The problem: How do you write content-rich eNewsletters without spending endless hours creating them?
The solution: Develop a repeatable process.
The word count of your eNewsletter doesn’t matter. What matters is that you have a good template and a process you can quickly implement eNewsletter after eNewsletter.
Here are five (pain-free) steps to publish content-rich eNewsletters:
- Choose five main topics
- Choose five sidebar topics
- Interview experts on those topics
- Write and edit your articles
- Proofread your work
Assuming you have some basic knowledge of possible topics that your audience will be interested in, let’s walk through the process.
1. Choose five main topics
Choosing five topics is a starting point. Does it have to be five? No. It could be three or seven or however many you need to meet the goals you have for publishing your eNewsletter. If you’re somewhat familiar with what’s happening in your newsletter’s target industry, choose five topics you think readers would be interested knowing more about.
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Having a few topics preselected also will help kick-start your conversation. If you end up with five topics, dedicate about 150 words per topic. Adjust word length according to your needs.
Tip: If you’re stuck coming up with topics, try this trick:
Think: Past, present, future.
- What news in the recent past can you write about?
- What’s happening now?
- What’s coming up?
2. Choose five sidebar topics
Think of sidebar topics as “quick hits” under a general theme you can repeat in each eNewsletter. (Note that you can also feature quick hits-type content anywhere within the eNewsletter.) “Quick hits” are much shorter in length than the main topics.
Some topic ideas might include:
- Recommended reading
- Upcoming events
- Tip of the month
- Q & A interviews
- Deal of the month
- Trivia questions
You get the idea.
Quick hits are a great way to round out your newsletter. If you design a slightly different look for each sidebar topic, your eNewsletter will pop visually. Aim for about 50 words for each quick hit, but you can adjust word length accordingly.
You now have a great framework for your content-rich eNewsletter. If your newsletter is about 1000 words, you’d have 750 words for the main body and 250 words for the sidebar.
3. Interview experts on those topics
Interviewing people is a great way to capture valuable information. Instead of staring at a screen dreaming up information you think is important, ask key personnel some questions that your readers can relate to in their own jobs. It will make your job a heck of a lot easier.
To capture responses, you can audio record the interview or type notes on your computer. There are pros and cons for each process:
a) Audio recording lets you capture the exact words your interviewee said. When you talk in person, you don’t have to worry about writing everything down; it’s captured in the recording. This also helps you maintain eye contact throughout the interview, which makes your interviewee more comfortable and his/her responses seem more conversational. The downside is you might need to get the conversation transcribed, costing you time and money.
b) If you’d rather not deal with recording and getting transcriptions, you can type each response on a notebook computer as your guest speaks. I like this method for eNewsletters because the topics are generally short — making transcriptions unnecessary. The downside is you don’t have a verbatim transcript, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying it out.
How many people should you interview? You might be lucky and interview one person who can deliver all the content for an eNewsletter. Or you might end up talking to five people: One person for each main topic you’ll be writing about. You can make this determination from the people you’ll be talking to.
4. Write and edit your articles
The hard part is over. Now it’s time to shape your material for consumption. A few components you might want to consider including are:
- Hyperlinks to sites where readers can get clear definitions for unfamiliar terms, proof-of-concept examples or more in-depth information on the topic.
- Calls-to-action that provide clear directives you want your readers to follow.
- Contact information so readers can reach you if they have questions or want to provide feedback
If you have time, set your work aside for a day or two. Come back to it with fresh eyes and review it.
Finally, it’s time to double-check your copy. If you have a colleague or good editor who is willing to review your work, take advantage of the extra set of eyes. If not, consider hiring a professional proofreading service — they’re worth their weight in gold! If you’re on the fence about hiring a proofreader, you might want to read
What if you can’t think of enough relevant topics ahead of time?
It can happen. If you get stuck, here are a few ideas to get the creative juices flowing:
- Scour the web for other articles on your target subject matter. See what your business partners, competitors, and other industry experts are conversing about and try to find a way to add to the conversation in your own voice.
- Call on a few of your contacts who know your business and ask them what topics they would want to read about.
- Use the past, present, future idea discussed above to brainstorm on possible topics. The idea here is to write something (even if it’s made up) that stimulates others into helping you discover new content.
Writing content-rich eNewsletters isn’t as hard as it appears.
- Establish a format you can consistently publish.
- Interview people. Let them do the heavy “content” lifting for you.
- Shape their words to craft the right messages.
- Edit and proof the eNewsletter.
Looking for a “cheat sheet” for all your eNewsletters? Check out CMI’s fantastic checklist for eNewsletter success.
Over to you
Have any tips you would add to make writing eNewsletters a snap?
What eNewsletter template ideas would you like to share?
What typical eNewsletter mistakes should be avoided?