A newsletter requires a small initial effort from your customer -- they have to sign up. (I do not recommend signing people up without their permission, unless it's your mom, in which case she's on your list whether she asks or not). Once they've accomplished that, though, your newsletter shows up in their inbox, once every X, without any further effort on their part.
A blog, on the other hand, needs no signup and is there whenever your customer has a moment to look. They do have to go and look, though, and in that way a blog requires more ongoing effort on the part of your customer.
A newsletter needs to be intermittent -- I recommend once a month or once every two weeks (mine goes out once a month). Much more often than that and you risk your customers feeling spammed and alienated, much less and they'll forget who you are. Your newsletter should be short, concise, and focussed; too long and they'll get bored.
You should post in your blog often -- every day if you can. Frequent posting means there's always something new to read, which will keep people coming back to look. And if you vary your topics a bit, that's just fine -- indeed, if done right it'll bring even more readers.
You'll likely wind up with a lot of overlap in your audience for each, and that's what you're looking for. The rest of this article will focus on your newsletter; the next (possibly the next few) will talk about your blog.
How do you get people to sign up for your newsletter? Leave signup links anywhere you can -- in your shop announcement, in any directories you're listed in, in the sidebar of your blog. Shortly before each edition goes out post a reminder and directions on how to sign up in your blog. Post in the forum of any group you're a member of, with the same information. Put a signup sheet at your booth whenever you do a show. And when anyone buys from you, whether online or in person, ask them if they want to subscribe.
Again, with the exception of a few people -- your Mom, your best friend, your significant other -- do not add anyone to your mailing list without their express permission. You don't like junk mail and neither do your customers (if you do, you can have all of mine).
So you've built a list of people who want to know about your stuff, and it's time to write your first newsletter. What do you write about?
I always include at least the following:
* Descriptions of new products. Keep it short but make them sound appealing. It's perfectly fine to crib some verbiage from the description you wrote when you posted it in your shop. You may also include a bit about upcoming products here.
* Shop news. Any upcoming sales or specials go first. I also include a blurb about any new shops which are carrying my products, my upcoming event calendar, and maybe a pointer to a good review or just something nice someone said about my stuff.
* An informational or educational article related to what I make. I've explained the difference between an infusion and a decoction, talked about spring greens, and given a step-by-step description of how to make an herbal tincture. The idea here is to give your customers something interesting to read that isn't just advertising.
* A monthly contest. I've asked for entries as diverse as 'how do you keep cool in the heat' and 'what's your favourite recipe that uses herbs' and for a prize, I always offer a gift certificate to my shop.
The contest will help draw interest to your newsletter (everyone likes getting something for free) and if you post about the winners in your blog, they'll be getting a bit of attention, too. You don't have to offer a gift certificate but with the highly individual nature of what I sell I feel it makes more sense. And there's always the possibility that they'll wind up buying more than the gift certificate will cover.
I always put a little something personal in the intro, and from time to time I'll add something about what I've been up to -- a show I did, or something funny about the kitten. I don't do this often, though, and I keep them very short, perhaps three lines. I've also written about things I feel my customers might be interested in -- fundraisers for a good cause, for example, or legislation affecting the use of herbs.
Don't feel you're limited to the above, either. What you put in your newsletter will vary depending on your target audience, the feel of your shop, your writing style, and any number of things I'm sure I've forgotten.
Speaking of writing style, you'll want to find a style that works for you (and for your target audience) and stick with it. Not slavishly -- but your customers should find the 'voice' of your newsletter to be familiar every time they read it. Don't be surprised if it takes you a bit of time to find your voice, though. I'll talk about this more in my next article.
As with item descriptions you must be sure to use grammar, spelling and punctuation correctly. Use your spellchecker but don't trust it as a final authority (amusingly enough, my spellchecker doesn't recognize the word 'spellchecker'). Reread what you've said to be sure that it's what you meant to say. Ask a friend to proofread for you (if appropriate, offer to pay them in 'stuff'). Do it right, and your customers will pay attention to what you're saying instead of trying to figure out what the heck you're trying to spell.
Others will disagree, but I don't like including anything in my newsletters but plain text. While pictures and fancy HTML formatting do get attention, they can easily backfire. Different mail software will display email in different ways, so what you've sent out might not look like what you meant it to, and there are a lot of people out there who want their mail simple and without frills.
Keep your newsletter short, concise, informative and interesting. Don't send it out too often, and keep it simple. Find your voice, and find ways to keep people interested in what you have to say.
Next up, blogs, and how they're not the same as newsletters at all.
Written by Kate of http://en.dawanda.com/shop/omshantihandcrafts