Experiments with the newsletter structure and content
2021-04-09 15:53:00 +07:00 by Mark Smith
In the last few newsletters I have been experimenting with the structure and content quite a bit. The result is a much better newsletter that is easier to parse, where it’s easier to find interesting content, and where it’s possible to see the context around individual links.
My newsletter is evolving, slowly but surely, things are starting to take shape.
The current newsletter structure:
- Special mentions
- The best links from the linkblog’s last 7 days
The last 2 editions have been particularly strong, with a focus on the news section, which is further subdivided into the latest trends, and changes week to week based on what I’ve been seeing.
Last week for example the trends were Congressional Hearing, Social Media Features, Chips, NFT and crypto currencies getting real, Other Bits and Pieces. These were different to the week before, but there is some similarity, because the topics developed and evolved.
The other sections are re-occurring and a way to more quickly find content you might be interested in. These categories seem to cover most things, but they might change a bit in the future. There’s structure but I’m not going to be militant about it and will add / remove sections as needed.
Navigating through a massive link dump is tedious, so the intro section aims to be a sort of meta index, to make it a more pleasant experience finding articles to read. It vaguely mirrors what was going on in my head when I found and posted the link, though that evolves throughout the week, culminating in a synthesising of the topics and trends.
The other thing I’ve been experimenting with is to use linkblog hash links in the intro section. The idea here is that I want to somehow make accessible the context around a linkblog link, hopefully over time you’ll get a better sense for how the narratives emerged.
Since I choose all the links and write the copy, I have a lot of editorial control, but you can see the reasoning and source material behind a particular narrative and so you can more easily judge for yourself what to think on a particular topic.
Something that has been mentioned is the ‘double jump’, i.e. you have to click twice to get to the article: once to get to the linkblog link and then again to get to the actual article. It’s a little unusual, and there might be a better way to make the context available and have a way to get to the article more quickly. Who knows, it might even become ‘the thing’ that sets it apart from other newsletters.
As for the future, I’ve really been enjoying Twitter Tweet Threads recently, IMO it’s one of the platforms best features. I want a similar feature! :)
I’ve been pondering how to update the linkblog to create something similar, a way to group a collection of linkblog links on a timeline. I’ve got some ideas of how this could enhance the newsletter. There are a couple of wrinkles still to iron out, but that might be happening sometime in the future.
The newsletter is a work in progress, I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions via email or in social media comments.