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I hope you find my writing and business tips and observations useful. My business and blog are dedicated to helping businesses communicate clearly and reach their potential. Read, subscribe to my newsletter, enjoy! Tash

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Costs of a newsletter

News headline catches a client's eye

For many businesses, sending out a regular newsletter is an effective marketing strategy. So I sometimes get asked how much it costs to produce a newsletter.

There is no clear answer to that, but here are some of the factors that will impact on the expenses for a newsletter.

  1. how long is it? A longer newsletter takes more time and effort to layout plus requires more content so will cost more than a shorter newsletter. However, the cost of 4 pages vs 2 (for example) may be worth it if it means giving good information and/or being able to produce the newsletter less often
  2. are you doing a print version? If so, you need to allow for paper/ink/power costs to do it yourself or a printer’s bill to have it professionally done
  3. how are you distributing it? Allow $1 for stamps and envelopes if mailing it, plus time to put into envelopes; emailing it will generally be much less than that but outsourcing the sending or using specialised software will still cost money. Having a pile available in store or on your website is cheaper but doesn’t have the same impact and results as getting it to people
  4. do you have a template? Your newsletter will work much better if it looks professional so get a designer to make a nice template that works with your brand. I would suggest getting both print and html versions designed, even if you only expect to use one, so you have both options available with a matching look – it’s cheaper to get two designs at once than as two separate projects
  5. what sort of content will you use? Full articles, article excerpts with the full article online or just snippets of news? Making articles to suit can be time consuming, and specific word counts can make even shorter pieces take longer to write and edit.
  6. who will write your newsletter? Will it all be done in-house to suit, collected from outside sources (e.g. members or clients’ submissions, free or paid articles), outsourced to a professional writer, or some combination? Although paid content and editing may have a higher up front cost it will require less of your time.
    TIP: If outsourcing the content (in part or all of it) you can reduce costs by providing the topics and key points to be covered so the writer can concentrate on writing rather than thinking and research time.
  7.  who will layout the newsletter each time? An expert will place content into your template much quicker than most people – again, there is a cost in time or money. However, the best results often require additional content editing during layout (such as adjusting words to avoid orphans and strange page breaks) so it’s good if your writer and designer (whether in-house or outsource) can work together on the newsletter
  8. although a relatively small cost, uploading your newsletter to your website, and adjusting any supporting text to suit, also needs to be included – especially if someone else manages your site updates

No matter how the newsletter is produced and distributed, you also need to allow time to read the final version before it gets produced. Not only is this a safety measure against typos and layout errors, you can also check that everything is consistent with your brand and objectives. If you produce the newsletter yourself, ideally someone else should do a final review of it for you.

Have you priced your business newsletter? A full costing is important for an accurate analysis of costs versus returns, and many people forget about including their time as a cost.

Writing efficiently saves money

Using the fewest words possible to communicate the message simply is my writing ideal, and I have been known to edit many documents to be well under 50% of their original length. One example that comes to mind is a 75 A4 page text-only disclosure document I converted into 24 A5 pages with pictures!

So I found it very interesting to read a report from Ron Denholm about the costs of inefficient writing.

In summary, Ron shows than reducing document size (through more concise content) by 34% in a business setting can save businesses $153 per document in reading time for a team of 100 (that adds up to $3,060 saved over 20 documents – scary amount!)

Next time you write a report, will you edit out the wasted words to be more efficient?

Top 10 business saving tips

Lately I’ve heard a few business owners talk about ways to save money in their business so here are my top 10 tips for saving money without scrimping on product/service quality.

  1. review your recurring costs (such as website hosting, bank fees, phone rental and internet service) – it amazes me the difference in prices for the same service so it can be extremely worthwhile to compare what’s available
  2. look for energy efficient options – even if you don’t think the environment is an issue, low energy light bulbs, efficient heaters and the like can save you money especially if you have big premises and/or a lot of staff. This includes things like adding curtains or blinds rather than have temperature gains/losses through windows
  3. compare suppliers periodically – they don’t all adjust prices the same way at the same time and some will offer you great ‘honeymoon’ rates but not be as competitive later. Even if you don’t change suppliers, it will keep you in touch with reasonable industry rates as a reference and negotiating tool
  4. consider who you outsource to – the cheapest price is not always the most cost effective option (putting aside cheapest isn’t always best!) If Sally charges $100 an hour and Mary charges $80 but Sally is twice as fast, paying Sally will probably be the cheaper option. If Sally can also do another task it may be cheaper to use her for both as she knows your business and is already working for you.
  5. send statements and reminder invoices soon after an invoice is due – you will generally get better results for less effort if you ask for money when the project is fresh. Debt chasing is a waste of your resources
  6. buy cheaper when it doesn’t impact on quality. For example, if store A and B sell the same product at different prices with the same level of service, buy from the cheaper store. Likewise, buying 100 pens is often cheaper per pen than buying 10 of them.
  7. recycle and reuse as much as possible. In bigger companies, a fortune can be saved if you use old letterhead or with compliment slips as staff note pads; use the back of envelopes for calculations and scribbles instead of paying for notepads; print drafts on the back of old papers; use incoming packaging to package your products.
  8. turn everything off! Make sure the last person out turns off the lights, get everyone to turn off their computer and monitor at the end of the day, turn off monitors when away from your desk for more than 10 minutes, turn off printers and scanners overnight, and so on – you may be amazed at how much this can save over a year
  9. be prepared and communicate clearly with suppliers and service providers – wasting their time will cost you money
  10. monitor your marketing – if an ad isn’t helping your business then it is a waste of money (and that could include free ads!) Even ads that are working may be made less expensive (smaller size, less frequent use, etc) so try and compare the results

What other ways have you used to save money in your business? How much did it save you?