If you run your own business like I do, you don’t have much time to spend fudging around with new programs. Here are some tricks I picked up while using Constant Contact's email marketing software to create my company newsletter.
First things first: gather up some subscribers!
Before you do anything, place the subscriber sign-up box on your website, and anywhere else that your portfolio is displayed online. You can’t send out a newsletter if you have no subscribers! By the time you’re finished learning the Constant Contact ropes, you’ll have at the very least a handful of interested readers—but hopefully, more!
Make your visitor sign-up form as simple as possible.
You’ve already lucked out once because someone took time out of their busy day to pay attention to you. The worst thing you can possibly do now is make them work to become a subscriber. To simplify the process, go to Constant Contact's More Features section where you can "Customize Your Visitor Sign-Up Form." Other than their Name, Company Name and State, uncheck all the contact information boxes. You can always take down their information later, if they decide to become an actual client.
Write and/or collect your articles ahead of time.
If you’re a writer, you’ll hopefully have some decent material of your own on hand, saved onto your hard drive. If you don’t have any articles, now would be a good time to write some. Don’t type them directly into your newsletter from scratch. Navigating through an unfamiliar program is a big enough headache without trying to create error-free content. Use a word-processing program you’re familiar with, then save and store the files so your articles can be accessed easily, for this or any other project.
If you’re not a writer and don’t intend to become one, go directly to Ezinearticles.com. This website showcases thousands of talented authors offering valuable tips. Many allow you to publish their work without even having to ask (although some require a quick permission request by email). Asking permission to use someone’s article is a great way to expand your circle of contacts! Once you’ve found the articles you’d like to feature, copy and paste the text into a file stored on your computer.
Prepare your company logo in advance.
Constant Contact allows you to "pop in" your logo and resize it to fit the page using their prescribed measurements. My logo is 300x180 pixels, but you can size yours to whatever specs you’d like. Save it as a .jpeg file and then upload it to your website. You’ll be accessing it from this URL later on.
I decided that my masthead looked a lot cooler as part of my logo than in boring Arial type, so I designed the name of my publication "The Good Word: Wordfeeder.com’s Writing and Marketing Newsletter" right into the logo. With that in mind...
Go ahead and break all the formatting rules.
Set the Global Colors and Fonts before you create your articles (not after!).
Your newsletter format should reflect the same style as your website. My font of choice is Arial, color 996600--Wordfeeder's signature Sienna brown. If you’re waffling around about point sizes and headline colors, use Article 1 as an experimental template. Type in some jibberish, and a bogus headline. Preview several times, playing around with font sizes until you’re satisfied with the whole look. Then preset your Global Colors and Fonts to match. When you’re ready to pop in your article, you can be sure it will be designed to your liking.
Note: Global Color and Font changes don’t affect existing text. If you type your first article in Verdana and then make Arial your Global Font, guess what, your first article is still in Verdana. To save yourself a huge headache, set the colors and fonts BEFORE you enter your content.
When entering article text, Control-A, Control-C and Control-V are your best friends.
God willing, you already know that these keys stand for Highlight All, Copy and Paste. This is the quickest way to transfer an entire body of text from one file or program to another. Open the original file containing your article, hit the Control-A and Control-C keys in succession. Your text will be highlighted, and then stored in your computer’s memory. Now go to Paragraph 1 of your Contant Contact Article template, and do a Control-V. The entire article will flow into the box. Use your down-arrow key to move down the article body and insert html paragraph breaks between each paragraph. Use your Preview screen to make sure everything’s lining up.
"But wait!" you say. "Constant Contact’s article format shows one box per paragraph. That means they want me to copy each paragraph at a time into each box." Pah! Constant Contact doesn't care how you create your newsletter. They just want you to sign up for their software. If you really want to, you can copy in each paragraph at a time, but I wouldn't recommend it. Just fill in those paragraph breaks, and the pain of creating a newsletter will be over before you know it.
Add images by uploading photos to your website and then pasting the URL into the Constant Contact format.
This is an arduous process, and you may not care enough to include pictures, but I like my newsletter to look jazzy, so I use them. You can search for royalty-free images on www.picturequest.com, or you can get photos from another source if you have one. Select images that pertain to your content. For example, I found a picture of a turtle to use with an article about Slow Days at Work. It’s up to you how much time you spend on the aesthetics of your emailed newsletter, but I for one appreciate a quality presention so I would say, go all out!
Use the Quicklinks as an opportunity for free advertising.
Once again, I recommend deviating from the newsletter template. You can link to anything you want here; a selection of product you sell, the writing or design samples of your website, or even the website of a friend or business partner.
Don’t create a brand new newsletter campaign from scratch each time you want to mail your subscribers.
The "Copy Campaign" button is an incredibly handy tool that duplicates a newsletter you’ve already completed and sent. All you have to do is change the name of the campaign, and replace the former articles, headlines and photos with new ones. So if you had some trouble getting your first newsletter in order, breathe easy. You’ll never have to worry about it again. Just take care to update all of the information so you don’t accidently send dupes of articles you ran last month!
Constant Contact is a bit tricky at first, but with a little patience, you, too can have your own email newsletter up and running in no time.
Copyright 2005 Dina Giolitto. All rights reserved.Dina Giolitto is a New-Jersey based Copywriting Consultant with nine years' industry experience. Her current focus is web content and web marketing for a multitude of products and services although the bulk of her experience lies in retail for big-name companies like ToysRUs. Visit http://www.wordfeeder.com for rates and samples.. Article on Constant Contact, e-zine, ezine, newsletter, email marketing, entrepreneur, advertising, netpreneur by Dina Giolitto