When you sit down to start a new newsletter project, two questions come to mind:
- What do I write about?
- What should it look like?
Here are three different ways to answer those questions. These are three quick formats you can use to get up and running.
1. The blog
This sort of newsletter looks just like a blog, but it is delivered via email. It's a popular format for non-fiction writers of all sorts, from journalists to essayists and op-ed writers. A good example of this model is Heated by veteran climate reporter Emily Atkin, or Popular Info by Judd Legum. There are also newsetters that serialize books (such as Matt Taibbi’s Untitledgate).
These newsletters are editorial, and should feel like pieces of writing you might find in a magazine. The author's writing is the key value proposition. These newsletters are often personality driven, but can also be shaped around current events, news, or interviews.
2. The curated roundup
These newsletters are aggregators. The real value here is the quick takeaways and summary-plus-insight that the writer wraps around the link. Exponential View by Azeem Azhar is one of my favorites of this type. I also really enjoy Numlock News by Walt Hickey. Of course, several massive businesses have been built around curated round ups.
3. The product
This model is typically used by artists, podcasters, and multi-media creators. It’s also used for lists that sell access to specific information, say apartment listings, coding interview questions for developers, travel deals, stock tips, etc.
Quite literally, the email is the product itself. You can also think of it like a service driven email. If you’ve been looking for case studies of successful paid newsletter founders, you’ve probably run across Scott Keyes from Scott’s Cheap Flights: “Get email alerts about cheap flights departing from your favorite airports.”
The value for subscribers is in solving a particular problem, or pain point. Many of these newsletters could also be content sites — that is to say, they’re not reliant on email as a medium, its just a useful delivery mechanism.
If you're anxious to get started with a newsletter, pick one of these templates and start writing! It's that simple.
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