Friday, March 6, 2009

Web Marketing 101: Online Newsletters

There are almost as many ways to stay connected to the cyber-world as there are people in it. OK, I’m exaggerating. But, in addition to those I’ve tried, there are certainly an equal number or more I have never even thought about. Or, if I have thought about them, I don’t know how to create them. Podcasts and PowerPoint presentations that actually show up on my website are two perfect examples. One thing I do know: if I want to market my website, I need a newsletter.

Everybody has an online newsletter, I’ve been told many, many times by many, many people. Not knowing how to create one is no excuse. Most of them are plain vanilla, no bells and whistles, text only. Of course, some of the simplest in form are also the most complex in content. And that’s what worried me. Where was I going to get all those facts and references and really great tips that seem to be the heart and soul of online newsletters? I could worry about how it should look after I figured out what it should say.

I went in search of examples of good online newsletters.

Scribe & Quill, a newsletter for writers, has changed a lot in recent years. It used to come monthly in two sections, with each section long and crammed full of material. For nine years, it has been primarily written, edited, and published by one person — a dynamo named Bev Walton Porter.

WebsiteMarketingPlan's newsletter, put out by my personal web guru, Bobette Kyle, is for people who are really serious about marketing their sites. It is full of tips, links, offers, plans, and articles. In short, it is a graduate course in website promotion.

The BuzzFactor is really for musicians, but it demonstrates how multifaceted Bob Baker is. He has a great website, blogs, numerous books and e-books, ezines, and a terrific presence on Amazon. At his Self-Publishing Book newsletter, Bob shares his abundant knowledge of the creative process and marketing with writers.

Hello, my name is e-zine is published by a one-man whirlwind — Scott Ginsberg — who has more energy than a room full of two year olds and more marketing ideas than a Madison Avenue ad agency. Scott writes in list form: 72 Ways to do this … 6 Ways to do that … 13 Types of … 10 Strategies to … and on and on. Personally, I think he’s a genius.

The BuildBookBuzz newsletter is fresh, informative, and practical. I stumbled on it when I read an article on one of the online sites, followed the link to Sandra Beckwith, e-mailed her and received a lovely reply, became an instant fan, and subscribed to her newsletter. Sometimes, you just meet someone smart and special when you let your fingers do the walking.

Author Marketing Experts, as it name suggests, is aimed at intrepid writers of books. Penny Sansevieri is one, as well as a speaker, blogger, article writer, and tweeter. Her newsletter is long, filled with information and advice, including details on how to target particular publications, and unadorned with graphics (at least, the version I receive). Text and nothing but text, but that text is always worth reading.

I read all these newsletters and others; I studied them; I admired them (or they wouldn’t be mentioned); and I came up with something completely different. It has a plain text version, but, really, it’s intended to mirror my website. Sometimes, it actually does that. I must admit that getting News & Views from Bobbi Linkemer to look the way I envisioned it was harder than learning how to podcast, or so it seemed.

Then, of course, there was the matter of what to write about. There, too, I took an offbeat approach. If News & Views looks intriguing and informative, and you think you might like to receive it once a month, hit this link and subscribe. In the meantime, I’ll start working on the next one.


Podcast Coach said...

If you ever want to learn how to podcast (it's really not that hard). I would love to walk you through the process.

Dave Jackson