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Newsletters are all the rage.


  • Newsletters are in vogue, particularly as companies like Substack have made it easy to set up a newsletter on a freemium model.
  • Many journalists have left traditional media companies in favour of running their own newsletter.
  • Although e-mails are a “basic” format and quite old by internet standards, e-mail remains a highly valuable format for growing and reaching an audience.

My Subscriptions

To cut to the chase, here are the newsletters that I actually read every week:

Lorem Ipsum. This one comes out a few times a week and is a quick read – and free. Written by Margot, it covers food, tech and culture. She has a good take.

Talk Money with Mesh Lakhani. Free and roughly weekly, this one gives a summary of topics and links to click on. Good for pulling out nuggets of money/finance news.

The Diff. Written by Byrne Hobart, this one is a very very deep dive into tech companies and trends. It’s $20/month (aside from a few free articles) and it publishes a few times a week. The content is savage, and very well worth the $20.

Weekend Briefing. Kyle Westaway curates a summary of key news happenings, with a decent level of business focus. The newsletter is weekly. It’s a reasonably long read – which is good – and Kyle tends to pull out some worthwhile rabbit hole stories to go down. It’s free.

Default Friend. Another substack newsletter – this one focused on relationships and publishing a few times a week. No fear in this author to tackle out uncomfortable questions. I know what you’re thinking – like a newspaper advice column. No, not really, this deserves more credit than that. And it’s free.

Contrarian Thinking. Codie Sanchez has this substack and it publishes a few times a week. Codie always has some mad ideas on how to make money through hustling – like buying small businesses or pulling together paid networks. Also, it’s free.

Newsletters allow authors to control access to their audience

In a world of Facebook and Google and Instagram, the good old fashioned e-mail is one of the few ways to build an audience where you can control distribution.

At the simplest level, you can keep a list of e-mails and send them from gmail. You can also set up a mailing list using Mailchimp or MailerLite or many more.

I can’t emphasise this enough, but with an e-mail list you have free access to distributing to your audience as many times as you want! Once someone subscribes (and assuming you don’t piss them off and they unsubscribe), you control that communication channel. I know this is obvious, but compare that to Facebook:

  • You build up followers on your page, but, Facebook controls how many of your followers see your posts.
  • You can pay for ads on facebook, but you have to pay Facebook each time you distribute.

This is why e-mail (and text messages) are huge for eCommerce businesses and for anyone trying to grow a following. (Codie Sanchez above talks about buying and selling mailing lists and newsletters – a potentially lucrative business if done well and without spamming subscribers).

Newsletters as a Software Company

Then there’s – they’ve taken the hassle out of getting a newsletter layout and landing page right, and replaced that with a slick ready-to-go package to set up your newsletter – with Substack taking a 10% cut of any monthly subscription that you charge.

As you can see, some folks writing these newsletters are making some serious coin, with thousands of subscribers paying $5-50/month, a very nice side-gig or gig indeed:

Substack top Business Writers

And here are some folks that have ditched larger traditional media (like Rolling Stone (Glenn Greenwald) and The Intercept (Taibbi). Ok, I’ve no idea what the Intercept is, but there was a big fanfare when Glenn Greenwald left it for substack. Who is Gleen Greenwald…?

Some substack folks, including some that ditched traditional media

And of course, to cap it off, if you’d like to sign up for a meta newsletter (actually mostly a newsletter about random stuff, with emphasis on business and technology), here I am:

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