I run two:
I keep a todo list with a bunch of subject headings on key topics, but sometimes I write to what’s happening in my life. For example, I went on a major vacation last month, and it changed me in many ways, so I’ve spent most of the past few weeks writing about it.
Also, if my readers reply in support of something, then I write more text about it. I never know what is going to land for my audience because I’m into so much stuff and can go deep on a lot, so I turn to others for guidance & surrender. Otherwise I’m just going to write about 18th-century Dutch typography & plants all the time, and I don’t think many people want that. (I’m pretty sure Justin is responsible for 80% of my writing about cocktails, haha.)
A handful of other bootstrappers told me I should start a mailing list over a decade ago. I watched a few people run theirs for a while and tried my hand at it. People seem to like ‘em!
People are starved for quality writing. In many ways, the current landscape feels like a return to the golden days of blogging – just more private and intimate.
Oh gosh, yes. Draft’s Letters used to be a lot like text, actually – lots of personal ramblings in-between the work stuff. Splitting the two lists into work & personal has been great for us, because some people just want us to stick to design stuff. I’m also writing with a clearer voice, and a better sense of what outcomes my audience wants to create.
Overall I’ve just gotten older and more experienced, and I don’t write if I don’t think it will hit for my audience. That happens regardless of outlet. I don’t think about my other competitors, and I don’t view them as competitors. People are starved for quality writing. In many ways, the current landscape feels like a return to the golden days of blogging – just more private and intimate.
I must admit I don’t remember the first time I ever heard of Buttondown, but I kept it in a note of other email provider alternatives, and when MailChimp got acquired by Intuit I decided to make the switch to something simpler & more in line with my personal values.
At the very least, Buttondown’s business looks a lot like ours: solo founder, attentive to individual needs. More importantly, though, the email landscape writ large is pretty rotten. Giant corporations owning everything, bloatware, busted products, horrible deliverability. I’ve been burned by platforms that claim to have my own interests in mind, and then actively hurt the growth of the list by shunting us to low-quality servers while hiking their fees.
Buttondown doesn’t feel like that kind of company. I’m happy to invest in my presence there in the long term.
What matters, really, is knowing that you have a voice.
It’s been massively simpler and easier running things with Buttondown. Stuff gets queued easier, deliverability is higher, bugs are fewer. Justin is receptive to feedback and just a wonderful human in general. And on top of all of that, somehow I’m paying less than for one of the big horrible platforms.
I literally sat in front of Justin and picked the product apart for an hour a few weeks ago, and he seemed to take most of the feedback to heart, which is astonishing and wonderful. As a next step, I’d love more custom-tailored calls to action to sign up for the paid side of text.
What matters, really, is knowing that you have a voice. It might take a little work to cultivate, but you have a voice. It is yours alone. What you have to say matters. and nobody can take it from you.