Email Newsletters and An Ode to RSS

RSS was maybe the first “great” syndication method for writing online. It’s easy and open. Almost every blog or content-heavy website supports it. I see a writer I like and I can just add their URL to my RSS feed reader.

Email newsletters are also great- they use a pretty open protocol. You still have a lot of control and the ability to selectively read them. They can usually exist outside the walled garden of a social media platform.

Both mean a 1:1 relationship between a reader and writer- no middleman. On the other hand, they both serve a different master. RSS really is best for the reader. It’s anonymous. It’s non-intrusive. I go to my RSS reader when I’m ready. Email newsletters are great for the writer. I can build a list. I can collect better analytics. I can schedule my content to interrupt you in the middle of your inbox.

“Feeds” in general were on my mind this week when I wrote Stuffed full of the feed– about the difference between these sort of real feeds and the gross feeds of social media. This year I’m experimenting with “content”- with how I can swim in the feeds without drowning in tweets and toots.

I also shared some process about setting up this email newsletter in WordPress– and the post received probably the most attention of any of my recent daily blog posts. It may have been the one I threw together the quickest, but that’s usually how these things go. What I think stuck with most people is the idea that this should be easy, but it’s not.

The ultimate benefit of what I’ve landed on (writing this newsletter in WordPress and then pushing out via ConvertKit) is that you can just subscribe to just this newsletter via RSS if you want. I’m still determining the difference between a blog post, a newsletter, an RSS feed, and all that- so we’ll see where it goes- but I’m hoping to find a way I can connect to the greater world and feel good about it.

If you have a good RSS feed or newsletter for me, send it my way!

A few quick links before I go

  • Speaking of email newsletters, it looks like The Repository is back from a winter break. Probably my favorite round-up email of WordPress stuff.
  • Cathy O’Neil (mathbabe) returns to her blog to post her thoughts on ChatGPT, which she calls neither wise nor threatening.
  • I also wrote about different types of writing, writing for humans and writing for robots. Guess which one the robots are good at.
  • Thoughts on designing for developers is my collection of insights from working with my team on streamlining our design-to-dev process.
  • Is anyone else thinking about using Blaze– the advertising platform for Tumblr that will now be open to anyone writing with WordPress?

That’s all for now. Have a great week and reach out here or on the fediverse (or Twitter) to talk about all things WordPress.

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