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Unvalidated Ideas #016

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BetterLetter - Build a better Newsletter publishing workflow

Lots of people are building newsletters and managing content these days (present company not excluded!). It's not hard to imagine the process of writing a newsletter, but let's take a step back -- what is a newsletter?

I think of it this way -- Newsletters are snapshots of one or more streams of information, augmented with copy, split into chunks, grouped into sections and combined into a final document sent to people.

I'd argue that current newsletters are pretty Web 1.0 -- just writing dead-tree letters, but online. Newsletters could be so much more.

It's actually quite a functional process -- a chain of functions with inputs and outputs -- much like an assembly line. We can probably optimize it a bit with good management software. You usually can't automate what makes a newsletter special, but you should be able to at least make it easier to produce.

I'm envisioning a product that has:

Right now, people cobble together these flows (or do it all in Notion or Google Docs), but there's an opportunity here for tighter integration and really streamlining the process. Most creators don't want to think about the newsletter, I want to just think about content.

For some reason, newsletters still have yet to embrace customization. After getting to know your readers on an individual level, why not build their newsletters individually? If interests differ in your readership, there's no reason that everyone has to see the same exact newsletter -- parts or even the whole newsletter could be customized to your particular user. This opens up an avenue to A/B testing your newsletter as well.

Picture a world where the subscribers of your newsletter get content that's most relevant to them, when they want it. Newsletter writers obsess over when they should send their newsletters, but it's not clear they should be deciding at all! Subscribers indicating the content they want and when they want it is good for consumers, and good for newsletter writers.

Following this thought, generating tasks (on that Kanban board from earlier) and prompts for content automatically because we know what readers expect to read every week. There are a lot of directions this idea could go in!

Read my raw notes >

NOTE Probably don't build your own Kanban solution -- interoperate with Trello or Monday.com, JIRA or the tens of other solutions out there. Actually, this is probably a killer app for Notion, more than anything.

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You can find prior free editions at the archive.

Victor (vados@vadosware.io)