Category Archives: Books / Writing

Newsletters – why you should be writing one!

When I asked for questions a few weeks ago, a number of you asked about newsletters.  The questions all varied slightly but can be summarized as follows:

Why do I need a newsletter and how do I go about setting one up?

Let’s start at the beginning – why do you need a newsletter?

Well of course, you don’t need a newsletter BUT they can be very beneficial to your online business.  A regular newsletter will do a couple of things; firstly it will help to build trust and respect with your subscribers (assuming you are writing about something that they are interested in and that you are knowledgeable about your subject matter).  Secondly, it will remind your subscribers of who you are and what your website is about.  If you get it right, this will mean that your subscribers are more likely to turn into customers…

Ok, so now you know why you might want a newsletter, how do you go about starting one?

As with most things online, there are several ways to get started but most of these methods will fall into one of two categories:

1.  A third-party hosted service

2.  Your own service hosted on your web server

The difference between the two is simple.  With a third-party hosted service, you host your newsletter list with a company that is specifically set up for this purpose.  Whenever you want to send a newsletter, you just upload your newsletter to this company and they send it for you from their servers.

With the second option, you would need to install a script on your own hosting server and then your newsletter emails are sent via your own hosting account.

Pro’s and Con’s of each option

With the third-party service you will normally have to pay a monthly fee to use the service and you probably won’t have as much control over exactly when your newsletter is sent.  However, this is usually much easier to set up and maintain than the second option and is an ideal way to start off.

With your own service you probably won’t have to pay a monthly fee (other than for your normal hosting) BUT your hosting company is very likely to have a restriction on how many emails you can send at once.  The reason for this is that sending emails uses server resources and a host is not going to want you ‘taking over’ one of their servers to send tens of thousands of emails.  The maximum number of emails you can send will vary from 30 upwards so you should check with your host before setting up a newsletter in this way.  On the plus side, you will have total control over when the newsletters are sent, since you are the one in charge of the ‘send’ button.

Whichever method you decide to use (and I recommend the first for new publishers), you will normally be able to send either a text or HTML message by selecting the appropriate option in your newsletter control panel (which you would access via your web browser).  You will also be able to generate the necessary ‘form code’ to put on your website so that you have a nice subscription form for new subscribers to complete.

Finally, both services will deal with unsubscriptions and bounced emails automatically which means you can concentrate on writing great content!

If you are new to publishing a newsletter, I strongly recommend a hosted service called AweberAweber is very easy to use and very reasonable price-wise.

Write articles, get links!

In the past, I have spoken about the value of incoming links to your website – that is, getting other sites to link to yours.  This is particularly beneficial if the sites that are linking to you have good search engine rankings or a generally high level of traffic.  I have also suggested that one of the best ways of getting other sites to link to you is by offering them a commission on any resultant sales.  But there is another way – and this way won’t cost you anything except a bit of time…

If you have knowledge of a particular subject (and I assume you do if you have managed to build a website about something), then why not see if you can write a few articles and get other site owners to publish them online or in their newsletters?  There are many, many sites out there that are crying out for good quality content that they can use – many site owners simply don’t have the time to sit down and write fresh articles every week.  This means that if you offer to do this for them for nothing more than a link back to your site, many will grab the chance with both hands.

Choose the sites that you approach carefully and you could soon have your links on some high-traffic pages, which will benefit you not only by sending you lots of new potential customers, but also by increasing your ‘link popularity’ – search engines love sites that have lots of other sites linking to them, especially if the sites doing the linking are high-ranking themselves.

Get your eBooks listed on Amazon.com

Since announcing that my eBooks were now available to buy on Amazon.com, I have received several emails from people asking how to get their own eBooks listed with the site.  It had originally been my intention to write an eBook on this very subject, but, if I am completely honest, I really haven’t got the time and I think I would struggle to fill a whole eBook with the information.

Therefore, for everyone that asked, here is the abbreviated version of how to get your eBook on the Amazon website:

The key to this process is a company called LightningSource (www.lightningsource.com).  LightningSource (LS) hold a library of eBooks and allow certain retailers to sell the contents of the library.  If you get your eBook into the library, then it will automatically be listed on Amazon.com – as I understand it, Amazon list everything that LS have on their records.

You will need to visit the LS website and open a new publishers account – if you published your own eBook, then you are the publisher.  The next stage is to print off and sign a few agreement forms and return them by post to LS.

Once your LS account is fully open, you can upload your eBooks to the LS site for checking and listing.  LS charge a flat fee per eBook uploaded – it is approximately $25.00.  You must submit your file in either Adobe Acrobat Reader or Microsoft Reader format and you will also need to provide a ‘marketing image’ or cover graphic.  It will also be necessary for you to obtain an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) for each eBook that you want to list.  The process for getting an ISBN is different from country to country, so try a search on Google.com for ‘ISBN issue’ to find your local issuing organization – alternatively, LS should be able to point you in the right direction.

Finally, LS will check your eBook file and email you to confirm that it has been listed on their site.  You can then expect to see it on Amazon within 7-14 days.

Payments are made by cheque/check every month, 90 days in arrears (less of course a fee to LS – details in their agreement doc’s)

And that’s it – how to get your eBooks on Amazon in 3 easy stages!