Real estate newsletters – general rules of writing

People who come from a journalism or English-major background have an advantage—they’re less likely to suffer from graphophobia, and they probably have a sense of writing structure and format. On the other hand, they’re more likely to self-judge and worry about writing “perfect” copy. But never fear—whether you’re a confident author or a nervous newbie, here are a few simple guidelines that will have you writing like a champ:

  • Don’t put too much pressure on yourself: Your newsletter doesn’t have to be The New York Times. The most important thing is to express your ideas and your personality. In the example above, my friend was able to get across exactly what she wanted to say without worrying about layout, pictures or headlines, and it worked wonderfully!
  • In fact, my advice is don’t worry about format while you’re writing. Pop open a Word document or your Google Docs and start your article. Just be yourself and type as fast as you can. You can go back and edit later. The point is to get the heart of the message onto the page. Handle the technical logistics later, instead of getting bogged down by wondering what it will look like on the page.
  • That also means your writing shouldn’t get in the way of what you’re trying to say. Be clear, concise and use familiar language. Don’t worry about style—the best newsletter writing is a relaxed tone, close to how you normally speak. Don’t stress over grammar unless your business is word- or copy-focused (though do proofread for spelling errors, which can make you look sloppy).
  • Collect ideas as you go along: If you try to come up with all your ideas on “Newsletter Day” you’re asking your perhaps-already-tired brain for a sudden burst of creativity. Not easy. And probably not going to happen. Instead, build the habit of writing down newsletter ideas when they occur. Collect them in a specific place so they don’t get lost. (Go ahead and jot down ideas on a napkin or the back of a receipt if that’s what you have—just be sure you transfer them to your newsletter folder or list.) I use my cellphone to note ideas anywhere and everywhere, because I’m always carrying it.
  • You might start small and that’s okay. Any movement takes time to build a buzz. Your main task as a newsletter writer is to accumulate readers. Each issue should generate more and more readers. Starting with a small mailing list helps you get your footing without the pressure of a huge audience. As your numbers grow, so will your confidence and skill in making a great newsletter.
  • Look for ways to write as you speak. If you’re a better talker than writer, record yourself and then transcribe it. You can also find cheap transcription services online. Most smartphones have a voice recording function, and it can be fun to “think out loud” into your recorder, then build content from your own unique voice.
  • Use easy templates to focus your writing. You can buy ready-made newsletter templates online, either with or without content. Customize them to your own liking. They give you a great starting point. Don’t be afraid to modify to suit your own needs. It’s just like house renovations: when you a buy a home you are looking at the bones, then add your own taste in the kitchen counters or new carpet.
  • Or use bullet points—it’s easier to write articles in bullet points rather than as great slab of text (for one, you don’t need to tinker with transitions). It’s less daunting and easier to organize your thoughts. Bullet points are also easier to read. Your customers are busy and they’re more apt to scan your article while multitasking than sit back with a cup of coffee to peruse a thousand words. Remember, you want to complement their life, not dominate it.
  • Numbered lists work like bullet points, and also help the listed items feel connected to each other. “22 Ways to…” or “11 Don’ts For…” are fun to write, and move quickly. Again, don’t get hung up on perfection—if you’ve only got 9, just re-title your Top Ten!
  • Not sure what you have to say about your subject? Try the Q&A method in the template I’ve included at
  • Collect links: Make part of your newsletter a section devoted to useful links you’ve curated from around the web. Add links you think might be interesting to your readers, with a brief introduction. Consider giving this section a cute, catchy name and compiling these links into an easy-to-find box within the newsletter.
  • Incorporate sidebars or boxes. An article doesn’t have to be just linear text. If some parts of the article—whether it’s a quote or a statistic—are truly dynamic and thought-provoking, maybe they need to stand apart from the crowd. This breaks up the copy and highlights the article’s important points, and gives you opportunities for the layout.
  • Keep it simple. One article, one subject. It’s easier to write when you’re addressing a single point. This will also help you focus the message so that it’s clear and understandable to the reader.