Most church and district or conference organizations distribute at least one newsletter per month, and many still deliver them through U.S. postal mail. While this is fine, you might want to consider providing an E-newsletter, an electronic version of your newsletters, to display on your website for visitors to view. In addition, you may want to move toward electronic delivery of your e-newsletter to save time and money and to expedite delivery. This doesn't mean you do away with the print version for those who still prefer to receive the newsletter by regular mail, but it does mean you start using the power of electronic communication and the Internet to expand your reach in more cost-effective and efficient ways. In addition, the money you save on postage, paper, printing and personnel can be used to fuel a dynamic Web ministry or fund the start-up of a website for your church or organization.
Creating an E-newsletter
Create a PDF of your print newsletter and post it to your website. Then, send an e-blast to everyone who wants to receive the newsletter electronically and include the hyperlink of the PDF on your website. From there, they can view it online and/or print a copy to read offline. Most desktop publishing software that you use to design your print newsletter can produce a PDF version of the final document. If you have the PDF print driver installed on your computer, you can designate this as the "print" method, and it will generate a PDF electronic file of the newsletter. Why use a PDF? Well, it's a universal document format that saves your print version exactly as you designed it (fonts, colors, etc.) and is able to be read by nearly every computer using the free Adobe Reader software. If you do not have a PDF print driver installed or the Adobe software to create a PDF of your print document, you can download one of these free Open Source PDF creators:
If your print document has high-resolution photographs, this will greatly increase the size of the PDF. Using Adobe Professional or a similar PDF creator, you can optimize the document for use on the Web and greatly reduce the file size. This will expedite the time it takes for people to open and/or download the PDF from your website and make it possible for you to send the PDF as an email attachment if you choose. For optimum Web and email use, a PDF should be no more than 2 MB.
A free alternative to using a PDF and attaching it to an email, providing a link in an email or on your website, is to use a free online newsletter program. You will upload your newsletter as a PDF or Word document to the online service; it will create an online version, which you can then embed on your website or send a link in an email for online viewing at the service's site in your private section. Some free online newsletter publishing services include:
Use an online service to develop and deliver your newsletter electronically. If you are ready to go "totally electronic" with your newsletter, than you might want to consider an online service. Most of these services charge a fee based upon the number of unique email address in your database or by the number of messages you send each month. However, it is still much less expensive than regular postal mail delivery, and you get the benefit of timely delivery, reports of how many people opened the e-newsletter and the ability to grow your subscriber list. Plus, you can still publish a print version for offline use as well as post a copy to your website. Check out these top email service providers: