One of the revelations of working at a large-scale content site is how effective email newsletters are as a tool for driving traffic. Duh. I admit I had really underestimated this, but it makes sense; your email client is open all day and, spam aside, the inflow of messages is more or less tailor made for your interests.
Partly as a result of that discovery, I’ve been toying a while with the idea of creating a Subtraction.com email newsletter that would be released monthly — or perhaps more frequently, if the demand is there. This would be a simple recap of each of the blog posts I published leading up to each newsletter’s release, along with some overview of the conversation that ensued in the comments. The idea is to give occasional or lapsed readers of the site a concise method of catching up. I’d also add in relevant notices pertaining to my various speaking appearances and side projects — including any updates on the long rumored, still pending, but for-sure-on-its-way-someday reprinting of my infamous Hel-Fucking-Vetica tee shirt (I promise!).
I Can Send You More Email if You Like
I realize there’s a nontrivial subset of the Subtraction.com readership following along via RSS already, and that feed theoretically takes care of the need to keep tabs on Subtraction.com in a kind of background mode. But as much as I like syndication as a concept, I’d wager that not every potential subscriber to this newsletter is already comfortable with and/or using RSS.
Still, I wonder is this something that would interest enough people to make it worthwhile? Presumably, the summary of activity — which would be a kind of original content of its own, although negligible — would offer some modest value add, but is it enough? What about the format — could I get away with a plain text email (my preference) or does it need to be all fancified with HTML and images galore?
And while I’m in lazyweb mode, I have another query for those of you who have experience with mailing lists: the last thing I want to do is to manage the attendant spam, bounce-backs and assorted other logistical complexities of running mailing list software on my own server. For this, anyway, I’m much more inclined to go with a hosted service — preferably a free one — along the lines of Notifylist.com, which friends of mine have used effectively in the past. Frankly, I’m basically ignorant of this entire niche of software and hosted services, and a Google search doesn’t turn up a clear list of comparable alternatives. If you’ve got suggestions, I’m all ears — and much obliged.