Writing a barter newsletter is a great way for members of barter clubs to communicate with each other, attract new members and keep their communities aware of their organizations. Writing a solid newsletter can be tricky. However, it’s surprisingly easy once you learn how to use simple desktop publishing software, some of which can be obtained for very little cost. The information below will help you write a strong, professional-looking barter newsletter.

Obtain content

A good newsletter must contain strong, timely news bits and read much like a newspaper. Find newsworthy bartering events from your area. Have club members regularly report on their bartering activities, compile a membership directory and calendar of events and allow members to write articles.

Appoint an editor

Your editor will be responsible for digging up barter news from members and others in the community. Select an outgoing person with enough spare time to devote to reaching out to the public and designing the newsletter.

Choose a name and logo

Your newsletter should have a name that’s catchy and indicative of what your group is all about, such as “The Brownsville Bartering Monthly.” Your logo must be visible and attractive and placed in a title bar on top of the first page and in smaller print on succeeding pages.

Decide on a distribution frequency

You may distribute your newsletter as often as you wish. A monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly rotation is common. For barter groups, a monthly newsletter should suffice. A month is an acceptable amount of time to gather enough content to fill your pages with timely and interesting content.

Sell ads

Appoint certain people to solicit area businesses and other barterers to purchase advertising space in your newsletter. This will allow you to recover expenses associated with printing, distribution and equipment. The amount of ads you sell will determine how much room you will have for editorial content.

Write news stories

A newsletter actually serves as a small version of a newspaper or magazine. Clips should be written succinctly and to the point. Each article should be no more than 300 words. Graphics such as calendars, photos and ads should be appropriately placed among editorial content. Write about positive human interest events pertaining to bartering. Focus on keeping your reader’s attention. Try to keep your newsletter short–8 to 12 pages is common.

Design and lay out your newsletter.

There are many ways to lay out a newsletter. Just about any simple desktop publishing software program will work as long as it allows you to cut and paste easily and insert photos. Programs such as Pagemaker and Printmaster Gold are easy to use and perfect for designing newsletters. Printmaster can purchased for as low as $20, while Pagemaker is currently sold for $250 to $500 (see Resources).

Choose a page size

Depending on how many ads, articles and graphics you have, standard 8.5 x 11-inch copy paper folded horizontally in half with print on both sides should suffice. Instructions on how to select page sizes should be included in your software package. Choose a page size that allows readers to navigate your newsletter easily. Print your newsletter. To get started, use a solid laser copier. Use your machine’s collate and staple feature to secure the pages. If your copier is not capable of stapling and folding, save your newsletter in a PDF format on a disk or flash drive and have it printed at an office supply store. This will cost you between $30 and $75, depending on how many copies you want done. Or barter for the services.

Choose a distribution method

Send your newsletter to your barter group members first, then to the rest of the community. The most cost-efficient way to distribute multiple hard copies is to open a bulk mail account at your local post office (see Resources).

Use e-mail

Electronic newsletters, sometimes called “e-newsletters,” are often very easy to create and distribute and don’t involve the process of printing and mailing hard copies. These services usually require a monthly fee (see Resources).