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The Do's and Don'ts of Sending a Newsletter

When I started my own newletter, Hard-Working Words, a year ago, I had about 115 people on my distribution list. Today that number has grown to about 700. Every time I send out HWW, I get a bunch of email responses (usually of the “good issue, keep ‘em coming" ilk) and a few new projects to work on either from existing clients or from new clients who an HWW reader referred to me.

So, Chris, why do you write a monthly newsletter?

I'm so glad you asked.

1. It's fun. I honestly enjoy the chance to sit down and pour out my thoughts on marketing and copywriting once a month.

2. It's a great way to keep in touch with past clients and networking contacts without having to make 25 phone calls per day.

3. Writing HWW gives me credibility and (hopefully) assures you that I know what I'm doing in the wide world of copywriting.

4. HWW gives me fresh content to post to [-LINK my website=http://www.haddadink.com LINK-] every month, reinforcing my position on search engines.

5. Plain and simple, writing HWW gets me work. It's one of the most effective marketing tools in my arsenal and costs very little to do.

Ok, so what makes a good e-newsletter?

Content, content, content. A good newsletter is a gift from you to your readers. Personally, I try to make every issue of HWW as full of valuable information as I can. The goal is to make sure you're sending out something people will want to read and-and I can't stress this one enough-not to treat your newsletter as just another sales pipe.

But, Chris, you said that HWW is a great marketing tool for you.

Yes I did. But what I really should have said is it's a relationship building tool. A newsletter isn't a monthly ad that will bring immediate sales and buckets of cash. It's a long term conversation between yourself and your readers. A way to build trust and rapport so that when you subscribers have a honest-to-goodness need for your services you'll be the first person they call.

So, you're saying I can't sell anything in my newsletter at all?

If you've got a great new product you're offering, a seminar you're heading up, or a convention you'll be attending and it's relevant to your subscribers feel free to mention it. But downplay the hard sales. And make sure that the promotional chunk of your newsletter is clearly marked as such so that your readers can quickly jump past it if it's not their thing.

Ok, but what about blogs? Should I have a blog? Should I do a blog instead of a newsletter? Should I do both?

While on the surface blogs and newsletters accomplish the same thing (building your relationship with customers, sharing expertise and giving you search engine attracting new content for your site), the way that they do it couldn't be much more different.

A newsletter is pushed out to a list of willing subscribers. After I finish this issue, I'll run it through my mailer program and it will appear in your inbox.

A blog pulls readers from the internet. And the impetus is on the reader to check when the blog is updated and to go to the site to read it. RSS (check out the Wikipedia entry on RSS if those three letters don't mean anything to you. ) is changing that a little bit by allowing you to subscribe to your favorite blogs, but the fact remains, a newsletter is content you get, a blog is content you go to.

In my own opinion, blogs excel at a very different type of content than newsletters do. While a newsletter is perfect for longer articles on a regular schedule, blogs are great for shorter posts and off the cuff, more casual remarks. And if you turn comments on in your blog, it can easily become an honest-to-goodness conversation with your readers.

Chris Haddad is a copywriter and marketing wonk living and working in Seattle. Chris has helped everyone from Microsoft to a local mom and pop to radically increase sales and loves nothing more than bringing companies and customers closer together. You can learn more about Chris at http://www.haddadink.com

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