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At one time, newsletters looked like they were going to go the way of the Wooly Mammoth. But in the last year or so, newsletters have enjoyed a renaissance of sorts as savvy marketers figured out that people still like to hold a piece of paper in their hand and read it at their convenience.

With publishing software such as Publisher, Word, iWork and many others, it’s very easy to create your own professional newsletter in just a short time. Once completed, you can make copies at your local Fed Ex/Kinkos or other copy store and mail them out to your customers.

Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Pick a ready-made template for your newsletter. These templates are designed by professionals and you can easily adapt them to your own needs. Unless you have some graphic design experience, don’t try to do it yourself. Even Word has some templates that will suffice. You want the finished product to look polished and professional. Otherwise your newsletter will be ignored and end up in the trashcan.

2. Inform, don’t sell. The object of your newsletter is to provide information that your customers can use. The information adds to their own knowledge. You want to be perceived as an expert in your field. You don’t want your publication to be filled with sales hype. Highlight your own products through features on your customers, helpful tips and hints, trends, new products coming out, etc.

3. K.I.S.S. Yes, Keep It Simple Stupid. Use active sentences that are short. Break long passages into separate paragraphs. Don’t bore the reader with too much detail. Keep the tone light and lively – conversational in tone. Be friendly, not preachy. And don’t use jargon or big words.

4. Write in second person. Like your website, your newsletter will sound much more friendly if it’s written in second person. In other words, use “you” and “we” instead of “he”, “she” or “they”.

5. Proofread, then proofread again. There is no place for grammatical errors, misspelled words or sloppy sentence structure in your newsletter. The publication represents your company, its quality, service and people. Have another set of eyes read through everything just to make sure there are no last minute errors you may have overlooked.

6. Capture their attention from the first word. Traditionally, people look at the top left of a page, then a graphic, then the text. Keep this in mind. Put your most important article on the left side of the page. Use a catchy headline to draw their eye into the story. Use subheads to break the copy up.

7. Create departments. To make writing your newsletter a pleasure instead of a chore, create regular departments, such as New Products, Helpful Tips, In the News, Customer Profile, What’s New, etc. Then all you have to do is fill these sections in. A good way to get information for these sections is to create a folder for each topic and simply drop in information your find interesting.

8. Be regular. Frequency is important in establishing relationships with readers. If your publication is monthly, then be sure it arrives at the 1st of the month or 15th of the month every month. Don’t get behind. Every two months is O.K. too. If you spread out your issues too much, though, your reader may stop looking forward to your newsletter. It’s the old adage, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

9. Manage your postage. If your mailing list is relatively small, you won’t realize any real savings in postage no matter what you do. However, if you get a sizable mailing list, look into the rules regarding bulk mail. Bulk mailings require you to sort your mail into zip codes but the savings can be substantial.

10. Put it online. Use software that can make your newsletter into a pdf file. This will allow you to put a link to the file from a page on your website so visitors can download the newsletter and read it even if they weren’t on your mailing list. Files formatted in .pdf can also be cataloged by search engine spiders.