Newsletter Crew October 23, 2020

What's your tech & tool stack for your newsletter?

Janel @Janel

Hey guys, keen to know what you use to run your newsletters.

There are definitely some tools you use in your newsletter journey to make your life easier or newsletter better!

Here's part of my stack:

  • MailerLite (Email Service Provider)
  • Carrd (Landing Page)
  • Google Analytics (Analytics)
  • Notion (Dashboard, Newsletter HQ, Curation, Writing etc.)
  • Google Sheets (Bookmarklet for saving stuff)
  • Figma (Promotional graphics)
  • Fiverr (Commissioned illustration for my newsletter here)
  • Airtable, Google Form (Subscriber Survey)
  • Integromat (Automatic Backup of Subscribers to Google Sheets)
  • Mail-Tester.com (Check mail for spammyness before sending)
  1. 6

    For Creativerly I use those tools:

    • Substack as my delivery tool, although I am currently in the process of moving everything to Ghost.
    • Workflowy - I use it to outline my newsletter issue every week, I got a template I can reuse where I note down the links I want to share, add some text, and basically structure how the newsletter issue will look like.
    • Splitbee - I am a privacy advocate, so removed Google Analytics from every single website I own. Honestly, analytics are not that important to me. It is great to see how many people visit my website and where they come from, so all I "need" is just a super lightweight and fast solution. Currently I am testing Splitbee, but there are so many great privacy-friendly analytics tools out there, so you really do not need to use Google Analytics. I will publish an article around this topic soon, it is already in the pipeline.
    • Todoist - My favorite task manager, I use it to jot down and keep track of my tasks, simple as that.
    • Obsidian - Whenever I make a deep dive on a certain topic, I jump straight into Obsidian, the home for my knowledge base. It looks awesome, it is super fast, it is based on markdown, and since you decide where to save your notes and markdown files, it is privacy-friendly because your data always stays your data. I do not only use this for Creativerly but also in general whenever I find something interesting to further elaborate on. Since Obsidian support bi-directional linking it is super easy to build up a knowledge base of connected thoughts.
    • iA Writer - iA Writer is my preferred writing environment whenever I set out to start writing on a long-form piece. Since it is based on Markdown, it is super easy and fun to use. You can straight export your articles to e.g. Medium or Wordpress.
    • Inkdrop - I have been an avid Notion user for couple of years (after making the switch from Evernote, which I used for seven years) but recently I made the switch to Inkdrop (currently testing it out with their 60 days trail). Honestly, you can not compare Inkdrop with Notion since both are serving different purposes. For me, Notion got a bit overwhelming at some point, I wanted to have a more lightweight solution. Also, Notion is watching you and everything you put into their tool. Again, when I am looking for a new tool, I always opt for privacy. Notion disclosed several times, that you have to trust them, but they also stated that they do not encrypt your notes, also they do not offer 2FA, and so on. So, for now I really enjoy Inkdrop. Again, it is based on Markdown (ah I just love Markdown haha) so you can also create lists and table views, create notebooks to structure your projects, it is available fro all platforms, and you are supporting an Indie Developer, who is an one man army pushing that product forward. I love that.

    That's basically it. I am a sucker for productivity software and tools (one of the reasons I started Creativerly) because I always try to boost my workflow. Therefore I love to try out new things, but at the core it is always a selection of tools like the ones above which stay within my workflow stack.

    1. 2

      This should be upvoted like crazy and made into a long-form post. So much value here Philipp, thanks for sharing! I learned about some new tools here.

      I always appreciate your insights into privacy-friendly tools. I use Todoist as well.

      P.S. If anyone like Philipp's deep dive you should definitely subscribe to Creativerly

      1. 2

        Thank you so much Janel!

        Happy to tell you, that your initial post and this comment motivated and inspired me to work on a blog post about how I operate my weekly newsletter, with a glimpse into my tech stack, because I just love to write about tools. 🤩

        1. 1

          Awesome Philipp!

  2. 6

    For The Slice

    • Carrd
    • EmailOctopus
    • VSCode (for when I make custom HTML)
    • Google Sheets
    • Combination of Notion/Bear
    • Google Postmaster
    • Google Analytics
    • Mail-tester
    1. 1

      Thanks for sharing Nic! And for teaching me about mail-tester long ago :)

      1. 2

        It’s such an underrated tool! It’s definitely one those “why is this even free” tools!

        It really does need to be given more credit.

    2. 1

      Why EmailOctopus over Substack?

      1. 4

        I always found that everyone who had a Substack newsletter, it’s kinda looked the same as everyone else’s. Also at the time, I wanted to my own domain and website.

        I also had this little itch in the back of my head that Substack is basically the same as Medium.

  3. 4

    For Share a Coffee

    • Carrd for Landing Page
    • Plausible Analytics
    • MailerLite
    • Airtable (track creators, coffees and subscribers)
    • BannerBear (Create creator and social images via Airtable automation)
    • Integromat (Glues it all together)

    My focus over the past week was to automate as much as I could. Now the process is:

    • Reach out to creator for bio
    • Add creator to Airtable and fill in some metadata
    • Create email in MailerLite and schedule

    When the issue is published, I auto post to Twitter. My stats and previous issues are pulled into my LP automatically using some code.

    1. 2

      Thanks for sharing!

      I love Share a Coffee & what you're doing to highlight creators. Love your setup and how it has fancy automations. In a daily (weekday) newsletter, I think that's really important to save time.

  4. 4

    For usehooks.com I'm using Gatsby, Mailchimp, and Google Analytics

    1. 1

      Nice one Gabe, thank you for sharing!

  5. 3

    Here's my newsletter stack for Scrappy MarTech

    • Webflow (landing page, website, CMS for web version of issues)
    • AWeber (email subscriptions)
    • Google Tag Manager & Google Analytics (Analytics)
    • Hotjar (Analytics, Heatmap, Session Recordings)
    • Notion (Platform for workflow, journal, to-do, issue planning)
    • Newsletter OS (Notion newsletter platform from @Janel)
    • Twitter (Community, Lead Gen)
    • SwipeFiles (Community)
    • Zapier (Connecting everything together)

    Janel - thanks for the Newsletter OS. It is full of great things.

    1. 1

      Thank you so much for your kind words Michele! And for sharing your stack.

      What are features of AWeber that you love?

      1. 2

        I actually tweeted about this a few weeks ago.

        Here's what I cared about:

        • Easy powerful editor. CSS access if you want it, but you don't need.
        • Took a web page and auto created an email template as a starting point.
        • Zapier workflow and integration to work with webflow form submissions.
        • RSS to email
        • Subscriber list management, single & double opt-in options.
        • Easy email drip campaigns/automation
        • Price to value ratio is awesome.

        There are a bunch of features I don't use, but are available, like landing pages & newsletter archives for example.

        I compared AWeber to constant contact, active campaign, mailchimp.

        1. 2

          Really handy! Thanks Michele. Will add AWeber to toolkit.

        2. 1

          @Revgabba you are the absolute best. Thanks for using AWeber and sharing about us.

  6. 3

    For Crafted

    • Netlify, with Gatsby for website
    • EmailOctopus for mailing service
    • Notion for organizing everything
    • Plausible analytics
    • Typeform for survey, which I put at the bottom of every email
    1. 1

      That's cool if you need sponsorship you can use lettersponsor.com

    2. 1

      Thanks for sharing! I use Notion to organize everything as well.

  7. 3

    I shared my newsletter tools and workflow. In short, I use these tools:

    • Revue
    • Revue Chrome extension
    • ProWritingAid
    • Mail-Tester
    1. 1

      Thanks Paolo, good post!

  8. 2

    For Would You Rather I use:

    • AWeber for my landing pages (full disclosure, I work there, but I've used other tools like Mailchimp and ConvertKit in the past). Free, really easy to build all sorts of pages, has some neat elements like an embedly element that creates all sorts of rich media from links (that's how I have my Twitch and YouTube embeds).
    • AWeber also for my newsletter. The builder is flexible, template management is easy if you want a custom template, and it's really easy to automatically tag people based on where they sign up, how they interact with my email, and what pages they visit. The automation is straightforward and easy to set up, and you can have people loop through campaigns multiple times. Finally, I use conditional content ALL THE TIME to make really personalized emails. I'm actually in the process of working on this year's "Year in Review" that is using people's choices from the prior year to build something awesome (that hopefully works).
    • Backtalk for surveys. Surveys are a core part of my newsletter - every week I send an illustrated Would You Rather scenario and ask people to vote and then offer feedback. I had been using Typeform, but it was expensive, time intesive to create the regular, simple surveys I use so I decided to build something super quick and flexible. Feel free to try it out if you want and let me know how I could make it better!
    • Procreate for illustrations. Best iPad drawing app ever made.
    • Google Analytics for analytics. I'm thinking of using Fathom but just haven't gotten around to it yet.
    • Twitch for streaming. We stream our weekly process of deciding on the week's question and breaking down the previous week's responses.
    1. 1

      Thanks for sharing!

      How's the engagement with Twitch for you?

      1. 1

        Twitch has been really fun. We don't have a big subscriber audience, but we'll generally have a few folks drop in on our streams and help us come up with ideas or just share funny stories.

        My newsletter is really community driven, and the community tends to like interacting with each other. Most of the interaction happens as a result of connecting people through sharing their funny rationale for would you rather choices in the email, but Twitch is a nice little side channel for super fans.

  9. 2
    • GitHub Pages for my home-page
    • Staticman for subscription forms
    • Substack for Newsletter
    • Planet Pluto Static Feed Reader for blog-feed aggregation and source for newsletter content.
    • Twitter Api for search and creating collections based on search as another source for the newsletter.

    I go into more details on that in Creating the back end for a weekly newsletter, my first post to this group, I just submitted last night. :D

    1. 1

      Thank you so much for sharing!

  10. 2

    I've used Substack, but prefer Ghost

    I've also been looking at Gatsby.

    1. 1

      Thank you for sharing! I use Ghost for my personal blog too with the Digital Ocean droplet. It's beautiful.

  11. 2

    This is such a treasure trove of info! My stack for The Flywheel:

    • Substack for everything re: publishing. Going to start experimenting with other ideas I’ve seen on this page, starting first with landing pages.
    • Notion (bought Janel’s NewsletterOS and modified it!) to organize my articles and ideas
    • Instapaper + Readwise + Roam for researching and outlining.
    • Twitter and LinkedIn for promotion.

    That’s pretty much it. Got a lot of opportunity to improve, but happy with my growth so far (1,400 subs after 5 articles!) despite not doing anything too creative, tools-wise.

    1. 1

      Thanks Jake for sharing! And thank you for contributing to Newsletter OS!

      Can't wait to see your landing page, building on Carrd would probably be the easiest way to do it.

      1.4k subs is amazing! Are you getting a lot of subscribes from LinkedIn? I haven't posted my newsletter there but probably should.

      1. 1

        Thank you!

        LinkedIn was my primary source at first, but I got sort of lucky and got picked up by someone on Twitter who has ~50K followers, and ever since then Twitter has really picked up for me. According to Substack's metrics, I have gotten about 8x more traffic from Twitter than LI over the past 30 days.

        I think LinkedIn is good if you want to convert people already in your network to become subscribers, but Twitter seems more sharable.

  12. 2

    I use:
    -Ghost as CMS
    -Google Analytics
    -Disqus comments
    -Canva for occasional graphics
    -Repl.it to add code to the site

    1. 2

      Thanks for sharing!

  13. 2

    Great question, Janel!

    For GrowthMarketer Weekly:

    — WordPress / Unbounce for the landing pages
    — ConvertFlow for lead capture popup forms
    — ActiveCampaign for email marketing
    — Airtable for tracking every issue with stats, ideas, etc.
    — Feedly + Pocket for curating content each week
    — Canva for newsletter graphics
    — Google Analytics because duh 😛
    — Zapier to glue everything together

    1. 2

      You're using some cash taking products to your free newsletter. How does that work for you? My guess is your main goal is to get leads for your agency with this project.

      Edit: I would suggest adding "tools including" or something along the lines to earnworthy's 50tools landing page' logo slider right below the hero section. Though it's clear those are the tools guide you'll be providing, most of the times these sliders are testimonials and our customers but here it's not.

      1. 3

        Great question, Dinakar!

        I am already using/paying for these tools with my agency, so they aren't specifically for my newsletter. If they were, I wouldn't be using them, because yes, some of these tools are quite expensive.

    2. 1

      Thanks Nicholas. Appreciate the inside look.

      What do you use to run your referral program, and do you recommend it?

      1. 2

        Oh yeah, I forgot about that! For the referral program I'm using Viral Loops, which I got a while back on a lifetime deal from AppSumo. And its embedded onto a few Unbounce pages and glued together with Zapier. Took forever to set up, lol.

  14. 2

    very good information! i will have to explore all of them. just started newsletter a week ago. which one do you think should be my focus first? currently i only use the following:

    • wordpress (for landing page)
    • mailerlite (for email sending)

    so yes, it has been quite manual process for me + i am not getting much data / information from my subscribers. like to fix that. i like to encourage them to forward, and at the same time get them to fill up 2,3 survey questions when they sign up (without annoying them).

    1. 2

      Congrats on starting your newsletter. You're in for an exciting journey.

      I think subscribers prefer as frictionless an experience as possible, so 3 survey questions might be a lot. I suggest starting with one first then experimenting to see if you can get more information from them.

      1. 1

        Thank you, it has been really exciting so far.

        Appreciate the feedback. I will hold back on asking questions first and making the signup process frictionless.

        Right now, like with most people, I'm not growing it as fast as I like. Every signup is through referral.

  15. 2

    Thanks for sharing! Here’s mine for Homescreens.co

    1. Substack - platform
    2. Zoom - How I conduct the interviews and record audio/video
    3. Otter.ai - Audio transcription software
    4. Notion - I use this for my content calendar and CRM
    5. Airtable - Used to collect incoming interview requests from the landing page
    6. Landen.co - Landing page (the primary way the newsletter is shared outside of email) analytics, SEO
    7. Google Domains - Domain hosting
    8. Calendly - Interview bookings
    9. Previewed.app - homescreen/device mockups
    10. Adobe Photoshop & Canva - Newsletter and website graphics
    11. GIPHY - Gifs for extra spiciness 😎
    12. Zapier - Welcome email automation from the landing page
    1. 1

      I've been looking at Otter.ai for podcast transcription. How do you like it?

    2. 1

      Thanks for sharing.

      Love Homescreens. How long do you take to make your graphics each week? I really like them.

  16. 2

    -Carrd from my landing page
    -Canva for designing my social gfx
    -Unsplash for images of the destinations we showcase
    -Instagram Promotions as our primary funnel
    -Substack for the newsletter itself

    Launched Sept 9th (but had a pre launch campaign) on target to hit 1000 subs in circa 2 weeks.

    1. 1

      Thanks! Those are impressive numbers. Do you already have a huge Instagram account?

      1. 2

        No - I did my first post on Insta on 7th of July. I have focused primarily on acquisition of subscribers via Insta as oppose to Twitter. I have 607 followers on Insta currently @work.is.where.the.home.is I do run Insta promos occasionally (I spend less than £10 per campaign) to acquire Insta followers. I think I've probably spend £30 on this type of campaign so far - my main focus is providing consistent content that is interesting. As soon as I hit 1000 subscribers and 1000 followers on Instagram I'm going to do on comprehensive post on IH, as I think people will find it useful.

        1. 1

          That's pretty great results for paid advertising! Can't wait for you to hit that sweet 1000 so we can read the post.

  17. 2

    Wow, that is a LOT of tools! I think you could wrap a lot of these into Notion or Airtable. Then again, mine prob looks a lot the same 🤦‍♂️

    1. 1

      That's not even my full list of how I run my newsletter haha. When you do something and want to scale, sometimes you need to use a few different tools.

      That being said, a Notion dashboard is a home for my newsletter's operations.

  18. 2

    For Canterbury Digest

    • Notion + Super.so (Landing page)
    • MailerLite
    • Fathom analytics
    • Figma for images
    • Roam for collecting links
    • Tally.so for sponsorship forms
    1. 1

      Thanks for sharing.

      First time I'm seeing a newsletter's stand-alone landing page run on Notion + Super, so that was lovely to see!

      Is there any clipper function for Roam?

  19. 2

    Thanks for sharing @Janel!

    Did you (or anyone else) consider going with Substack? I'm about to start my own there, primarily because because of simplicity in getting started.

    Curious to hear thoughts on a home-rolled stack vs Substack.

    1. 3

      You're welcome!

      I prefer a home-rolled stack because I am quite obsessed with being able to control my own landing page, and having the ability to view my analytics (marketer / insights person at heart).

      So I did consider going with Substack, ended up starting my newsletter with Revue as I wanted to curate easily, then switching to MailerLite as I wanted to write long-form.

      Don't stress out too much about choosing one, just pick what you like and switch along the way if you need to. My personal preference is always owning your own content though.

      1. 2

        Thanks for sharing those tools! I hadn't heard of Revue and MailerLite before. Lots to learn!

        I have to fight my urge to delay writing until I have my own landing page, analytics, etc., too hah. If people actually read what I write, then I'll get there eventually 😁

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