One of the best ways to
build a community and to interact with clients, club members, associates or
fellow hobbyists is to create an opt-in newsletter.
Your newsletter should be focused on a single theme, like investing or
science fiction. The key is to make sure your newsletter solves a problem,
helps someone or is entertaining.
a list of opt-in readers by providing a form on your website (see www.mindlikewater.com/)
or manually build a list by simply contacting like-minded individuals by email.
Next, collect your list and
compile it electronically using your favorite database or spreadsheet.
If you're on a limited budget, check out what’s available in shareware
at ZDnet or Tucows.
Newsletters are generally sent in either text format or HTML
Creating a text newsletter involves using a text editor such as
Windows Notepad, and making sure that each line is less than 65 characters,
including spaces. Text newsletters
will not allow for special fonts, underlines, bolds or pretty much any fancy
characters. ASCII characters are
allowed, so you can use things like # or * for emphasis.
Also, any hyperlinks must include the full URL address (e.g., http://www.mindlikewater.com
as opposed to only www.mindlikewater.com.
Creating an HTML newsletter is like creating a web page.
You will need to use an HTML authoring
program, such as Front Page, Go Live or Dreamweaver. Any graphics must be copied to your server.
HTML newsletters look great and actually have better conversion rates
than text, but they are slower to load and can't be viewed properly while
Also, remember the AOL factor. Test your newsletter with someone you know who has AOL.
Finally, you need an e-mail
newsletter client or program like Eudora, Lotus Notes or Microsoft Outlook to actually
merge the e-mail text with the database information and send out the newsletter.
Distributing your newsletter using Outlook is manageable as long as your
subscription base is not too large. If
you plan on using Microsoft Outlook, visit this link for
An alternative to this process is to use a newsletter service:
Finally, one of the best
ways to manage an e-mail newsletter is to use e-mail distribution software that
takes care of the drudgery of maintaining the list, handles bounced e-mails,
interfaces with a database, provides autoresponder technology and automates many
of the tasks. The added benefit is
that you own the software for one fee, not a monthly or per user fee. Visit Dr.
Ralph Wilson's comparison of various newsletter software programs (http://www.wilsonweb.com/wmt7/desktop_comparison.htm).
After having used Outlook
for some time and checking into the various alternatives, we switched to the