You don’t have to run a big business to create your own newsletter. With the right planning and organization, anyone can put out a newsletter dealing with a diverse range of possible subjects that will reach a wide audience. All you need is an idea, a message and a way to carry out basic operations. Best of all, printing a newsletter is something you can do yourself on your own time—you can handle every part of production without the need for a large staff of helpers.
One of the most rewarding aspects of writing or producing your own newsletter is that you will never get a rejection notice from a publisher because you are the publisher!
Define the goal of your newsletter.
Before you get to work printing and stapling, you should start by having a clear idea in mind of the purpose of your newsletter. In other words, what are you trying to inform or persuade people of? Pinning down why you want to start a newsletter in the first place will allow you to proceed with a definite aim.
Newsletters can be used to share news updates, market products or services, current events, explain religious beliefs or scientific principles, comment on pressing issues or simply entertain. You’re only limited by what you can envision.
It may be useful to outline a literal mission statement for your newsletter and yourself as chief editor. A tagline like “to spread the love of stoneware ceramics” or “helping victims of abuse achieve inner peace” will provide a reference point for all that follows.
Determine what type of content you want to produce.
Despite what their name suggests, not all newsletters are used to convey news. Think about what you plan to fill the pages of your newsletter with. In addition to updates and announcements, your publication might also contain special interest pieces, like self-help editorials or reporting on local politics. Since you’re the creator, the topics and scope of your newsletter are entirely up to you.
In addition to traditional writing, newsletters can make use of many different forms of media (interviews, photos, video clips, sound bites, etc.), especially when they’re distributed electronically.
Your newsletter could be an overview of the local music scene and contain reviews of new record releases and live performances, or it might be filled with recipes and DIY craft projects for hobbyists.
Identify your target audience.
Bear in mind who your key readership is likely to be. If you’re launching a fine arts digest, for instance, it will most likely attract the attention of artists and art aficionados who live in your town. Your job is to offer this audience information and perspective on a subject of mutual interest. You’ll want to make sure the tone, writing and presentation of your newsletter matches the sensibilities of the people who will be reading it.
It’s possible to tailor the message of your newsletter for an audience that doesn’t agree with your viewpoints. For example, you could publish a monthly periodical on the virtues of vegetarianism designed to reach people who eat meat, or use your content as way to convince those who are opposed to your beliefs on social issues.
Decide how often your newsletter will run.
The frequency of your publication will depend largely on the topic and content you’ve selected, the availability of new information worth sharing and the amount of time you’re able to devote to production. Commit to releasing your newsletter weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or even semi-annually. Running a newsletter can be a lot of work, so make sure you’re able to deliver in the time frame you choose.
You could come out with a new email newsletter as often as every couple of days if you’re covering an exhaustive or rapidly-developing topic.
Those who are working alone should consider taking a more infrequent approach to releasing their newsletters (perhaps bi-weekly or monthly), since they’ll have to manage everything themselves.
Devise a format.
Now that you’ve got your general objective and content mapped out, it’s time to get into the specifics of how your newsletter will be presented. Spend some time trying out different potential looks and titles. Sketch out some basic designs on a piece of paper, or play around with a text editor until you find a layout you like. Once these elements are in place, it will just be a matter of plugging in specific content.
A newsletter describing the operations of a real estate business will probably contain more plain text and straightforward information than one on nature photography, which will feature lots of photos and more a aesthetic package.
If you’re at a loss for ideas, search for sample newsletters on the internet and study them for inspiration.
Set a production schedule.
Draw up a course of action regarding how to best go about planning, writing and finalizing the newsletter. Take into consideration factors like the length and depth of the info you’re providing, how much time you have to write or compile articles and how long it will take to complete each copy from start to finish. Stick closely to your timetable so that you can have each issue finished in time for it’s scheduled release.
In order for your production schedule to be precise, you should aim to make your newsletter roughly the same format and length each cycle.
Try not to get behind. Setting small goals (such as giving yourself one week to write articles, or imposing a strict deadline for the finished product) and resolving to meet them will prevent you from having to play catch-up later on.
Seek help with various tasks.
If possible, recruit a friend or associate to give you a hand with the responsibilities of putting the newsletter together. This could include handing off the formatting duties to someone who is good with computers, or seeking written or visual contributions from like-minded creators. Not having to handle every aspect of production yourself can really lighten the load and make creating the newsletter a more enjoyable experience.
Ask others with similar interests whether they would be willing to help out with the undertaking. Chances are, someone out there has had a similar idea and is looking for a way to make it happen.
Be sure to credit your colleagues for any content or service they provide.
Put together copies of your newsletter.
The final step of production is to actually create the newsletter’s physical form. If it is to be a basic print periodical, run off copies of each page and staple them together. If you have a more elaborate or unorthodox format planned, like a punk rock fanzine, assemble the copies by hand, adding unique touches as you see fit. Work in batches or ask for some assistance with the nitty-gritty labor so that you don’t get overwhelmed.
Printing and assembling copies of your newsletter will take time. Make sure your production schedule accurately reflects the demands of this phase.
Hand out newsletters yourself.
Start small by giving out newsletters to friends, family and acquaintances. Put a stack in your backpack, briefcase or car so that you’ll have them on hand whenever you encounter an interested party. With any luck, or with enough copies, word of mouth will spread and so will your publication.
Try passing out copies of your newsletter at public events and spots where lots of people tend to gather. The more relevant your newsletter is to the event or locale, the better.
With a limited budget and exposure, this is how most fresh, low-level publications will manage to find a foothold with readers.
Start a mailing list.
Gauge interest in your newsletter by having potential readers sign up with their mailing addresses. That way, you can send a copy straight to their home whenever a new one releases. A mailing list allows you to set up a direct channel through which to provide your reader base with new materials regularly.
If someone isn’t interested in subscribing to your newsletter, don’t be pushy. Nobody likes to be harassed.
Set up a display locally.
Find an establishment where area periodicals are sold and ask the owner whether it would be okay for you to advertise your newsletter at their place of business, newspaper style. In many cases, places like coffee shops, bookstores, libraries and internet cafes have a kiosk where they offer a selection of printed publications. Your newsletter might find a home in one of these businesses.
You’ll probably have more luck at local businesses than corporate chain stores, which are usually forced to follow certain regulations about other activities they allow to go on in their buildings.
Be sure to obtain express written or verbal permission before attempting to distribute your newsletter through another business.
Distribute digital copies through email.
In today’s increasingly busy world, most information transactions are made via technology. Get with the times by hooking your reader base up with a hassle-free electronic newsletter delivered straight to their email. Simply save your finalized newsletter as a .doc or .pdf file (or scan and convert hand-produced newsletters) and upload them as an attachment when you send out your regular emails. What could be easier?
To facilitate the process of sending out an email newsletter, compile a master list of reader email addresses and select the option to “send all.”
Not only will digital newsletters save you countless time, labor and expense, they will also likely be preferable to your readers, as they won’t have to deal with the clutter of traditional print newsletters.