Three changes I'm making to create a consistent newsletter

Written on March 15, 2021

We’re in the second week of March 2021 and I’ve just sent out my first newsletter of the year.

I’ve struggled with sending to my newsletter consistently for as long as I can remember.

The reason for this…well I actually have no reasons. I’ve sat here and rewritten this sentence multiple times looking for a reason and I can’t really find one.

So the purpose of this issue is to layout the plans for how I intend to solve my inability to communicate consistently with my newsletter.

Make it part of my writing schedule

I already publish weekly as part of a small writing group—word raft. In order to make writing the newsletter more sustainable, I’ve decided to write the newsletter issues as part of my regular writing schedule.

What this means is that two of the four or so articles that I write in a month will be sent out as a newsletter issue.

Previously, I’ve tried to make the newsletter issue a completely different topic to the articles that I write on my site. This resulted in writing twice as much in the weeks that I sent out a newsletter issue.

Even committing to just a single long-form article a week has been challenging. I’m hoping in making it a part of my normal writing schedule, I’ll be able to stay more consistent.

Templatize as many sections as possible

To remove friction in sending out the newsletter, I need to templatize as many sections as possible.

Thankfully, Buttondown, my newsletter service of choice allows me to set up the header and footer.

What this allows me to do is set up these sections once and every time I hit send on the newsletter, Buttondown will automatically add them in.

For the header, I have a little introduction for those who might forget who I am or why they are receiving the newsletter.

For the footer, I have a little outro saying thanks to my reader with useful links to help support my writing should they feel inclined to.

What this outputs is this,

Header of newsletter

Footer of newsletter

Automate the automatable

The last part in making it easier to publish this newsletter more consistently is by automating the things that I can automate. I’m a big fan of using Shortcuts on the iPhone and iPad as well as Keyboard Maestro on macOS to automate different workflows.

For my newsletter writing, I’ve created two automations.

The first is a shortcut in Shortcuts which allows me to pass in an article URL and the output is the title and URL in a preformatted markdown way and automatically set to my clipboard.

An example is if I passed this URL in,

What would be returned by the Shortcut is,

[How I use an external monitor with my Mac for ergonomics](

This allows me to quickly paste links of my articles into the newsletter to be included in the links section.

The second is a Keyboard Maestro macro which allows me to paste the greeting formatted in a way that it uses Buttondown’s template variables to include a reader’s name as provided on sign up.

{% if subscriber.metadata.Name %} Hey {{ subscriber.metadata.Name }}! {% else %} Hey friend! {% endif %}

Having these two automations speeds up the creation of newsletter issues which results in lower friction in sending them.

Not perfect, but better

I’ll admit there are areas for this new workflow to be even better, but it is better than what I currently have. The goal is not to have everything perfect, but to consistently send out newsletter issues.

If you’ve got a newsletter and have tips on how to send to it consistently, reach out and let me know! I’d love to learn on how to make this habit more successful.

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