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Start a Branch

Is Atlanta a little too far to drive for dinner? Consider starting a branch of Healthy Adventures in your city.

Voice mail: Your first link
The first thing you'll need is a voice mail number so that interested parties can leave their contact information and hear a brief description of your group. In most cities, there are many different firms offering voice mail services for about $10 a month. Just look in your yellow pages under "voice mail" services or in your local alternative newspaper.

If you live in a town that is not well served by voice mail firms or if you are operating on a low budget, consider voice mail services that you can order from the Internet. Ureach.com offers toll-free numbers for voice mail. Ureach allows you to record a short greeting and get voice messages forwarded to you as e-mail. You also can call your toll-free number and pick up your messages. Or you can check your messages at their Web site for no charge. You'll find several voicemail services on the Net.

After you get your voice mail number, you'll want to let everyone know what it is.

Get the word out
Many alternative-press publications, such as Atlanta's Creative Loafing provide free listings for nonprofit organizations and clubs. Check with the office of your local alternative newspaper for guidelines and to see if they offer free listings.

If you are unable to obtain free listings where you live, try placing a small ad in your local college or city newspaper. Be sure to include your voice mail number and an invitation to "call for a free copy of our newsletter." If you build a Web site for your group, you'll also want to list your voice mail number on the site.

If you don't have funds for an ad, consider making some flyers and placing them on bulletin boards in coffee houses, health food stores, co-ops, local YMCAs and on your local college campus. Be sure to include your voice mail number and the address of your Web site. You can set up a card table and hand out flyers at local arts festivals, holistic health expos, or other gatherings. Be creative!

Create your own little corner of cyberspace
You can put your creativity to use designing your group's Web site. Don't have a line item in your budget for Web hosting? No problem. There are many places on the World Wide Web where you can house your Web site for no charge. Places like Tripod.com, Homestead.com, and Xoom.com offer free Web space and easy-to-use site-building tools for those who aren't fluent in HTML. Some of these services even offer affiliate programs. When shoppers click from your site to an affiliate store and make a purchase, you receive a commission. This revenue can be used to finance the posting and printing of your newsletter.

Once you've built a Web site for your group, if you'd like us to include a link to your site, just e-mail us by clicking here.

Have fun with your newsletter
Don't have funds for a professionally produced newsletter? Don't worry. Our first newsletters were copies of one-page, typewritten bulletins. All you have to do is get an old typewriter or word processor and type out your newsletter. You can start out with one event per month, like we did. Be sure to include a subscription form at the bottom of your page. To ensure that you get plenty of subscribers, keep your subscription fee low. Our subscriptions started at five dollars per year in 1991 and are now only twelve dollars per year.

Once your newsletter is finished, take it down to the local copy shop. Many print shops offer copy services for as low as three cents per page for bulk orders. Or, if you don't need too many copies, ask your boss if you can run a few copies on your copier at work. Warning! Be sure you ask your boss before you do this. Having no job can be detrimental to your health in the long run.

After your copies are done, handwrite the addresses of those who requested free copies over your voice mail line, or if you've entered these into a database program, print your labels. Then just stamp and mail and you're done. Your first newsletter is finished.

Consider sending your newsletter electronically
If you want to save money or if you don't have the time or resources to produce a printed newsletter, there is an alternative. Sites on the Internet such as Yahoogroups.com allow you to set up and maintain e-mail groups. Just set up an account for your Healthy Adventures branch and key in your e-mail addresses. An invitation to join your e-group will be sent to each person e-mailed. They actually have to respond to your invitation in order to be added to your Yahoo groups list. You can get e-mail addresses by asking people to leave their e-mail address when you record your voice mail greeting. Another popular service is Evite.com. If you use them, you would have to set up an invitation for each event, though.

You also could create a mailing list using a POP3 mail program such as Eudora or Outlook Express and send your newsletter yourself. The advantage of using Yahoo groups is that it has an option where people can add themselves to your group and post messages to all subscribers without going through you. If you don't want your e-group to have these features, you can open a moderated list, where each broadcast message must be approved by your list administrator.

Once you have your electronic list set up, fire away. Getting your newsletter out to members is free and easy, and doesn't involve the time and expense of layout and production.