To Email or Not To Email

09 July 2022

Topics: writing

I have spent the last several weeks (slowly) evaluating different email newsletter solutions because, according to my marketing plan, a newsletter is something I should consider starting. I mean, it is a great way to get the news out about my book and any future writing I may (probably) do. However, I am not 100% convinced I have anything meaningful to say on a pseudo-regular basis.

Aside from the fact that I have no idea what the content of this theoretical newsletter will be (kid lit? rants about web development? cookie recipes?), there are a lot of email newsletter services out there. How does anyone go about choosing one?

Below is a quick rundown of the options I looked at.

Revue (by Twitter)

I love the fact that this integrates with Twitter. I’m on Twitter a lot anyway, so this seems like the obvious choice. It has a comprehensive newsletter template editor, though the UI makes it both hard to find and a bit unintuitive to use. The integration with my tweets really sold this solution for me. That is, until the 24+ hour outage that the system is having as I write this (July 8-9, 2022). Even when (if?) this solution comes back, I am hesitant to use it because of the length, severity (everything is down), and lack of communication of this issue.

MailChimp

This is a really solid choice with a free tier and an easy to use email newsletter template editor. Really, it has all of the features I need and want for a first-timer. My only issue is with the physical address required by the CAN-SPAM Act, which, to be honest, is an issue I will have with most any service. I am all for people reaching me at a physical address. I just don’t want it to be my home address and I no longer have a physical location at the university, now that my job is remote.

Emma

Very pretty newsletters, but no free tier. In fact, the lowest tier is $99/month. I have no idea what I’m doing and no subscribers. Sorry, but no.

MailerLite

I’m going to be honest. I only looked at the website for this one. It looks like a simpler verison of MailChimp (hence the name, right?). Honestly, it probably would be a serious contender, but I was getting pretty fatigued with “too many choices” and was also evaluating ButtonDown when I learned about this one. (More on that next.)

ButtonDown

I was really unsure about this one at first, but I really like it. It’s like a newsletter service for developers. Everything is in Markdown. It looks like I can control the look, specifically the email header and footer, with code. Code! All of the customization is code! It’s like this solution knows me.

The free tier only allows for 100 subscribers, but the next tier up is pretty cost-effective. The bonus is that they offer a physical mailing address that will electronically forward mail, which allows me to comply with CAN-SPAM and retain my privacy. (Seriously, I’m cool with people sending me letters. I just don’t want randos showing up at my door.)

Probably obvious, but I’m opting to go with ButtonDown for now. I definitely enjoyed nerding out while creating my newsletter template. Let’s see if I’ll get to actually use it!

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