Sunday, October 23, 2005

What Was the Name of Your Ezine Again?

Strategic planning for your ezine will keep your subscribers coming back for more week after week. You know that you need to start your newsletter and you've been putting it off so long that days have turned into weeks, and weeks into months. Don't let that go on any longer. It's not necessary.

Whether you're just now breaking onto the publisher scene or you've got a subscriber list and you want to revamp your ezine, answer the following questions before taking any additional action.

Q1: What topic do you intend to cover in your newsletter?

- Pick a topic that you're extremely interested in. You don't need to be an expert. Become an expert. If your interest level is high enough, you'll naturally be driven to research and study your topic. Pick a topic for your ezine that you'd love to write about for 29 subscribers or 290,000 subscribers.

- Will you be a generalist or a specialist? There's a place for both.

- RE: The Generalist... Newsletters that cover a broad range of topics and treat them "superficially" tend to attract subscribers who are new to that topic. Your challenge as a generalist will be holding on to your subscriber's attention. You'll need a "hook" each week. This might include short powerful tips and tricks or perhaps you can feature a favorite free resource with each ezine issue.

- RE: The Specialist... Your target audience is smaller, but the chances of developing a very loyal following is better than if you choose the generalist path. Specialists have to dig deep and if you like to write and train on the nitty gritty "how-to's", then the specialist path could be your calling.

Q2: Where will you find material for your ezine?

- Is it all inside your head just waiting for an escape route? Great. Let it flow.

- Can you take advantage of articles with reprint rights?

- Will you need to do a lot of research every time your write your newsletter? If yes, that's OK. Just be prepared to set aside the time required so that you can consistently deliver your newsletter to meet your subscribers' expectations. Which leads to the next question...

Q3: How often will you send out your ezine?

- What's the right frequency? It varies. Monthly. Weekly. Twice per week. Daily. It all depends on your subscribership, how much time you can devote to writing your newsletter and the amount of content you plan to include with each issue.

- You'll want people to remember your name, and this is tough to accomplish when you're publishing your ezine monthly. I think weekly is good and when special occassions arise send out two issues in the same week. Surprise your readers every once in a while. Mix it up.

Q4: What format will you use for your ezine?

- Permission-based email publications are still the mainstream. However, ISP filters continually make it more and more difficult to deliver email newsletters.

- Consider a blog. Consider setting up an RSS feed. Give your subscribers options on how they'd like to hear from you.

- Do you want to write lengthy in-depth articles or short punchy tips and tricks?

- Will you podcast (audio) or publish streaming video?

Q5: What name will you choose for your publication?

- Does your ezine name communicate anything about the kind of content that people can expect to receive in your newsletter?

- Catchy is good. Topical is good. Short is good. Descriptive is good.

Finally, an exercise you can do that might be helpful is to make a list of the newsletters that you consider to be outstanding. These are the ones that you open and read 100% of the time they land in your inbox. Write down the title, author / editor's name, subject matter.

Next, make a list of the newsletters you receive that you could unsubscribe from and you'd never miss them.

What are your general observations about these? I'll make an educated guess that the "loosers"...

1) Never offer any substantial or useful advice. 2) They don't specifically focus on any particular topic that you're interested in. 3) You receive messages from them 3 or 4 times per week and 95% of the time it's an ad that's been "cut n' pasted" from the latest flavor-of-the-week affiliate program / hot opportunity.

Don't let this describe your ezine.

Strategically plan your ezine so that when it comes time to monetize it, your readers will appreciate knowing about the products and services that you're promoting. Deliver value up front and you will be rewarded in time.

Author : Ron Hutton

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