Three Tips to Your Own Distinctive Newsletter Design

Now that you've got your newsletter up and running, are you ready to make it distinctive? Using a custom template can help your newsletter catch the eye of the subscriber as they sort through their email. It can also reinforce your brand and professional status. A custom template will put your logo, photos, colors, and other customizations into the email newsletters that you send out.

Three things you need to know about newsletter templates:

1) Unless you are very good with HTML and willing to study email clients and test extensively, it's best to hire a professional to design your template.

A professional designer will be able to use your existing website graphics to create something lovely. Expect to pay a fair price for the template. Keep in mind that it's something you'll be using over and over to promote your business and sending out hundreds, maybe thousands, of times. The cost won't seem as expensive if you think about the long-term value. Pricing will vary depending on the designer and your needs. A basic graphic header and graphic headings coded for a coach or infoprenuer's newsletter will generally be less expensive than a fancy template for a product seller that includes bordered product photo displays and other graphics work.

2) You need to be very specific with your designer in terms of what features you want.

If you want to have 5 sections all with different titles and image headers, be sure you let them know before they begin work. If you want expandable areas for content, or specific fonts, or links, mention it. After a template is complete is not a good time to say, "Instead, I really wanted..." or "But this image needed to..." Be as descriptive as possible and forward samples if you have them so that your designer has as much information to work with as you can provide. You'll like the end result better and your original price quote will be more accurate.

Remember also that your designer can offer valuable advice and guidance towards a template that will work well for your newsletter.

3) Using a custom template will require you to either know a bit of HTML code yourself, or have your content added into it for each newsletter by someone who does know HTML code.

A custom template is not going to work the same way as choosing a pre-loaded template in Aweber or Constant Contact. Those allow you to just "fill in the box" to add your content into their pre-designed stock template. With a custom template, the newsletter coding has been created exclusively for you, and you will likely need to edit your source code, then copy and paste the entire thing into a code box at the mailing services website. If you're changing images and other graphics it'll get a bit more complicated and you'll need to be familiar with image editing, uploading, and how to link to images to update that part of a template/newsletter layout.

Each time you send out a newsletter you'll have two options:

* If you're on a limited budget, plan to spend some time becoming familiar with your template and HTML code. It's not extremely difficult but it does require some time and effort. Discuss your plans and needs with your designer if you'll be updating yourself so he or she can make this process easier for you.

* If you're limited on time, plan to have your designer or virtual assistant handle your content for you each issue. Be sure to find out how much advance notice your designer needs to add your content so you can schedule it in advance of your sending date. You'll also want to proofread your content before you send it to your designer. You might also request that he/she login and send out your newsletter for you, just to be sure the code ends up properly entered in your mailing service so it displays properly for your subscribers.

You'll have to choose one approach or the other. Your designer can't update your newsletter for free and you won't be able to do it without knowing a bit about the inner workings of your template (code and/or images, as needed).

These three tips will help you get a template that works well for you, and learn to work with your template. Good luck!

Work at home mom extraordinaire Michelle Shaeffer publishes The Muses Brainstorm, a weekly ezine with tips to help you balance, manage, and market your home based business. If you're ready for inspirational guidance and bright ideas sign up free at

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