If you as a newsletter creator are in a position of expansion and looking for ways to broaden your reach, it’s very likely that you’ve considered an audio platform. Many consider podcasts to be the next logical step in brand evolution. Podcasts have charted a similar rise in popularity to newsletters and no wonder. They both offer personalized and nuanced takes in the midst of saturated news, click bait, and sound bites. The audio medium is especially relevant for listeners who want to pop in their earbuds while cleaning, walking the dog, commuting, etc. As entrepreneurs, newsletter creators must consider the ecosystem of the business and ask questions about what next steps might align with their own interests and strengths, the direction of content, the audience, and finding the right match.
Meet Newsletter Crew member Tom Kennedy, a brand consultant by day developing Waxbite by night. His goal is to offer a simple way for subscribers to access audio versions of their favorite newsletters. Waxbite, currently in beta phase, is a mobile app or desktop platform where a user can play their newsletter subscriptions transcripted to audio. Readers struggling to keep up with their newsletter subscriptions can take their daily reads on the go, with easy notifications of new editions. For newsletter creators, Waxbite can add a new dimension to the brand ecosystem by offering subscribers the option of taking in newsletter content outside of a crowded inbox. With Waxbite taking care of the text-to-audio process, adding the audio-version of a newsletter is a high impact, low effort step for creators. Tom Kennedy observed text-to-audio technology being applied to articles and blog and saw how it might do well in the newsletter space. We at Newsletter Crew were excited to learn more about his path forward.
Learn about the tool aiming to give newsletters a voice and Tom's entrepreneurial journey bringing WaxBite to market.
Tell me about the idea for WaxBite.
Tom: I’d signed up to so many newsletters, some of which I paid for and yet they still sat unopened in my inbox as I never had enough time to read them. I enjoy listening to podcasts as I can do that on the go and away from the screen, taking the dog for a walk.
Whilst there's a growing trend of offering readers the ability to listen to articles or blog posts on sites such as Medium or the New York Times, however, I couldn’t find a service that focussed on newsletters & collating them together in one place. I thought if I had this problem at least some others would have it as well so I set about building it for myself.
What do you see for the future of audio? Will all newsletters have an audio component?
Tom: I think that really depends on the content creator. if they are using the same subject for both the newsletter and podcast obviously it becomes a bit repetitive. However, when it has already been produced in the form of a newsletter, to me it's a no-brainer to convert it into a different audio form that allows your audience to engage in different way. There's also a cost to producing a podcast where using text to speech software hardly costs anything.
A major piece of inspiration was the film ‘Her’ where the guy falls in love with his operating system. I think we’re moving towards a reality where navigating the internet through your ears will become as important as visually.
Listening allows you to take on so much information and that can be done whilst on another task.
Building an Audio Newsletter Tool
Tell me about the name WaxBite. Where did that come from?
As a brand consultant, this was something that I knew I could easily spend far too much time on, so it was done quite quickly.
The word itself is a combination of waxing lyrical and soundbite. I wanted to have something that was memorable and getting the sound x in there helps. Think of the brand Spanx which is a good example of that.
I also needed to get the .com and currently the search term is quite low as it relates to dentures so Im hoping it stands out as opposed to anything that is newsletter related.
How would WaxBite work work? Are newsletters easily translated to audio?
Tom: Some newsletters certainly convert to audio better than others. if your newsletter is very image or video heavy it won't convert as well as copy based newsletters. That said, In my experience converting newsletters, people inadvertently tend to to describe an image or graph in one way or another, putting it in context either before or after it's shown
A couple of tips for getting the content ready for audio conversion.
- Don’t use emojis
- Use a full stop at every line break including titles
- Don’t include images
- Don’t include long tail links
- Test out hard to pronounce words and then maybe spell them phonetically
Could audio newsletters be the new podcasts? How are they similar/how are they different?
Tom: I think there's an appetite for both. I've noticed there is now software that is converting podcasts into searchable text. Where it does differ though is the information that you can quickly take on board with an audio newsletter. An example of this might be by listening to how the markets have performed in the last 24-hours and you can take that info on really quickly.
Podcasts have to worry much more about the production and listening experience, do they use music, sound effects etc. Is the reader's voice engaging or boring? With text-to-speech, the listening experience isn’t the same and it feels much more like someone simply reading aloud rather than trying to be like a slick podcast production.
What’s next for WaxBite as a business?
Tom: At the moment I'm doing everything myself and it's quite laborious. I would like to build a product that is completely automated. However, the audio experience is improved if you have a human eye slightly editing the text.
What is the best entrepreneurial advice you've ever been given?
Give it a crack! You'll never know unless you give it a try.
Do you want to cross-promote your newsletter with WaxBite?
Intrigued by Waxbite? Tom is developing a guest newsletter feature in order to drum up some cross-promotion. Your newsletter would be prominently displayed (see highlighted bar on the app in the image below) and you’d be asked to include a link to Waxbite letting your readers know they can listen to the issue at Waxbite. Reach out to Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.