Building the Monthly Newsletter for SQLOrlando

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One the things I’ve been doing over the last year is sending out a monthly reminder email of upcoming events. Not revolutionary, I know. I’m sharing what we do now to make that newsletter happen. It’s definitely a process that continues to evolve as we balance effort and value to those on the various lists. It’s also has some complexities that aggravate me some!

We handle signups for events at three different locations:

  • Meetup. Basically all the free events
  • EventBrite. Paid events (because they handle discounts other things well)
  • SQLSaturday

We have three different mailing lists:

  • SQLOrlando @ PASS.org. The “chapter” mailing list
  • SQLSaturday. The registration list from the past year
  • Meetup. Everyone who signs up for SQLOrlando

Worth noting is that not everyone on the PASS list is on the Meetup list, or vice versa. Also, we list events on PASS.org, but for registration they go to Meetup (or wherever).

We also have sqlorlando.org. It’s there in large part so that anyone who wants to check on our non profit status can see we have an ‘official’ site, but it would be nice – in theory – to use it for more than that, so starting this month we’re also posting our newsletter as a blog post there.

At a high level, the process is:

  • Gather all the upcoming events and any miscellaneous info we want to share (surveys for example)
  • Get into some mildly organized format
  • Send it to the PASS and Meetup lists

Here’s our January 2020 message:

This is our Trello card that has all the steps to get it all done. I’m guessing it’s 30 minutes to do it all.

I want a process that we can sustain and has a result that is useful. Does this achieve that? I’m not sure of the value of including the events in Jacksonville and Tampa, how many will drive that far? I could do more by listing the speaker/topic if it’s posted, or do less by just including links to “other area groups” maybe. I wish we could just post it in one magic place (doesn’t yet exist, no vision for it so far) . Thirty minutes once a month isn’t terrible and I’ll grant you that checking off a lot of tasks on the card makes it feel like I did something in that thirty minutes. I’ve got a task on the Trello board to find a volunteer to script gathering the event list, that will save some time if we can get that done.

Writing this, I made a couple more notes. One is that we’re not checking the local .Net group and we should add that (just did!) and another is that we aren’t asking at the events how attendees heard about the event. My guess is that Meetup notifications/searches are the main way, but I don’t know. Is it worth saving 5-10 minutes to send it to only one list?

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