Starting A Home Business: Step 8

You are doing well if you've made it this far with your home business set up. You should now be getting targeted traffic to your web site and have started building your house list of email prospects. Today you will learn a lead follow up method that will build trust and credibility with your list.

(If you missed the first 7 steps, you can catch up here)

A great way to build a relationship with your prospects is to produce an email newsletter (or ezine) that would be a useful resource for them. More work and thought is required to write a fresh "on topic" newsletter every week (or month) compared to using a prewritten autoresponder follow up series. If you have the time, your extra effort can be worth it in the long run. This means more sales, which builds your most important list of paying customers.

When creating a new ezine (short for electronic magazine, BTW) you have a few decisions to make as you get started. First you will have to choose between publishing a free ezine or one with a paid subscription. Due to space limitations, this tutorial will only deal with producing a free newsletter or ezine.

Now you have to choose the format in which you will publish your ezine; either plain text, html (full graphics) or web based. A text or html version would be delivered by email directly to your readers. A web based version would be posted to your web site and is viewed like any other web page.

If you don't have a good text editor to use (not NotePad or WordPad), it's time to get one. UltraEdit is a smart choice since it is cheap and easy to use. A day does not pass that I don't use UltraEdit for something.

You will use your text editor to create and format your plain text version newsletter. A good way to see what a nicely formatted newsletter looks like is to subscribe to a few popular publications and take notice how they are put together. Whatever style you end up using, make sure that the formatting is consistent. This means having a regular line length (usually between 50-65 characters per line) and a consistent amount of white space between features.

When creating an html newsletter to email to your readers, you will need a couple of tools. Use your text editor to compose the plain text version of each feature or section. Then use a web page creator/editor or web based service to create the html ezine page itself, which is a basic web page complete with (minimal) graphics that is emailed to your readers.

Instead of typing your features and articles directly into the web page editor, copy and paste the plain text sections you created with your text editor into the desired spot in your html ezine. Doing this makes working with a web site creation tool fast and easy. You can check out a good example of such a service here...

If you decide to publish a web based ezine only, the message emailed to your readers will simply be a notice that the latest issue is now available online. Provide a link for the reader to use to view that page on your web site.

If you would like, you can publish in all three formats. You can then give your readers a choice of format when they sign up and you will have a copy of (at least) your most recent newsletter for web site visitors to view as a sample issue. This is a good way to get new signups, too.

Now that you will be able to create your ezine, what should you feature in it? Anything you include will be either useful content or promotional/advertising. For better reader loyalty and response use much more helpful "on topic" content than the amount of ads or promotions you run.

Writing original material yourself is the best way to go. A free 3 part tutorial that will help you write promotional and resource articles can be found here...

If you decide to run reprint articles from other writers, you take the chance of running an article that most of your readers may have already seen elsewhere. That is not good. The more original content you provide, the more readers you will have that actually READ your ezine. Unlike a lot of ezines and newsletters that get the delete button, never to be seen again. But make sure you provide useful content that is consistent with the offer they read before signing up for your ezine. Please read the last sentence again, it's very important.

As you compose your articles and other features, be aware of the junk mail filters that your ezine will pass through on it's way to your readers. There are certain words and phrases used frequently by spammers that will trigger the filters and assess negative points to your mailing. Any score higher than 5.0 is likely to be "eaten" by the filters that the major ISPs use, so do your best to keep the score of each issue as low as you can.

If you find that your newsletter scores highly when tested with a filter checker tool (you can use a free spam checker here... ), post the issue to your web site and send out a short delivery notice. This is a simple message to inform your reader that the new issue of your ezine is ready. By not using any trigger words, your message will get through most of the filters ( most of them. Some ISPs filter most commercial email no matter what you do...) and get read. Include a link to your ezine posted on your web site. Here's the link I post when I mail a delivery notice to one of my ezine lists:

Due to the widespread email filtering problem, it would be wise to find out if the mail server that sends your email has been blacklisted by any of the major ISPs. If your mail server has been blacklisted, either work with the mailing service or web hosting company to get the problem resolved or move your list to a different service or web site that has a good relationship with the ISPs. This service has a good relationship with the people that control the mail filters, which is good for you...

Coming up in Step 9 of the Starting A Home Business tutorial, we will go over how often you should send out mailings to your list, how to get people to sign up for your newsletter if you are in a crowded market niche and what you must know about managing your list.

See you in Step 9.

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Ken Leonard Jr