— Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way
As I write this, the thermometer outside my kitchen window reads negative 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit. But that’s not the worst of it. The thermometer inside my kitchen reads 49 degrees, and is slowly dropping.
No, it’s not because I’ve finally decided to fully live out the Blue Penguin brand. It’s simply that sometime during the night, the heating system in our house decided to shut itself down.
But a newsletter deadline is a newsletter deadline, so as I wait for the heat man to show up, I’m writing to you. And as my icy fingers type away, I realize that I’ve learned two very important things this morning.
Thing #1: No matter what anybody tells you — even if it’s your wife Linda — building a fire in the fireplace does nothing to warm your house.
Thing #2: Sometimes things go wrong.
Today’s newsletter is dedicated to those of you who, despite being sold on the concept of an E-Newsletter for your company, continue to put off launching one until everything is “just right.” Until your mailing list is large enough; until you’ve stockpiled enough columns so you’ll never run out; until you’ve hired that new marketing person; etc., etc.
I’ve got news for you. No matter how much you plan and prepare, things are going to go wrong even then. I’ve been midwife at the birth of dozens of E-Newsletters over the past four years, and every time we launch one (every time), something goes wrong. It’s never the same something, but it’s always there.
And that’s fine. The important thing is to get in the game.
• The Cost Of Error Is Exceedingly Low. In the “physical” world, the cost of a mistake is high. Anybody who has ever been responsible for printing business cards, brochures, CDs or anything else where the cost per unit drops significantly with each additional unit produced, knows the agony of cutting open the UPS box when it finally arrives and finding a typo.
Not so online. You make a mistake — no, you simply change your mind! — and you can fix it. Nothing about your newsletter need be permanent, from the name to the look to the content. Every issue is an opportunity to start fresh.
• Time Is Your Enemy. As we’ve said here many times before, relationship marketing (of which, your E-Newsletter is a tactic) is a long term approach. The sooner you get started reaching out to your circle of contacts, the sooner you’ll see the results. With an E-Newsletter in particular, you lose much more by waiting than you gain by perfecting.(If you want to see a really crappy newsletter, click here to read the first one we ever wrote).
• Experience Is Your Friend. You can read this newsletter until you’re blue in the face (no pun intended), but if you don’t have a living, breathing newsletter of your own to try out these ideas, it’s just a theoretical exercise. There’s only so much insight to be gained intellectually; the real “A-ha’s” occur when you get behind the wheel and drive it yourself.
Bottom Line: Expect to make mistakes in both the launch and ongoing management of your newsletter. The good news is that you’re never more than 30 days away from the next opportunity to improve, fix, fine tune and redefine whatever it is you’re working on. I promise you, the net will appear.