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Brian Grulke

Judy Eastman, The Virtual Partner
By Brian Grulke

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The Virtual Partner is a newsletter aimed at small business owners, including tips, software reviews and articles of interest to small business owners. Publisher Judy Eastman highlights the important business issues and aspects owners should be aware of in order to run a successful business. Judy was kind enough to agree to an interview. Hope you find it useful.

Brian Grulke: Could you give the readers a short description of your ezine?

Judy Eastman: The Virtual Partner was created to dovetail with my VA business, and my target audience has always been the small business owner and/or entrepreneur. As it is, The Virtual Partner could actually appeal to anyone who would like a little additional information about computers (not too techie!) or working online.

My ongoing goal is to produce a newsletter with a lot of useful information in a fairly small package, so the reader doesn't have to *wade* through it to get to what they want or need.

Software reviews, computer tips, articles on saving time or energy and how to do things virtually or on the computer are the meat and potatoes of The Virtual Partner.

BG: How did you get started with the Virtual Partner?

JE: The newsletter started out to be a key part of my marketing plan for my virtual assistance business. When I put together the first issue, I found out that I sincerely enjoy doing it on its own.

BG: What kind of software do you use in the creation of your list?

JE: As I'm sure you know, formatting an ezine can really be a pain. I was having some problems with that for a couple of issues, and I was going to try a little freeware program. After I installed the program (there's *always* a catch to free!), I found they wanted me to run their ads or articles.

I don't do ads, and the articles were totally inappropriate for my publication. I never used the program. I learned to do a better job of formatting and deleted the program from my computer.

I have used WordPerfect and Eudora Pro. I now use MS Word and MS Outlook. I have an IPP (Internet Presence Provider) that provides Majordomo service for my list. I use nothing else.

BG: Where does your content usually come from?

JE: I do a lot of research, mostly online, before I get an issue ready to publish. I sort of "theme" my issues, and then research to find sites, programs, etc., that are relevant to the topic I chose.

When I link a Web site to my newsletter, I go over that site thoroughly before I use it. If I'm not comfortable with a site, for any of a number of reasons, I don't use it. I am constantly on the lookout for shareware and freeware I can download and review for the newsletter.

I guess that was a bit vague, but it's an ongoing process, and the information never comes from a small number of places.

BG: Have you ever hired a freelance writer?

JE: I do all my own writing unless I have a guest. Since I don't use ads, and my newsletter is free, I don't anticipate hiring anyone to write copy for me. I have loved writing since I was very young, although my real writing passion is still fiction.

I use guest writers once in a while, in exchange for putting in their bylines and URL's. The articles have to be appropriate for my audience and topics.

BG: Do you ever have plans to begin publishing more newsletters or to create a family of newsletters?

JE: I would just love to do newsletters for clients. I am also working on doing a hard copy version of The Virtual Partner for local marketing purposes. The email and hard copy mediums are so different that I am putting a lot of thought into the hard copy version.

Some folks might think you just print it out. I don't think that would work. The ezine is so immediate. Just click on a link and you're there. I'm not sure if pretty (as in clip art and a graphic masthead) will compensate for that immediate interaction not being present, and I'm not sure what will. First impressions are important, so I'm proceeding very cautiously.

BG: What other advice would you give to new publishers? What have you learned from publishing your ezine?

JE: I personally think keeping your promises to your readers is the most important thing. If you say you will publish monthly or weekly, then you must do it. If you promise the readers worthwhile content of any certain nature, then you must deliver it.

Subscribers have a limited amount of time and a lot of things competing for their attention. If you don't give them substance, on time, they aren't going to stick with you.

BG: Thanks for your time, Judy. What are your predictions for the future of the list industry?

JE: I haven't really been in this long enough to be a prophet, but when I started my own newsletter, I was concerned about the sheer number of ezines out there. Did the virtual world really need another one?

I subscribe to three or four dozen ezines myself. What is appealing to me is not going to appeal to everyone else. There is certainly a lot of room for variety and diversity, but I still kind of wonder if there will be a saturation point somewhere?

Thanks to:
Judy Eastman, Certified Professional Virtual Assistant
Virtually Associated Partners

Ezine-Tips for July 11, 2000

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