Drew’s note: Here’s a guest post by Patrick Carver on a relevant topic — how do you create and sustain the creation of an enewsletter.
Don’t you just hate writing newsletters? We all know the feeling. It’s Saturday afternoon and you realize the company newsletter is due to go out on Monday. You can feel the blood start to boil when you remember how long it ACTUALLY takes to write all that content. Don’t you just wish your newsletter would just write itself?
A great option is creating a ‘hybrid’ newsletter using a mix of original and curated content. Curation is a fancy name for finding relevant content (articles, videos, white papers, etc.), qualifying it, and then sharing it with your audience.
Using curated material is a great way to complement your own message and save a lot of time ‘thinking of what to say’. You can use the outside content as a jumping-off point and establish yourself as a thought leader in your niche at the same time.
The first place to look for free content is through one of the these tools. Google Reader let’s you add your favorite websites to a list and then view all their most recent posts in one place. A great way to monitor your sites without having to bounce around. Google Alerts is another free tool that lets you add specific keywords to a list and then will email once a day with relevant links and stories.
There are a handful of social bookmarking sites out there like Delicious, Reddit, and Digg that will help you find material but these aren’t always terribly useful. Without a human curation element, there is way too much automated/aggregated content on there to really find what you’re looking for.
One of the best options for finding free content is using a ‘personal newspaper’ service. The gist is that you add some topics that you’re interested in and then the software produces a personalized digest of the ‘best’ stories on that subject for you. Some of the more popular products are paper.li , scoop.it , and Flipboard but there are lots of these sites out there. AllTop is a great resource that will list all of the relevant blogs on a topic and display their latest 5 posts.
Now you just have to incorporate all that great content with your newsletter template. People often use an email marketing tool like Constant Contact, MailChimp or InfusionSoft for this. But, if you don’t like messing around with templates, you might consider trying FlashIssue (it’s Free).
Newsletters can be a lot of work but it’s definitely worth the effort. Don’t get deterred if your first try doesn’t come out amazing and go viral. Stick with a core theme but experiment as much possible with different story-lines until you find something that really sticks. If you can figure out how to speak to your customers in a way that makes them want to listen, you’re on to something big.