So you've decided to create an ezine! Congratulations. This is an excellent decision which will increase odds that people will return to your website often (depending upon your publication schedule). Another very real (and often overlooked) benefit to running your own ezine is you get targeted traffic. People come to your web site because they are interested in what you've got to say, not because they randomly found your link on a search engine.
Before you put out your first issue you are faced with some decisions. Some of those are listed below, with pros and cons. Do you use HTML or text? - Text has advantage that it is supported by any email client. Also, text is fully self-contained, meaning people can easily read your message whether or not they are connected to internet. This can be an advantage is ensuring your ezine actually gets read.
HTML can be made to look better as you have much more control over formatting. You can also include graphics, sound and even multimedia. Note, however, that all of these elements must actually be stored elsewhere, which requires bandwidth and also means your message is more difficult to read offline. On other hand, you can embed a banner or other graphic which can be used to determine how many people are actually reading your newsletter.
You can combine best of both worlds by using stationary files, although this restricts your readership to people who have clients which can view them. Stationary files can come with their graphics self-contained, which allows offline reading, and they have all of formatting capabilities of HTML.
Do you include outside advertising? - A major question, and it depends upon purpose for your ezine. Some ezines are pure lists of ads - I believe these last about two seconds in your average inbox before being deleted. Why? Who needs a list of advertisements? We all get so much spam already that more ads just don't make sense to most people.
A better strategy is to provide some content, with lots of links back to your web site. You can then include advertisements interspersed with articles, which increases chances that they will be seen. If you get enough subscribers you can even sell advertising space if you do it this way.
Personally, I don't mind a few ads in an ezine. This is same model that magazines in real world use - advertising pays for content. However, I like to see a ratio of 4 to 1 at least, content to advertising. You give me too many ads without adding value, and I will tend to delete ezine or to unsubscribe entirely.
Do you include full articles, partial articles with links to your website or just links? - There are pros and cons to each method. Including full articles tends to make for very large newsletters. In addition, I've found that I am less likely to make it to bottom of ezine if there is a large amount of text. This is especially true if I run into an article which I do not find useful - in that case I am very likely to just delete message without reading any more.
Partial articles is an excellent way to get people to read your ezine. By doing this, you allow them to see that there is, indeed, more to message than just one article. Thus, they are less likely to stop reading if they find something which is not of interest. Of all methods, I dislike lists of links most. I find this confusing and I am entirely likely to just delete ezine unread.
I think best of all worlds is to combine all three methods in each ezine. I like to include partial articles with links right at top of ezine, where they are likely to be seen. Following those links, I generally include a couple of articles in full, generally reprints from my website. At end, I include a number of useful links to articles and features which my readers may find of interest. If anyone makes it this far, they are, in my opinion, much more likely to click on a link than anyone else.
Do you include a table of contents? - If you've got a very long ezine, then it is probably a good idea to start with a table of contents. This makes a lot of sense if ezine is in HTML format, as you can include hyperlinks to each article.