How to Create a Newsletter: A Step-by-Step Guide for 2024

Newsletters are the basis to a successful email marketing strategy. A newsletter is simple to create and great for building long-term engagement.

But how do you send out newsletters by email? If you’re a beginner, don’t worry. It’s a lot easier than you think. The ‘secret’ is to sign up for a user-friendly email marketing software. Something with a drag-and-drop editor and lots of newsletter templates. This makes the design side easy.

Never designed an email before? In this article, I’ll walk you through how to create a newsletter step-by-step. I’ll also show you examples of great newsletter templates you can use to get started. 

What is an Email Newsletter?

An email newsletter is a broadcast email sent out to a list of subscribers regularly.  The one-to-many nature makes that you can reach a big audience with a regular email. 

Newsletters can have any type of content. Businesses often share company news, articles, announcements and updates in their newsletters. But they also include products and promotions.

Most email newsletters have the following characteristics:

  • Regular, scheduled distribution, for example, weekly or monthly.
  • Clear company branding. The audience should know who the newsletter is from.
  • Varied content designed to encourage interest and engagement.
  • An audience of newsletter subscribers. People must opt-in to receive a newsletter, we don’t want to spam.

5 Benefits of Creating a Newsletter

Marketing isn’t all about the hard sell. Newsletters represent a different, softer approach. You can think of it as ‘let them come to us’ marketing. Newsletters are all about putting yourself out there in front of an audience.

Here are some of the main benefits email newsletters can bring to your business:

  1. Nurturing engagement: The regular nature of regular newsletters builds familiarity. People are more likely to respond to communications from brands they recognise. 
  2. Building brand loyalty: After familiarity comes trust. The more people feel they ‘know’ your brand, the more they trust you. Even better if you can share things people find useful or entertaining. Establish that kind of value, and people will start to look out for your newsletters.
  3. Increasing conversions: You’ll never get all of your audience to respond to your calls to action (CTAs). Send out a one-off email, you can expect only a fraction of recipients to click your links. But with regular newsletters, you are repeating the opportunity. Over time, you’ll find more and more subscribers following your CTAs.  
  4. Driving traffic to other channels: Clicking a link might sound a way short of completing a sale. But sales come from generating interest, engagement and traffic. Newsletters are great for driving traffic to other channels. You can include links to your blog, product pages, event registrations, and social media platforms.
  5. Cost-effective marketing: Finally, newsletters are very cost-effective. Email marketing software is available from $9/month. And you can even start your newsletter journey for free.

How to Create a Newsletter in 8 Steps

Now the important part. How to create a newsletter that will give you all the benefits I’ve talked about.

One thing I’m not going to cover here is getting subscribers for your newsletter. For this article, I’ll assume you already have a list of contacts. Building a subscriber list is a whole other ‘how to’. If you want to know more, check out our review of the best landing page builders and email list building tools.

1. Define your goals, audience and email marketing strategy

Success doesn’t just happen. You need to be clear about what you want to achieve, or your goals. And how you’re going to achieve them. Your strategy.

To this ‘what’ and ‘how’, you can add a ‘who’. As in, who are you sending the newsletters to? There are different ways to target different audiences. And you might have different goals for various groups. 

Newsletter goals

There are 2 types of goals to think about, business goals and email marketing goals:

  • Business goals for newsletters link to the benefits described above. They are what you want a newsletter to do for your business.
  • Email marketing goals are how you measure progress towards your business goals. Say you want newsletters to help drive more website traffic. How do you know if it is doing this? You can measure click-through rates on links in your newsletter. You can set targets for how many click-throughs you’d like per newsletter. If you hit this target, you can say you’ve achieved your email marketing goal. That gives you a good idea of progress towards your business goal.

I’ll talk about other ways to measure email marketing goals in more detail later.

Newsletter strategy

With targets and goals in mind, you can plan a strategy for achieving them. Content is a key part of the ‘how’. The content of your newsletters should always link back to your goals. For example: 

  • Increasing conversions with product promotions. 
  • Encouraging people to share thought-provoking or fun content to grow your audience.
  • Building brand trust by sharing useful content on other channels.

Your strategy should also cover things like how often you send out a newsletter. And importantly, the kind of links and CTAs you include. A very obvious example is using newsletters to drive traffic to other channels. If you don’t include the right links, you won’t get any traffic.

Your digital marketing strategy can get as detailed and sophisticated as you like. But to start with, think in terms of making sure content, audience and outcomes fit. If you have something you want to share, ask who will be interested? What benefit will it bring? And how can I measure success?

2. Select an email newsletter software

With a plan in hand, you can now get down to actually creating a newsletter. And this is where you need email marketing software. Email marketing services have drag-and-drop editors for designing and building HTML emails. And they let you send emails to lots of contacts at once.

No-code HTML email builders mean you can make your newsletter look great. It’s not all about the quality of the content. Visual design grabs attention. Good designs also make content easier to read. There are lots of great email marketing services for sending newsletters. I’ve picked out 4 to share here. But you can find many more in our review of email newsletter software.

For the rest of this guide, I’m using Brevo. But whatever email marketing platform you choose, the steps are similar. 

Brevo

Brevo email marketing tool

Brevo is ideal for starting with newsletters. It’s got a great free plan. There’s no limit on contact numbers and you can send 300 emails a day. You also get access to most email marketing tools with a free account.

As you’ll see, building newsletters in Brevo is easy. The drag-and-drop editor is great for beginners. It’s really simple to create brand styles and customise layouts. Just by dragging and dropping content blocks into position. There are around 50 templates to get started with and you can automate sending.

Paid plans on Brevo start at $25 a month for 20,000 emails.

Try Brevo for free or read our full review

Moosend

Moosend email marketing tool

Moosend is great value for getting started with newsletters. It’s one of the cheapest email marketing platforms around. But it’s still packed with great features and very easy to use. It’s got a user-friendly drag-and-drop email builder. And you can choose from 75+ templates to give your design a head start. 

It’s especially good for finding your feet with automations. It has pre-made automation ‘recipes’, newsletter scheduling, and double opt-in.

Another strength of Moosend is its ecommerce integrations. Connecting to your web store makes it easy to import product listings into newsletters.

Moosend pricing starts at $9 a month for 500 contacts. There’s a 30-day free trial.

Get started with Moosend for free or read our full review

MailerLite

MailerLite email campaign software

MailerLite is a beginner-friendly email service provider. It ticks the right boxes for simplicity and value. Like Brevo, it has a packed free plan. You can send 12,000 emails a month to 1,000 contacts. 

It has a drag-and-drop editor and 90+ templates. But its best feature is its pre-formatted content blocks. There are blocks with an article summary, image, and link button already laid out. You can create a basic newsletter layout in 5-10 minutes just by dropping these in position. 

There’s also the option of an RSS feed to automatically turn blog pages into newsletter content. Not sure what to write in your newsletter? An AI writing assistant will fill in the blanks.

Pricing starts at $9 a month for 500 contacts and unlimited emails.

Try MailerLite for free or read our full review

ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign email service provider

ActiveCampaign is a great option if you want to get a little more advanced with your newsletters. It’s still user-friendly and offers the email-building tools you need. But ActiveCampaign comes into its own with its automation and contact management tools.

A lot of this goes way beyond what you need for sending newsletters. But it’s useful if you want to manage newsletters as part of larger campaigns. There are sales and customer relationship management (CRM) tools available, too.

ActiveCampaign is also great for sending different newsletters to different people. Its segmentation options are detailed but user-friendly.

Pricing starts at $29 a month for 500 contacts and unlimited emails. There’s a 14-day free trial.

Get started with ActiveCampaign here or read our full review 

3. Choose a template and email layout

All the best email marketing software come with pre-formatted templates. Templates give you a layout and a design to work with. You can fill a template in with your content, and change colors and fonts. Job done.

Here are some example newsletter templates from Brevo:

Brevo email templates

If you want more choices, try email template builders like Beefree. Beefree has 1300+ pre-made HTML templates to choose from. And hundreds just for newsletters. 

Beefree email template catalogue

Check out this collection of over 99 free email templates for more options. An email design tool like Beefree doesn’t send your newsletters, but it’s really easy to import templates into your email marketing software.

4. Add your content and customize your design

Brevo newsletter template

I chose this template because it’s clear and simple. Its 4 main sections work well for any newsletter design:

  • A header
  • A large image that grabs attention
  • An introduction section with a title
  • 3 columns for story snippets

But it’s also not a newsletter template. It’s a template for a thank you email for signing up for a newsletter. So it’s good for showing how simple edits can make a newsletter.

create a newsletter with the Brevo drag and drop tool 

Here’s my template in the Brevo editor. All I’ve done at this point is add my own text and image. But look what a difference it makes. That’s why templates are so great. They help you create a newsletter quickly. 

I’ve highlighted the boxes at the bottom of the page to show the editing options. In Brevo, clicking on a content box opens the editing menu to the left. Most no-code HTML editors work like this. Different content boxes have different options.

Here, you can see the options for editing the background images. I wanted to remove them. All I had to do was click delete. This reveals the background colour for that box instead. You can see what this looks like in the left-hand box.

The box highlighted at the very bottom of the page shows more editing options. Notice the cross shaped icon to the left. This is how you move content blocks around the page. 

personalizing newsletters with email subscribers details

Here’s my design with some tweaks to the background colours. I’ve highlighted the text box to show the personalization options. The most basic personalization is dropping the subscriber’s name in. But you can take this much further and personalize email content with any data you have. I clicked on the small person icon in the text editing menu to add personalization. It opens the options in the red box. I selected FIRSTNAME as my attribute. This inserts the first name of every contact I send the newsletter to.

A more advanced way to personalize newsletters is dynamic content. This changes newsletter content for different recipients. Just like adding a name, it’s based on contact data you have saved. But instead of just adding an attribute, you change content based on an attribute. A simple example is showing prices in different currencies for different countries.

Send your newsletter for free with Brevo

5. Decide on a subject line

adding a subject line when you create a newsletter in Brevo

The subject line is one of the most important parts of your whole email newsletter. It’s not a part of the main newsletter body. But it’s the first thing recipients see in their inbox. It can make all the difference as to whether they open your newsletter at all.

You want an email subject line that grabs attention. But also tells the reader clearly what the email is about. And quickly! It’s a tricky balancing act. Some good subject line tips are:

  • Keep it under 50 characters. Most mobile email clients will cut longer subject lines. And anything that can’t be scanned in a second, people will gloss over.
  • Personalize it. People respond to seeing subject lines relevant to them.
  • Sum up the contents. Spell out that it’s a newsletter and who it’s from. Or pick one main story to summarize.
  • Give people a reason to click ‘open’. There are ways to create curiosity in readers. 

Don’t be afraid to get creative. A really useful tool for this is A/B testing. A/B testing means sending newsletters with different subject lines to samples of your contacts. And then sending the email with the subject line that got the most opens. You need a big contact list to make A/B testing work. 1000 at the very least.

Brevo AI subject line writer

Brevo and other email marketing platforms offers an AI subject line generator. You just describe the topic or add your keywords and the AI will generate subject line suggestions.

AI suggestions for subject lines in Brevo

This is what Brevo’s AI came up with for my newsletter. Notice the options for changing the suggestion. Again, it’s worth playing around with the AI subject lines. Make a note of several suggestions to compare. And if you can, A/B test your favourites.

6. Test your newsletter

testing your newsletter on both desktop and mobile in different email clients

This is different to A/B testing. This is about checking how your newsletter looks in different inboxes.

Different email clients interpret HTML in different ways. So you can’t be sure about a design until you have tested it. This is particularly important with mobile. It’s unlikely that you’d design an email on a mobile device. Doing it on a desktop is much easier. And you have the benefit of a larger screen.

You can check mobile previews of your email design in most email editors. But by sending a test and checking it on a phone you can check how it looks on a smaller screen.

7. Send your newsletter (or export HTML)

One of the benefits of using email marketing software to create a newsletter is that you can also send it. This makes everything easier and faster.

In Brevo, once you are happy with your newsletter, there are 2 steps to sending. First, add recipients on the email campaign page.

adding recipients and scheduling sending of email campaigns

There are 2 options. You can add a full list and send your newsletter to everyone on it. Or you can send it to a segment. Segments let you carefully choose your target audience.

Next, you schedule sending. Most email marketing software will let you set a time in the future or send straight away. Brevo also has a ‘send at the best time’ feature. This uses tracking data to send when recipients are using their email accounts. People are more likely to open emails that land when they are in their inbox. 

Send your newsletter for free with Brevo

If you use an email editor like Beefree, you will need to send your newsletter in another platform. Beefree and other editors have Export options to copy the HTML code and integrations with email marketing software. Learn how to create and export HTML emails from Beefree here.

8. Track newsletter performance

The final step comes full circle back to those goals I talked about. You set out with a strategy. Some business objectives you want your newsletter to support. And some email marketing targets to measure success.

So the last part is to do that measuring. 

All email marketing software will report on these basic metrics:

  • Open rate. This is the percentage of recipients who open your newsletters. You want the open rate to be as high as possible. If it is low, look again at subject lines and sender name. Try more A/B testing. Or consider whether you’re targeting the right people.
  • Click through rate. This tells you what percentage of readers are clicking the links in your newsletter. The best metrics break down which links are getting the most hits. So you can analyze what works well and do more of that.
  • Unsubscribe rate. This is simply how many people are opting out of receiving your newsletters. A high unsubscribe rate suggests you need to reconsider engagement and targeting.
  • Bounce rate. Tells you how many emails are not making the inbox. This is known as ‘bouncing’. This is important because there are 2 types of bounce. A ‘hard’ bounce is down to a permanent account issue. Or even a sign of a fake account. You should remove all contacts that result in hard bounces from your list. ‘Soft’ bounces are caused by temporary issues, like a full inbox. You can reduce your bounce rate by cleaning your email list with the best email verification tools.
  • Conversion and revenue tracking. After clicks, come conversions and revenue. When someone clicks on a link to a page and subscribes to get your ebook, that’s a conversion. When a recipient buys a product on a page they opened from your newsletter, that conversion results in revenue. Some advanced email marketing have conversion and revenue tracking. You can use UTM parameters to track email traffic in your analytics and track conversions there.

The 7 Best Email Templates for Newsletters

Templates are your starting point for creating your first newsletter. Even experienced designers use templates to save time.

But what does a good template look like? The main things to look for are professional quality and a clear layout. With newsletter templates, simple is often better. Designs that try to be too fancy can look cluttered. Especially when you add your touches to them. Clear, simple designs are easier to customize.

You also want a template that matches your purpose. The ‘standard’ newsletter format is sharing a summary of several stories. But newsletters can do much more than that. 

Here are 7 great examples from Beefree.

free company newsletter template Beefree

This is a classic newsletter layout. It’s simple, it’s clear, it’s easy to customize. The ‘front page’ is uncluttered and offers enough visual interest to grab the eye. Then there’s space below for your text.

Get this template for free

image led newsletter template example Beefree

This is a great image-led template with a professional look with a simple layout. It’s set up as a subscription confirmation. But works well as a product or brand-focused newsletter. 

Download this template for free

colorful newsletter template example images Beefree

This template is all about colour. Notice the contrast between the bright areas and the plain background. It keeps things clear and tasteful. The layout is also ideal for a newsletter. The boxes are filled with images here. But they can easily be customized with story snippets. 

Get this template for free

back to school email newsletter template drawing style Beefree

Beefree is packed with seasonal newsletter templates. Like this one on a back-to-school theme. They’re great time-savers if you want to give your newsletter a seasonal twist. This is also a really solid general template. It’s got all the main newsletter features. It’s well laid out and easy to customize.

Get this template for free

women owned business story style email newsletter template

This is what you might call a long-form newsletter template. You have to be careful about packing so much content into an email. More content means more scrolling. And on mobile devices, how much is squeezed into a narrow screen. This template shows how to do it right. It breaks content into chunks for easier scrolling. And it has a nice balance of text and images.

Get this template for free

online course newsletter email template Beefree

This is another longer template. But it has a different focus. It’s more about promoting products and services than telling a story. The layouts on this template are excellent. Everything is clean, clear and professional looking.

Download this template for free

multi story newsletter email template Beefree

Newsletters don’t have to contain multiple stories. Or focus on more than one product. They can zero in on one topic. This is a great template for that. But you can have the main story on the top and add 3 other articles in place of the steps below.

Get this template for free

Check out our collections of free Outlook and Mailchimp templates for more newsletter templates. These work with Brevo, Moosend, MailerLite, and ActiveCampaign, too.

Conclusion: How to create an email newsletter

Email newsletters are a great way to stay in regular contact with a large audience. They help to build engagement and loyalty over time. They are ideal for driving traffic to other channels and steadily increasing conversions. And best of all, they are incredibly cost-effective.

Newsletters are also an easy win. Even for complete beginners, creating and sending one is very straightforward with email marketing software like Brevo, Moosend, and MailerLite.

Drag-and-drop email editors make it easy to design and format great-looking newsletters. Templates make it even easier. You get ready-made layouts you can just drop your own content and branding into. Or customize however you like.

There’s a bit more to getting success from newsletters than that. You also need an audience of email subscribers, a strategy and a plan for measuring success. But follow these basic steps, and you’ll be up and running sending newsletters in no time.

FAQs about creating an email newsletter

Can I create a newsletter for free?

Yes, you can create a newsletter for free. Email marketing services like Brevo and MailerLite offer free plans. With these, you can create and design professional-looking HTML emails. And give you pre-formatted templates to work from. With Brevo, you can send up to 300 newsletters out per day on the free plan. In MailerLite, you can send 12,000 emails a month for free.

How do I start a newsletter from zero?

To start a newsletter from zero, you first need a list of subscribers. You can use your existing email list if people subscribed and gave you permission to send marketing emails. If not, you can add email subscription forms and landing pages to your website to grow your list.

To create an email newsletter, the easiest way is to use an HTML email template. With a drag-and-drop editor, you can customize templates without any coding. Email marketing software has both templates and an editor. Platforms like Brevo, Moosend, MailerLite, and ActiveCampaign also take care of sending.

How do you format a newsletter?

The best way to format a newsletter is by using a drag-and-drop HTML email editor. Newsletters have more impact if they have an attractive visual design.

HTML is used to format and style web pages and emails. But coding HTML from scratch takes skill. Drag-and-drop email builders do the hard work for you. They have pre-built layouts and content elements or ‘blocks’. All you have to do is drag and drop them into position. And then use simple editing tools to change how they look. All good email marketing platforms include drag-and-drop email editors with newsletter templates. You can also use standalone email editors like Beefree. A big benefit of Beefree is it comes with 1300+ templates.

How do you structure a good newsletter?

A good email structure should be clean, clear and clutter-free. You want it to be easy for readers to scan key information. Subscribers should know what the newsletter is about immediately. And CTAs should be prominent and accessible. Find the best free responsive email templates here with the proper structure to save you time.

There are lots of ways to do this. But typical newsletter structures include:

  • A header with your branding. Many newsletter headers also include navigation links to a main website.
  • A heading/title summing up what the newsletter is about. Or the main ‘story’ if you are including more than one.
  • A main image.
  • A main text box for either introducing the newsletter or covering the main topic.
  • Further images and text boxes to break content up into digestible chunks. In newsletters covering several topics, you might have one box for each. 
  • Links and CTAs. Links are a good way to provide further information to keep your newsletter concise and punchy. This works well when summarising several stories, for example. CTAs should link back to your email marketing strategy. What actions do you want readers to take to benefit your business?

How long should a newsletter be?

To decide how long a newsletter should be, there are 2 things to balance. Including enough information to make your newsletter valuable and keeping it concise enough to read on a screen. Make a newsletter too short, and subscribers may not find it engaging enough. But if it is too long, they will be put off. Especially on a mobile device.

The trick is to decide what you want to communicate to your subscribers. And then plan a structure that keeps it snappy and easy to scan. If you have a lot to write about, use snippets to summarize information. And then include links to more detailed resources.

About Mor Mester


Mor Mester is the Head of Content Marketing at EmailVendorSelection. He's an email marketing and marketing automation expert with 6+ years of experience. Having tested and reviewed 100+ email marketing, marketing automation, CRM, ecommerce, SMS marketing, email verification, online course, and lead generation tools, he knows a good business software when he sees one.
After work, you can find him riding his bike on some trails.

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