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Where on earth do you start if you’ve never written a newsletter before? (11 Sep 08)

13 ways to overcome the panic those blank pages produce

If you are new to writing promotional material you probably know that getting going is one of the most difficult things to do. There is something about staring at those empty pages that makes your brain freeze up.

To help you I asked Brian Thomas, the trainer for our course, How to write powerful copy for newsletters, leaflet and posters to put together his tips for getting going when you write an article or report.

Of course, the most important thing is deciding which article will take priority; but much of what applies to each piece applies to the newsletter as a whole. By far the most important consideration comes in point one

1. Who do you want to read it
Try to understand your readers. What concerns them? What topics interest them? How much do they know already? Talk to some of them. Find out their favourite television programmes and magazines. This will help you decide which piece or pieces should be the “stars” of the newsletter.

2. What are you trying to do?
Try to be clear about whether you are trying to persuade, inform or to get people to do something. This will influence what you say and how you say it.

3. Think about the level of English of your audience
Keep it simple as the average UK adult has a vocabulary of a few thousand words. Even articles in the broadsheets are written to a reading age of around 18 years old.

4. Write your headings, subheadings or paragraph titles first
By doing this you get each piece and thought in order of priority.

5. Do a brief synopsis of each paragraph
List the main points each paragraph will cover.

6. Don’t agonise – just dump it down
Simply write - and write quickly. It’s far easier to shorten something and tidy it up later than to add things.

7. Put in quotes, dialogue and picture references as you go along
Just add a note about each as you go along.

8. Don’t forget your headline
80% of people looking at ads and articles do not read beyond the headline.

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