Should I add a newsletter?

I’ve heard so many different views on having newsletters on blogs.  It is not as if I don’t like newsletters as such.  Indeed, I have my own and have been running them for different companies over the past 10 years.

But I often wonder why a blog needs a newsletter, and am particularly careful if a client asks me to create one for them.

I have two reasons for caution.  The first one is that in Germany there are very strict laws on sending newsletters by e-mail, and I want to make sure that someone doesn’t just want to send out a mailing to a set of e-mail addresses who have not agreed to it.

The other one is content.  If you are putting all of you effort into a blog and having the articles delivered automatically by Feedburner, then then why do you need a newsletter as well?

However I have heard a different view so often now, that you should start your newsletter on a blog as soon as possible, because that way you are collecting e-mail addresses that you can write to later.  You might want to send out some information that isn’t in the blog, or launch a new product and tell everyone about it by e-mail rather than waiting for them to read about it online.

So for a while I’ve been trying out different newsletter registration styles and also different bits of software.  I shall return to the software at a later date, today I shall concentrate on the newsletter registrations.

Some blogs have the registration field on the right-hand side.  Others (like this one) have footer ads and a few have dedicated pages.

I want to make sure that you can sign up to my newsletter from all of my blogs, and will try and make sure that the space to do so is always on the right-hand sidebar.

I’ve made a start with this blog, so please, if you are reading this, enter your e-mail address in the field and click on “submit”.

You’ll notice that I only ask for you e-mail address.  I don’t even ask for your name, so although I won’t be writing to you with your first name as many bloggers do, it also means that I am storing as little personal information as possible.

Feedburner

It was only a few months ago that I really looked into using Feedburner.  Not that our blogs don’t already offer RSS feeds.  In fact, I have even written code for some sites that creates customised RSS.

But somehow Feedburner adds an extra dimension to those feeds.  Not only does it optimise them for different readers, but it allows readers to subscribe to the blogs to receive new articles by e-mail.  I even started using that function to make backup copies of the posts!

It also allows me to monetize the feed by adding small AdSense ads into it and a more recent addition even allows me to automatically send details of new posts to Twitter.

So after trying Feedburner out, I decided it definitely needs to be added to all of our blogs.  No easy task as it is not a simple case of a plug-in, but also setting up each feed and the associated options in the Feedburner administration.

For example, I want to send e-mail updates from a dedicated e-mail address on each feed, but Feedburner defaults to my Googlemail address, so I have to change that each time I setup a new feed.

I’ve made a start on the process with this blog, so please help my be clicking on THIS LINK and either subscribing with your RSS reader or by e-mail.

I have also added Feedburner to my wife’s AllThingsBritish.net blog and the Computius project was already added last year.

The next step will be to add the rest…

Re-vitalising blogs in 2010

After taking a long hard look at 2009, I have decided that I want to do more blogging in 2010.  One inspiration may have been the book “Beyond Blogging” that came out only a few days ago and which I am currently reading, but another has been that although we put a lot of effort into our blogs and they are certainly making a nice amount of money, it is not enough to live on and I feel that more is possible.

Also, I often feel that I have lots of ideas for content and just don’t have the time to write posts that could be useful to our readers.  I would like to write more about places to visit in Germany that I can recommend, or computer tips on our Computius site.

The Cymeradwyo Project has, with the exception of the .de site, been laying dormant for most of the year.  Whilst I have allowed some guest posting on it, and may continue to do so, I have rejected a lot of posts that were submitted.  I would like to re-activate the project and thus dedicate a lot more time to blogging and podcasting.

The first step will be to re-work a lot of the plug-ins and themes on some of our sites to bring them up to date.  I will be documenting this on Cymeradwyo.net, so please stay tuned to this site (via the RSS feed for example) to see what happens over the coming months.

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