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15 Great E-Publishing Tips
by Christopher Pirillo
excerpted from Poor Richard's E-Mail Publishing

Book Cover

1. Be prepared to work. Don't depend on someone else to do the job for you. Starting something successful on the Internet today is a tough job for anyone. You can't be in it for the short run; building a name and subscriber base will take time.

2. Be sure you bite off only as much as you can chew. Start small, and develop over time. In the beginning, you'll have tons of energy for your e-publication, but that enthusiasm will probably dissipate in less than six months.

3. While you don't need to be a computer expert to manage an e-mail publication, it would be wise if you had some practical experience on the Internet beforehand. Talk to other Internet-savvy friends; they might be willing to help and could offer suggestions.

4. Target your audience. If you like boating, why not make a boating e-publication? If you like pasta, why not make a pasta recipes e-publication? If you like antiques, why get the point. Above all: Be as specific as possible. The more precise the topic, the greater chance of subscriber interest.

5. Write about what you know and what you like. If you don't know a thing about eighteenth century homemade Amish swimwear, then do us a favor and don't write about it.

6. Be prepared to handle idiots. They're out there, and they'll find you.

7. You can't be in it for the short run. E-mail publications, while novel, aren't a quick money maker. You must build a subscriber base and work with other online entities to become a recognized name.

8. Once you've decided you're going to create an e-mail publication, contact your closest friends and let them know. Some of them couldn't care less, but others will support and applaud your efforts.

9. Think of an original name. "Bob's Cooking Tips" doesn't sound as catchy as "Pots & Pans." Steer clear from overused terms such as "Net," "Cyber," "Tech," or "Compu." Don't be afraid to have fun with the name.

10. Try to do something new. People are more apt to pay attention to something that hasn't been done before. Do it first, and people will remember you. But don't copy someone else's idea; you can take and build upon what you see, but if it doesn't scream "original," you might as well not even bother.

11. Remember to have fun with your publication. I realize that might not sound like much of a tip at this point, but hey-if your heart isn't into this, then you're not going to give it all you've got…and your subscribers will pick that up immediately.

12. Don't fear competition—welcome it. You'll have a devout following of subscribers before long. It won't matter if similar zines are out there. If yours is good, your subscribers shouldn't leave you.

13. Listen to your subscribers. If 90 percent of them don't like something, knock it off. If a majority of them love something, think about doing more of it. If they're not reading what you're writing, try a new approach. You're not going to get anywhere without loyal and happy subscribers.

14. The average start-up e-mail publication reaches 2,000 people. Don't be depressed if you don't make it to this mark. You can't expect to have a million subscribers at the drop of a pin. Be proud of your accomplishments, and don't let anyone depress you with larger stats or larger subscriber numbers.

15. Don't spam (that is, cross-post to unrelated newsgroups, send unsolicited e-mail messages to someone you don't know, purchase questionable e-mail databases, and so on). Enough people out there are giving legitimate e-mail publications a bad name.

© 1999 Chris Pirillo and Top Floor Publishing. Reprinted with permission from Poor Richard's E-Mail Publishing, which includes 35 more great e-publishing tips and pretty much everything else you need to know to launch an e-zine distributed by email. Chris, who edits Lockergnome, also has compiled eight great promotion tips for getting the word about your publication.

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