Choosing a Delivery Mechanism for New Blog Posts

How can you distribute post notifications for a static site with no server-side code?

This article was tagged with: IndieWeb/Meta-blogging

There are 559 words in this article, and it will probably take you less than 3 minutes to read it.

This article was published 2023-07-13 00:00:00 -0400, which makes this post and me old when I published it.


Cutting Through the Noise

Recently, a friend suggested I start a newsletter for my website. I initially scoffed at the idea. I think that traditional email newsletters have a time and place, but I have a number of problems with them, of which I’ll detail in a bit. However, after some reflection, I realized that I had already been doing a newsletter, albeit a bit non-traditionally.

Whenever I post a new article on my site, I usually send it via text message to a few of my close friends that I think would be particularly interested in it. This means that not everyone who has general interest in my articles is notified every time I publish a new one. This cuts down on noise and makes them more receptive to reading, in my opinion. Even if I implemented some kind of automatic category-based notification system, I think it would ultimately create noise since there can be a lot of variation between articles written in the same category/tag.

This burst of texts isn’t branded or presented by me to my friends as a newsletter, but it essentially functions very similarly to a newsletter, and I think that conceptualizing it as a newsletter lets me be more ambitious and intentional with it.

Why have a text newsletter versus the more traditional email newsletter?

I do not think that a text newsletter works well for many people, or even most people, but I think that people with indie blogs like myself could benefit from this model, depending on their individual goals. Firstly being that sending texts can be costly. I am just sending it to friends on iMessage via my Macbook, but this kind of manual effort does not scale well, and can be quite tedious for any number above ten people. This does however, come with an advantage, which is that it comes from my number, and is saved in our conversation. It feels a lot more personal and engaging that I am sending a link to someone personally because I think they would enjoy it, curation is love in my opinion (since it is an opportunity to show how well you know the person). I think that if I automated this text to come from a service like Twilio, it would start to feel quite cold and un-intimate. To me, this is the same problem that email newsletters suffer from, they feel very stuffy and business-like. For people of my generation (Gen Z), email is only used in a more professional setting, gone are the days of extended personal correspondence over email.

Pros:

  • You have records of your conversations and can reply in threads
  • Most people check their texts more than their email
    • This may not be true, but at least anecdotally speaking

Depends:

  • Harder time monetizing it (the tools aren’t really in place)
    • This isn’t a priority for me, I’m not trying to turn my writing into a side hustle or monetize the hobby. I see my blog as a way to share my knowledge, and so paywalling the content is at odds with that goal.

Cons:

  • I think that it is easier to “lose” a text than an email
  • You have the added friction of having to click a link and change apps

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