One of the most often asked questions that I see is 'how can I write an ezine that people will want to read.' Anyone can tell you that there is 'money in the list' but how do you create a list of readers who are happy to send money in your direction? After all, if they don't want to read your newsletter, (I tend to use the words newsletter and ezine interchangeably) your 'list' is pretty worthless!
Over 650 issues of my ezine, Kickstart Today - http://www.kickstartdaily.com - have taught me a few things about what people really want from a newsletter.
Here are the ten top tips that I've learned the hard way:
1. Keep it short and sweet. Your ezine itself can be quite long, provided that each article is kept fast-paced and punchy. In my experience, any section that runs more than 500 words is probably too long. And 1500 words overall is enough. Many successful newsletters are around 500 words total.
2. Be as personal as you like. If people want serious business writing they can go to the news-stand. It seems to me that people love the personal aspect that ezines offer. Hence, the more I introduce elements from my own life and family into my newsletter, the bigger my positive (virtual) mailbag is.
3. Never sell. I write my newsletter three times a week and on average, about a third of my issues don't try to sell anything. As often as possible, I provide links to things that my readers can have for free. In the other two-thirds of issues, I almost never sell either - I make recommendations. My readers know that I will never recommend something that I haven't used myself - and have found to be excellent. So, in effect, my selling is a personal recommendation from one friend to another.
4. And on that note, only 'sell' (or recommend) one item in any issue. I have proved time and again with my own lists that whenever I mention two or more products for my readers to buy, overall sales goes right down. I know of several super-successful people who do manage to make multiple recommendations successfully, but it has never worked for me.
5. Never write to your list. You may have thousands of people on your list, but as soon as you start to write to 'the list' the tone of your words becomes impersonal. Always write to one person, who you imagine is sitting in front of you. If you learn to write as you would speak to that one person in front of you, your newsletter will almost automatically be a thousand times more readable than most others out there.
6. Be brave. So many ezine writers fall into the trap of avoiding controversy. The result is that their newsletters fast become boring. The truth is that people love to read a good rant. If you allow yourself to let yourself go once in a while - even if it is completely off topic, I guarantee that your list will become more responsive - and consequently more loyal.
7. Be responsive yourself. If one of your readers writes to you, make sure you write back - personally. People do business with people and they really like to know that you are a real person behind the keyboard.
8. Using other people's articles. This is a sticky one. Use other people's stuff too often and your own personality will not shine through. And if your readers see the same articles appearing elsewhere, they start to think that they might as well read them elsewhere. Personally, I don't run other people's stuff in my newsletter at all - but that is my choice, and as a fairly prolific writer, something that I can deal with. I would say that if you must use other people's articles, keep them to a fairly low percentage of each issue's total content.
9. Be prepared for the long haul. Successful newsletters are rarely born overnight. They take a long time to build their readership and even longer to regularly turn a good profit. Like any business you have to work at them - sometimes when you least want to. Get it right though, and they are worth it on so many levels.
10. Finally, find your own USP. Every product (and your ezine is a product that people have to 'buy in to' even if they don't pay for it) needs to have certain attributes that set it apart from all the others out there. Your USP (unique selling point) is the thing that people will talk about when they recommend you to their friends - so make it easy for them to notice and compelling enough for them to want to pass on the good news!
Of course, the fact that this article is available for ezine publishers to use does raise a conundrum. If my advice to avoid using other people's articles in your newsletters is valid, will anyone use this article? Or any other that is made freely available in article directories?
My suggested solution is two-fold:
a. Believe everything I say, and follow all of my rules except when applying them to articles that I have written. Clearly, those will be of far more interest to your readers than anything else. ;-)
b. Seriously, rather than blindly publishing other people's articles in your ezine, it is usually a better bet to put those articles onto your website and link to that page from your ezine. That way your readers can accept the 'gift' of an interesting article to read if they are interested, or ignore it if they so choose.
Also, you can put AdSense, or other ads onto the article page to monetize the article to those people who have shown a marked interest in the subject matter by clicking the link.
Ezine writing and publishing is a learned skill. The first few editions you produce will probably be rather rough around the edges, but keep practicing and listen to what your readers email to you. In a short time you will find your own voice and a style that will help you build a large and loyal following.
And then, the advice that the money is in the list will come true for you.