Publishing an E-zine as a Promotional Tool for Writers
While the trend these days is toward the more informal blog, there is still a place in the online marketer's and online writer's promotional toolkit for publishing an e-zine. A blog is really just a random spattering of communication media, usually centered around general topic areas. An e-zine is a periodical, typically monthly, with several articles and features in a variety of media formats, though you'll find many release e-zines in a format of a single article that makes it more like an e-mail version of a blog. When used properly, an e-zine will provide the former, a full reading experience that your subscribers look forward to on a regular schedule. As someone trying to make it as a writer online, this can provide an invaluable audience and a great deal of prestige as your subscription rates improve.
Why E-Zines are Great for Independent Authors
Magazines seldom operate at a profit without advertising, especially with ever increasing postage rates. If you can put together a high-quality e-zine, you can make a strong profit margin without charging a subscription fee. The profitability comes in the prestige of your e-zine and the advertisements for your own products. You can also include paid features from third parties, provided their products complement, rather than compete with, your own products. As a writer trying to promote yourself online, you really need to concentrate on putting out well-written, unique content for your readers. If you can put out the same quality content for readers to go through on their tablets or e-readers that they would normally be willing to purchase, you should be able to develop a strong, devoted following.
Quality E-Zines are an Involved Process
The great thing is the affordability of publishing an e-zine. The quality is really based more on your skills as a layout artist, content researcher, and writer than it is on the amount of money you have to spend on publishing software or the printing presses required for traditional magazines. It should be noted, however, that if you lack in any of these three areas, publishing an e-zine as a promotional tool is probably a waste of time that could be better spent on other promotional tools. E-zines have kind of gotten a bad reputation because the vast majority are short on unique content, poorly laid out, and even poorly written. Of course, as a writer, the latter should never be your issue. If formatting content for e-mail, Web, or .pdf is not your thing, but you're good at research and writing, a third-party-hosted blog is a better choice for you.
It is important to take e-zine publishing as a promotional tool with the same seriousness with which you would take being a chief editor of a magazine. Unlike a blog where you simply throw in your thoughts for the day, publishing a periodical means having a strict article, feature, and advertising deadline schedule. If you don't work well on schedules and deadlines, publishing an e-zine will expose you. Generally speaking, you should have rough outlines of issues done 90 days in advance, have precise outlines done 60 days in advance, and have your articles and content ready for compilation 30 days in advance. The last 30 days before publication will be spent on working out the formatting, working out the technical details, and testing and debugging the issue. So you must be able to adhere to and take seriously schedules and deadlines if you're truly dedicated to building a quality e-zine.
For most writers, all of the above is the easy part. It is in the solicitation of subscribers where most fail. You will need to have some sort of an "in" to reach people -- either a website people go to for similar content, advertisements for your e-zine that run on sites or other periodicals of similar content, or solicitations for subscribers made with free or purchased items that you or someone else sells. This is why it can be a futile process to run a serious e-zine without already having a website with a similar purpose or a serious advertising budget. The investment required to add subscribers early in the process is why it is so important that you are diligent in developing the best possible e-zine with a strict publishing schedule. Eventually, if you're offering a reliable e-zine centered around quality content, you can expect word-of-mouth to start out-pacing other efforts to solicit subscriptions.
“starting your own e-zine gives you a powerful medium to show off your skills as a writer and develop a strong following”
Why You Should Go Through All of the Hassle
If you enjoy researching, writing, and developing layouts and you have the natural talent to make it work, starting your own e-zine gives you a powerful medium to show off your skills as a writer and develop a strong following that is normally only available to those who are able to get hired as writers for major publications. In other words, if you've already gotten your education and nobody is beating down your door to give you your dream job as a writer, publishing your own e-zine is a means of building the dream job nobody else would give you. It will also promote you as a writer like few other things can. It shows off your writing skill and creates a following that can be cited in any job interviews you do or writing contract inquiries you make. You can use it to launch you into other writing projects and your career.
Of course, it can also be profitable for you as a self-sustaining advertising medium. However, publishing an e-zine is a lot of work. Further, if you aren't a good enough writer and editor to put out a great product, it will most likely prove to be a lot of wasted work.