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What You Need to Know to Write Enough Content for Your Email Newsletter

This post is part of a series called Building a Successful Freelance Email Newsletter.
The Incentives that Will Convince Subscribers to Sign Up for Your Email Newsletter
A Guide to Choosing Email Newsletter Software

It can be difficult to write enough content to fill a newsletter on a regular basis — especially if your newsletter is doing its job and bringing you plenty of work.

But there are ways to minimize the amount of time you need to spend on producing each newsletter. The earlier you can think about these options in the process of establishing your newsletter, the better. You’ll have more opportunities to set up your newsletter so it runs smoothly that way.

Hiring Help for Your Newsletter

One of the easiest options, particularly if you aren’t primarily a writer, is to hire another freelancer to handle putting together each newsletter you send out. Of course, you’ll have to spend some money (unless you can find another freelancer who needs your skills as much as you need hers), but you may be as surprised by how the pricing works out as some of your clients wind up. There are many freelance writers who will handle email newsletters. Their prices will be well worth the expense, provided you’ve created an email newsletter that brings you in a steady stream of paying work.

You can often find freelancers who will handle the entirety of your newsletter, as well as preparing an individual article at a time.

You can often find freelancers who will handle the entirety of your newsletter, as well as preparing an individual article at a time. It’s just a matter of which option is easiest for you to work with and what makes sense within your budget.

If you are comfortable with the writing portion of producing your newsletter, but you need to speed up the overall process, it might be worth discussing the matter with a virtual assistant. Many VAs will handle work like prepping a newsletter to publish through email software, finding photos and handling other little details of maintaining an email newsletter.

Accepting Guest Articles and Other Contributions

Just like with a blog, you can publish articles written by other people who have an interest in reaching your audience. You probably won’t want to do so too often, if only because your email newsletter is meant to promote you and your freelance business, rather than anyone else. But running the occasional article written by someone else can make it a lot easier to keep up.

There’s an added benefit of operating an email newsletter, over a blog. While search engines may penalize a website that republishes content that has already appeared elsewhere, search engines don’t index newsletters. Provided you have permission to run an article that’s already appeared on a blog or a website, you have the option to do so. You may not want to publish pieces that your readers have likely seen before, but if you write a guest post for another blog or a friend of yours writes something really great, there’s no reason such articles can’t do double duty.

In order to ensure that any content written by someone else matches the overall feeling you’re establishing with your email newsletter, it’s a good idea to write out guidelines that will help those writers plan good posts or tweak existing posts to match what you’ve already published. Give them guidance on the following:

  • Article length
  • Any images you expect them to provide
  • The audience’s demographics
  • What articles do well with your audience
  • The style guide you’d like them to follow

You can write up such guidelines in advance and just send a copy to anyone considering submitting an article to your newsletter.

There are also some sites that offer up free articles that newsletter publishers are welcome to browse through and republish as they want. It’s not generally a great option — the articles on such sites tend to be of poor quality, as well as overly promotional of the writer. But it’s one on the table if you find yourself really struggling to keep up with a publication schedule.

Focusing on Easy-to-Write Articles

Some types of articles will always be easier to write than others. Putting together a reader-friendly version of an interview is much faster than researching a big list of resources which, in turn, is faster than writing and testing an in-depth tutorial for a new tool. While you want to make a point of presenting high-quality material to your readers, you’re in charge. You can pick the format and, at least when time is short, you should choose options that are easier to get done.

As you’re developing the editorial calendar for your email newsletter, take time to consider what sort of format each article should be in.

As you’re developing the editorial calendar for your email newsletter, take time to consider what sort of format each article should be in. What sort of research are you going to need to do? Do you need to set up an interview? Do you need to read a few books? Mix things up to get the full benefits that go along with different types of articles.

Every writer has some preferences about the types of articles she prefers to put together. And since your email newsletter is alone, you’re allowed to be picky. But do take the question of quality to heart. There are some publications that are little more than transcripts of audio interviews, week after week, with no polish to make them more reader-friendly. While readers will fight through the format for information that’s really worthwhile, they’re not going to be predisposed in favor of the author. They may associate those lower standards with the rest of your work, whether or not you’re selling services related to writing.

Making Use of Your Own Talents

You may be shaking your head at this point, because you don’t come from a writing background, let alone an editing background. But odds are good that you have some other skills that are key for sharing information. While an email newsletter usually revolves around written content, you can make other types of information a key part of your editorial calendar.

Depending on your email service provider, you can set up HTML emails that allow you to include images, which opens up a lot more options for designers, photographers and illustrators sending out email newsletters. Great infographics, for instance, can prove to be ideal content for some audiences. Embedding video is harder, but you always have the option of linking to outside content in an email newsletter.

There’s an added benefit in being able to show off the specific skills you’re selling, as well. If your readers can see just how great the infographics you design are, there’s a possibility that they may turn around and immediately have you design a few for their businesses. It’s not guaranteed, but if you can play to your strengths, you can offer much better content to your audience, which in turn will help persuade them that you really do know what you’re talking about.

Getting Ahead and Staying Ahead

When you’re publishing an email newsletter, you’re going to have to invest time into the process — there’s no way around it. But you can decide when you’ll put in that time, so that you’re not stuck trying to pound out an edition of your newsletter the same night that you have to finish a major project for a client.

Schedule that amount of time, multiplied by the number of newsletters you want to stay ahead.

The best way to manage publishing an email newsletter on a regular basis is to write well in advance. Before you even start publishing, you can sit down and write several editions. That way, when you are ready to start promoting your newsletter, you already know what you’re going to be publishing for a while. You can focus on putting together some great marketing and getting the right people signed up, as well as handling the client work that hopefully rolls in as a result.

Once you’re ahead, though, it’s important to stay ahead. Get an idea of how much time it takes you to put together each newsletter. Of course, you’ll probably get speedier as you get more practice, but be pessimistic in the short term. Schedule that amount of time, multiplied by the number of newsletters you want to stay ahead. At the bare minimum, staying three newsletters ahead will give you room to maneuver — unless you’re so ambitious that you’ve decided to publish more often than weekly. But if you can get even further ahead, it’s worth it to do so. As a freelancer, you know the problems that can pop up: an illness, a big project or something else entirely can throw off your work schedule if you let it. So, be prepared.

You’ll also be able to take advantage of batching different parts of preparing your newsletters together. Rather than switching gears from writing into loading your newsletter into your email software, you can load up several newsletters at once, to speed things up.

It’s possible to juggle producing a top-notch newsletter and running a thriving freelancing career, especially when the two complement each other. It’s just a question of using the right strategies to make sure that you get all the work done.

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