The Browser: A surprising and opinionated newsletter with more than 11,000 paying subscribers

How curation, when done with quality and expertise, truly generates value to readers

Matthias Bohlen
2 minutes reading time

When browsing my favourite newsletter directories, press articles, and websites, the name of one newsletter consistently popped out: The Browser.

Robert Cottrell had come to an end of a career in journalism, having written for The Economist and The Financial Times. He knew exactly what a piece of good writing looked like, and when to recommend it to a friend or not.

So, around 2009, Cottrell founded a website called The Browser and after looking at 1000 articles a day, he published links to 5 pieces of good writing, daily, each one with a commentary on why he thought it was worth the reader’s time, and why it was of lasting value.

In 2013, he launched The Browser also as a paid newsletter. Today, it has more than 11,000 paying subscribers and a total of 75,000 readers.

Why The Browser is not a mere curator

In an interview from 2019, when the interviewer asked him about being able to “offer something other than curation”, he answered:

I’m going to push back a little there about the use of the word ‘curation.’ I think we do a little bit more than that. We provide a level of discussion about the articles that we recommend, which I hope has a value in itself. I’d like to think there are subscribers who subscribe to The Browser primarily to read the newsletter for our account of what we’ve been reading, as opposed to a source of links from which they can click through to the target pieces.

(Emphasis is mine.)

This was an important learning point to me: When you curate content, do not simply collect links. Instead, select content carefully and reveal the reasoning behind why you made this choice!

Growing with a CEO and a team

Today, The Browser has an Editor-In-Chief: Caroline Crampton, a CEO: Uri Bram, and four more people on the team. It’s growing organically, steadily, and without ads.

I find that an amazing proof of the power of consistency and quality.

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