A Newsletter Is Worth A Thousand WordsPart 1

by : Janice Byer, CCVA, MVA

There are many, many ways of marketing your business that don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. They are all great ways of ensuring that your contacts are aware of what you do and whom you can help. One of the best forms of keeping your name in front of the eyes of your clients, your associates, and others that may be in your target market is a newsletter. It allows you to show them that you are more than just someone who is looking for projects to work on. It shows that you are also willing to pass on information that will help them run their own businesses.

Think about how many newsletters you read each week or month? For instance, the newsletter you are reading right now. Do you enjoy getting and reading it? Do you find the articles and other information helpful? Do you know who or what company produces it? Of course you do :-)

Newsletter Formats:

Newsletters can be produced in several formats. For businesses, the most economical and most readily acceptable formats are plain text emails, HTML emails, HTML page on your website, PDF, and print. Each format has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Format Pros Cons

Plain text email ? Easy to format? Size remains manageable and easy for readers to open? Costs only your time ? Limited to text only? Cannot include graphics or fancy formatting

HTML emails ? Visually appealing? Costs only your time? Allows for creativeness ? Restricted in size as it takes a while to load? Can only be fully viewed while reader is online? Some readers may opt to receive only plain text emails so won’t see your creativeness

HTML webpage ? Endless possibilities for design ? Room for lots of content & graphics? Can be as big as you like? Don’t need to send as email attachment? Costs only your time ? Takes time to design? Reader has to be online to view

PDF ? Endless possibilities for design? Room for lots of content & graphics? Can be as big as you like? Can send only a text email with a link to the page? Readers can save to their computer and read or print at their leisure? Almost everyone has the free Adobe Reader in order to view? Costs only your time ? The larger the format, the longer to produce? Need to have the full version of Adobe to produce or a PDF printer driver

Print ? Endless possibilities for design? Room for lots of content & graphics? Can be as big as you like ? Costly to print and mail.

Deciding which format to produce your newsletter, and the frequency which you publish it, may be a process of trial and error. For instance our newsletter, Virtual TidBits (www.docutype.net/news.htm), started as a monthly text only email. This was done by formatting it in either Word or Notepad. The only essential formatting that needs to be included in text emails is that it is kept to 65 characters per line. This didn’t take very long to put together, only about 2 hours a month.

For creative types, plain text just didn’t seem to be appealing enough. So, we tried designing it in HTML. Well, they turned out very visually appealing but seemed to take a long time to produce. You see, we would design the newsletter in Word and then transfer it to HTML using FrontPage, a longer process than we had hoped. It took about 4-5 hours to produce each month. Eventually, we changed our publishing schedule to bi-monthly, which seemed to justify the time it took to produce.

But, it still didn’t seem to be exactly what our readers or we fully enjoyed reading. So we made yet another change. Our current format for Virtual TidBits is PDF and feedback has shown that everyone loves the new format and the freedom to add in as much as possible. It does take quite a bit of time to produce but, when you enjoy being creative, it doesn’t seem all that bad. We use MS Publisher to design the newsletter and then convert that to PDF. If you have the full version of Adobe, you can choose to distill it or print to file. Distilling it leaves the hyperlinks in place while printing it to file will require that you go into the newsletter in Adobe and re-insert the hyperlinks.

If you do not have the full version of Adobe to accomplish this, you can choose to use one of the many PDF printer drivers that are on the market today. Some of those can be found at & (I used this one before getting the full Adobe and was very happy with the results). The only drawback of some of these printer drivers is that some of them (if not all) do not allow for hyperlinks to be active.

In Part 2 of our article on newsletters, we will look at what to include as content, where to find the content, and how to promote your newsletter. See you then.