Don’t start an email newsletter unless…

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Jill Anderson of Jill Lynn DesignA consistent email newsletter can be a wonderful way to engage clients and prospects, and even land new projects! But the key word is consistency.

Sending an email newsletter every now and then can actually send a message that says: “Hey, I’m just letting you know that I’m inconsistent.” Nobody wants to send that message, right?

This is why you’ve got to wholeheartedly commit before sending that first issue. Accordingly, here’s my first tip:

Newsletters aren’t something you do whenever. They need to be done \regularly; you must commit to a timeframe—whether it’s monthly or quarterly—and stick to it. No, it doesn’t need to be the same day every single month, but prospects will notice its absence if months go by. Most importantly, if you skip an edition or get slightly off schedule, get back on the horse and stop apologizing for being away.

Before you sign on the dotted line, see if you have what it takes to start (and regularly send!) a marketing-smart newsletter.

Here are a few more tips for creating and distributing email newsletters:

Think about your audience. They need a reason to open it so include something useful.

Explore what others have done in the past. Check out these 31 Great Email Newsletter Designs.

One big idea per newsletter. Don’t try to cram a bunch of stuff into each installment of your newsletter. Your readers are busy people who are less likely to plow through your message if it looks like the front page of a newspaper.

Use your newsletter to push your business in directions you want it to go. Tailor your content to the future of your business.

Promote, promote, promote. Once your newsletter is up and running, make it easy for potential buyers to opt in. When you connect in person, on the phone, or online, ask if you can stay in touch by adding them to your list. You can show a little extra respect by asking which email address to use—some of my clients have a secondary addresses for newsletters.

Set realistic expectations. E-newsletters are about relationship building, not instant sales. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results right away. The goal is to remind buyers that you’re out there on a regular basis so that they’re more likely to call you when they need the service you offer.

Here are some sample email newsletters from designers and other creative professionals.

To learn more about online marketing, check out Ilise Benun’s Developing a Successful Online Marketing Plan

More email newsletter and marketing resources: