Email Newsletters vs RSS Feeds

Nov 14, 2016

Instead of choosing one over the other, why not use both?

Tweet

Looking back, no one ever trolled me on RSS.

https://davidyat.es/2017/05/18/rss-nothing-better

https://www.kill-the-newsletter.com

I love newsletters, but I hate receiving e-mails. Call me an oldie, but I still use RSS feeds to read my news and e-mails for communication. And I prefer to keep those two separate.

Unfortunately, as newsletters have become popular, there are some great readings that are not available through RSS anymore. Kill the newsletter! exists to fill this gap. This service converts newsletters into RSS feeds.

I subscribe to some email newsletters, but not as many as I used to. Recently, I unsubscribed from several, since I didn't read them. I still prefer to visit websites directly, instead of reading RSS/Atom feeds and receiving email newsletters. But I like the handful of email newsletters that I receive even better than consuming the content in a feed reader.

I enjoy visiting websites even when websites publish all of their content in their feeds. I don't want to read articles in a feed reader. I use theoldreader.com as my main feed reader, but I prefer to focus on the titles of articles. If the title appears interesting, then I'll visit the website to read the post.

I don't want to use an email client nor a feed reader client that are native apps that need installed on a machine. I prefer a web-based email "app" such as Fastmail and riseup.net.

RSS/Atom/JSON/hfeed feeds are for the information geeks, and email is for the masses. Hence the reason why many publishers are pushing their email newsletters over feeds.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12949154

"I have a script which monitors RSS feeds and turns them into emails. I filter them into a "News" mail folder. I run K-9 Mail, Mutt and Webmail depending on what device I'm using. Thanks to IMAP my "news readers" stay in sync due to the "\Seen" IMAP flag, and the ability to delete messages."

Cool, but I doubt that the general population will do that. They'll use email or read their Facebook feed.

"I have a perl script that checks my "mailing lists" mailbox and turns that to an RSS feed. To each his own..."

Again, that's cool for Hacker News readers. The masses will choose email.

HN comment:

I personally prefer RSS over mailed newsletters. And was expecting that newsletters will eventually die. I was wrong. Not sure why they didn't died and actually grow more popular, but IMHO RSS is probably too complicated for regular Joe, so they probably not even know RSS exists.

Good HN obs:

Yeah, I would assume newsletters have a lot higher chance to be read... everyone I know has an email account, but only a subset bother with RSS. And even if you have RSS, chances are you have a lot of feeds you never read that just end up part of the furniture of your life.

And tracking tech can be added to email that enables the senders to know if the email was at least opened. I have my web-based email apps set to block images. Usually, the tracker is a tiny image, I think.

Maybe RSS should rebrand as "textcasting" or something. Podcasts are popular, are not considered only for "power users", and are just RSS feeds of audio links.

Dave Winer had a hand in creating both RSS and podcasts.

Many different ways exist to read and receive text-based content. Limited ways exist to access audio, in my opinion. While podcasts may rely on RSS, listening and reading are different enough that I don't think a valid comparison can be made between the two. I still don't listen to podcasts. Maybe someday. I prefer to read. Text is lighter in weight to create and consume, compared to audio.

More from the HN commenter:

Nothing currently wins over the format or ease of use of newsletters. This is why they're becoming MORE popular as an engagement tool.

I think there's a vacant startup space for a tool that can beat newsletters for ease of both entry on the sender side and engagement by the recipients in the many-to-many communication mode.

I would need more explanation about that alleged vacant startup space. It's easy to create and send email and to manage email lists by using Tiny Letter.

I do have an RSS reader, but it has become such a chore to keep up with it that I mostly don't bother. Picking the best content providers and getting a handful of emails a week from them is better than the cesspool of 6000 unread items that confronts me when I pull up RSS.

Chore? 6,000 unread items in the RSS reader? That sounds like his problem. That's not an RSS problem. That's a problem created by the information consumer.

Managing feeds at theoldreader.com is an easy process. It's nothing like a chore. I don't need a ton of features in my feed reader.

Email newsletters are sent at approximately the same time each day, which could be morning, midday, or evening. Mostly once a day or once a week per publisher.

People enjoy receiving someone's list of stories or info in the evening or when they wake up in the morning. Feeds can be updated throughout the day, which might encourage people to check their feed readers too often, which could impact personal productivity.

Email newsletters that are sent once a day per publisher could be an example of the Slow News Movement concept.

More from HN:

I think we are moving towards a descentralized Internet. The RSS feed needs a central server, the newsletter can be broadcasted and then forwarded peer to peer. I'd argue the opposite then: save the newsletter, just maybe evolve it into something better (maybe with schema email??)

Email is definitely a push-like notification. What are feeds and feed readers? Push or pull? Visiting a website directly when time permits is pull.

NNTP ???

Bring back the past.

NNTP is one of the most underrated protocols. It's a distributed superset of email + RSS + twitter.

An RSS feed is just a periodically updated XML file with an URL. If your decentralized internet can't present a file at an address (the use case for ever single web page ever), it's not actually going to be the internet.

lol, rss does not depend on a centralized server. it's a shame you think it does. Read the spec.

Hah, an RTFM response. Maybe the user was talking about push vs pull. Email newsletters get pushed at timed intervals according to the publishers.

Feed readers fetch the feeds, which can be updated at anytime. Some users want to see the latest posts of their favorite sites or writers as soon as possible. Other users are fine with their morning or evening "paper" via email newsletters.

I don't think that either content distribution method is right or wrong or better overall. It all depends upon the user prefs, and most users like to receive email newsletters instead of managing a feed reader, which can be yet another app or website to use.

Some people, however, prefer to keep their email narrowly focused on specific tasks, which do not include receiving email newsletters. Feed readers focus on feeds, although some feed readers continue to add social interaction features. Email for true email and a feed reader for consuming content published by others. A separation of church and state.

HN comment:

I would love to kill the newsletter. I love RSS. I perceive most newsletters as spam. Except: - non tech saavy users don't know what RSS is and often won't use a RSS reader even after tutoring.

HN comment:

You primarily receive newsletters you didn't actually sign up for? (stores you bought stuff off, etc.) That's the only way it's spam. But there are plenty of people who actively sign up for and appreciate them.

Yeah, I was confused by the HN user who called email newsletters spam when newsletters require users to enter their email address (subscribe). Receiving email updates about new offers, etc., can be annoying, but an unsubscribe link normally exists in the email.

I see it less as killing the newsletter, and more as giving people options."

That makes the most sense. It would be better to encourage publishers who use email newsletters to support feeds too.

It's so typical of hard core geeks to want to "kill" that which is popular to the masses.

Interesting idea that could co-exist with newsletters, but as a business person newsletters are the best. Seriously, nothing compares to a good list. Not Twitter, not Facebook, not Ads. It's gold.

It's a shame but unsurprising that this poignant comment displays near the bottom of the HN thread.

This appears to create Atom feeds, not RSS

That's a good way to start a raucous debate: Atom vs RSS. And what to include in RSS: only the title of the post, summary of the post, or the entire post? I prefer only a title. I set The Old Reader to display only titles. People should make titles informative.

hn comment:

Tangential question here - can anyone comment on the recent-ish proliferation(explosion) of sites thats float an HTML 5 light box a few seconds after the page loads asking people to "Sign up now for our newsletter!" It's a pretty obnoxious practice.

I despise this too.

HN response:

The pop up results in higher conversions (people actually filling out the email address field and hitting "subscribe")

The action of "closing" the modal popup confirms that the viewer of the page is probably a real human and that they genuinely made some kind of movement on the page

Not me. If I'm using Chrome, I click the Quick JavaScript Switcher extension button in the toolbar and that disables JavaScript.

One commenter said the pop-overs or pop-ups were made with HTML5, but most that I have encountered were eliminated when I disabled JavaScript. Either way, that annoying intrusion makes me think that other annoyances exist within the site, and that's why I disable JavaScript.

[RSS] feeds also have a (close to) instant notification mechanism in the form of W3C PubSub aka pubshubhubbub.

But many users don't want nor need instant notification. The business person above probably has better things to do with his/her time.

Regular scheduled events make more sense to some people than interruptions by notifications.

HN user:

... for vast majority of real world users RSS is quite misterious piece of technology. Emails are ok, everyone 'knows' what the email is? But 'feed'. Can I save it for offline use? Can I forward it to friends and family?

Silly HN comment:

I would imagine that the "vast majority of real world users" of this email-to-RSS converter know exactly what RSS is

Well, duh. That's the problem. Some geeks don't recognize the difference between Hacker News readers and the rest of the world.

HN user claims:

there are about 2.5 billion email users worldwide. At the same time only around 100 million use RSS. Speaking of vastness of majority.

No links were provided to support those claims. I would have thought that the number of email users would have been higher than 2.5 billion. Facebook is catching up with its nearly two billion users.

And 100 million RSS readers sounds like a lot. I wonder if that number includes people who "use" RSS without realizing that they use RSS?

Related:

July 2017

http://www.niemanlab.org/2017/07/this-danish-startup-evolved-into-a-newsletter-company-because-that-was-what-its-readers-wanted

August 2017

http://www.niemanlab.org/2017/08/inside-the-collection-of-industry-newsletters-continues-to-bet-on-email-the-largest-social-network/

Closing in on a year, the company founded by serial entrepreneur and investor Jason Calacanis now has around 300,000 subscribers across 30 newsletters, and average open rates just above 40 percent.

Email, not Facebook, is the largest social network.

Well, that depends upon the definition of "social network", which, in my opinion, involves discovery, networking, and following. It's unfair to compare email to social media, since they both function differently. It seems like an apple vs oranges comparison. Email uses its own protocol. Facebook relies on the web. Email does not need the web.

In my post http://sawv.org/2016/09/20/email-vs-apps-for-information-distribution.html, a link points to https://begriffs.com/posts/2016-07-08-returning-original-social-network.html that calls email the original social network.

Back to the Niemanlab story:

“We looked at the way news is consumed today on social media, with Facebook being the number place where all of that happens. A lot of publishers are talking to Facebook right now, but none of them know what Facebook is going to look like — it’s a platform controlled by a public company that has a lot of shareholders and other forces they need to answer to,” Austin Smith, Inside’s general manager, said. “Email will never be controlled in that way, and people are just as engaged with their inboxes as they have always been.”

It’s recently launched its paid subscription options for the newsletters at $10 a month for premium access to one newsletter, or $25 for premium access to an unlimited number of Inside verticals — a paid subscription removes ads and gets you…well, more emails.

HN-related thread https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15120233


August 2017 story:

https://on.substack.com/p/hit-em-in-their-inboxes

The rise of social networks and mobile messaging is supposed by some to have killed email, good and proper. But the statistics tell a different story. More than three billion legitimate emails are sent every hour, according to the latest numbers, and there are more than 3.7 billion email users worldwide. But when it comes to distributing written content, email’s scale is only one of its advantages. What Inside knows, and other savvy publishers are finding, is that email is the most personal, direct, and effective way to reach the readers who want to hear from you.

If your story is in a reader’s inbox, it’s because they have invited it in there, or because one of their friends personally passed it on. As we’re inundated with low-nutrition content from our unrelenting social feeds, inbox presence offers a strong signal that a story is likely to be high quality and highly relevant. Meanwhile, there’s no middleman watching to gather data on how you interact with that story or publisher. By taking traffic incentives and shareability completely out of the equation, the publisher is incentivized instead to focus on what is best for the reader.

What’s more, it ensures they will see every item you publish–or at least that they’ll notice you have published something. Ever since Google crippled RSS by shutting down Google Reader, it’s been difficult for publishers to find a channel that reliably puts every piece of content in front of a committed reader’s eyes. In fact, email offers a useful variation of RSS–not “Really Simple Syndication,” but “Really Simple Subscription.”

February 2018

Jon Gold is a designer at AirBnB. I saw this tweet that he posted last month.

https://mobile.twitter.com/jongold/status/952609426564943872?p=p

Taking a long break from reading social media because it's awful for our brains. I might post here sporadically* when I have new work to share, but I recommend signing up to my mailing list and quitting Twitter with me :) eepurl.com/9lR25 *via Buffer & the API ;)

His email newsletter sign-up page states:

I'm taking a long break from social media to get quiet and go deep into my research, music & real-world relationships.

More reading at sawv.org

Especially:

August 2018

Of course, feeds include more than RSS. Feed can be produced in Atom (XML), JSON, and h-feed (HTML + Microformats). Other formats probably exist too.

My favorite two styles are h-feed and the Reece-Simmons JSON Feed, introduced in the spring of 2017. I'm surprised at the number of feed readers that have added support for JSON Feed over the past year.

https://www.wired.com/story/rss-readers-feedly-inoreader-old-reader/

May 2017 HN thread about the introduction of JSON Feed.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14360729

Discussion within that thread.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14362286

For anyone who's tried to write a real-world RSS feed reader, this format does little to solve the big problems the newsfeeds have ...

Post from 2013 by the person who started the above sub-discussion. In the past five years, Russell has made only a handful of blog posts since this post.

https://www.russellbeattie.com/blog/a-few-thoughts-about-rss-news-readers-from-someone-who-thinks-about-them-way-more-than-you-probably-do

https://lu.is/blog/2013/04/21/why-feed-reading-is-an-open-web-problem-and-what-browsers-could-do-about-it/

May 2017 discussion at the JSON Feed repo about how JSON Feed should add support for JSON-LD and schema.org or be replaced by JSON-LD.

https://github.com/brentsimmons/JSONFeed/issues/49

Mentioned again in another issue.

https://github.com/brentsimmons/JSONFeed/issues/96

But issue 49 had the most intense discussion.

Thought experiment: using schema.org + JSON-LD instead

The JSON-LD + schema.org suggestion seems overly complex.

Regardless, I don't understand why the JSON-LD fans simply don't publish their feed format idea formally. Create a website, spotlight personal web publishers who produce JSON-LD feed files, and then encourage feed readers to support the JSON-LD feed format.

I don't comprehend why the JSON-LD fanatics prefer to eliminate JSON Feed, instead of promoting their own format.

For nearly 20 years now, the feed wars continue among the uber geeks while the masses don't care because only a fraction of web users rely on feed readers. Many personal web publishers are probably unaware that their sites produce some kind of feed format. Many personal web publishers prefer to syndicate their content via email newsletters.

When I read the feed war discussions at the various above websites, too much of the discussion about feeds focuses on how publishers can make money. It's as if only for-profit publishers produce feeds.

I don't think about for-profit orgs when it comes to feeds. I think about individual amateur web publishers who enjoy sharing their thoughts and expertise on their own domain names.

I don't share this misplaced monetization angst about feeds.

I also don't care about receiving real-time updates when someone creates a new blog post. I'll visit the site when I have the time. I don't need to be interrupted.

It's amazing how uber geeks want feeds to morph into some kind of real-time notification system. Uber geeks love complexity. It's as if they despise a tech that is overtly simple, like RSS and feeds in general.

And many if not all of the uber geeks whining about JSON Feed and feed formats in general and feed readers that exist today are doing nothing about improving the ecosystem. They just bitch. They are not creating anything. They only make authoritative claims about how something should work.

If 100 million Americans used feed readers, then it might be time to figure out a way to make feeds scalable.

But do a 100 million people around the world use feed readers? I'm not talking about people who listen to podcasts that might be syndicated via RSS and the listeners are unaware that they are "using" RSS.

How many people around the world are using The Old Reader, Feedly, FeedBin, Innoreader, and other web-based readers, native app readers on desktop and mobile computers, open source readers installed locally or on web servers, etc.???

That number probably pales in comparison to the number of people who have at least one email account and use their email at least a few days per week.

If I had to choose between the two, then it's a no-brainer. The information but infuriating feed-wars make me support the email newsletter idea.

Web publishers can easily support the creation of email newsletters by using a third party service, such as Tiny Letter that permits readers to subscribe and unsubscribe easily.

And obviously, readers can simply use their email accounts to receive notifications about when new content is available if notifications are desirable.

Email is scalable. It seems that email newsletters satisfy multiple ideas that the so-called feed reader experts desire.

The Skimm built its media startup around the email newsletter and not a feed. Over the past five years, the email newsletter has become one of the most popular new products introduced by media orgs.

The daily or weekly email newsletter makes far more sense for many readers. The information gets pushed to the readers who use email every day.

With email newsletters, the readers don't have to install another app, such as a feed reader. Or they don't need to remember another username and password for a web-based feed reader. They don't have to learn how to use another app or website.

I do like the separation of email for communication from feeds for publication. It's easier to maintain feed-zero in a feed reader than in email. I need to create filters or something to manage my email newsletters, especially when I get behind on reading them, and I don't plan to read the old ones.

Yesterday, Aug 2, 2018, I unsubscribed from several email newsletters because I was not reading them. I spent a lot of time cleaning up my inbox. This is why some geeks prefer to use a feed reader over email newsletters. But this is not a tech issue. This a "my" issue on how I'm using my email account.

I don't have many feeds in my The Old Reader account. I don't check The Old Reader everyday, but I do check email every day.

I still prefer to visit websites directly over email newsletters and feeds. All I need is an HTML page of links to websites that I like to visit. Simple. Even simpler than newsletters and feeds. No push notifications. Visiting websites when time permits is "pull".

Some old email newsletter-related stories:

https://ar.al/2018/06/29/reclaiming-rss

"Firefox removes RSS support (evertpot.com)"
https://evertpot.com/firefox-rss/
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17683357


https://explore.reallygoodemails.com/lessons-learned-from-vox-medias-newsletter-growth-lead-6b0abcbb2589?gi=efd6ac94407e

http://www.niemanlab.org/2018/08/how-the-wall-street-journal-is-revamping-its-newsletters-and-trying-to-add-some-whimsy/

March 2019

Mediagazer headline:

With no spammy notifications, bots and troll mentions, email newsletters are becoming a more attractive medium than news feeds for writers

http://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/19/technology/new-social-network-email-newsletter.html

I think that a few people realized that many years ago. Same for RSS feeds and other feed formats.

http://twitter.com/nikillinit/status/1108168865408864257

2) because there are no external metrics (likes, retweets, etc) in emails, no one is trying to dunk on anyone or optimize for the most engagement, including the author (me) This generally leads to more nuanced back-and-forth and actual conversations about topics

http://twitter.com/alexisohanian/status/1108408544573849600

More signs we've hit #PeakSocial. Watch this continue to be a growing trend in press as well as new startups being formed around closed communities/groups

Continue to be a trend? Yes, but it's not new. Email newsletters have existed for a long time, but the current rage probably began about 10 years ago. For-profit businesses, non-profits, bloggers, media orgs, etc. have been offering email newsletter options for many years.

MailChimp started in 2001. TinyLetter started in 2010. In 2011, MailChimp acquired TinyLetter.

TinyLetter is a simple email service that is used by smaller orgs and individuals.

https://tinyletter.com/site/about/

TinyLetter is a personal newsletter service brought to you by the people behind Mailchimp. People use it to send updates, digests, and dispatches to their fans and friends.

Though they're built on the same infrastructure, TinyLetter is for people who don't need all the business features that come along with Mailchimp. Simplicity is at the heart of everything we do at TinyLetter.

TinyLetter is a completely free service.

Two 20-something-year-old journalists started TheSkimm in 2012 as an email newsletter service, which is still their primary business. They helped make email newsletters cool for young people.

https://www.theskimm.com

10 to 12 years or more ago, tech entrepreneur Jason Calacanis started his personal email newsletter because he preferred the private communication mode over the noise of blogging and social media. And he founded a blogging network. A few years ago, he started a company that focused on offering email newsletters that cover many subjects.

2010 post by Mathew Ingram

https://gigaom.com/2010/07/07/is-it-time-to-stop-blogging-and-start-an-email-newsletter/

When entrepreneur Jason Calacanis shut down his blog in 2008 and replaced it with a subscription-only email newsletter, his move seemed to be more of a personal response to abusive reader comments rather than a leading indicator of a trend (although software guru Joel Spolsky also shut down his blog earlier this year). But now others have joined the blog exodus: Sam Lessin, the founder of streaming-media startup Drop.io, recently announced he was shutting down his blog and starting a subscription newsletter — one that charges readers a monthly fee. And since he is also an entrepreneur, he started his own subscription-newsletter service too, which is called Letter.ly.

Lessin also mentioned a factor that others argue has contributed to a decline in blogging — namely, the rise of Twitter and Facebook and other social tools that are easier to use and require a smaller investment of time, or what Lessin calls “passive and active data-streams.”

Since setting up Letter.ly, Lessin has been joined by several other bloggers, including Nate Westheimer — co-founder of video-indexing startup AnyClip — who says he plans to continue blogging but will share in-depth startup tips and other thoughts through his premium newsletter. Aviary.com co-founder Michael Galpert has also started a newsletter through Letter.ly. And Jason Baptiste, co-founder of several startups including Cloudomatic, argues that while they may seem somewhat stale and old-fashioned, email newsletters can still be a good business (although Lessin charges for his newsletter, Jason Calacanis’s version is free, but subscription is limited).

Email has been around since the mid-1970s. Email listservs were and maybe still are popular for some users. I don't know when email newsletters began, but if a trend can be defined, the email newsletter trend probably began in the mid to late aughts, at least among geeks and info hounds.

Sometimes it seems that the media defines the start of something when the media believes the "thing" is popular. Among the media industry, the trend toward producing email newsletters began early this decade with the trend becoming quite popular by 2015, at least.

Podcasting began around 2003, and people created and consumed podcasts throughout the rest of the aught years and early this decade. But podcasting's popularity grew dramatically after 2014. Again, media orgs jumped onto the bandwagon.

This decade, media orgs have embraced the email newsletter and podcasting. Both are open formats, and both promote the orgs, creating the content, instead promoting the silos that host the content. It's like having a website, hosted on a unique domain name, which is also outside of the silo world.

https://boingboing.net/2019/03/20/why-newsletters-are-the-best-f.html

Why newsletters are the best form of social media: “You don’t have to fight an algorithm to reach your audience”

Newsletters are so much better than Facebook I'm surprised Zuckerberg isn't lobbying Congress to ban them.

What was old is becoming new again. Maybe.

Back to the Mar 19, 2019 NY Times story ...

My favorite new social network doesn’t incessantly spam me with notifications. When I post, I’m not bombarded with @mentions from bots and trolls. And after I use it, I don’t worry about ads following me around the web.

That’s because my new social network is an email newsletter. Every week or so, I blast it out to a few thousand people who have signed up to read my musings. Some of them email back, occasionally leading to a thoughtful conversation.

For me, the change has happened slowly but the reasons for it were unmistakable. Every time I was on Twitter, I felt worse. I worried about being too connected to my phone, too wrapped up in the latest Twitter dunks.

A new crop of start-ups like Substack and Revue has emerged to cater to this desire to make direct connections with others online without the noise that comes with Twitter or Facebook feeds. They do it by making it easy to start a newsletter, offering dead-simple writing programs and insights into what’s getting read.

More recently, media start-ups like The Skimm, a daily newsletter started by two former NBC producers, have grown from dozens of readers to millions. (The New York Times is a minority investor in The Skimm.) Axios has tapped into the newsletter market with a focus on politics and business. Other big media companies — Vox, BuzzFeed, CNN — have latched on to the trend as they seek a deeper bond with readers.

Newsletters could be a more reliable means of increasing readership for major publishers whose relationships with social networks have soured.

“Publishers have learned the hard way that traffic from social media is too volatile,” said Martijn de Kuijper, Revue’s chief executive.

Most enticing of all, I own my audience for The Dump, which I created using tools from Substack. And in contrast to what happens if I quit Facebook or Twitter, I can keep my fans — an ample email subscriber list — if I decide to leave Substack’s service.

“You don’t have to fight an algorithm to reach your audience,” Casey Newton, a journalist who writes The Interface, a daily newsletter for the technology news site The Verge, told me. “With newsletters, we can rebuild all of the direct connections to people we lost when the social web came along.”

For me, a guy writing dispatches from home in his pajamas, email offers a more personal connection between writer and audience. Since beginning The Dump, I’ve traded emails with people who might have followed me on Twitter but felt more comfortable talking with me one on one.

That direct connection creates a sense of loyalty between writer and reader that can be difficult to achieve on websites or social networks. Establishing such a bond, Mr. de Kuijper said, increases the likelihood that people will read you what you have to say.

That Mar 19, 2019 NY Times article linked to this fabulous February 2019 post by Craig Mod.

Ownership is the critical point here. Ownership in email in the same way we own a paperback: We recognize that we (largely) control the email subscriber lists, they are portable, they are not governed by unknowable algorithmic timelines.

And this isn’t ownership yoked to a company or piece of software operating on quarterly horizon, or even multi-year horizon, but rather to a half-century horizon. Email is a (the only?) networked publishing technology with both widespread, near universal adoption, and history. It is, as they say, proven.

Craig mentioned some NAASes (Newsletter As A Services). Last year, I tested TinyLetter, and it's fine. But Craig mentioned this in his article:

Buttondown is a (somewhat) recently launched NAAS built by a very engaged developer, beautifully designed, that looks like it might be the new TinyLetter. Subscription integrations forthcoming (eating into Substack territory?). This is probably where I’d start if I were starting a public newsletter today.

On Mar 21, 2019, I created an account at Buttondown, added an additional email address via the subscription box, and sent a test email newsletter. All went smoothly. I enjoyed the UI/UX. It is well done. A fantastic use of client-side JavaScript.

Buttondown also provides an RSS feed of email newsletters for my account. It looks like a good service to use with family and friends. I could send a newsletter every couple weeks or so. The email would contain links to posts made here. I would include a summary for each link in the email.

Buttondown provides an archives section, of course, to view previous email newsletters.

Buttondown's editor allows me to type in Markdown. I would you is it to create links and maybe blockquotes, but I prefer little to no HTML formatting in an email message.

Mar 30, 2019

https://gizmodo.com/rss-is-better-than-twitter-1833624929

There is a good reason people call Twitter the hell website. Cynicism, egos, unprovoked hostility, unchecked propaganda, sexism, bigotry, and outright hate—Twitter is as full of it as virtually anywhere online, and worse, it’s unbearably nonstop.

In 2019, social media is water in our lungs. With so many of us contemplating deleting our accounts or at least cutting down on that screen time, it’s time to reconsider something that feels lost in this era of algorithm-fueled newsfeeds and timelines: RSS.

RSS is a family of technologies that give you a simple feed from a spot on the web—a news site, a podcast, a blog—into your RSS reader. It’s a timeline of sorts, yes, but it runs at a sane speed, and it stays in your control, unlike Facebook or Twitter’s unknowable whims, and it excludes the vast majority of toxic noise that characterizes so much of social media. Folks, RSS is still good. More than just good, RSS is better in many ways than Twitter.

On the surface, Twitter’s main value proposition is that it delivers up-to-the-second news. Let’s just be honest with ourselves: 99 percent of the time, we don’t need up-to-the-second news.

RSS has the advantage of feeling slow without being slow. You can get an article in your RSS reader as soon as it’s been published—and how much faster are you really looking to go? What you don’t get is the flash flood of half-thoughts and hot takes.

In the same realm of slow tech, there’s a “new” trend that’s actually older than RSS itself: The email newsletter.

An email newsletter avoids most of the pitfalls of Twitter hell while still delivering on many of value points. If you’re on Twitter to dive into a specific world—tech, basketball, national security, make up, whatever—there’s almost certainly a good newsletter for it, whether it’s from a specific publication or a smart individual who wants to write and riff but who probably hates Twitter as much as the rest of us. Get the intelligence and links delivered to your inbox daily and then move on. No getting wiped out by the endless social media riptide.

April 2019

Apr 29, 2019 BuzzFeed story Paid Email Newsletters Are Proving Themselves As A Meaningful Revenue Generator For Writers

https://luke.substack.com/p/should-you-start-a-newsletter-maybe

July 2019

https://digiday.com/media/economist-takes-less-approach-newsletters/

‘Newsletters as puzzle pieces’: How The Economist uses email to reduce subscriber churn

Jul 16, 2019

https://mediagazer.com/190716/p10#a190716p10

Newsletter platform Substack raises $15.3M Series A led by Andreessen Horowitz, says Substack newsletters now have 50,000 paying subscribers

https://techcrunch.com/2019/07/16/substack-series-a

https://on.substack.com/p/the-future-of-substack

HN thread: "Substack (a16z.com)"

https://a16z.com/2019/07/16/substack

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20450514

Example of someone creating a large audience on Substack:

https://popular.info

Sep 4, 2019

Mediagazer headline:

Axios Sports newsletter hits 100K subscribers, up ~10x since Axios acquired Sports Internet in January, claims a 42% open rate, double the industry standard

https://adexchanger.com/publishers/axios-has-a-game-plan-for-growth-and-its-all-about-engagement

The Axios Sports newsletter recently hit a major milestone: 100,000 subscribers, up nearly tenfold in less than nine months.

But this is not just growth for growth’s sake, said Ernesto Arrocha, associate director of growth and engagement at Axios, which publishes just under 20 daily and weekly newsletters.

Its sports newsletter maintains a 42% open rate, around double the industry benchmark for email opens.

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