The 3 tips that’ll lop hunks of time off of your newsletter writing process.
1. Think columns...or main topics, like in newspapers. A nod from traditional publishing, there is no need to recreate the wheel each issue.
Choosing the columns is the hard part, after that, you know what to plan -and write- for.
Having columns chosen already, you will naturally recognize topics that arise as you work through your days. Listen for them & capture them as best you can.
Note these ideas in your calendar or leave a window of your latest campaign open on your computer to tap a few notes right into a draft of your template.
The number of columns will depend on your writing style, pace and how/whether you might employ a bit of help.
I work two-to-three short columns in just about 15 minutes without an assistant, when I'm organized, and keep to three columns total for each weekly issue.
2. Utilize a technical assist Do topic ideas hit while on the road or between appointments?
Choose & use a voice memo/message application (built into many a smart phone) and create an audio file listing chief bullet points, important notes and details.
Write the article into a draft of your template while listening to the audio file/s and be done.
No smart phone? Use a digital recorder (approx $50.00 for a very good unit) and listen to review while writing.
If you are using a smartphone, email the audio file to an admin or writer to transcribe or flesh out respectively.
If your admins or writers are trusted sources, make them a user on your bulk email account and have them drop in the details or article, then send you a “test” so you can make edits or finish the article/s.
*Take photos or video while in the field that is appropriate & relevant to your article.
3. Timing & Timers
Put a kitchen timer (or timer on your phone or computer) to work. Set it for 15 and GO!
All other distractions can wait for 15 minutes.
Email, social media and phone call pings can wait for 15 minutes. They really can!
You may surprise yourself as to how far you will go while writing inside this time limit. If you have notes in a draft of your template, task completion will come all the faster.
Don’t underestimate the usefulness of this deceivingly simple tool & exercise. If you’re keen about shaving time off of your newsletter production, give it a whirl and see what happens.
Afterwords... Okay, you’ve written up a blue streak in 15 minutes (or at least a lot less time than it usually takes)....you deserve a gigantic ....High 5! Have your admin or a writer read it for clarity and typos. Get someone else’s eyes on it....or, at the very least, give YOUR eyes a break from it. Review before you send. Always.
***************************************** Still stalled for topics? I’ve put a few ideas together below, relating to small businesses ranging from solopreneurs & artists to small businesses with a few on staff. Take & use what you like...and always relate, & make content relevant to, your readers. Part of building a relationship with your clients and letting them get to know you through comes through this regular content vehicle.
Organize & flesh out your editorial calendar, just a bit at a time What is it? An editorial calendar is a version of a calendar that has columns and topic ideas identified for specific “issues” of your business letter.
Examples: Jane has a plumbing business, in her October issue, before it gets too cold, Jane will write a column on wrapping the plumbing pipes before the first freeze to help her clients remember to do this. Jane’s clients will be more knowledgeable and will see Jane as helpful and caring for reminding them.
Dan has a gardening/landscape business: he’ll be writing about the benefits of having ladybugs around as they eat aphids from rose bushes in the Spring. Dan’s clients will understand not only why ladybugs are beneficial, but will regard Dan as expert due his sharing his knowledge to preserve their prize roses.
You’ll use your editorial calendar as your guide and as a reminder tool. You’ll not only follow it but you’ll also keep adding to it. Your editorial calendar is a living doc and it feeds all branding, marketing and web content in an ongoing manner. It’s normal that it’s never really done. So, choose a format you will really use: paper or digital.
Put the whole year out in front of you (on a paper or digital version) and jot a few months in at a time. You don’t have to plan your entire year of content in one sitting but planning a few months out is ideal. Leave your edit calendar out and accessible, or take it out when you are cruising through industry info or watching the tube to add notes when you get inspired.
Seasonal content prompts: The following are a few bits to help get your ideas flowing about your clients and what would be helpful to them.
What season did you just finish? Chances are good it’ll still be fresh in your mind....so jot your notes about what to include for next year, because that season will come around again. What can you plan for? What did you need more time on? Put a few notes together for this time next year and look, you’re already thinking of content for a year from now!
What might your customers be dealing with or considering - as it relates to your business - at any given time during the year?
What are your clients up to this month regarding your business? Are you planning to be at any shows or events? If your clients might be interested, invite them....and give them some time so they can fit it in their schedule.
What questions are you answering over and over again this time of year? Other times of the year?
More topic ideas:
What’s awesome about who you are working with? Vendor / Staff shout out - giving info on quality of what & who your business works with, and how your client benefits directly. Cred feels good. Give it.
Favorite shows or events in your industry. Why attend? What is helpful to your client? What have YOU found to be helpful? If it’s a local show, invite your list along & ask them to be sure to come by & say hello at your booth.
What can you share with your client that will help them to prepare to work with you?
Where & what are you learning? Or what are you inspired by? It’s okay to be a person and relate that you - fellow human - are continually learning in both life and business.
What’s keeping you ahead in your industry? Demonstrate and share your “ON IT-ness” inside your own industry.
Update your social platforms Use each written column as a sort of sample and promote your excellent content as a sort of sample of what they will get. Each column = a status update on social platforms that you will promote & be able to ultimately repurpose. (no 2 birds were killed in this activity, but you are working smart, aren’tcha?) I hope you find this useful and simplifies the writing of your business newsletters. If you need a hand or have questions, reach out & let's figure it out together.