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 required for the process to be successful.
Producing an artist newsletter is a project that consists of multiple tasks in order to complete. Writing is only one part of the newsletter process, and even the writing can be broken down into multiple stages.
You will always get stuck when you see a project on your to-do list rather than single tasks.
For more than 16 years I produced a weekly newsletter without skipping an issue for any reason. We’ve had the current system (of multiple tasks) in place for many years, so it’s a well-greased machine. I thought hearing about how we’ve made it work at Art Biz Success might help you create a blueprint for your newsletter process.
Here are the basic steps.
- Dedicate a place for storing and adding to content ideas.
- Make sure your writing time is defined and organized for maximum focus.
- Allow time to rewrite and edit.
- Send your artist newsletter draft to someone else to proofread it.
- Design the newsletter and send a test to yourself and your proofreader before scheduling it.
- Be available immediately after the newsletter is sent.
I share the details below with a word of caution. Yes, I have a team that works with me, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t. This process can still work for you because, regardless of whether you have help or do it on your own, you need to work through all of these steps.
Capturing Newsletter Ideas
I store newsletter possibilities in Evernote.
Most newsletter ideas come from artists’ questions from classes, 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, the chances are good that other artists are trying to find an answer to the same predicament.
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 add notes, images, and resources over time as a good researcher would do.
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 that compete for my attention: Facebook, email, task list, cute panda videos. You know.
For this reason, I set clear boundaries. I say to myself, I am sitting down to write my newsletter. Literally. I am sitting down to write my newsletter.
This might seem silly to you, but it’s a powerful exercise to name the task before you begin. This creates a boundary around that time.
It’s helpful for me to set a ticking timer on my phone to facilitate this process. For this, I use the Focus Keeper app, which uses the Pomodoro Technique for productivity. There’s something about the tick tick tick that helps with focus.
I cannot write to anything that has a rhythm or lyrics that I recognize. Some people aren’t bothered by those things, but they wreck my focus. I like tuning in to the Coffitivity app, which is—I kid you not—sounds of a coffee shop. Yes! There really is an app for everything. You can even choose the type and location of the coffee shop.
As I write this article I am listening to white noise, which is another focusing technique. 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 the following.
- Sitting #1: Create a detailed outline with some specific sections in Evernote. Simultaneously, select artwork to be featured and reach out to artists for permission.
- Sitting #2: Fill in the text and move to a Google document.
- Sitting #3: Edit the text.
In an ideal world, the newsletter goes to my proofreader at least three days prior to the publication date. She’s giggling to herself right now because it doesn’t always make it to her in time. There are weeks when other tasks take priority or those when my writing is uninspired and I’m fighting 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 almost always see that her changes are improvements.
Sending and Posting
A team member drafts the newsletter in our email marketing platform and sends a test to both of us. We each read the text and double check the links to make sure they’re working properly. Tweaks are made and the final version scheduled to be published.
It’s my responsibility that everything looks right and works properly. Same for you. Your newsletter is ultimately your responsibility—regardless of how many people might be helping produce it. When it all looks to be in order, you can schedule or send it.
I strongly suggest you keep an eye on your inbox immediately after you send your newsletter. If something unexpected happens, you can send a correction or redirect traffic before most people open the message. Even better, you can start processing all of those sales!
How does your artist newsletter blueprint differ from what I describe here? Please share in a comment.
This post was originally published on September 10, 2015 and has been updated and republished with comments intact.