How to Start Your Own E-zine

About 5 or so years ago a close friend and I started an “e-zine” (on-line magazine or newsletter). It has been so much fun to do and I wanted to share with you how you might be able to start your own e-zine.

Do you have a passion? How about gardening, knitting or cooking? Or do you have advice to share with others? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are a perfect candidate to start an e-zine. An e-zine can be geared toward a personal interest such as traveling abroad or sewing, or an e-zine can be a great business tool.

Some benefits of having an e-zine are

* For a freelance writer, the e-zine can be a wonderful place to showcase your work and also link to articles that you’ve written for other publications.

* An e-zine can be a wonderful networking /information exchange tool. If you really enjoy cooking, this can be a great way to set up a forum for exchanging recipes or cooking tips. E-zines can also be quite helpful to people who share a similar problem and/or need such as an illness.

* This is an excellent marketing strategy if you sell a product. For example, if you sell insurance, you can put together an e-zine that keeps your readers up-to-date on new products as well as “check-up” or insurance maintenance resources.

An e-zine can be in the form of a web site or can be e-mailed to subscribers. It should be more than just informational, it should be interactive. Readers should be able to participate in surveys, submit their opinions and ideas, and find links to further resources. E-zines build communities and bring people together.

Now that I’ve peaked your interest, here are some tips on getting started

* Decide upon a topic or subject for your e-zine. Don’t make it too broad as you want to have a target audience. If it’s too broad, you’ll have trouble marketing the e-zine and without good marketing you won’t get any visitors to the site.

* Once you’ve selected a subject, consider enlisting the help of friends, family and neighbors who have your same interests. Put together a survey and ask them what they’d like to see in your e-zine or newsletter. Also consider having a contest to come up with the best name for your e-zine. Getting others on board is very important as they can be very helpful in spreading the word about your e-zine.

* After gathering information from friends and family, decide upon a name for your e-zine/newsletter. Now you will need to determine what format you want to use? Will you e-mail the newsletter or will you have subscribers access it through the internet. This is a very important question as both have their pros and cons. E-mailing the newsletters can be quite time consuming. If you have a mailing program this can solve that problem but you’d need to take the cost into consideration. Another option is to design the e-zine using a program like Microsoft Word and just as with a web site, you’d upload the document to your web space. If you go this route, be sure to purchase a catchy domain name so that your subscribers can easily find you and refer others to the site. You might also want to try using an on-line site builder like Siteblast or Homestead . This can be a very good way to go and very economical. (With my e-zine we use a combination of these techniques. We take on-line subscriptions and then we e-mail our subscribers when a new issue has been released.)

* Once you’ve made these decisions, you can begin to gather content. Remember, first impressions are lasting so put your best foot forward. It’s also tempting to put too much in the first issue. Be sure not to overload your readers, 3-4 pages are plenty. Don’t forget to include an article that tells about you and your motivation for beginning the e-zine or newsletter. You might also want to consider soliciting the help of family or friends to contribute articles, recipes or other contributing information. Again, this e-zine is not about you but about the community you are building.

The biggest obstacle to having a successful e-zine is readership, so be sure to tell everyone about your e-zine! Post information to message boards and blogs and be sure to solicit the help of friends, family and co-workers to send out notices informing their e-mail buddies about your e-zine. You can also get readers by posting information in your e-mail signature box and having others to do the same. Remember, good content will ensure that readers come back or remain subscribers, and quality information will entice your readers to send/forward the information to others.

Whatever you do have fun!

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