What Will I Write About in My Newsletter?: Part 3: The Template

Now, it’s time for the form to emerge in this next part of my newsletter series.

As you discover what your newsletter will contain, you’ll start to see the physical shape. Set up this look as a template that you can simply fill in week after week.

Are you starting from scratch? I find it helpful to quickly sketch out the newsletter—nothing too concrete, just creating a bare outline like a storyboard. Index cards could be used or simply cut a sheet of paper into pieces. Play with the placement of the different sections. Have fun and engage your imagination!

At this point, you’re probably wondering….

What’s the optimum length of an email newsletter?

A quick Google search gives you an optimum length of 200 words or 20 lines of text. However, the truth is less cut and dried.

Robert W. Bly speaks about optimum copy length in his classic text, “The Copywriter’s Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Copy That Sells.” Using a grid, he shows the integration of Involvement, meaning how much time, effort, and thought goes into the purchase, and Emotion. For example, making a decision on what car to purchase can be both very involved and emotional while buying a sack of carrots carries very little emotion, time, effort, or thought.

Here’s the grid:

 High EmotionLow Emotion
High InvolvementLong CopyMedium Copy
Low InvolvementMedium Copy Short Copy

This same grid can represent pricing as well, with high prices equating with long copy and affordable purchases needing very little copy.

So, what kind of purchase are you asking people to make? Are you asking people to purchase expensive products or services? Do you expect your clients to be highly involved or emotional as they make their decisions?

If you are leaning towards longer copy because of the type of purchase people will be making but would rather have a short newsletter, know that your efforts in selling your services build over time. Repeated newsletters help you to build the trust that necessitates the time, effort, thought, and emotion your client uses to make their decision. As clients read each newsletter, their investment in you and your work grows.

Also, keep in mind the acronym, TL;DR, which stands for “Too Long; Didn’t Read.”

What you write has to deliver value throughout. If you write something longer, you must make sure that it keeps your prospective clients’ attention.

Another strategy that allows for longer copy while avoiding the problem of a lengthy newsletter is linking to a blog post on your website. Within the newsletter, give a teaser of the post and include a link at the bottom of the text. This action allows those who wish to read the whole thing to click through to your blog post. A measuring metric automatically shows up in clicks through to your writing.

Time to Collaborate

Now that you’ve decided on the look and the length, log into your chosen newsletter service and see what’s available in terms of templates. More than likely, you’ll need to compromise in order to fit your work into the parameters available. Allow your vision to be fluid and feel the work as a collaboration.

To get the greatest flexibility, I usually work with the blank page. This option allows me to place images and words where I want without much interference. However, if you find a suitable template that can be easily modified to serve your purposes, then grab it and go!

Once you’ve created your customized template, all you have to do is plug-and-play. And don’t worry if it doesn’t seem perfect. Little tweaks are always allowed! Take the pressure off and play with your newsletter.

It’s more fun than you think!