Recent studies confirm that consumers and business owners alike still prefer email marketing as the #1 way of communicating about new products and services.

But for the most part, only retail chains or “daily deal” type sites can get away with straight promotional emails. For small business owners and solo-preneurs like us, the ezine rules. What’s an ezine? Well, if you’re reading this article in my Spotlight then you’re reading one!

An ezine delivers a mix of insightful, practical content for your readers along with your promotional updates and info. Here are seven simple ways to get the most out of publishing your ezine:

1. Make sure your MAIN ARTICLE always provides information that your readers will find valuable. By having a main article as the foundation of your issue, readers will feel they got what they came for—helpful information. Try a list of top 10 tips, a “how-to” article, a list of resources, a review of a trend in your industry, etc. Your main article is the “meat” of your ezine, and it should have great information to keep your readers engaged.

For helpful article ideas, see my post, “7 Simple Formulas for Writing Articles That Get Read”.

2. Begin each issue with a short EDITOR’S or PUBLISHER’S NOTE. When I first started publishing in 1999 or so, I didn’t include anything personal. Then I began including my Note from Ali, and found it was the perfect place to let readers know what’s happening with my business and life, give them a taste of my personality, and announce any upcoming events they should know about.

An Editor/Publisher’s Note is a personal message from you to them—and because it’s not your main content, you have more leeway in being self-promotional if it’s appropriate. For example, mention you’re working on your upcoming seminar, and offer a link where they can learn more.

3. In your articles, include LINKS to related articles you’ve written, blog entries, or media mentions, when appropriate. Your readers will appreciate the additional information and resources, and it’s one more chance for you to demonstrate your expertise and credibility. It’s best for you to drive traffic to your own site, so it’s a great reason to have your articles and resources on your blog and/or website as well as in your ezine.

4. Directly after your article, give a quick PROMO BLURB, mentioning your products, services, or programs, if you offer them. (Choose one for best results.)

Why right after the article and before anything else? If someone reads your article and says to themselves, “That was great information!” They’ll be ready to hear what else you have to share on that subject.

For example, if your article is on how to groom the perfect poodle, and you have a video course on perfect poodle grooming, then by all means mention it and give them a link! A great lead-in for your blurb is: “Did You Like Today’s Article? If you did, you’ll LOVE my [e-book, report, upcoming workshop, etc.]…”

Here’s another example, one I use at the end of every Spotlight article, and also where it’s posted on my blog. It also encourages others to repost the article:

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: “Entrepreneur mentor Ali Brown teaches women around the world how to start and grow profitable businesses that make a positive impact. Get her FREE CD “Top 10 Secrets for Entrepreneurial Women” at www.AliBrown.com

5. In each issue, consider offering a TESTIMONIAL from one of your clients or customers. If you have testimonials, it’s a great idea to work them into your ezine. Not only do they establish credibility and trust, but also they are a subtle reminder that you’re not just a publisher… you offer services and products that get great results for your clients/customers.

Plus, when some of your clients see how nicely you highlight your testimonials, complete with the client name and business info (if any), they’ll be more likely to submit one themselves. Every business owner loves exposure!

6. Tell us what YOU’RE all about!

At the end of your ezine, take at least a paragraph or two and give a concise description of you and/or your business and what you have to offer your readers. (See the end of my own ezine for a good example. Mine’s on the longer side, FYI.)

Explain who you are, what you do, how you can help me (the reader), and what to do next (e.g. visit your website).

7. Occasionally, make a special announcement in a SOLO MAILING.

A solo mailing is any mailing you make to your ezine subscriber list that is NOT a regular issue of your ezine. If you subscribe to my ezine, you know what these look like.

If you do send out any solo mailings, make sure they’re newsworthy. Perhaps you’re offering a special sale on your product line, or you’re announcing a brand new seminar you’re teaching.

Remember the Silent Benefits of Your Ezine Too!

Keep in mind that even if you aren’t getting direct business from your ezine at this time, it’s still delivering many benefits that may be less obvious. Your ezine is helping to establish you as an expert in your field. It’s giving you larger online exposure. You’re gaining further credibility with your current clients and customers. And it’s forcing you to write on a regular basis, packaging your knowledge into articles and tips on a regular basis, which you can recycle for many other marketing uses!

Ali Brown

Ali Brown

“Entrepreneur mentor Ali Brown teaches women around the world how to start and grow profitable businesses that make a positive impact. Get her FREE CD “Top 10 Secrets for Entrepreneurial Women” at alibrown.com