Wednesday, January 10, 2007

5 Quick and Easy Business Newsletter Tips

Ok so it's no secret that you need to stay in touch with the people on your mailing list, but you have some concerns about starting a business newsletter. Will it take up too much of your time? What if you run out of things to say? Can you maintain quality over a period of time? How long should your newsletter be? Etc...?

One thing you should do, without a doubt, is to offer useful and interesting information based on the niche that your subscribers signed up for. If you run a home business opportunity website then that is what your subscribers want to know about, so don't send them gardening tips. If you don't follow that rule, you won't have your subscribers for long!

Another thing you should do is keep your newsletter fairly short. Remember that most people are flooded with many emails every day so they actually prefer something they can skim quickly and then put to use.

Spend some time thinking about the best format. You need a model that will be easy to reproduce week after week, month after month, year after year. Any one of the following five newsletter ideas will make your job much easier. Choose one and keep it as a regular format, or combine several of them. For example, you could use the "tip of the week" format for two weeks each month, then give them a "top ten" on week three, and offer a "checklist" every fourth newsletter (or any other combination you want).

1. Tip of the Week

This one speaks for itself. You can easily brainstorm enough content for six months of weekly newsletters. If you send this format every week you will need to come up with 24 tips. Anyone with a certain degree of expertise on a given topic should be able to do this without any trouble. A handy way to organize this is to first explain the problem then offer the tip which will solve it. The length should probably be anywhere from 200 - 500 words.

2. Top Ten

This is a tried and true format, and easy to create. Example: if you are an expert on home business, you could offer advice on the "Top Ten Home Business Opportunities," or the "Top Ten Ways to Market a Home Business," or the "Top Ten Tips for Starting a Home Business." Make sure you keep a tight rein on word length - just offer a couple of sentences for each tip, not half a page.

3. Three Ways to...

Sometimes it can be a bit of a challenge to come up with ten ways to do things, whereas just three ideas are easy to come up with. You can also explore three ideas in more detail. Alternatively, you can alternate the "Top Ten" format with "Three Ways to..." format; the two of them will work together nicely.

4. Before and After

This idea works in a similar way to the "tip of the week" in that you present a problem and then provide a solution to it, but the "before and after" approach lends itself better to case studies.

This is a good way to interact with your subscribers. Invite them to send in details of something that needs some fine tuning: an article, a website page, a product, etc... Then present your solutions. Alternatively, you can ask for "before and after" examples from readers who have managed to do this themselves, then showcase it for the rest of your readers.

5. Checklists

When you're learning to do something new, a checklist is the best way to be sure you don't leave out a critical step. Checklists can save a lot of time, and your readers will be delighted to get one. Write a brief introductory paragraph, present the checklist, and then follow it with a few final tips. You can either base your entire newsletter on the checklist format, or present one at regular intervals as a change from the standard article format.

And a bonus tip for you... Set up an email address at yahoo or gmail just for newsletters. Spend a few hours checking out sites related to your own business niche, and sign up for any free newsletters they have. Every so often, check your new email account and browse through the newsletter, looking specifically to see what approach other editor’s use for layout, articles and information. When you see a format you like, save it in an "ideas" folder. Then you can take ideas from different formats to create your own perfect newsletter format. Unsubscribe from any that are constantly filled with junk or endless sales pitches, these won't help you and you don't want to send that kind of stuff to your subscribers.

Dedicated to your home business success,
Trent Brownrigg

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