4 Ways in which the best e-newsletters are a little like blogs.

[Note: I first wrote and published this article about 5 years ago. But it still strikes me as relevant and useful.]

blogs and e-newslettersThe best e-newsletters share many of the same qualities as a good blog. It may seem strange to be comparing an e-newsletter with a blog.

But when you think about it, it’s not so strange at all.

Just think back to the days before blogs existed.

It wasn’t so long ago.

Back then, where did you turn to find interesting, engaging, timely, and topical news and information?

The answer for many of us is that we signed up for some great newsletters. We didn’t go to Web sites for the latest information and opinions, because in those days most sites tended to be too static.

If we wanted to know what was new, important, and interesting, we turned to newsletters.

Here are four ways that good newsletters share the same qualities as blogs.

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Why every web page needs rewriting over and over again [VIDEO]

old web pages new web pagesLook back twenty years and you’ll find that marketing materials had a slightly longer shelf life.

A company could have a brochure written and reasonable expect that brochure to be as relevant in a six months as it was the day it was printed.

Companies came to the web with similar expectations.

Oops.

The thing about the web, particularly today, is that companies are no longer the sole authors of their messages. In fact, their very brands are being formed and changed not by their marketing departments, but by their customers, fans and detractors.

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As a freelancer, you can make 6 figures a year with just three strong relationships.

freelance business relationshipsIf you’re a freelancer, you don’t need thousands of friends, followers and connections.

You don’t need to spend hours on Twitter and Facebook, trying to hold the attention of tens of thousands people who are, essentially, complete strangers.

You really don’t need to be connected with that many people.

Just three. Maybe four. Could be five.

When I look back over the last 30 years of freelancing, almost all of my work has come to me as a direct result of the strong business relationships I have had with a very small number of people.

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The power of the human touch in web copy and content.

the human touchSome copywriters know that adding a human touch to their copy can help their readers relate to the product or service they are trying to sell.

Some consultants and coaches insert elements from their personal lives in their business writing, because it helps prospective clients get to know them as real people.

Some hard-core business-to-business writers know that interviews and case studies can help humanize the “corporation”.

But only some.

Most of the time, when I read content online, in the form or articles or posts, that human touch is missing.

Why? My guess is there are a couple of reasons.

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Don’t write too many McHeadlines.

burger McHeadlineThere are plenty of content writers out there who know how to write a good headline.

These are the folks who know that certain types of headlines are more likely to hook a reader’s attention.

They write headlines that jump out and grab you, and make you curious enough to click through and start reading. These headlines not only work well on the page of content itself, but also drive high clickthroughs when they appear on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Of all the headline-writing techniques used by these canny writers, perhaps the most common is the use of numerals at the beginning of the line.

For example, “5 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Exam Results” is the kind of headline that grabs attention. The digit catches the eye, and the promise of 5 ways to do something that is important to the reader holds attention.

There are variations on this approach, including:

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The fewer the choices you offer, the more you will sell.

paradox of choice in supermarketWe like choices.

In fact, one of the cornerstones of a democracy is our right and our freedom to make choices. We vote for the leaders we want. We choose where to live. We choose the church we go to. Or we choose not to go to church at all.

We also like all the choices we have as consumers.

We like to be able to go to a 16-screen movie theatre, so we can choose the movie we want to see. We like to have hundreds of TV channels to choose form, instead of just three or four.

As marketers and copywriters, we could be forgiven for believing that our prospects and customers will respond positively if we offer them as many choices as possible.

And up to a certain point, people do like choices when they decide to buy something.

But all is not as it seems. More choice doesn’t actually lead to increased sales. In fact, we can easily become confused and even irritated when faced with too many choices.

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