2017: In Review

I tweeted about my desire for Buttondown in January. That was before it was Buttondown, just a hope that a tool that I used could be slightly better in a bunch of different ways.

And then again in February.

In late April, I finally decided to build it.

By the end of May, it was functional enough to send emails.

By the end of June, it was officially launched.

By July, I had a few paying customers.

Now it's December, and Buttondown continues to grow in ways that legitimately surprise me:

  • Thousands of users reach tens of thousands of subscribers every week
  • Features and polish continue to accumulate
  • I've been lucky enough to talk with lots of cool people who were very chill with my answer to feature requests being “uhh, maybe later.”
  • I've been lucky enough to talk with lots of cool people who were very chill with my answer to bugs being “oh no oh no oh no”.
  • I'm genuinely proud of this thing! This is the most ambitious project I've started and I am thrilled that so many people find value in it.

What went poorly?

  • Bugs due to poor testing. This is slowly getting better, and thankfully most of the bugs were cosmetic and/or had tiny surface areas. (Still: if you run into anything, email or DM me.)
  • Didn’t market things enough, which isn't a product failure so much as a growth failure. This is mostly a result of triage; I cared more about making sure the product was as strong as possible than making sure it was in the hands of as many people as possible.
  • Some technical debt things, largely sourcing from poor planning — implementing custom domains would have been much easier if I had given it more thought, for instance. Same with analytics.

What’s in store for next year

  • Increased stability. Most of Buttondown’s core features are completed: everything else is gravy, and there’s no excuse for any room for error. TweetDeck exposes me to many horror stories of peoples’ emails getting swallowed in other platforms, and I shudder at the thought of that happening in mine.
  • Improved analytics. A lot of the plumbing has been done with the new subscriber events support, but I want to build out a nicer universal interface for this data.
  • Full-throated API support. There’s some janky stuff for POSTing to create subscribers and most of our data is available via JSON, but an API’s not public until its publicly documented, and I’d like to canonize that sooner rather than later.
  • Getting a little more social: integration with Twitter, Facebook, and allowing imports of contacts from Gmail.

Cheers

I mentioned this already, but it has been a blast working on Buttondown. I am indebted to the help of so many: everyone who has tested, used, evangelized, or even clicked around. You all have been very kind, and I can't wait to build more stuff for y'all.

Here's to 2018. (And here's to the enduring power of newsletters, too.)

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