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Should You Publish an Ezine?
If you've read much information on the Internet about marketing and how to be successful, you probably know that one of the first things the gurus tell you to do is start an ezine, or what in the offline world, would be called a client newsletter.

This sounds like good advice at first read. After all, what is an ezine but a client newsletter? And what benefits does a client newsletter afford but to increase sales, increase your customer base, keep your name in front of your customers and prospects, present a professional company image and position you as an expert in your field? This is what we're all looking for, so the progression seems logical.

But, at the risk of being flamed, I choose to differ.

Yes. You NEED a client newsletter—an ezine. You NEED the benefits it can provide your business. But, again, at the risk of offending ezine publishers everywhere, you don't need an ezine if you can't do it right.

I know I'm opening myself up for criticism here. You can say, what makes her such an expert? HER ezine isn't the best I've seen. And I'm sure you're right. I am certainly not the world's most eloquent writer and I certainly don't know all the ins and outs of Internet marketing—I'm learning daily, just like you. One thing I DO know is what a good newsletter consists of. And the majority of what I receive in my email box are not good newsletters. They are poor replications of inferior newsletters which become, in turn, pitiful examples of what a newsletter could be.

Ask yourself "What is my purpose for producing an ezine?"

Probably something we've already increase sales, to increase your customer base, to keep your name in front of your customers and prospects, to present a professional company image, or to position you as an expert in your field. Right? Ultimately, to help you make more money.

Then consider this. If an ezine makes you look unprofessional, unlearned in your field, incapable of clear communication, and overall, presents a sloppy image of your company, how is it going to help you make more money? Would you buy from a salesman who showed up at your door in an unpressed suit, with uncombed hair, with his shoelaces untied and who handed you a torn brochure that had been dragged through a mud puddle? You may offer him a free lunch, but I don't think you'd buy anything from him. Is this really the image you want your customers and prospects to have of you and your company? I don't think so, Tim.

Yet every day I receive ezines that present this kind of image of their publishers. What do I do with them? I hit the delete button. I don't even read them. Do you? Would you listen to a one-hour presentation from that salesman who showed up looking like he'd been run over by a city bus? I wouldn't. I don't have the time, nor the inclination. If his appearance doesn't instill my confidence, immediately, I have no desire to listen to him stutter through a sixty minute sales presentation.

Maybe I'm picky. No, let me restate that. I AM picky. I expect something useful for my time, and especially for my very hard-earned money. I expect value. And I expect, not perfect packaging, but packaging that has been put together with some thought. Not thrown together on Sunday night for Monday morning distribution. (Ouch...that one reached my own toes.) But it's truly the way I feel.

I Corinthians 13:1 says, "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal." (NIV)

Let me paraphrase, "If I speak with the words of marketing experts or successful entrepreneurs, but have no concern for my customers, I am only a slamming door, or a screeching chalkboard."

Grabbing a couple of over-used articles from a sloppy website, throwing in 25 ads and mailing it out to 6,000 people without even running it through a spell check program does not constitute an ezine. You may call it one. But it has no value.

And let me be the first to say, I use other writers' articles. I use previously published material, and I have ads in my ezine. But I still look for some value to add to each and every issue. This is key.

When reprinting content from other sources, search for articles that you haven't read. If you've read them, so have your readers. They read many of the same ezines you read. Odds are you'll still have at least one or two readers who have read one of the articles you're reprinting, so offer some fresh content as well.

Take your time to sit down and write an article that has never been published before. You don't have to be a Hemingway to write an effective article. Content is much more important than flowery phrases or catchy prose. Tell your readers something they need to hear. Something you've learned about marketing on the 'Net, or running a small business. Share your insight and your experience. That's what they need more than rehashed articles they've read before.

If you truly can't write, hire a writer, or barter with one. If it means more money in your wallet, it's worth a few dollars to give your readers something worth reading.

As to the ads, don't get carried away. Your customers subscribed to your ezine to read your articles, not to listen to your commercials. Think of how frustrating it is to sit down to watch a movie or a ball game and see ten minutes of the show and five minutes of commercials. The same principle applies to advertising in your ezine. Don't force your customers to change channels out of sheer self-defense. Give them more of what they expect and they'll reward you by reading your ads and maybe even responding to a few of them. Limit the number of ads you print in each issue. Your readers will thank you for it by remaining on your mailing list.

Ask yourself, "What are my readers getting out of this?" "What can they learn or realize by reading this ezine?"

If the answer you find wouldn't satisfy your pickiest prospect, maybe you need to reconsider publishing an ezine until you have something worthwhile to say.

Copyright © 1999-2000 Darlene Bishop. All rights reserved 
worldwide. Email author for reprint permission.

About The Author 
Darlene Bishop is a professional with over 16 years experience writing and editing ezines and newsletters, press releases, website content, sales letters, ads and much more, and is the author of numerous articles on a variety of topics.

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