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Monday, August 22, 2016

How to Create a Newsletter


Since this is a long post, I created a downloadable PDF for anyone who wants to save this information for later. :) To download it click: How to Create a Newsletter


I started my author newsletter last year, and I love it! (Some authors decide not to do one for various reasons, which is just fine. The decision is up to the author.)

Dispel the idea that it’ll take too much time. Once you create one newsletter to email to your subscribers, you can use that format to make another one in just minutes. And don't believe that you need hundreds of readers either. You can get subscribers to your newsletter without having readers.



BEFORE YOU START: 

Set up an email address domain. What is this? An email address domain is special, and it’s just for you. After the @ symbol, instead of yahoo.com or gmail.com, it’ll be your website domain. Such as Chrys@ChrysFey.com

Note: You don't need a website, though. All you need is a domain name. It can be one you've already purchased or you can purchase one when you create your email.

Why do I say to do this? Because personal email addresses from Yahoo, AOL, Gmail, and Hotmail won’t work well. These email hosts make it extremely difficult to deliver mass emails. Many of them may not be delivered into your subscribers' inboxes and could bounce because the receivers' server could mark it as spam. If you don’t get a domain email address, you’re taking a big risk of being continuously marked as spam, which will blacklist your email address.


There are many sites that offer email address domains:

1. Zoho.com (free) This is the one I used.
2. Hover.com
3. Register.com
4. GoDaddy.com


Now that you have your spiffy new email address domain for the FROM SENDER ADDRESS, let’s get started on your newsletter:


1. There are a lot of email hosts out there.

Do some research, compare the features and prices, make your choice, and sign up!

I use VerticalResponse for my author newsletter, and work with Mail Chimp for the IWSG newsletter. Both are great and free up to a certain number of subscribers.

2. Know what you want to name your author newsletter.

Mine is Chrys’ Chronicles. Nora Roberts’ is Nora’s News. It can be catchy or straight forward. This is also what you’ll put in the Subject Line for your subscribers to see.
TIP #1: In the subject line also try to include the month or something catchy.
For example: Chrys’ Chronicles - August 
3. Have a Banner

Make sure your banner has the same feel and graphics as the banner you use for your blog/website, etc. The banner for my newsletter has sparks on it. So does my banner for my blog and website. There are even sparks on my business card!

4. Select a Design/Layout

There are many designs for newsletters in VerticalResponse that you can choose from. Think about your personality, your blog/website’s look, and try to find something to match it. Plus, check out the layout (single column, two columns) to see if you’ll be able to include what you plan to share in your newsletter, such as images.

5. Build Your First Newsletter

After selecting your design and giving it a name, you need to make it look attractive. Most email hosts let you easily drag and drop the things you want into your newsletter. So if you want to add text, select the “text” block, drag it to your newsletter’s body, and drop it where you want it to go.
TIP #2: Include a short bio and your author photo at the end of your newsletter. After all, you’re an author and you want people to know about you. Sometimes I change my photo for fun.
Bottom of my newsletter.
You can see a divider, my bio, and follow buttons.
TIP #3: You may have to fiddle around with these tools before you get it to look how you want it to look. Experiment before you start emailing subscribers.
6. Share Features

Include social media share buttons at the top of your newsletter so people can share your newsletter. You want them to be able to do this, because if they do, their followers may be interested in signing up.
TIP #4: VerticalResponse allows you to add a button that subscribers can click on. Add a button linked to your opt-in form URL. This is a must if you allow subscribers to forward it to people they know. (See image above.)
7. Follow Features

Also add the follow buttons so people who have signed up for your newsletter can easily follow you on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

8. Add an Extra Button

I have a button in my newsletter called “Visit My Website!” If someone clicks on it, it brings them to www.ChrysFey.com.

9. Use Dividers

If you have a lot of different, small content, keep it neat and orderly with dividers. These dividers are black lines that separate things nicely. 

10. Put the title of your newsletter beneath the banner and in bold font.

Top of my newsletter.
You can see the banner, share buttons, and the beginning of my Welcome Message.

11. Include a “Welcome Message” and make it a little different for each newsletter by briefly updating your subscribers on what you’ve been up to.

12. Save it.

When your newsletter looks good and has all the content, save it. You don’t have to email it yet. You can keep it as a draft or schedule it to go out later.

13. Create an Opt-In (Sign Up) Form

Add your banner to the sign-up form. Put the title of your newsletter first in bold type. Include a short message telling people what they can expect to get with your newsletter. Then select the information you’ll want to ask subscribers for.
TIP #5: Keep the information you ask for simple. Obviously ask for their email and their names. That’s it!
My Newsletter Opt-In Form
The banner is tiny because this was on my phone.

14.
Create a “Thank You” page

Once you save the details for your sign-up form, you’ll be able to design the “Thank You” page. Again, add you banner. Include a header such as “Thank you!” Then add a short message of thanks and a note to remind them to check for the email confirmation. For the IWSG Newsletter, I added a clickable gift.

My old "Thank You" Page.

15. Put the sign up form on your blog and website.

Once you’re done with the “Thank You” page, you’ll get a link. Use this link to create a separate page on your blog and website (yes, both!) so people can sign up. Title this page “Newsletter” or “Newsletter Sign Up.” This is essential! New visitors won't know you have a newsletter otherwise.

16. Share the link

Share the link on your social media and blog to let followers know they can sign up for your newsletter.

17. Create a badge for your blog and website

If you are good with computers and images, create a badge to put in the sidebar of your blog and website. Make it clickable by adding a link.

Here is my badge:



18. Add a “Newsletter Sign Up” APP to your Facebook page

I know MailChimp has one that allows you to add it by integrating MailChimp with your Facebook account. If you can’t do that, though, search for “Static HTML – Thunderpenny” in your FB search bar.
-       Click on “Go to App” then click “Add Static HTML to a Page”
-       Choose your page and add the app.
-       Now your page is a newsletter box. Hover over the App image and click on the little pencil icon in the corner then click “edit settings.”
-       Change the image. I used the badge I made BUT it has to be exactly 111 x 74 pixels, so make sure to resize it. If it’s off by a smidge, it won’t upload.
-       Customize the tab name to something like “Newsletter” or “Newsletter Sign Up.”
-       Now click the tab and click “edit tab.” At the top it’ll say Static HTML. Paste in the HTML code for your newsletter. You will get one at the same time as you get the link to your sign up form.
-       Click “Save and publish” then “Done editing tab.”
-       Finally, go to your page and test out the tab, even test out the form to make sure it works. If it doesn’t, try pasting in the HTML again.

19. Get subscribers

Now that your newsletter is ready, the sign-up form is done, and you’ve added an App to your FB page, it’s time to get subscribers.
TIP #6: Do a giveaway where people have to sign up for your newsletter to be eligible to win. I did this and got an amazing response! 
TIP #7: Pass around a clipboard with sign-up sheets for your newsletter while you’re doing a reading, so interested people can put down their name and email address.
TIP #8: Have a sign-up sheet at your table when you’re doing a signing or book event.
TIP #9: Place a fishbowl on your table with a stack of white paper for people to write down their name and email address to enter some kind of giveaway and sign up for your newsletter. Make sure they know you’ll be signing them up!
TIP #10: When you host a Facebook party, share a link to your sign-up form and ask them to sign up. Tell them that new subscribers will be entered into a giveaway for something. Make the offer good!
TIP #11: Include a sign-up link in your email signatures.

20. Set a date each month to send out your newsletter.

Try not to do it within the first few days of the month because that’s when EVERYONE sends out their newsletters. Yours will get lost in the mix.

The day your newsletter goes out, go back to your account, click on the sent newsletter, and check out the stats. In VerticalResponse, the stats will show you how many people opened your newsletter, who those people are, how many people unsubscribed or clicked on something within your newsletter, and emails that bounced. MailChimp doesn't show all of this. 
TIP #12: Make your newsletter unique and don’t make it all about you. That’s boring! You can highlight one of your books but do it in a way that’ll be interesting to your readers. And don’t just use your newsletter to be all me-me-me or my book this, my book that. Give subscribers something more! 
TIP #13: Offer occasional prizes only to those who have subscribed. You can give it to everyone (if it’s something easily email-able), do a drawing (Rafflecopter), or first-come-first-serve by sending you an email.
TIP #14: Tell your newsletter subscribers your good news first before you share it anywhere else. This will make them feel valued and in-the-loop.
TIP #15: Share teasers from your WIP or an upcoming book, announce sales and giveaways, share recipes and poetry and photos from your life. Make it worthwhile for subscribers.


QUESTION: What do you like to see in author newsletters?


68 comments:

  1. Now I know why I'm glad you're in charge of the newsletter for the IWSG.
    Hover is where we got the domain name, so it's where we got the new email address as well.

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    1. Thanks, Alex!

      That's why I put Hover as #2. :)

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  2. Ugg, it sounds so daunting to set up haha I know once it is set up it will be easy to run, I just don't want to set it up haha maybe I'll get to it one day. I blame the cat for being so lazy.

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    1. It can sound daunting in the beginning. Especially when you look at all of this, but if you take it one step at a time and don't rush yourself with a deadline, it's doable. Your newsletters would be fun, Pat! And since you plan so many blog posts ahead of time, you could do the same with your newsletters. :)

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  3. Wonderful and useful post, thanks for sharing!

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  4. You put a lot of hard work into this and it shows. There are so many newsletters out there that it seems it would be easy to get lost in the forest of them. Most people have so little time to read that I think the effort to put out a good newsletter could be put to better use writing a good novel. When a route to get more readers is one that everyone is using, I believe that is the time to avoid the traffic jam!

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    Replies
    1. It can be easy to get lost in all the newsletters that come out. That's why making it unique is extremely important. It has to stand out. Honestly, the effort isn't as much as you expect. I can create one newsletter in twenty minutes. That's just twenty minutes each month.

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  5. I'm not sure if this is something I'll do, but I've printed it out for *deep reading*. Thanks, Chrys!

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  6. Great share. I browsed through it, then downloaded the PDF to read at length (and more often) later. Thanks so much.

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  7. This is so interesting Chrys, I will certainly download it later. I often wondered how news letters were done. Thanks for sharing.
    Yvonne.

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    1. You're welcome, Yvonne! And thanks for downloading. :)

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  8. A good newsletter must stand out. I'd like to see ephemera related to the writer's books and research, like recipes, information about the places featured, profiles of animal breeds in the story, and extra interviews with firsthand sources consulted.

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    Replies
    1. Those are excellent ideas! I've shared earthquake facts and recipes. :)

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  9. You're right, this is a keeper. Thanks for the download. It does seem like a lot to do in the beginning, but I bet it's easy once you're past the initial set-up. I don't know what in the world I'd talk about as a rule, but I could use it as a special bulletin ;-)
    Thanks, Chrys!

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    Replies
    1. There are a lot of steps to get started but once you do them, you don't have to do them again. :) For your newsletter, I imagine tidbits on haunted places, poems, and 100-200 flash fiction. I'd subscribe!

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    2. Bless your heart, thanks for the vote of confidence:-)

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  10. Thanks, Chrys. This will be helpful for many who dread starting a newsletter.

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  11. Okay, im definitely downloading the pdf. There's a lot of great information in here. Maybe this is the push I need to start my own newsletter. Thanks, Chrys.

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    Replies
    1. Awesome! Thank you for downloading the PDF. And you're very welcome! You're newsletter would be packed with useful info and interesting tidbits.

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  12. This is great. Will download it to read more slowly. I've been thinking about a newsletter but did not know exactly where to start. Thanks. This will help.

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    Replies
    1. I'm so glad I can help. I didn't know where to start and having to learn these steps on my own was hard. That's why I created this post and the PDF. :)

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  13. They're a lot of work when done well. Great job in laying out the how to!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, they do take a lot of work, especially when you first start, but they get easier.

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  14. I'll have to look at this when I get to the point of needing to create a newsletter. Which I figure won't be until after I publish a book. Which will be after I finish said book. So, this will be down the road a bit.

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    Replies
    1. Which is another reason why I created the document, so it can be used whenever you may need it. :)

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  15. It took me a long time to get interested in newsletters. I do read them more now but don't think I'll go that route myself. Still these are really good tips Chrys and all the best with your newsletter.

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    1. That's okay. You don't have to go that route. :)

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  16. This is really useful information! I personally have not tried the newsletter route. I'd be interested to know if having a newsletter results in more sales.

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    1. I haven't used my newsletter yet to try to sell my books. I've shared teasers of my upcoming release, though, hoping that'll get some readers interested. I'll try some techniques in the future to see if I can get sales through a promo in my newsletter.

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  17. Wow! Thank you so much for this detailed info on creating a newsletter. I MUST try this, but I still haven't stopped to figure out how to make a landing page! I'll work on it. Vertical sounds like something I'll check out. I signed up with Mail Chimp and was overwhelmed. Thanks for having the PDF download. You're a smart cookie!

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    1. You're welcome, J Q! Beginning on another newsletter host can be overwhelming at first. That's why it's important to hunt around and take things slow. But I do think VerticalResponse has an easy website to navigate.

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  18. Wow, great step by step instructions, Chrys. You do a great job on your newsletter! Mail chimp also has an upgrade or premium subscription where they offer far more in the way of stats info on your account. Definitely you want to have your website link on that newletter because that's the ultimate goal to get visitors and then book sales?

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    1. Yes, they do have premium subscriptions, but I don't use them. Exactly. I have my links at the bottom with my bio but also that button under the Welcome Message. I want people to go to my website. :)

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  19. Wow! There's a lot to know. I downloaded my copy. Thanks so much, Chrys. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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  20. Thank you so much for this awesome post! I signed up to Mailchimp in the beginning of the year, but never got around to figuring it all out. Thank you for making it so easy for me to follow:)

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    1. You're so very welcome! If you have any questions, feel free to email me. :)

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  21. Thanks so much for all the helpful info, Chrys! I just downloaded the pdf. Maybe it will inspire me to finally start a newsletter, especially since I found this post through your newsletter. :)

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    1. I love that you found this post through my newsletter. :)

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  22. I have thought of a newsletter for those who want to follow but don't want to daily post. I think it would be great to put one out once a month with a recap. Thanks so much for all the info!!!!!I downloaded the pdg and pinned this post. :-)
    sherry @ fundinmental

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    1. In my newsletter, I include the top 4 posts from my blog that month, I love to use it as a little recap. :)

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  23. This is excellent! For people who need a newsletter and are unsure how to proceed, you give a nice step by step and offer great advice

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  24. Wow, your plans sound very well thought out and well-organized. They sound kind of fun too. Maybe someday I'll create my own newsletter. :)

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  25. Someday, someday, I will get myself to do this. Downloaded for future reference. (Thanks for that!)

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  26. Awesome tips, Chrys. I've been doing Newsletters for about 4 years and I love them. It's so nice to be able to communicate directly with my book peeps. Nothing better.

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    1. I get your newsletters and enjoy them. I especially like your book reviews/recommendations.

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  27. Thanks for this exhaustive guide! I'll definitely be coming back to it when I start my newsletter, which will hopefully not be too far into the future. So much that I hadn't realised, including having a dedicated email address.

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    1. I had to learn each of these through trial and error and research. That's why I wanted to share this...to make it easier for others. :)

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  28. Give me helpful ideas and don't always try to be selling. I use constant contact with my work-related email. I find that I get more from author's blogs than newsletters.

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    1. Not selling to subscribers in every newsletter is important. I only mentioned my bookson if I have a new release or sale. And I share teasers for my WIP.

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  29. Very helpful! I've been so behind on sending out my newsletter--ugh.

    I always like to hear good news beyond "I have another book coming out." Too many advertisements turn me off. And I'll never read serial fiction on a newsletter, even if I really enjoy the writing.

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    1. I hate ads in newsletters, too. Which is funny since I tried a couple of paid ads in newsletters. Maybe I should've asked my reader self how I thought about that. ;)

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  30. Thank you so much for putting this together!! I am saving the PDF for sure. You rock, Chrys.

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  31. Hi Chrys - this is wonderful ... I knew it would be - but held back reading for a while. I've downloaded it - and will definitely take note ... this will be a great help. Thanks so much ... cheers Hilary

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    1. I'm so glad you think so, Hilary. ☺

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  32. Thank you so much for this, Chrys. I've downloaded it and saved it. I also shared it online. All best to you!

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    1. Awesome. Thanks for sharing! And I truly hope this helps you. :)

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