How to Make Writing Your Newsletter Easier

For many people, writing a newsletter is somewhere down there with going to the dentist, washing the car and clearing out the eves troughs.

A right royal pain in the butt.

The thing is, you can't see it like that if you are going to continue with your newsletter for the long term. (And the benefits really only kick in if you keep at it for a while.)

So… it's a good idea to make writing your newsletter a little less of a chore.

Here are some ideas:

Don't put so much pressure on yourself: Your newsletter doesn't have to be like the New York Times or Vogue. The most important thing is that you express your ideas and your personality. I advised one person last year simply to write her newsletter in the form of a long letter. It worked wonderfully, because she was able to express exactly what she wanted to say without having to worry about layout, pictures and headlines.

Collect ideas as you go along: If you try to come up with all your ideas on "Newsletter Day" you're asking your brain for a sudden burst of creativity. Not easy. Instead, get into the habit of writing down newsletter ideas as soon as they occur. Then you can dip into your ideas when the time comes. I use my cellphone to take notes of ideas, or if I'm online I use Twitter as a kind of public notepad.

Don't worry about writing: The best newsletter writing is relaxed – it's how you speak. Don't feel you need to resort to some kind of formal, business-like writing for your newsletter. Just be yourself and type as fast as you can. You can go back and edit later.

Use the speech-to-text method: If you think you talk better than you write, record yourself talking to someone and then transcribe it. (You can find cheap transcription services online).

Use the Q&A method: An easy way to write an article is to create a list of common questions about a subject and then set about answering them. It's easier to write when you are addressing a single point.

Use bullet points: It's easier to write articles in bullet points rather than as a great slab of text. Not only is it less daunting but it also makes it easier to organize your thoughts. It's also easier to read.

Use numbered lists: The "22 Ways…" or "11 Things…" articles are the easiest to write. By their nature they give you a structure to follow.

Collect links: Make part of your newsletter a set of useful links from around the web. Collect any links you think might be interesting to your readers and add them to your newsletter with a brief introduction.

Use a ready-made template: Buy newsletter templates online, either with content or without content. Customize them to your own liking. They give you a great starting point – often doing all the difficult work for you.

(Picture by jazza)