Ezine Tips

By: Richard Lowe, Jr.

If you are anything like me, you work extremely hard to get people to come to your web site. This eats up a significant portion of very single day - well over half my "web site" time is spent getting people to visit. Most of the remainder of the time is spent adding new content, since I write anywhere from one to four articles per day.

So it seems like a shame that someone could visit, like what he sees, and then leave, never to return. All that time, and so little gain. After all, my purpose is to educate, and education must be a constant part of someone's life to be truly valuable.

One very important way to get people to return again and again is by publishing an ezine. This is by far the best way to get those visitors back for a number of reasons. First, by publishing an ezine and gaining readers you have a direct communication path to your audience. You can tell them whatever you want, whenever you want (within reason), and they have actually volunteered to receive it.

Second, by committing to a publishing schedule you are committing to adding new content to your site (hopefully) at least on that schedule. New content is really the key to getting people to return, and your ezine is a way to inform them that you have new stuff for them to look at.

Finally, it adds a bit of professionalism to your site to publish an ezine. It makes you appear like you are going to be around for a while. In addition, you are telling your visitors that not only do you have something to say, but you will continue to say it.

Okay, so you've decided to create an ezine. Congratulations. Now what? Spend some time thinking about what you want to accomplish with your ezine. What is your primary goal? Is it to inform people of changes to your site or to sell them a product? Perhaps you want to make them laugh? Ask yourself questions to be sure you understand your purpose.

Once you've got the goal understood, think about what you are going to be doing for content. Are you going to include your own original articles or reprint articles from other sources? Writing your own articles is ideal (since presumably people want to read your ezine because they want your opinions and information, not some other persons), but failing that you can easily find other sources for free content ( is a very good place to start).

Another thing you will want to decide is how the content will be presented. You can (a) include all of the articles completely in your ezine, (b) only include a few paragraphs, then a "continued" link, or (c) just include a brief description followed by a link. Personally, I prefer options (a) and (c). I strongly dislike reading a few paragraphs only to find I have to click a link to finish up.

Always be sure your ezine is "opt-in". This means your subscribers choose to receive your newsletter and can stop at any time. Never, ever even think about sending your newsletter unsolicited ... you will get slammed for spamming very fast if you do this.

I always include a link at the bottom of the page which, when clicked, causes the person to be unsubscribed. It is always a good idea to make this link very obvious. Be absolutely sure that it is simple and straightforward to stop receiving the newsletter - this is your best way to prevent anyone from saying you are spamming.

You will need to promote your ezine vigorously. You should put the subscription address everywhere you include your web site address. This includes your email signature, web site, classifieds, FFA listings, business cards ... everywhere. In fact, you should have a subscription link on every single page on your web site. Remember, everyone who gets your ezine almost certainly will visit your website, but the reverse is not true. What I mean by this is someone who subscribes is far more valuable (by an order of magnitude) than someone who merely visits your site.

You need to choose a format. You can publish in plain text or HTML, and each method has it's advantages and disadvantages. HTML tends to look better and more professional, while plain text can be read by any email client.

Publishing your ezine is simple. Some people use tools to publish through their web provider - personally I would recommend strongly against this method. The reason is simple: web providers are not mass emailers, and they tend to have problems sending to more than a few hundred addresses. They are also far more sensitive to spam reports than mass emailing companies. Mass emailers tend to get this kind of report all of the time and know how to deal with them. Thus, you will not have your emailing privileges suspended for false accusations.

When you begin publishing your ezine, a service such as Bravenet makes sense. You can send your newsletter to as many as 500 subscribers, and it supports both plain text and HTML. Once you have more than 500 subscribers you can find a different service which supports more addresses.

One fact you had better understand from the beginning - creating and maintaining an ezine can be a heck of a lot of work. In fact, depending upon your publishing schedule it can be far more work than maintaining your web site. So before you begin, be sure you are willing to put in the time.

If you have the time and do it right, an ezine can not only be an effective way to build traffic and keep your visitors, it can be extremely fulfilling. Personally, I enjoy writing articles for my ezines as much or more than those intended for my web site.

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