The tempertemper newsletter
Posted 5th November 2020
A few months ago I realised I didn’t have a great mechanism for getting all the blog posts I’ve been writing out to people who wanted to read them.
There’s my JSON Feed too, of course, but the same thing as RSS applies, only it’s more niche!
I post links to my articles on Twitter, but it’s too ephemeral: too easy to miss an article amongst the noise (some of it mine, admittedly!). Also, not every post is relevant or right for Twitter, so they don’t all get a mention on there.
There’s the Twitter-as-RSS idea, where every article is automatically posted to a dedicated Twitter account, of course. That would be fine if writing was my main professional focus but, as I’m not publishing multiple times daily, I prefer the control of writing the tweet myself. That also gives me the chance to check that it feels right to tweet alongside the rest of the news that day.
So I needed a mechanism to for people to subscribe easily, without needing some semi-obscure technology or social media account. Everyone has email, which is where a newsletter comes in!
Like most things I do, the newsletter is pretty minimal. You get three things:
- A roundup of all the posts I’ve written over the month
- A list of any older posts I’ve updated that month
- A short list of some of the more interesting articles I’ve read (or videos I’ve watched) that month
No fancy images, no complex layouts and no tracking. It’s a simple, accessible, easy read.
I write primarily about web design and development, often zeroing in on accessibility and usability. You might also find some posts about:
- something I’ve learned (Git, CSS, etc.)
- a technique I want to write down for reference
- the odd nugget about Apple’s software or hardware
Regularity is important.
I don’t want to bombard people, and I don’t want to hold myself to too frequent a schedule that I put myself under undue pressure. So weekly or fortnightly would be too much for all concerned.
I had toyed with bimonthly to really take the pressure off, but:
- how would I describe it? “Bimonthly” is ambiguous: does it mean twice a month or every two months?
- recipients could feel the emails landed randomly – which month is the delivery month again?
- missing every other month breaks a rhythm, and people like rhythm
- every two months is too long a gap
So the sweet spot is a monthly cadence.
The fewest posts I published in a single month this year was March with one post, so I’m almost always going to have something to send. I’ve written an average of five posts a month over the last couple of years, so the numbers bode well. On those months where I’m low on content I would make sure I had plenty of posts from around the web, so that I’m still providing value.
The last thing to decide was the date I’d send the newsletter. Luckily, that works itself out: it makes sense to group posts by calendar month and to send the roundup out on the very last day.