By Gregory A. Kompes
It's essential to establish yourself as a niche topic expert with your readers. Creating and sending your own zine (also called an e-zine, or electronic newsletter) to your readers expands your credibility as a topic expert and keeps your name (and products or services) in front of your audience.
Zines come in many different forms, from simple text e-mails to formal designs that involve extensive templates. The key is delivering quality content to the readers on your list so that they'll open the e-mailed newsletter.
The frequency of your zine is up to you. The Get Known Groove arrives in your box once each month. My own zine, The Fabulist Flash is a weekly newsletter for writers. One of my Web clients delivers her grant writing zine quarterly. Another option is not having a regular schedule, but delivering new information to your list when it's relevant. This last option can be effective, but don't inundate your readers with a mountain of e-mail or you'll lose them. Also, don't let too much time pass between zines.
1. Decide on your content. Content is, as they say, king. Decide what type of content you'll deliver in your zine. When making this decision, keep your audience and potential readers in mind. A zine with timely, relevant content will be opened.
2. Choose your format. Will you use simple e-mail text or a formal template? You can always change your format, but you'll need a starting place. Depending on your Internet skills and software, a pleasing template can be easily created.
3. Build your mailing list. Zines are delivered electronically via e-mail and/or Real Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds. To get your zine into your reader's e-mail inbox you'll need their e-mail address. Because of spam rules, it's also a good idea to have readers "opt-in" (request to be added) to your list. A sign-up box added to your Web site or blog is the most common and easiest way to collect e-mail addresses for your list.
4. Deliver your zine. Many people who start their first zine choose to deliver it from their own e-mail account. As your list grows, this will become impractical. A better option is utilizing an autoresponder, a topic we'll look at in detail in a future column.
The great advantage of zines is that they're basically free to create and send. I say basically, because they do require your valuable time and effort. But the rewards of building a large zine following can be great. Your writer brand and related products or services will be continually reinforced, which can increase reader loyalty and help grow your audience.
Gregory A. Kompes, The Writerpreneur, is an Internet self-promotion expert. Gregory is the author of the bestselling 50 Fabulous Gay-Friendly Places to Live and the Writer's eBook Series that includes Endorsement Quest, Should You Write an eBook, and Your Online Media Kit. He is co-founder of the Patchwork Path anthology series, Presenters & Programs, the Writer's Pen & Grill, and Laudably Tarnished: A Poetry Workshop. Gregory is editor of The Fabulist Flash, an informative newsletter for writers, and the award winning Eighteen Questions, a Q&A series that collects and shares the experiences of published authors.