Sunday, 24 September 2006

Email newsletter issuing tips

In the past 6 months or so I've created a couple of blog sites and send out quarterly Ochre Archives newsletters from distribution lists. A friend of mine, David, who lives near Cradle Mountain in Tasmania also sends out newsletters, was having difficulties with file sizes and asked me for some tips. Both of us like to include photographs in what we send out. Below is pretty much a word-for-word copy of the ‘suggestions email’ I sent him.

“Optus restricts the size of the files it will allow a non-commercial 'user' (horrible term) to 7.0 MB, and a commercial user to 10 MB ... not much difference. Some other Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will only permit 5 MB files to enter their customers email mailboxes.

The following are the ways I know of that will allow you to potentially address the newsletter file size problem:

1. Reduce the size (and in the process the quality ... but not significantly) of your digital photo files.
The easiest way I know to do this is as follows:
a. Open the file in "Paint". To do this:
i) Open Explorer
ii) “Left click” on the photo file name once (in effect you are simply highlighting the file name)
iii) "Right click" on the file name and choose 'Open with' and then "Paint"
b. When the file is open in "Paint" select Image > Stretch/skew > and under "Stretch" reduce the 100 % horizontal and vertical numbers to, say, 25 % (both).
c. Then save the file with a different file name. In this respect I have adopted the practice of simply including the letter 'r' just before the '.' i.e. if the original name was photo.jpg then the name of the reduced file is photor.jpg. This allows me to retain the original file intact as well and distinguish the 2 going forward.

2. Set up a blog site, create the newsletters on it, and send a link to those you want to give access to.
My blogsites were set up via By putting my newsletters on the blogsite it means that I only email out a link to the site rather than an email with attachments (which the PC in fact sends individually). This means that it is much faster to send the email and the recipient can choose to download. Taking this path is a bit trickier to begin with but is fine once you get the hang of it.
If you do set up the blog site you are still best to only post small image/picture files to it. restricts its customers to a total of 300 MB of stored photos. I have adopted the practice of reducing my digital photos (using 'Paint') from around 3 MB to less that 50 KB ... and the quality is still pretty good I reckon.

3. Send the whole newsletter as a single document via
This web site allows you to give people access to files of up to 100 MB.
There are some downsides:
a. Because this web site is free for small time users it allows various companies to advertise on the site VERY AGGRESSIVELY. The main 'advertisers' are virus protection companies who install 'cookies' on the users PC and have flashing advertisements telling the users (falsely) that they have viruses on their PC and need to purchase the advertiser's software in order to be safe. When I first went on this site I nearly fell for the advertising myself ... the flashing ads 'just about frightened the wits out of me'!
b. If the person you send the link to (to do the download) does not do so within 7 days they will not be able to access the newsletter. manages its data storage by deleting posted files at intervals as short as 7 days … and longer for those who pay money.
Having said the above, this web site is extremely useful. I've used it in recent weeks with files of around 14 MB ... connected with my desire to have some proper 3D digital maps of my farm that I can use to create my farm water scheme/plan.

4. Only include 1 or 2 photos in you newsletters to make sure the total document is less than 7 MB.

5. Create relatively small distribution lists
At the beginning I used to have just one distribution list but found it too cumbersome and frustrating when something went wrong. I’ve now divided all of the names on my list into surname groups, which are currently: A-B, C, D, E-G, H, I-L, M, N-O, P, Q-S & T-Z. Did you know that the most common letter in the alphabet that European origin surnames start with is the letter H!?
When sending the newsletters within the different alphabet ranges I include the applicable alphabet range at the end of email heading.”

No doubt there are other ways of sending email newsletters with photos. Readers should please feel free to let me know other ideas that might help.

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