Free templates for direct-mail newsletters are hard to find. Templates for Ezines, electronic newsletters sent via email, are much easier to come by on the Web and I will address those in another article in this series. Although it’s time consuming, the reward for creating a good newsletter can be customer loyalty, credibility in your niche, and obtaining the same results that expensive advertising might generate. Also, you control the timing and the message in this manner of marketing. I like a good newsletter, there’s something personal and inclusive about it. Maybe it creates a sense of community, albeit one where we all are inevitably out to make a buck.
With a newsletter template, the job of laying out the design is already done for you. Creating your own from scratch would take up a lot of time and money. The two basic elements of what you are going to want in your newsletter are content (news pertinent to your business and services and other alluring items) and copy (which is essentially your sales pitch, what you want them to come to you for.) There are many things to consider when choosing a template to create a newsletter such as sizes (number of pages, margins, headings, subheadings, etc.) and how much room for pictures and graphics you want. The details really do matter because you want something that is easy on the eyes with a beguiling title that has no extraneous words such as ‘the.’ Of course, you will have to decide what consistent topics you want to address so bear in mind a creative well that won’t run dry down the line. There is something referred to as a zone of attention which your potential customers should be drawn to on the newsletter itself and this is what is most important to your small business.
With all that in mind, you are ready to browse the free templates that are available on the Web. The fountain for this particular desktop publishing project isn’t all that deep because there are a lot of pay-sites out there with all inclusive packages. For instance, there are sites where you can pay for the templates and also buy into a large database of articles and art to include in your newsletter without any risk of copyright infringement, but those templates were mostly for Ezines as far as I could gather. Having a large supply of industry-related articles would save you a lot of time in deciding what content you want in your newsletter, so it's something to consider. Although they’re not entirely free, check out www.imninc.com, www.templatesbox.com, and http://www.free-newslettertemplates.com/newsletter_templates.html to see what else is available and to get ideas. Whether your newsletter is electronic or a hard copy you are still going to have to write it and choose what graphics and pictures you want in it.
Alright, finally we’re getting to the free offerings which, along with the content and copy you put in it, can still produce an outstanding newsletter to build a loyal customer base. Microsoft Office has plenty of templates and the advantage of using them is that if you have Office, you should be familiar with the way things work there. Browse their templates (about 100 to choose from) at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates/CT101043281033.aspx. You will need Microsoft Publisher 2002 or higher to work with these templates. QuarkXPress also offers some free newsletter templates, along with other at http://www.quark.com/Products/QuarkXPress/ that work on Windows and Mac operating systems. SmartDraw also had newsletter templates that they offered with a free trial download and although that program is very popular, the free download will probably only get you half a newsletter and you’ll have to pay for the other half. I used the free trial download of SmartDraw to create a calendar with their free templates and found out later that printing out three months was free but the other nine would have to be bought.
There are a lot more free templates for email newsletters then there are for snail-mail newsletters. For some of those you will need a program like Photoshop so read carefully before you download if you go that route. Perhaps with the time and cost involved in printing and mailing a newsletter, together with the laudable goal of going paperless, the email newsletter has become a more popular choice.