How To Publish Your Own Newsletter

    June 30, 2003

I get a lot of requests for information on how to set up and operate a newsletter. This article is intended to help those of you who are interested in running your own newsletter get it started.

Before you begin working on your newsletter, you need to consider why you want to go through the trouble of publishing one. With smaller newsletters, your objective should be to promote yourself and your product and/or services. Do not plan on making money off the advertisements. However, you can give away free ads to attract subscribers. More on this later. Do not think you are going to get a lot of business of a newsletter with 100, 500 or even 1,000 subscribers. But as your newsletter grows it will eventually start producing for you.

The most common format for newsletters is plain text. The reason is that many e-mail reader programs can not handle HTML or other special formatting. For example, if you are an AOL subscriber and you use fonts, centering, colors, and different font sizes in your newsletter, and send it to people who are not on AOL, the non-AOL subscribers will receive only the text and not the special formatting. And it will probably be very messy looking. If you want everyone to be able to read your newsletter, you should keep it plain text. There are some ways around this that we will discuss later.

The first thing you need to do is to decide on a topic. This should be a topic that interests you. Publishing a newsletter is work, and you will do best doing something you enjoy. Just because you are marketing, for example, shampoo does not mean you can not do a newsletter on cooking or fishing. Cooks and fishermen wash their hair too. You will just have to work a little harder at relating your product or service to the topic of your newsletter.

Once you decide on a topic, you should subscribe to several newsletters dealing with that topic. Read a few issues of these newsletter and pay close attention to how they are laid out, what is discussed, and what is offered. Your best education will come from observing others.

Once you have your topic, you must then decide how you are going to lay-out your newsletter. You should make a rough draft of the contents of each issue. My lay-out is usually something like this:








Each of the above is usually separated by some kind of separator and an advertisement.

Your next step is to go ahead and put together a test newsletter just as if you were going to actually mail it out. You do not need real articles or real ads, just make something up to go in those areas. For separators between sections of your newsletter use hyphens, pound signs, or most any other character you see on your keyboard.

You need no special software to write your newsletter with. I use Notepad which comes with every Windows operating system. In fact, you should not use Microsoft Word, Word Perfect, or any of the other popular word processors. Word processors usually do not space your characters properly for newsletter publishing. Each line of your newsletter should be either 60 or 65 characters in width. With word processors, two 65 character lines might not be the same width. Give it a try with yours. Type copy and paste the two following lines into your word processor and you will see one will be longer than the other even though they both contain 30 characters.


By the way, the AOL mail reader works like a word processor, so these two lines will not be the same length for AOL users either. If you prefer to use your word processor instead of Notepad, you can. You will have to play with the fonts and the margins to get a properly formatted newsletter.

I will usually write my articles using Word Perfect, then cut and paste them to Notepad. Make sure you go to “EDIT” in Notepad, and turn off line wrapping. When you cut and paste an article from a word processor to Notepad, each paragraph will be one long line. I use a row of 65 X’s to measure each line and break it properly. The following is an example:

Four score and seven years ago our forefathers

In the above example, the row of X’s has 30 characters for illustration purposes. If you are viewing this with most mail readers, the word “ago” should end at the last X. You simply place your cursor after “ago” and hit enter. Then do the same for the next line, until all lines are no longer, in this case, than 30 X’s. Your line of X’s should actually be 65 characters.

Once you have played with your test newsletter and are comfortable with it, you need to decide how you are going to publish your newsletter. When you are just starting out, you can use your e-mail software. However, be careful. Many e-mail editing software will reveal every subscriber’s e-mail address to every other subscriber on the list. You will need to send a test message with your e-mail software to see if it has this problem. The best way for a beginner to publish a newsletter is through either Yahoo E-Groups or Topica. These are free services that not only processes the mail properly, but they also automate your subscriptions and unsubscribes. This makes your job much easier.

Instructions for setting up your newsletter on these services are presented at the service. It might at first appear complicated, but if you read everything on every screen presented and take it one step at a time, it is very easy to set up your newsletter on these services. Here are the URL’s of Yahoo E-Groups and Topica.

Your next step would be to find a source of articles (publishers call it content) for your newsletter. If you are a prolific writer with good knowledge of the topic you can write your own content. I usually right my own content, however, I subscribe to several sources of free content for when I am too busy to write or have writer’s block. There are numerous sources of free content. Do a search for “free content” or “free newsletter content” on your favorite search engine, or subscribe to one or more of the following free content providers who will send you via e-mail free content on often a daily basis.

Now, you know what your newsletter is supposed to look like, and you have decided on a service to use to publish it, and you have even found a source of free content. How often are you going to publish it? There is no hard and fast rule of what publishing schedule is best. All I can give you is my personal opinions.

Daily is way too often. You will spend all your time putting together the newsletter, and your subscribers will not read them. They get way too much e-mail as it is. I use Pegasus Mail as my e-mail reader. It sorts my e-mail for me into a number of folders depending on the importance of the mail, the sender, etc. I will often skip over the publishers who send me mail too frequently for those who send me mail less frequently.

Bi-weekly or weekly appears to be the best schedules. You send the newsletter often enough that the subscribers don’t forget about you, but not so often you annoy them. I publish weekly. (Since writing this article, we have changed to monthly because of time constraints.)

Once you have made the decision of how often to publish, it would be a good idea for you to go ahead and work up your first few issues and save them on your computer so your back wont be against the wall each week trying to get your newsletter out.

You can place advertisements throughout your newsletter in spots between articles, and you can also have a classified ad section if you want. I recommend you do not overwhelm people with advertisements. However, it may be necessary to publish more advertisements than you want as you are establishing your newsletter.

Finally, you need subscribers. To begin with, you are going to want to subscribe to the newsletter every single e-mail address you or your immediate family has. Then, your going to want to call on every friend you have to subscribe to your newsletter. You need a few subscribers up front. Very few people who do not know you will want to subscribe to a newsletter who no-one else has subscribed to.

At the bottom of every e-mail you send you should add a signature line linking to your newsletter. You should do the same thing in any newsgroup posts you make.

If you have a web site, you should promote your newsletter there. Make joining your newsletter a prerequisite for any free product or service you provide.

If these tactics do not produce enough subscribers for you then you may want to sign up for some services that will provide you with subscribers.

One I use and am very pleased with is 2Bucks ads. Bo, the operator of the program sells ad space in your and many other newsletters at a very cheap rate. As part of the deal, the advertiser must subscribe to your newsletter. You can get from 10 to 20 or more new subscribers each week from this service, but you will also have to run a ad for each of those new subscribers. You don’t make any money off the deal, but you build a subscriber list very fast. Visit the URL below to find out more about the 2Bucks ad system.

There are two more services I use to build my subscriber list. These are “Co-Op Subscription Pop-Ups.” The way this works is you place some code in your web page, and when people leave the page a small pop-up ad appears giving them a choice of a number of newsletters to subscribe to. Each time this box pops up on your site, you earn credits which displays a subscription pop-up containing your newsletter as one of the options on someone else’s web site. Depending on the amount of traffic to your web site, you can get several new subscribers from these services each week. Here are links to the two services I use.

Earlier I told you we would discuss how to publisher fancier newsletters. There are several ways to do this.

One way is to publish your newsletter in HTML only. HTML will allow for much nicer formatting than text. This will limit your readership, but if it is what you want, then do it.

You can also maintain two separate lists, one for subscribers who prefer text and another for subscribers who prefer HTML.

Another way to offer both formats is to publish your newsletter in text, and provide a link at the top of your newsletter to a HTML version on your web site. This is what I do.

If you want to get fancier than this, you can publish your newsletter in Adobe .PDF format. Most quality word processors will allow you to save a document in .PDF format. So, you write up your newsletter using your word processor, save it as a .PDF file, and e-mail this file to everyone on your subscriber list. To read the newsletter, your subscribers will need Adobe Reader. Understand, you will spend considerable time preparing and distributing this type of newsletter, and each subscriber will have to download it before they read it. However, this is a popular way some very expense newsletters are published. For more information on Adobe, visit:

Brande and Chris Bradford are active participants in a home based business opportunity and are the publishers of GREAT HEIGHTS, a monthly newsletter focused on home based business issues. To subscribe to their newsletter, send a blank e-mail to: or visit: