The Dos and Don’ts of starting your own online newsletter

imagesSometimes tweeting and posting to Facebook isn’t enough — you want to be able to reach your audiences directly through their e-mail accounts, where you know they’re sure to check for messages. But because of the recent popularity of social media and the current distaste for clogged-up inboxes, newsletters aren’t as ubiquitous as they once were even five years ago. However, using your ingenuity and some easy online tools, you can create a fun and engaging newsletter that your readers will want to check for every day!

Here are some simple tips to get you started.

Do find a client/program that works for you. 

Obviously you can’t just send everyone messages from your personal e-mail: that would be time consuming. Try using a newsletter program that will organize, format, and even schedule your letters in advance. I recommend Mailchimp, which is free to sign up for and easy to use, but there are others out there as well.

Don’t send a message every day

The easiest way to turn someone off of your newsletter is to send them as many messages as possible — especially when you don’t have any news to share! It’s a good idea to regularly update your audience, but if you’re going to keep to a concise schedule, make sure you don’t come on too strong.

There are some mailing list programs that allow users to sign up for daily, weekly, and monthly e-mails as well, so if you feel the need to write and send something out every day, you might want to use such a program that allows some of those fans to opt out of certain schedules if they so wish.

Don’t advertise your mailing list too constantly

Obviously if you have a blog or other social media outlets, then you’ll want to briefly mention that you have a newsletter and put the sign-up button somewhere that’s easy for your fans to spot. However, don’t go overboard! As with everything on the internet, if you start to shill a product or feature of your brand too aggressively, it ends up turning people off. You can gently bring it up once in a while, but remember — there are people who choose not to sign up for newsletters for a reason, and that doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in your work.

Don’t send a wall of text!

Have you ever gotten a well-meaning e-mail from a relative and found yourself basically unable to read it because it was so long and blocky? A lot of newsletters end up looking like that sometimes. On the internet, you want to be as concise and eye-catching as possible to keep people from deleting your message before finishing it. Use images, headlines, or interesting layouts to keep your readers’ attention and hold it until the end of your letter.

Do check for spelling/grammar before you hit send

Nobody’s perfect, and every once in a while a typo falls through the cracks — even on this blog! Fortunately I can go in and edit my mistakes as soon as I see them using the WordPress dashboard, and future blog readers never know the difference.

However, when you’re sending a newsletter, it’s just like sending a regular e-mail: it’s permanent (and unlike Twitter, you can’t delete the message before anyone sees it!) So it’s extremely important to make sure that everything is just as you want it before you send.