If you’ve been searching for a different way to promote your writing, blog or other freelance business, have you considered an e-newsletter?
There’s been a resurgence of interest in these tried and true marketing staples, with good reason: they’re easy to produce and provide a more intimate connection with readers than you can get on a blog.
To explore how to effectively use an e-newsletter, this week’s WordCount Last Wednesday live chat will feature guest speaker Susan B. Weiner, a financial writer who uses an e-newsletter to promote her business as well as her blog, Investment Writing.
The one-hour chat takes place Wednesday, Aug. 25, on Twitter at 8:30 a.m. Pacific time. To follow along, use the hashtag #wclw. Although the chat’s tailored to writers and bloggers, non-writers are encouraged to participate.
In case you
can’t haven’t joined us before, the format of the live chat runs as follows:
- 8:30 – Log on, introduce yourself with your name, city, type of writing or other work you do and what e-newsletter topics you’d like the chat to cover.
- 8:35 to 8:40 – I’ll ask Susan a few questions to get things rolling.
- 9 a.m. – We’ll open it up to questions from the audience.
- 9:30 a.m. – The chat ends.
Although it’s possible to use the standard Twitter interface for a live chat, you might find it easier to follow along with an add-on application such as TweetGrid, TweetChat or HootSuite. This tutorial explains how to set them up.
If you’re afraid you’ll offend followers by tweeting too much during a chat, you can suggest they use an app called TwitterSnooze to temporarily turn off your tweets. In case you haven’t done this before, when the chat starts, tweet a message like this: “I’ll be in a live chat for the next hour; if you don’t want to follow, turn off my tweets with TwitterSnooze.com.”
To help get ready for the chat, Weiner posted these e-newsletter resources on her site.
Earlier this year, I had to analyze e-newsletters for a client project and developed the following list of features that successful ones have in common:
- Regular frequency – Distributed on a regular basis, i.e., same day of the week and time of day, whether weekly or monthly.
- Logo and tagline – Run at the top of the page and are identical to the logo you use on your website or blog.
- Two-column format – A main column for news or other information. Often this space is used to run the top graph or two of the most recent stories on the website with links back to the site. The space can also be used to announce upcoming webinars, conferences, etc. A second column or sidebar includes multiple elements, including a calendar of events. Different newsletters place the sidebar to the right or left of the main column.
- Summary – A quick hits summary of what’s in the newsletter at the top with live links to different sections so time-crunched readers can do a quick scan and use links to move directly to what interests them.
- Links – In addition to links to newsletter content, links to content on your website or blog, all the better to drive traffic.
- Length – Shorter is better, to allow readers to quickly scan material and read what appeals to them.
- Advertising – If ads are included, they’re in multiple positions: in the header (above the logo and tagline); within the main column, within the sidebar, at the end, and all of the above.
- Strategic use of color and graphics – Color and graphics that are consistent with your website or blog, so readers understand they’re related. Often the lead feature story at the top of the main column runs with a thumbnail of the same photo that runs with the story on the website. Many e-newsletters run thumbnails with every story; and run other photos or images in the sidebar.
- Subscription information – Include sign-up information for readers who got a copy of a newsletter forwarded to them from another subscriber. Should also include an opt-out, “Unsubscribe,” option for people to opt-out of receiving newsletter if they want.
- Contact information – Run at the bottom of the page (think of it as the masthead of magazine) and gives readers a way to contact you. Readers can also use this to send in tips, ask questions about services, etc.
- Share buttons – Include buttons for readers to email the e-newsletter to a friend or share links from it on social media such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Join us on Wednesday to hear from Susan Weiner and talk more about e-newsletters.
Chat with you then.