How to Start a Professional Newsletter for Free

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Last year, I talked about why authors need to start building an e-mail list … NOW.

Even though it may sound antiquated in light of other tools available, e-mail is still one of the most effective ways to reach and engage with readers. (One exception: It's not so great at reaching teens, college students, and young adults.)

Most writers and authors aren't familiar with the tools and skills needed to get started in e-mail marketing. Fortunately, there are a range of services that can help you through the process.

My favorite is MailChimp. (No, they're not paying me to recommend them; I really just love the service!) Here's why it's awesome.

You can sign up for a free account to get started
—if your list isn't greater than 2,000 names. No trials, no contracts, no expiration! Chances are, if you're new to newsletters, you don't have that many names yet, so this is a wonderful deal.

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A wonderful and easy-to-browse design/template library. Some services make the design/assembly process more difficult (and more code-heavy) than it ought to be. MailChimp is perfect for those who are neither designers nor coders. Their templates/designs are easy to edit and make you look good without trying. If you pay extra, you can get access to "designer" templates. They also offer a "design genius" to help match your newsletter design to your site or business design.

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Plenty of analytics and list analysis tools—to help you understand what your readers respond to. You may not like the sound of list analysis, but MailChimp delivers the information in a way that makes it easy to understand and derive meaning from. Their goal is to make you successful—so that you'll use their service more, send more newsletters, and of course end up paying fees once your list becomes ginormous!

Whatever fees you might end up paying, in the long run, are almost always worth the expense.

But use your list wisely.
Decide what value you're providing with every send. Don't spam, and don't take your subscribers for granted. They are giving you their most precious thing: their time and attention.

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