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From Ezine to Expert
By Francine Silverman
When my first guidebook, Catskills Alive, was published in 2000, I became interested in book promotion. I read everything I could get my hands on but found there was very little written on how to market books. Most of the articles were on business marketing – products and services. So last March I decided to start a free on-line newsletter, suspecting that I’d found a niche. My hunch proved right. The ezine has grown from 10 subscribers to well over 1050 in nine months and the number continues to grow every day.
Told that I could not expect advertisers until I reached 1000, I haven’t made much money so far. Even though the list has exceeded the magic number, the only advertisers have been subscribers and it’s been sporadic. But I am hoping that as the subscription list grows, so will the advertisers.
Profits aside, the newsletter was the best idea I have ever had. My subscribers look forward to the bi-weekly ezine and my ego is constantly stroked with rave reviews. Moreover, subscribers view me as an expert on everything. One asked if I knew any publishers for his baseball book. Another thought that because I live in New York City I have an “in” in the publishing industry. Yet they do more for me than I do for them. Whenever I’ve written to them asking for help – in finding more subscribers or building my website – my mailbox has been flooded with offers of assistance.
A key to my newsletter’s success is that it’s interactive. I e-mail a Q&A to new subscribers and use the best responses as fodder for the text. In this way, subscribers really write the newsletter and look forward to seeing their names and website addresses in print. I also answer every e-mail and use the newsletter to accommodate subscribers who wish to promote their seminars or are seeking answers. I also honor those whose books have won awards.
If you have a business and want it to grow, a newsletter is the answer. First and foremost, you must have a user-friendly website, which you can advertise in every issue. (Remember, it’s YOUR newsletter). As Tom Person wrote in “Starting a Newsletter,” http://www.laughingbear.com/128_newsletter.html, “nothing has come close to my website for drawing attention to my letter.”
You’ll first need to find a theme – preferably one that is not overused. (I read that there are more than 10,000 different newsletters in this country today). To find a niche, draw up a list of questions and hand them out to customers. Ask them what products they would like you to carry, or services you should add. Put yourself in their shoes. Then use the best responses in your ezine.
If writing is not your forte, the Internet is filled with websites offering articles for free – as long as you print them as written, with attribution. Here are a few sites to get you started:
http://www.work911.com/articles.htm is geared to managers and focuses on business communication.
http://www.bizweb2000.com/articles.htm focuses on Internet marketing and web business promotion. If you’re a local business, scroll down to the article entitled “Has Website Promotion Gone Local” for tips on getting your site noticed.
http://www.workz.com bills itself as “the premier small business portal” and is another good site for articles on promoting a web business.
http://www.bizoffice.com is the Small & Home Based Business Library covering business subjects from A to Z. Click “Biz Office Library” on the right.
http://www.marketingbestpractices.com/articles.htm is for small businesses. The article “Internet Marketing for Local Small Businesses” by David Frey contains some really great ideas on promotion.
Be sure to familiarize yourself with the different methods of registering subscribers and e-mailing the newsletter. It’s a good idea to use a third party mailing list service to do this for you. I use http://www.mailermailer.com, which is free until you reach 500 subscribers – then charges $29.95/month. There are several free mailing list hosts, but like anything free, there are restrictions. Christopher Cheng’s article, “Starting Your Own Newsletter or Ezine” at
http://www.thesitewizard.com/archive/newsletter.shtml has links to his reviews of various free mailing list services.
As publisher of a newsletter, you will become a guru of your industry. Customers will endow you with expertise and seek out your advice. However, keeping a newsletter fresh takes time and effort. If your business is important to you, you have probably given it your all. A newsletter requires the same kind of devotion.
Francine Silverman is editor/publisher of Book Promotion Newsletter, a free ezine for authors of all genres. http://www.bookpromotionnewsletter.com.Her two guidebooks are Catskills Alive (second edition) and Long Island Alive, both published in 2003 by Hunter Publishing. www.nystatetravel.com.