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What Are Ezines and Do I Need to Publish One? FAQs

Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.

Updated 2.15.24

Ezines gained popularity in the late 1990s and early 2000s with the rise of the internet. Those first online publications may appear clunky and outdated today, compared with sleeker versions available through the email marketing landscape. Nevertheless, an ezine’s fundamental role has remained unchanged: an ezine provides valuable content to online audiences.

If you’re thinking about publishing one, you may have questions like those explained here.

What are ezines? Electronic + Magazine = Ezine with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter. #WritingTips #TipforWritingNewsletters

Q. What are ezines?

Ezines, short for “electronic magazines,” are online newsletters. They are sent, received, and read on the internet, versus being printed on paper and mailed through the postal service.

Ezines provide helpful information online. They can cover topics in any niche (just as traditional print magazines do) including news, entertainment, lifestyles, technology, and more. Like print publications, ezines offers content in formats ranging from articles and essays to interviews and reviews – both in images and text. However, electronic newsletters also feature videos and links.

Q. How are ezines different from print newsletters and magazines?

  • Delivery. A print newsletter is delivered through the mail or presented as a left-behind. An ezine is delivered online.
  • Production. A print newsletter or magazine requires an editorial team, an advertising team, and follows a strict publishing schedule. An ezine, however, is typically produced by a single person or small group. It can be sent at the click of a button.
  • Lifespan. A traditional print newsletter is tangible. Your reader holds it, turns it over in her hand, skims the headlines, sets it down, picks it up, posts it on the fridge with a magnet, leaves it laying out on a desk.
  • An ezine pops into an inbox. A compelling subject lines means it gets opened up. Otherwise, it’s eliminated with a click of the “Delete” key. If the ezine gets opened, the reader skims headlines and occasionally clicks through to read an entire article – but only if the content is of urgent interest to him.

Q. Who reads ezines?

  • Subscribers. Ezine publishers ask readers to subscribe as a way to protect themselves from spamming laws by featuring and opt-in box or entire opt-in page on their websites.
  • Customers. Once you give a vendor your email address, you extend permission to receive email. Smart marketers use that permission to continue to send customers helpful information, which cements the relationship and leads to more sales.
  • Competitors. Others in your niche become your subscribers so they can see what you’re writing about. It’s one way to stay abreast with trends.
  • If you publish an ezine, be careful to offer subscribers a way to opt out. It’s the law. Plus, you save money by weeding out uninterested readers.
Why publish an ezine? with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter #Newsletters #WritingTips #EmailNewsletters #EmailMarketing

Q. What is the purpose of publishing an ezine?

Businesses, nonprofits, and solopreneurs publish an ezine as a way to stay in front of their readers and generate continued interest in their services. You can too. Your ezine can help you to … 

  • Share your content. Ezines provide a way for you to distribute your content to a targeted audience – your fans who have become subscribers. Your readers get all kinds of luscious information, news, and helpful tips directly in their inbox, rather than through a laborious internet search or by chance. When you structure your email newsletter with links to your content, you …
  • Build traffic. Ezines rarely contain complete articles or posts. Rather, teasers of 50-200 words link readers to full content on your site. That means click-throughs, which lands readers on your site where they (hopefully) stay for a while.
  • Engage your readers. Ezines connect with readers with common interests. Your subscribers are either qualified prospects or have opted in. Your ezine gives the opportunity for this special group of readers to interact through comments, feedback forms, and social media shares.
  • Promote your products and services. An email newsletter is a cost-effective way to reach your target audience with special offers.
  • Build your brand. Readers appreciate value. Ezine publishers who consistently deliver helpful content to subscribers build credibility. Over time, a well-curated ezine can establish your brand and earn you notoriety as an authority in your field.
  • Create an income stream. Your ezine can generate revenue through advertising, sponsored content, subscription fees, or affiliate marketing.

Q. How are ezines formatted?

You can choose from a variety of options for publishing your email newsletter.

  • Templates. Now the most popular approach for small- to mid-size businesses, email marketing software programs like Constant Contact, AWeber, and Mail Chimp provide templates to allow you to construct all kinds of electronic broadcasts. A web developer can also create a customized template for you to use with email marketing software.
  • Web pages. Some ezines are simply web pages designed to read like a printed magazine. HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) is a good way to send an ezine, because readers can view your ezine as a web page without having to leave their email inbox. The ezine is simply constructed as a new page on your site. Readers view the page directly in their email, on their mobile device, or on your website.
  • Text only. These are good for readers who are more selective or who want to simplify their downloading process. Text takes less time to download than HTML. Text-only emails can also give the appearance of a personal email. Most often these readers are interested in specific content – they skim through your ezine for something that catches their interest. A text-only ezine offers straight content (without images or formatting) or give a brief statement for each topic or story, and then provide a link to your website
  • PDF. By creating a newsletter as a PDF file (or saving a print newsletter as a PDF) you offer readers a high-quality document. The reader can save a copy of the ezine to their computer or mobile device and to read it offline. You can also post a PDF link on your website to your PDF. (Keep in mind that search engines don’t scan the content on attachments like PDFs, so your PDF ezine content will not be indexed and included in search results.)
  • Word document. Although easy to construct on a desktop, MS Word documents are among the least preferable kind of ezines to send, since they’re usually sent as an attachment … and attachments can harbor viruses. Giving your readers a virus is a fast way to lose them. And as crazy as it sounds, readers don’t like to take that extra step to open an attachment.

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Q. How are email newsletters delivered?

The two most common ways to deliver an email newsletter are …

  1. Email marketing platforms. The most popular method for mass distribution is through an email list manager. You can register with a provider (like Constant Contact or Mail Chimp), then upload your opted-in email list, construct your ezine, and schedule it for delivery. These platforms offer helpful features: list management, customizable email newsletter templates, analytics, and automation. That makes it a whole lot easier for the Average Joe to create an email newsletter, since you don’t need to be a designer to do so. Plus, an email marketing service helps you manage your opt-ins, handle bounces, and track click-throughs – which saves you time.
  2. Content Management Systems (CMS). Website platforms like WordPress and SoloBuildIt offer integrations that allow you to create and send newsletters directly from your website. Check with your web host. If you can manage your newsletter from your CMS – giving you enough services and templates – then you can streamline the process of sending a newsletter.

Or you can choose three other options.

  1. Custom HTML email newsletters. Got a knack for tech? Create custom HTML emails. You can then send these emails using an SMTP server or an email delivery service.
  2. Personal email accounts. While less common for large-scale newsletters, you can send newsletters directly from your personal or business email client (like Gmail or Outlook). I’m not a big fan of this approach, particularly if you’re working to build a long-term following. For one thing, sending a newsletter from your personal account is less scalable, meaning it becomes nearly unmanageable once your list grows beyond 100 or so subscribers. Plus, personal email accounts lack the advanced features of dedicated email marketing platforms. In addition, sending an ezine from your personal email address is not professional when you’re building a biz or a brand.
  3. API integration. If you have technical expertise or access to development resources, you can use APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) provided by email service providers. Integrate your newsletter functionality directly into your website or custom applications. 

Regardless of which method you choose to deliver your ezine, you can publish your ezine on your website, either as an archived item, an individual web page, or an attachment. Then, your content becomes a resource for readers. 

Q. I don’t hear the term “ezine” much. Why?

As ezines have evolved, they have acquired new names like "online magazine," "digital magazine," “electronic newsletter, “email newsletter,” or simply "magazine." Despite the shift the concept remains the same. Ezines are online publications. And they continue to thrive.

Q. What’s the difference between an ezine and an email marketing campaign?

An email newsletter (ezine) is informational. Its announcements, tips, articles, videos – and true to its name, occasionally even news – are a way to build a relationship with readers. Readers opt in and stay subscribed because the newsletter provides information that’s relevant and useful to them, no matter what the niche. In that sense, an ezine is considered to be a “soft sell.” Nevertheless, when publishing an email newsletter, content is key.

An email marketing message, on the other hand, is transactional. Its purpose is to get the reader to take a specific action, such purchasing a product, confirming their address, or registering for an event.

Q. Why are some ezines free and others require a fee?

As with print publications, the choice to send a fee-based newsletter or a free email newsletter lays with the publisher – in this case, you. And just as some print publications required a subscription fee, some online publishers choose the fee-based route. They do so for a variety of reasons, like:

  • Value. If your ezine offers unique, high-quality content or specialized information, you can justify charging a fee for access. Subscribers are willing to pay for content that provides significant value, exclusive insights, or expertise not readily available elsewhere.
  • Branding. By charging a fee, you can position your ezine as a premium offering, signaling a higher perceived value for your brand.
  • Audience. Niche or professional audiences who are accustomed to paying for specialized information or industry insights may be more willing to pay for access to content that meets their specific needs or interests.
  • Competition. Are publishers in your niche or industry charging fees for their email newsletters? If so, it’s feasible for you to do the same, particularly if you offer unique value or additional benefits over your competitors.

Q. Should I send a free email newsletter?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you want to add followers? A free email newsletter builds fans – your subscribers. These are readers who are eager to read the regular information you send. Otherwise, they’d opt out.
  • Do you want to continue to create content? When you publish a regular ezine, you force yourself to produce helpful information for your subscribers on a systematic schedule.
  • Do you want to build traffic? Your ezine, by nature, is short. That means you write article teasers that link to the full posts or articles on your site – which in turn means your readers click through to your ezine to your blog or website.
  • Do you want to save money? An email newsletter is inexpensive (sometimes free) to publish and send.
  • Do you want to build credibility? When you send reliable, relevant information through your ezine, your subscribers recognize you as an authority in your niche.

If you answer yes to any of these questions, then sending a free email newsletter can be right for you. Free ezines are a marketing tool to drive traffic to a website, promote products or services, or capture leads. Think about it: you send readers useful information at no cost. Your ezine helps your subscribers. And it helps you extend your reach, too.

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