Spring 2021

It’s been a while since I’ve written a good old-fashioned updates post! I wrote in late December about my annual roadmap and I’m excited to say a lot of this work has already landed in the past three months: operational requests are way down, paid newsletters and subscribe management is improved (though not quite yet finished, as we’ll get to in a moment), and Buttondown’s performance metrics are the best they’ve been since launching in 2017.

I’ve received an influx of new users and customers this week (hi, new friends!) and wanted to provide some context as to what I’m working on now: but you can always check up on the public roadmap for a slightly-more-up-to-date view of things.

What’s coming up in April

The three features I plan on launching in the next few weeks:

  1. Support for pay-what-you-want newsletters. There are a bunch of different names for this, but I prefer to think of this as a full-on “patronage” model: if you’re an author, you can optionally collect an arbitrary recurring sum from your subscribers.
  2. Improved accessibility & browser compatibility. If you are a technical user, there is a different description for this, which is “removing JavaScript from your newsletters”. I am happy to dive into depth about this — and will, on a later date! — but I want Buttondown’s archives to be the fastest and most accessible content platform in the world, and this is the keystone in making that a reality.
  3. Support for file attachments. At long last, you can attach arbitrary files to your newsletters — podcast episodes, PDFs for class discussion, code snippets — and send them out without having to pull in some sort of third-party provider.

Some other things that are only exciting to me, a massive dork:

  1. Support for uploading from .zips so I can stop scraping archives (which will also involve being able to pull in historical email events like opens and clicks)
  2. Better firewall detection to make sure overzealous spam-checkers don’t result in accidental unsubscriptions
  3. Improved analytics for paid subscriptions
  4. Building out a Tumblr-esque theme gallery for easily customizing your email
  5. Improved DNS onboarding
  6. Support for IFTTT and Integromat

I want to hear from you

If you’ve emailed me, you have probably heard me ask some variation of the question “what else can I help you with?”, and I mean that in earnest! The roadmap I just outlined above is largely due to your input: if there is a feature you are hoping for or some bug or paper cut that you don’t think really warrants my attention — I promise you, it does, and please email me. (My favorite emails are the ones I get that are laundry lists of complaints and feature ideas.)

What Buttondown is

March is not quite yet over and it has already been the most successful month of Buttondown’s history. This is super humbling: I am grateful that so many people have discovered Buttondown valuable enough to pay for. Buttondown is not a venture-backed behemoth with marketing capital to spend: every single user has come based on the kind words of another, and I promise that I am not being overly saccharine when I say that gives me a great deal of joy and pride.

One of the privileges of running Buttondown in its current form — a labor of love — is that I can do with it what I please. I grow it more like a garden than a business, which is why I do things like set aside a portion of profits for open-source software that Buttondown depends upon.

It has been hard for me to square the dissonance of Buttondown’s success and growth — and the fact that I can spend my past few weeks stably and happily coding along — with the knowledge that so many others cannot leave their homes without the fear of being harassed or attacked.

I’ll be donating 90% of this month’s profits (everything except the 10% set aside for open-source funding) to API Chaya, a Washington-based organization for helping AAPI survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking.

Lastly, a dog

If you follow me on Twitter, you may know that I am obsessed with my dog. Here is Telemachus in all of his sleeping glory;

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