Don’t overload yourself, take care!

What I needed to do in order to not end up in writer’s block or anything worse.

Matthias Bohlen
6 minutes reading time

Hello and Happy Saturday!

Oh wow, I really overloaded myself this week. My day job (trainer for software engineering methods) and my side hustle (News Bundler) became a little too much and made me tired.

TIL: If you’re constantly giving 120% of what you can, it won’t be for long before you simply have to get your foot off the pedal and wait a while.

That’s the case with me today. I needed to get some rest, but I didn’t want to disappoint you, my dear readers, either. So, this new issue today will not contain a deep story, but it will be more like a random collection of interesting things that I found and thought you might like to read about them.

Contents of this issue:

My random favourites this week

  • The Wayfinder collective
  • Cold email to crickets
  • ConvertKit knows more about email than Substack
  • LinkedIn Newsletters tries to lock you in

10 minutes to help News Bundler out

  • Tell us what News Bundler is (maybe you know better than me)

My random favourites this week

You might like to read about these 4 things here:

The Wayfinder collective

As you know, my current favourite topic that I research often is “writer collectives”. I find them pretty fascinating: Several people join and decide to write together, to make writing a less lonely activity, to improve their writing, or simply to have more fun doing it.

This week, I came across Wayfinder, a collective that was founded in June 2021 by Mark Koslow, Shivani Shah and Harris Brown. The goal of Wayfinder is to build community and cultivate honest conversation around life’s big questions.

They all have their own newsletters on Substack, but they decided to join under a common umbrella, the Wayfinder brand.

Their about page really spoke to me:

We’ve been writing on the internet for some time now — here, here and here. We’ve come to realize that the world needs more voices writing about life’s biggest questions.

…Wayfinder — a writer collective exploring questions that matter…

We’ll get into what a writer collective means shortly, but first…

What do we mean by “matter”?

It’s the big questions that direct our lives, oftentimes unknowingly.

The touchy feely stuff. The hopes and dreams that you can’t tell your manager. The conversations that trigger your uncle to shift uncomfortably in his seat at family dinner. The “alright, let’s have some real talk” types of discussions.

  • Happiness, meaning and connection.
  • Belonging, ambition and wonder.
  • Authenticity, identity and becoming.

Wow, that’s powerful, isn’t it? I really like what they write, and I think that a stronger look on the spiritual side in humans can definitely help us in these difficult times.

Obviously, the Wayfinder idea is attractive! Look at their homepage, and you will find that two more newsletters joined the group:

  • “Just Enough to Get Me in Trouble” by Lyle McKeany
  • “Not Super Smart” by Yashmi Adani

What do you think about a writer collective as a model? Would it fit you?

Cold email to crickets

This week, I started an experiment: Sending 89 cold emails out to paid newsletter authors, inviting them to take the free email course (2 writers make money) that I created the week before.

The result? Crickets. Zero replies.

My first assumption is: While email seems to be great for situations where the reader already trusts the writer, email is not a good medium to contact someone out of the blue who does not know me at all.

This assumption may be wrong, though, because of the small sample size. 89 emails is a small number. At a typical “conversion rate” of 1%, this would mean that 0.89 persons respond, i.e. that’s not even enough to get a reply from one single person.

Not sure whether I shall continue with this. It was too frustrating.

Wouldn’t it be better to ask you to refer News Bundler to a friend? I’m really interested to get feedback on News Bundler from as many professional newsletter writers as possible.

Tell me what you think about this.

ConvertKit knows more about email than Substack

As you will have noticed, my newsletter now reaches you via ConvertKit, not via Substack anymore. The reason is that ConvertKit allows me to manage my subscriber list in a much better way.

ConvertKit has custom fields and segments. Custom fields are attributes of a subscriber that I can add by myself, to keep what I learned about a subscriber.

Example: For each subscriber, I keep a custom field with information about where they came from:

  • Maybe, via the form at the end of each blog post?
  • Or, did they come via a signup for my email course?
  • If so, did they hear about the course from my friend Arvid’s newsletter, via Reddit, or via our Twitter profile?

There is so much that can be learned, just by keeping some info in a custom field. You cannot do that on Substack.

For a startup like News Bundler, learning is vital, in order to make it grow and become a profitable business that supports paid newsletter authors.

The possibility to use custom email templates is good, too. It made me invest a few hours. I wrote some CSS code so that the newsletter that you read in your inbox looks very similar to the version that you read on the web on newsbundler.com.

And I also wrote a few lines of JavaScript that automate two things for me: The Markdown formatted text that I write in Zettlr is automatically converted to HTML and is sent to ConvertKit via its API. In ConvertKit, it becomes a draft that I can finish manually and click “Send” so that you get it.

Sounds like I have found a good workflow now:

  • Write the newsletter in Markdown, using Zettlr
  • Add it to the blog on newsbundler.com
  • Publish it on Medium using its API
  • Publish it on Substack using RSS
  • Send it out as a newsletter using ConvertKit

LinkedIn Newsletters tries to lock you in

The opposite example is LinkedIn Newsletters. When I heard about them, I was pretty excited and thought: “Oh wow, I’ll publish on LinkedIn as well!”

This would’ve made LinkedIn the 5th medium in which to publish this newsletter.

However, I quickly learned that LinkedIn doesn’t allow me as an author to get access to the email list of subscribers! That means: I would know that I reached X amount of people, but their information belongs to LinkedIn, not to me as a newsletter author.

Hmmm… too much platform risk – no LinkedIn for me, please!

10 minutes to help News Bundler out

Hope you enjoyed this, again. Please help me out with something, today.

I am thinking 🤔 : How can I tell people what News Bundler does and what it is good for?

Can you help me figure this out, please?

This would mean much to me: Click on this link and answer three short questions that will appear in a form right in front of you. Thank you so much!

Have a great weekend!
Matthias

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