We're halfway through this challenge already! How are you doing?
Today's challenge is to plan what you will include in your newsletter and how you will send it.
For those of you who haven't heard of email newsletters, they are short, one-page information sheets that you email regularly to a group of people who want to receive them. To do this, you have to get their email addresses and PERMISSION FROM THEM TO SEND YOUR NEWSLETTER TO THEM. Never assume because they have given you their email address for some other reason, that they've also agreed to receive your newsletter, and ALWAYS include at the bottom of the newsletter a way they can unsubscribe to it.(Most newsletter services will do this for you.) Otherwise you run the risk of them declaring you are spam, and believe me, you DON'T want that. Once your email URL is labeled spam, filters will begin blocking your emails. I've never had it happen to me, but have heard it's a nightmare.
What will you put in your newsletter? News about upcoming books, e-books and events you'll be at. Maybe show them an excerpt from, or the cover of a book, before it goes public. Non-fiction authors can add interesting tidbits of info from their research. It's really up to you, but if you want them to want to continue receiving your newsletter, you must include content that is of value to them. Since I have writers on my list, I include a writing tip in each newsletter; and since I have readers, I include a recommendation for a book I've enjoyed. I add pictures, and I don't annoy them by sending too many - I send 3-4 per year. That's actually on the low side, up to once a month would be okay, But it's time-consuming to provide quality content, so 3-4 a year is what I can manage.
The point is to keep in touch with people, to build community. I love it when people get my newsletter and email me back to comment on something in it, or share some of their news with me. I even have a spot where I include some of their news in my newsletter, if it's about books and I think my newsletter community would be interested.
Not only do you have to start planning what you'll put in your newsletter while you gather your list of names and email addresses (and their permission); you also have to consider HOW you're going to manage your newsletter.
You can manually write an email and copy it to everyone. (If you do this, be sure you put the recipients' names in the BCC (blind copy) box, so you aren't giving out everyone's email address.) There's a personal feel to this that is appealing, but when your list gets to a certain size, it becomes unwieldy. And you can't insert photos.
You can use a newsletter provider like MailChimp or AWeber. I use MailChimp - it was pretty easy to learn, I like the options it offers me, and you can send up to 12,000 emails to 2,000 subscribers a month for free.(www.mailchimp.com) AWeber is also recommended by reliable publicists, but it charges a monthly fee.
So today's challenge is, while you're growing your list, plan out what you'll put in your newsletter, and how you'll send it out. If you choose Mailchimp or Aweber, sign up and send out a practice email newsletter to your family. They will love you and never tell anyone all the mistakes you made while you were learning. I wish I'd done this. Instead, I sent my first try out to everyone on my list, and then had to send them all an apology and my second try, which turned out okay because I practiced on my family before sending my second attempt!