Taking the Fear Out of Creating a Newsletter
Step 1. Brain Storming Session

Many of my clients over the years have understood the need to keep in touch with, and add value, to their clients and customers, yet the thought of starting up a newsletter prevents them from taking this step.

Here's a step by step guide on how to prepare for writing your own newsletter. If you follow each of these steps now, at the end of the process you will be relieved and know that you can have your own newsletter, and it wont be that hard!

Step 1. Brain Storming Session

Get together with the key people involved in your business / organisation / group - and if it's just you, that's perfectly okay! When you are together, have a brain storming session of all the different topics you might like to talk about with your clients / customers.

  • do this true brainstorming style - have a whiteboard / big sheet of paper, and write up every idea that comes. Don't judge the idea there and then... just write it down.
  • if you have a few people in your group, or you are having trouble getting started, you might like to "lead the witness" by considering these areas:
    • new products / services
    • revisions of existing products / services
    • complementary products / services
    • special staff skills
    • foundational industry knowledge
    • what knowledge would make it easier to deal with us?
    • holiday themes
    • date / event specific information

Step 2. Rationalise & Prioritise the List

Now choose the right people (or just yourself) to go through the list created in Step 1. Go through each topic and weed out the ones that you don't think would be very exciting or useful to talk about to your audience.

Next, create two groups of topics: those that can be written about now, and those that need further research (add a mark / special colour to these so they are easy to identify later).

Take the topics that can be written about now, and put those into a logical sequence. You may find that there is a logical sequence for discussing the different topics, or perhaps not, but it is worthwhile giving it some consideration as it will help you introduce your next newsletter to your readers.

On your whiteboard or a blank piece of paper write out the quarters / months / weeks in which you would like to send out a newsletter.

Slot in any topics that are dependent on a particular date or time of year, whether they are ready to be written about now or not.

Now is a good time to think about how many topics you would like to include in each newsletter. Some newsletters come out with one main theme topic, with perhaps a few little tidbits of "supporting" information; others include a range of topics.

Then slot your topics into the available slots in your time scale, starting with the sequence of topics that can be written about now, followed by the topics that need further research.

Voila! There's a plan for you.

Step 3. Assign Writing Responsibilities

Beside each topic in your time scale, add the name of who will write about it. Spread the load where you can. You might need to re-order the topics slightly to stagger the writing responsibilities.

If you are the primary person responsible for your organisation, don't think that you can't get other people, even external people, to write something from time to time for your newsletter. It's a great networking exercise, and if done well, can add much to your relationships.

Finally, diarise writing up the topic for a few weeks prior to when it will be required for the newsletter.

Step 4. Make it Easy to Gather your Research

For each topic that requires further research, or even for those that you can write about now, but that aren't "coming up" for awhile, create a box or folder, and an email folder. Whenever a piece of information arrives that is related to that topic place a copy of it in the appropriate folder.

If it's just you doing all the writing, make sure that you enlist the help of family / friends / colleagues to help gather information for the topics in your folders.

When your diary reminds you about the next topic to be written up, it should just be a matter of going to your folders, and you're away!

I have practised this process myself, and I found that it:

  • made me realise how much I had to write about, thus taking the fear of the demands of the newsletter away
  • helped me to be well prepared when the time came to write about a particular topic

I also found that I thought of other topics, and moved things around from my initial plan, but that was good too!

I'd love to hear from you if this guide has helped you with your newsletter plans.

July, 2007