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Your First Newsletter: 5 Sure-Fire Ways to Annoy People

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I read a lot of newsletters. Some are great and some are not so great. I put together this article to highlight the five mistakes I see most often in people's first newsletter.

1. When you're composing your newsletter in your email browser, put everyone's email address in the "To" field so that when someone receives your mailing they can see everyone else's address.

Why You Might Not Want To Do This: With the high prevalence of spam (unwanted email) these days, people are very sensitive about their email addresses getting "out there". Also, depending on the topic of your newsletter, your readers may not be comfortable being identified.

What To Do Instead: Put your own email address in the "To" field and use the Bcc. (blind carbon copy) field for everyone else's addresses. A much cleaner look and you're not compromising anyone's privacy.

2. Don't give your reader a way to unsubscribe, or ignore them when they ask that you stop contacting them.

Why You Might Not Want To Do This: With people using more and more time these days to delete unwanted email from their Inbox, their patience is really getting thin when they get email they didn't ask for. And not responding to an unsubscribe request, well, that's just bad customer service. Have you ever heard that people will tell more people about a bad customer service experience than they will a good one? Don't have them talking about you!

What To Do Instead: You can use an email distribution service that will automatically place an unsubscribe link at the bottom of every mailing you send out, plus the system will immediately take the person off your list as soon as they request it. If you're managing your list yourself, then include specific unsubscribe instructions yourself (i.e. to be removed from this mailing list, please send an email to this address ? insert your address - with the subject line "Unsubscribe"). And most importantly, promptly honor these requests!

3. When you meet someone new and chat with them about your business (or the weather), or if they contact you about something unrelated to your business, be sure and immediately add them to your mailing list (don't get explicit permission or let them know you've done it).

Why You Might Not Want To Do This: People don't like it! Just as I mentioned above, people don't want email they're not expecting or haven't asked for. This is especially true if the email is labeled as something that will be sent more than once (like a newsletter).

What To Do Instead: Send your new contact (and your old ones, while you're at it) a complimentary or sample copy of your newsletter and invite them to subscribe if they liked it. Assure them that they haven't been added to your list (you'd NEVER add anyone without their explicit permission).

4. Be sure not to check your links in your newsletter ? that way people will be annoyed AND frustrated when they click and wind up at an error page.

Why You Might Not Want To Do This: You include links in your newsletter because you either want to share valuable information with your readers that you have scoured the Internet for (so they wouldn't have to), or so that your readers can find out more about your products and services and purchase them and/or recommend them to others. When your links are incomplete, incorrect, or unclickable, it's frustrating to that person who wanted to find out more. It might even send them away forever.

What To Do Instead: Use full URL addresses (including the "http://" at the beginning), check your links to make sure they're correct and still active (if it's not your own website), and avoid putting a "." period directly after a link (some web browsers can't distinguish between the end of the link and the "." character and so the link won't work). An email distribution service will give you lots more options for using links in your newsletter (HTML, etc.).

5. Dress up your promotion as a newsletter

Why You Might Not Want To Do This: People will see through your attempts to hide your promotion, and then they'll resent that you tried to sneak it past them. People are getting weary of being sold to, especially when they've let their guard down because they thought they were going to read an innocent newsletter.

What To Do Instead: You could simply call it a promotion (and let your readers know when they sign-up that they'll hear from you about products and services). Or you could add value to a promotion by writing or providing an informative article or collection of tips that will be useful to your target audience. Then include your promotional information as a bonus. It's not to say you can't promote yourself within your newsletter, it's just that people want to feel that you care enough about them to offer them something valuable before asking them to buy something!

It's great that you're starting a newsletter. It's a fantastic way to maintain repeated contact with your customers, prospects and referral sources, increase your visibility and establish your credibility as an expert in your field. So why risk all that with any of the annoying habits I've listed here?

Maybe you're not annoying ALL of your readers when you do these things. But do you really want to take that chance?

(c) Copyright Linda Dessau, 2005.

Linda Dessau is a writer and coach. Through her "Newsletter Assist" and "You Talk It, I'll Write It" writing services, she helps coaches and other solo professionals promote their business with email newsletters and create passive revenue streams with written information products. Find out more at:

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