsletter. How many pages will it be? How often will you publish it? Will you use spiral binding, perfect binding, or simple staples? Will you accept ads; if so, how many? Will you publish your newsletter in full-color or black ink on white paper?
Typically, smaller newsletters run less than 20 pages with the text divided into four columns per page (except for headlines, pictures, and ads, of course); they’re usually one or four colors, printed on both sides, and stapled. This is the most cost-effective way to produce a newsletter, but don’t be afraid to get creative! There are no set rules for newsletter formatting; as long as it’s readable, you’ve got little limitation.
Plan the Content
Ah, the good part. Written content is the meat of your newsletter, so take time to plan it carefully. Will you report mainly news or include feature articles as well? Will the content be thematic or will you divide content into departments? What about advice columns or other regular material? There are no steadfast rules here, so get as creative as you want. Always make sure to include timely, interesting pieces. This will keep your readers engaged; the term “newsletter,” after all, does indicate some devotion to the news.
Understand your Audience
Your core readership and their interests will dictate your content and writing style. Take some time to think about your target demographic. How old are they? What is their income level? Where do they live? Do they have kids? What are their main interests? Then, glance at some publications with the same general demographic. Take a cue from their content and writing style. Really consider what your readers want to read, what you’d want to read if you were them. If you’re not catering to your audience, you’ll have no audience at all.
Sure, you may harbor grand dreams of producing every part of your newsletter all by yourself, but let’s face it: that’s a whole lot of work for just one person. Strongly consider getting others involved. Many writers, editors, and designers are willing to help in exchange for, say, ad space or a byline. You can even ask for submissions in your first issue; just be sure that every piece you approve fits your newsletter’s style.