© 2013 Elena Fawkner
So, you're ready to launch your own newsletter. You've heard that
a newsletter (or ezine) is a great way to stay in touch with site
visitors and to develop an opt-in list of your own to promote your
products and services.
OK, so far so good. And you have your first issue ready to go.
"Go where?" , I hear you ask. Good question. Who are you going
to send it to?
Which leads us to the topic of this article. Subscriber generation.
We're going to look at how to get the message out that your
newsletter exists and how interested readers can ask to receive it
(how subscribers can subscribe).
Fortunately, there are many ways and places to publicize your
1. ANNOUNCEMENT LISTS
Announcement lists are, in theory at least, email lists that people
subscribe to who want to know about new lists (whether they be
discussion lists or newsletters). Why "in theory"? Quite simply
because a lot of people wanting to generate new subscribers to
THEIR lists subscribe because you have to be a subscriber
yourself in order to announce your list. Nonetheless, you will
still generate a steady trickle of new subscribers from these lists.
You will find these lists will bring in quite a lot of subscribers initially
but gradually the rate of new subscribers from these sources will fall
away so you can't rely on them alone. Most of these lists allow
repeat postings, usually once per week but check the rules for each
The next place to list your newsletter is in the myriad of
directories devoted to exactly that. These will bring in fewer
subscribers initially but will be important to the longer-term
growth of your subscriber database as they represent a source
for a slow but steady subscriber influx.
This is the famous Internet Scout Project and will commonly
generate a major flood of new subscribers. An initial haul of over
200 is not uncommon for some lists. You may only announce
your list once to this list but your announcement is archived on
the New-List site and you are permitted to announce changes to
your newsletter. Purely "business opportunity" list announcements
are likely to be rejected but the moderator seems to have a
somewhat inconsistent approach to what constitutes a bizopp list
so give it a try anyway.
Next, go to JimWorld's Top 1000 Submission Sites Directory
and submit your newsletter to as many
of the places listed there that apply to the subject matter of your
newsletter. Although the site refers to site announcements, most
are also good places to list your newsletter as well. Obviously it
will take you quite a time to get your site listed at all these places
but it will pay off over time in the form of a steady stream of
subscribers in the longer term.
Then, for good measure, make sure you are listed in the following
directories (where applicable). Some of these may already be
included in the Top 1000 Submission Sites Directory but are
mentioned here again for the sake of completeness. Not all of the
sites listed below are "directories" as such. Some are just
outstanding resources that will assist you with subscriber
3. ACCEPTING FREE ADS
An often-overlooked method for initial subscriber generation is
offering a free ads for new subscribers. You will not start accepting
paid advertising until such time as your subscriber numbers support
it (certainly not fewer than 1,000 subscribers). There is no reason
though why your subscribers should not get used to seeing ads in
your newsletter and by offering free ads for new subscribers (for a
limited time), you will find you can generate quite a few subscribers
My initial batch of subscribers came from those wanting to place
a free ad in AHBBO. By including a free ad reference
in your announcements (see Announcement Lists), you may find this
helps you generate more initial subscribers.
It is NOT recommended that you make any reference to free ads
in the submissions you make to Directories (see Directories)
because these are a more permanent listing of your newsletter and
you don't want people asking for free ads in six months' time after
you have stopped accepting them.
4. OTHER FORMS OF FREE PUBLICITY
In addition to making use of Announcement lists and Directories,
there are a few other forms of free publicity that will help you
generate subscribers both initially and over the longer term.
=> Article submissions
By writing articles and submitting them regularly with a resource
box that refers to your newsletter, you will generate subscribers
when other publishers run your article in their newsletter.
Each article you submit must contain a resource box that tells the
reader who you are, what your newsletter is about and how to
On a number of occasions publishers of newsletters with extremely
high subscriber numbers (over 250,000 in one case) have run my
articles. It is not uncommon to receive over 200 subscribe requests
immediately following an article appearing in one of these
high volume newsletters. So, the point is, writing and submitting
articles for use by other publishers is an excellent way of generating
There are plenty of places to submit your articles. To find them,
just pretend you're a publisher looking for content for your newsletter.
Use search terms such as "free content" etc. and you'll turn them
=> Signature files
Another way to generate a steady trickle of new subscribers is
to include a blurb about your newsletter and how to subscribe
in your signature file and include it at the end of every email you
send to anyone about anything. These can be particularly useful
if you regularly contribute to discussion lists or newsgroup
discussions provided the lists and newsgroups have some general
relevance to the subject matter of your newsletter.
=> Ad swaps
Swapping newsletter ads with other newsletter publishers is a
good way of generating new subscribers provided your target
audiences are complementary. You can generate ad swaps by
including a notice in your newsletter that you welcome them
or by actively seeking out other publishers who accept ad swaps.
There are a number ad swap lists around specifically for this
=> Publicizing Your Newsletter
Once you have an established newsletter with several hundred
subscribers you should publicize your newsletter in as many
places as you can, whenever you get the opportunity.
One way is to try and get your newsletter reviewed. A good place
to get reviewed is at http://www.list-universe.com. There are many
others too so look around. Many of the directories you list your
ezine with have a rating system and if you can get yourself rated
highly you will usually merit a higher ranking in the directory. So,
invite your subscribers to rate your ezine. Another good way to
publicize your newsletter is to submit your original articles to some
of the many websites that collect articles available for reprint by
other publishers. It seems that there is no shortage of publishers
who prefer not to create any original content for their newsletters
so, if you do create original content, there's a ready-made market
for it! By ensuring that your resource box contains a blurb and
subscribe info for your ezine, every time another publisher runs
your articles, they are also running an ad for your newsletter. Do
this consistently and you will become known in your field of
expertise and this in turn will attract subscribers (not to mention
advertisers and website visitors).
=> Joint Ventures/Co-Ops
Joint ventures or co-ops with other publishers are perhaps THE
best way to generate new subscribers over the longer term. The
trick is to team up with another publisher who publishes an ezine
to a target audience complementary to your own.
Under this type of joint venture arrangement, you provide a
mechanism for subscribers to your ezine to subscribe to your joint
venture partner's ezine at the same time. And your joint venture
partner does the same for you.
This is not the only way to run a joint venture though. For example,
you may choose instead to recommend your joint venture partner's
ezine in your welcome message to new subscribers. Or to have a
link to your joint venture partner's sign-up page at your website.
Whatever works for you is fine.
Co-ops can extend beyond a simple reciprocal subscribe arrangement
too. Contests are a great way to generate new subscribers. In
principle, it works like this. Several ezine publishers get together and
put together a package of prizes. One may offer a free copy of an
e-book, another may offer free advertising in their ezine, another may
offer a free web design consultation.
Each participating publisher lets their subscribers know about the
contest in their welcome message as well as publicizing it in their
ezines. Interested subscribers can then go off and register for the
contest at one of the publisher's websites. It is a condition of entering
the contest that the subscriber signs up for the other publishers'
newsletters, the other publishers thereby gaining an additional
Every month (or whatever frequency is specified in the contest rules),
each of the publishers draws one winner. Each subscriber has x
number of chances to win each month with x representing the
number of publishers participating in the contest.
=> Remind Your Subscribers to Recommend You
Once you generate sufficient subscribers, you will find that a lot of
new subscribers sign up as a result of a word of mouth
recommendation from one of your existing subscribers. Although
this kind of traffic will be kind of slow to start with (it's a numbers game,
after all), beyond a certain point, say 2-3,000 subscribers, you will find
that this becomes an increasingly frequent way for new subscribers to
find you. So be sure to remind your existing subscribers to recommend
you to their friends, family and associates!
=> Pay Per Subscriber Services
There are several excellent pay-per-subscriber services available
now. Expect to pay between 10 and 20 cents per subscriber
depending on whether it's single or double opt-in. A good service
By implementing these strategies, you will have laid the foundation
for a constant and steady flow of subscribers to your newsletter.
Once you get to that point, all you have to do is concentrate on
keeping them. And that simply means producing a quality
newsletter, week in and week out.
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