If you’ve had “write newsletter” on your task list for too long, it might be because you haven’t identified the individual components that will be needed. You will always get stuck when you see a project on your to-do list rather than single tasks.
I’ve been producing a newsletter every week since March 30, 2002 without skipping an issue for any reason.
We’ve had the current system in place for many years, so it’s a well-greased machine. I thought reading about my system might help you create a blueprint for your newsletter process.
Capturing Newsletter Ideas
I store newsletter ideas and an editorial calendar in Evernote.
Most of my ideas come from questions you asked on a webinar, on my Facebook page, or in an email. I try to listen for what might make a good newsletter or blog post topic. If you’re asking it, chances are good that someone else has the same questions.
If I can see a clear date on the calendar that would be good for publishing the topic, I add it to my editorial calendar, which is arranged by date. Otherwise, the topic is captured in one of my Evernote notebooks under Content Ideas.
With the ideas stored in a single place, I can quickly add notes, images, and resources when they come to mind.
Sitting Down to Write
I write a draft of the main article the week before its publication date. This is based on the notes that I’ve created and updated in Evernote.
Sitting down to write is the hardest part. There are so many distractions – Facebook, email, task list – that want my attention.
For this reason, I set clear boundaries. I say to myself, “I am sitting down to write my newsletter.” This might seem silly to you, but it’s necessary for me to name the task that I’m starting.
It’s helpful for me to set a ticking timer on my phone to facilitate this process. There’s something about the tick that helps me focus.
For this article, I am listening to white noise, which is another focusing technique. I cannot write to anything that has a rhythm or lyrics. I like using the Coffitivity app (sounds of a coffee shop), but today I’m listening to Hemi-Sync sounds to help with concentration. (Thanks, Cynthia!)
Editing and Proofreading
I never (okay, rarely) write the draft and edit it on the same day. What’s more likely is that the process includes three sessions that look like this:
Sitting #1: Create a detailed outline with some specific sections in Evernote.
Sitting #2: Fill in the text and move to a Word document.
Sitting #3: Edit the text and find or create images to support the content.
Three days prior to the publication date, I send the newsletter to my proofreader, who turns it around within 24 hours.
She’s giggling to herself right now because I confess that this doesn’t always make it to her in time. There are weeks when my writing is uninspired, and I fight with the content. During those weeks, she gets the newsletter a day late.
She sends the proofed newsletter back to me with suggestions. I review them all and usually see that her changes are improvements.
The final version is placed in Dropbox for my team members to finish things off.
Final StepsPat, my Web guru, lays out the newsletter and sends me a test. Ultimately, it’s my responsibility to see that everything is in proper order. When she gets the green light, she schedules it for delivery at 8 a.m. Mountain Time on Thursday morning.
Kelly, my virtual assistant, creates a blog post draft of the same content. When the draft is in place, I go in and add links because I’m the content expert on my team.
As with the newsletter, it’s my responsibility that everything in the blog post looks right. When it does, I schedule it for publication on Thursday morning so that it’s in place when the newsletter is distributed.
I try to be at my computer inbox on Thursdays at 8 a.m. If there is a bad link in my email, I can make quick corrections to redirect traffic before most people open the email.
Take the steps I’ve outlined above and make them your own. Create a personalized blueprint that will help you get that newsletter out on time.
Share your system with us in a comment.