The no-tears guide to newsletters

Learn how to create content for successful and sustainable company newsletters

Newsletters do more for business than just spread news. A newsletter can benefit you in a variety of ways, depending on how you use it. It might foster workplace community, improve investor confidence, or bring in a new stream of customers.

If you’ve been tasked with starting a company newsletter, you may be at a loss for where to begin. Of course, you can always hire a content creation company to take the job off your hands. But if you’re determined to go it alone, these simple steps will get you over the hump and on your way to being the talk of the town (and the office).

State your mission

First of all, decide how your newsletter’s success will be defined. Your audience will determine the objectives of your content. If it’s an internal staff newsletter, maybe the goal is to disseminate important information and foster employee connections. If it’s for shareholders, you may want to show how your business is growing and generate excitement. If it’s for the general public, you’ll likely be looking for bridges between popular topics and your company to get people interested in what you do. 

In any case, you’ll need one or two central goals to focus on. It’s a good idea to create a list of these objectives and keep it close at hand. It will help you know where to start each time you write. When a newsletter draft is nearly finished, compare it with the list to make any final improvements.

Set a realistic schedule

All regularly-scheduled writing projects face the serious threat of burnout. You might start out with a huge gust of enthusiasm to write a newsletter every Friday, and within a few months find yourself struggling to keep it up. 

That’s not to say some people can’t pull off a weekly newsletter successfully. But look honestly at your workload and the rate at which your company generates news. If you have a small team and you’ve got a lot on your plate, a monthly update might be a better fit.

Set a content creation schedule to make your newsletter successful

Be sure to create a schedule you can stick to

Get to the hook 

People are often busy and distracted, so there’s no need for suspense in your newsletter. Don’t be afraid to put your most interesting story right at the beginning. If people are intrigued early, they’ll read on to see if the rest is just as good. And even if they don’t, at least you’ve gotten the most important news across.

Each section of your newsletter should have a punchy headline. Headline writing is a craft in its own right, but don’t be intimidated. Headlines should be short, to the point, and in the active voice. It shouldn’t be too hard to get a sense of what the article is about; people will skim past headlines they don’t understand.

Gather real news

The most crucial ingredient in your newsletter is, of course, news. You can’t refine it until you have some raw material, so start by brainstorming all the content you can.

When it comes to research, you don’t have to work in isolation. Take some time to ask your coworkers for updates and events they think are important. Individual success reflects positively on the team, so you might also encourage colleagues to submit personal accomplishments to be featured.

Collaborating with coworkers will provide content that connects with its audience

Fellow employees can provide some of the best content

Additionally, some newsletters might have sections for relevant industry updates. You don’t want anyone to upstage you in your own publication, but showing awareness of current events in your field demonstrates competence.

Switch up the format

Variety keeps readers engaged. Interviews with employees or outside peers are a great way to mix it up, and the interview process itself could be a networking opportunity. You might have another section for rapid-fire updates: tidbits of news that don’t merit a whole article. And don’t hold back on images; visuals break up the page nicely and grab the reader’s attention.

Technology is a big factor in how creative you can get with formatting. If you’re not very tech-savvy, consider using an e-mail management service like MailChimp. It will let you arrange your text artfully and bring designs and graphics right to the reader’s inbox. It also provides analytics, so you can track readership and optimize your strategy based on how people are interacting with the newsletter. 

Sell yourself

If you want your newsletter to reach the general public, you’ll need to go big. Make it easy for anybody who interacts with your company, even fleetingly, to get on the list. Prominently display sign-up links on your website, during purchasing processes, and anywhere else you’re publicized.

Make your newsletter user-friendly to generate traffic and draw new readers

It should be easy for readers to subscribe—and unsubscribe

We’ve all had that irritating newsletter we can’t seem to unsubscribe from; you don’t want to be one of those. Provide an unsubscribe option and be sure it works. But while unsubscribing should be easy enough, subscribing in the first place should be even simpler. You might have noticed that since online purchases usually already require an e-mail address, a lot of companies just add a “sign up for email updates” check box to their checkout page. This is a great example of a quick and easy way to draw new readers.

When in doubt, trust your gut

Take all of these factors into account, and then breathe. At the end of the day, one of the most important parts of writing a newsletter is, if possible, enjoying it. Anything written in a tortured state of mind will be torturous for the reader. Depending on your brand and your audience, your newsletter might not be a barrel of laughs, per se, but as a human being, your instincts are probably pretty good on what other people actually want to read. Listen to those instincts. They’ll usually steer you true.

If you’d rather leave your newsletter to the professionals, get in touch with our marketing team at VeraContent who have years of experience delivering email content in multiple languages.

Tova Seltzer
A lifelong writer, poet, and seeker of just the right words, Tova is excited to be spending time abroad immersed in Spanish, although she misses the breakfast scene back in Washington, D.C.
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