sallyhanan’s blog

A writer’s blog

Sending out newsletters April 17, 2009


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While I haven’t yet put all of my contacts together, I thought I’d play around a bit with the newsletter options. There’s a little box on my home page that gives tutorials on the basics, so I chose that option.

iContact gave me 3 choices. (They seem to like doing things in threes!) I could use:

Message Builder
Create one from scratch using WYSIWYG editor (haven’t a clue what that could stand for)
Copy and paste

Seeing as I can’t code, I chose the message builder option, which then made me choose from a number of different designs. I can get overwhelmed with too many choices—perfectionism I guess—but at least it was broken down for me into sections: Industry/Product/Regular/Theme/Holiday/Postcards/Custom.
I was hard pressed to figure out what writing and editing would fall into, so I chose the regular theme.

Then I had to choose which background color I wanted (which sometimes makes the e-mail message take longer to download), and which color border I wanted. Did I then want a shadow around it or a solid color or a picture at the top (called Bubbly for some reason, even though it doesn’t have any bubbles)?

After that, I had to do even more choosing. Did I want a side column or side bar, a one or two column press release style, a fancy header, a menu on the right or the left?

The whole time I was doing this, I could see a preview picture on the page based on each choice I was adding—a great tool for the visual learner.

Then I got to fill my template. To be honest, it couldn’t have been much easier. Every tiny section was labeled for me with a text box to write in.

For the template I chose, I could have added 6 URLS, each one giving me two text boxes to write in—the name in one box and the URL in the second one. The date, newsletter title, headlines and sub-headlines, footer headline and text—all of these were offered in the same format.

I continued on to be asked which e-mail type I wanted—HTML or text based. Would I have pity on all those readers who couldn’t see my pretty colors and fancy fonts, or not? I didn’t think so. 🙂

Then I got to edit what I had created. I was able to delete the columns the extra URL options were in, but when I went to add my photo, it only gave me the option of linking to a linked photo. I thought that was strange, considering I had uploaded a perfectly good one to the images section. I temporarily allowed the pop-up window, and it reversed the work I ‘d done on deleting the URL boxes. I tried “merge with the cell to the right” option, and it only got wider and weirder, so I was able to undo it, but the undo button only works once and no more—note to self—only mess up once. When I right-clicked, there was another option to “unmerge with cell to the right.” Too late.

I clicked on the image button again, and when it opened to the “link your photo” page, I clicked on the bottom text which asked me if I wanted to find an alternate image. It led me to the photo I’d saved.

All that was left was to copy in the text for those who had no HTML reading capabilities in their e-mail programs and e-mail myself a copy of the finished letter.

It ended up looking quite impressive, almost perfect, even. The only thing that didn’t clean up during the editing phase was the boxes for the URLs—I could still see the lines for them—but I don’t think anyone but a programer would notice.

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