By Brigitte Martin
It started in July of this year. I subscribed to Gretchen Rubin’s newsletter after a friend of mine shared the blog and quiz on LinkedIn. It had something to do with being productive and happy. My friend is CEO of a successful ecomm fashion start up in New York and I thought I could drink whatever she was having. Plus, I am a sucker for quizzes that diagnose your personality traits and help you find solutions.
Gretchen Rubin is the author of various books including The Happiness Project and Better Than Before. She has been on the New York Times bestseller list and has a big following both on line and in print. I took the quiz and found out I was an “Upholder”. What a drag, I really wanted to be a “Rebel”.
After this quiz, Gretchen succeeded in signing me up for everything: newsletter, podcast, book and Facebook. She almost convinced me to become a superfan by promising to send me personalised tips on how to meet outer expectations vs inner expectations. I think I was hoping that subscribing to more platforms would make me more of a “Rebel”.
The e-newsletters now keep coming and they have gotten boring and unoriginal, and almost a how-to-guide on how to suffer from OCD. At the beginning I found good advice that resonated. But I have since gotten the feeling that Gretchen has decided to use all the social media tools available, but doesn’t curate the content of each one with enough relevance and differentiation.
What would I do if I as an author of this newsletter? I think it’s time for a break when you don’t have a new topic to share.
Ginny Soskey asks some key questions in her blog “How to create a newsletter that people read”. The tip that seems most meaningful in this case is “ Do you even need a newsletter?” I think it might be time to give the Gretchen Rubin newsletter a hiatus. Personally, I feel the updates might be more insightful as a Tweet or an Instagram.
I now wonder if others have been able to keep up a steady flow of good newsletters over a period of time. I landed on Dan Oshinksy, Director of Newsletters at Buzzfeed. His posts definitely observe the well-kown rules that make for good digital newsletter writing and content.
- Use numbers in titles: 14 things you should know before skydiving for the first time
- Propose solutions: Do the Work. Always Do the Work.
- Unveil how and why: Why didn’t any one come to my presentation?
- Touch on curiosity: We re-created the famous CK underwear ad and this is what happened.
But even Dan is running out of inspiration. In 2015, he has posted 33 times vs 47 times in 2014, and vs 184 times in 2013. That’s an 82% decrease in posts over a 2-year period, unless he posts 151 times in the next 6 weeks.
I mentioned Ginny Soskey before and her list of tips for newsletter writing. Her last tip is “Make it easy to unsubscribe.” In this case, this is what I am doing with Gretchen Rubin.