I asked John Durham to start the Directory thread because I wanted to see if I could incorporate that strategy into what I was already doing (offline publishing for clients using CreateSpace).
What I found was that my original plan wasn't as practical as I'd hoped.
However - after some tweaking, I came up with one that is better.
I used to run a print newsletter "back in the day." That was before I knew anything about the Internet, websites, etc.
I'd started it as a way to advertise my WAHM group. We all pitched in and split the cost of the printing. The deal was that I'd do the work and that I'd have an ad for the WAHM group and for my home biz for free, and I got the best spot in the newsletter since I was doing the legwork.
It worked very well, and it was a good arrangement for all.
It developed into a nice income stream and beyond its original scope.
It was also a lot of trial and error headaches, but isn't every learning experience?
My original idea for the Directory Thread variation (a printed directory printed via CreateSpace) wasn't what I was wanting - either profit wise or workload wise. So I began to think about the newsletter idea.
I sketched out some plans and worked some numbers. On paper it looked good.
I talked with the people who had already bought spots on my directory site and pitched the idea to them.
They were VERY receptive.
I ran a small test (2000 copies) and was very pleased with the results.
Here's a brief outline of what I'm doing, along with some variations.
Plus they also get a listing on the website.
Plus they get a spot in the e-mail newsletter.
I use an 11 x 17 piece of paper, printed on the front and the back, folded once so that you have four individual pages. If you wanted to, you could start with a single 8.5 x 11 page printed front and back and expand to four pages once you have more advertisers, but I suggest working your backside off and making sure the whole 4 pages are sold. It makes a bigger impact when it's a folded "newspapery" publication. Front and back on only one sheet is too much like a flyer, IMHO.
I suggest monthly at first. You can increase it to weekly down the road if you like.
Topic and Purpose
There are a few things that are going to determine the direction your newsletter takes.
The first thing is going to be your purpose.
Are you looking to do this just to advertise your business or your services?
Or are you actually trying to make the newsletter your business? Or is it a combination of both?
Are you just trying to tie the newsletter in with an online directory site?
Are you trying to use it to help brand your business?
All of these questions are going to help determine what your newsletter's like.
Once you have decided what your purpose is, then you can look at your topic.
Let me give a few examples.
If you're looking to target businesses so that they can advertise in your newsletter, then you're going to need to have a general interest newsletter that would appeal to a wide range of advertisers. You might have a newsletter that appeals to moms, or families, etc.
In my case, I wanted to have a newsletter that would help brand my business and would also have a broad appeal for advertisers, so I tied the newsletter to my site and I made it appeal to moms.
You could keep it simple and have your site be the [city,state] guide.com and the newsletter be the [city, state] Guide Monthly. (As an example.) (This would probably be the simplest way to do it, and I am going to run another test with only tying a newsletter in with the Directory site.)
The variations are endless. Do you want to use a newsletter to help target business owners so that they will buy your other services? Then have a newsletter that will give general tips about SEO, social media, websites, whatever you may sell and for advertisers you can have businesses such as printers, business supply stores, restaurants, caterers, etc.
If you have a four-page newsletter, you will need the equivalent of four or five articles that are around 500 words each. I created my own content, but you could use PLR I suppose.
You need to make sure that the content is interesting enough so that people will read it and you need to make sure that there is something in the newsletter that will make the readers keep it and take it home.
There are a few things that would make someone want to keep a newsletter - a coupon, contest, special offer, etc. Your offer is going to depend on what your audience is.
I would suggest having a website to tie in with your newsletter and allow people to sign up for your list so that they can get a copy of the newsletter e-mailed to them if they would like.
If you already have a directory website, then that would be the most logical tie-in with your newsletter.
Make sure to have a way on your website so that potential advertisers can reach you.
Make sure that you have your website on your newsletter in several spots with an invitation to join the mailing list so that they never miss an issue.
Unless you already have a working relationship with a number of businesses, you may need to use your powers of persuasion in order to sell spots in your newsletter. (Before anyone asks - I have over 15 years of sales experience.)
Having a mockup is a good thing, and once you have done the first issue, it should be a much easier sell for future issues.
Prices are going to depend on how many ad spots you have and your area/printing costs, etc.
Depending on the layout, I can get anywhere from 20 to 32 ads (2x3 ins) on one four page newsletter.
20 x $395 = $7900
32 x $395 = $12,640
I am giving this as an example - you can play around with the numbers, but $395 is reasonable. If you find that you are selling spots quickly at that price, you can always raise it.
BIG selling point - not only are you going to have them added to your directory website - if you choose to integrate the directory site model with the newsletter model - but you are going to guarantee a distribution of 10,000 pieces. This is not going to include anyone that would receive the e-mail version of your newsletter - that can be a selling point after your mailing list grows.
If they don't want to fork out the $395 (or whatever you decide to charge), you can always offer "a listing on the website alone for only $99 a month."
Your printing costs are going to run around $2500 or so for 10,000 copies of a 4 page, 11x17, front and back, black and white newsletter - but I have found that you really need to shop around. (There is a way to get a discount from a local printer without sacrificing an ad space. Just an FYI.)
If you go with full color, glossy, etc. - it'll be more. Not a bad idea once you get going, IMHO.
Your newsletters are going to be designed so that they will be read while the customer is sitting and doing something else.
You can use your imagination as to where to place them, but I really like using hair salons for placement. Drs. And dentists offices are good, too. (If you are going to place them in a waiting room where there are children, you may want to substitute some kind of children's activity on the newsletter for one of the articles - artwork, word search, etc.)
You can use restaurants, play places (bounce houses, pizza places with games for the kids, etc.), coffee shops, etc.
In a tourist town? Have it in hotels and make it touristy-themed. City history, places to go, etc.
To hold them, I use an 8.5 x 11 inch literature holder that has a biz card holder in the front. (You can get them at Staples.)
Hope this helps some of you that may be stuck/struggling with the directory sites.