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!