Jerz: Writing for the Internet (EL236)

11 October 2004

Newsletter Writing Workshop 1

Preparation: Bring a printed draft of a sample article, and printouts of two articles from an e-newsletter that you would like to emulate (it can be one of the ones you signed up for earlier in the semester, or some other newsletter).

Review the links that were part of Group Project Workshop 1, and write a one-page reflection that examines your proposed newsletter topic according to the following guidelines (as always, you are enouraged to blog your responses if you wish):

  1. Audience: Who is the target audience? How will you get to that audience -- where are they now? How will you get them to sign up for your newsletter? (Please don't send them unwanted bulk mail.)
  2. Benefit to the reader: What concrete benefit will the reader get from your newsletter? If your readers feel like they are reading an advertisement ("Open this e-mail!! You won't be disappointed by the amazing stuff you find inside!!!"), they will be turned off. Saying that your newsletter provides "information" or "entertainment" is not a sufficiently specific answer -- there are plenty of sources for that kind of thing. Mike Arnzen's Gorleletter offers disturbing horror poems with a weird sense of humor; there really aren't a lot of sources for that kind of thing, so he's definitely found his niche.
  3. Publicity: Closely related to both of the above.... You might spend time with Google, finding obscure, underrated websites; tell the webmasters you are including them in your newsletter, and ask them to publicize your newsletter in return. How else can you get the word out?
  4. Writing style: Note that e-newsletters tend to be broken up into chunks that can are easy to find and read easily. Newsletters typically start with a table of contents that briefly describes what the letter contains.
  5. Use of medium: Your readers can click on links within your newsletter, in order to DO things. This makes an e-newsletter different from its print counterpart. How are you using the rest of the internet to help you serve your readers?