If you are like me, you’ll probably have are some “special emails” you have formed the habit of reading every week.

You don’t delete them, you don’t unsubscribe. Instead, you bookmark them to “read later”

I have a list of my own too. They cover different topics from career, tech, psychology, startup funding, growth marketing to entertainment).

Recently, I started taking notice.  A clear pattern starts to emerge, like:

  • Why do I read them?
  • What makes them addictive?
  • How are great newsletter structured?
  • What makes them cool….is it the gif, cartoon or how the words were arranged?

I noticed that this pattern applies to blogs I read too.

In this post, I will share what they all have in common and what each of them have as unique advantage. In case you plan to launch your own newsletter, you’ll learn to create one that people would love to read.

What’s curated newsletters ?

Curated newsletter is like news summary or links to the best contents on any subject. Usually delivered through email.

The curator attempts to give coverage to a particular industry or topic by searching out content from multiple sources and sharing the best links along with their own commentary. This strategy to content marketing is good because, people hardly have time to read, so they’ll rather depend on curated opinions or editorials from expert they trust to guide what they read.

Let’s talk about the newsletters I am addicted to.

TECHCABAL DAILY.

TC Daily is published every weekday by BigCabal media. It curates the best thoughts on the business of tech and innovation across Africa. You can catch up with their past editions and also subscribe here.

While the newsletter has been written by several writers, two of them that made the newsletter ‘sticky’ for me are Bankole Oluwafemi who I consider one of the tech ecosystem builders in Nigeria and Osarumen.

Over the years, the format of the newsletter has changed, but one consistent thing TC newsletter has as advantage is its power of context. In each edition, the curator analyses 1 or 2 “big stories” and then links to other posts of interest as well as job listings and events.

Recently, the curator (Osarumen) has been signing off with a signature by telling the food he ate before or while writing the digest. I consider that fun too.

SIDE NOTES: Obviously, I am not the only one who thinks this newsletter is habit-forming, my co-convener for #HackgrowthNG also thinks so and shared his thoughts in this Medium post.

There have been few changes  with TechCabal since this post was originally published on Medium: first; Osarumen has moved on to a new company. Secondly, there are few changes in the structure of the newsletter editorial. 

2. Growth Hacking Digest

This is a weekly email newsletter curated by Stephen Jeske. You can subscribe here.

Stephen curates marketing ideas you can use to grow your startup into a billion-dollar company. I like how he prefaces each edition with his editorial thoughts (a model used by magazines ) before he shares his best finds on growth marketing articles, categorized by subtopics.

3. Growth Hacking Idea.

It is written by Happy Aladdin (and Eric Sundai). You can  subscribe here.

The newsletter is acclaimed to be read by people working at Google, IBM and other leading global tech companies. Unlike other newsletters that sends out multiple links per edition, the approach of this newsletter is to expound on a specific strategy that is shared in the article.

As part of his strategy to improve open rate and user retention, Aladdin shares headlines of what future newsletters will cover so that subscribers will be looking forward to open future emails.

After subscribing, users will get the newsletter everyday for the first five days. You can unlock daily subscription by paying or refeing 5 friends to unlock the daily emails.

4. The Weekly Habit from ProductHabits.com (by Hiten Shah)

This is one of my best newsletters. You can get a copy of Hiten Shah’s “5 Habits to Building Better Products Faster” when you subscribe to the newsletter here.

Hiten Shah has built amazing SaaS products. He co-founded Crazy Egg and Kissmetrics. His newsletter, ProductHabit curates the best content on building and growing amazing software business (SaaS). Each week, Hiten leads with his “pick story” and gives his perspective on the subject.

Like other newsletter, he then goes ahead to share links to other contents across various categories like business, product, sales & marketing and his tip of the week which is a podcast called The Startup Chat.

5. The Hustle

This is by far the largest newsletter. You can subscribe here.

The newsletter highlights a handful of topical stories and adds perspective and color to make it easy to understand. You can catch up on past editions here.

6. Other notable newsletters.

Other notable newsletter worthy of mention include:

(1) Swipe file, written by Jimmy Daly, who was former content lead at getVero.

(2) Tim Ferris’s 5 bullet friday.

(3) Letterlist ( aptly described as a better way to discover awesome newsletters)

(4) The MBA is Dead (a newsletter focused on everything startup accelerators).

(5) Ramit Sethi’s email – by far the longest I get to read – is ALWAYS  gold. He is co-founder of GrowthLab.com and NYT best-selling author of ‘I Will Teach You To Be Rich”

Each newsletter has its own unique “voice” and angle. Let’s talk about their “hidden secrets”.

The “hidden secrets” that made the newsletters habit forming. 

Habit forming newsletters are not just a bunch of links.

According to Nir Eyal seminal book, Hooked: how to build habit-forming products, great products have something that make them habit forming.

What can that be for newsletters?

I believe that adding perspective to the links before sharing it is one of the most powerful concepts of a habit forming newsletter.

The most successful newsletter curators focus on a niche where they have enough industry knowledge to provide perspective on the stories they curate.

In addition to industry expertise, another “hidden secret” that makes newsletter to become habit forming is called “Plussing technique”, a concept developed by Don Crowther in his content curation system webinar.

The idea of the Plussing technique is that the curator will take each story he/she wants to link to and use any of the techniques listed below to form a narrative.

So, next time you read your favourite newsletter, you can evaluate it based on the “plussing technique” above.

A good example of this is a recent TC Daily edition that reported the launch of a TV service called TroTro TV service in Accra. Instead of just linking to the story, the editor expounded the announcement and gives a context why we should care to read the story by using the framework of “Worth it, Not Worth it” technique.

Should I start my own newsletter?

Are you considering starting your own newsletter too? Let me warn you. It is not easy.

Newsletter curation is actually a hard job that requires quality content, consistency and the right tools. To grasp the basic ideology and tools, you can read what James Qualtrough (of LittleWalden) and Chris Osborne (editor of foundersGrid with more than 10,000+ subscribers) both wrote about their experiences running newsletters and the tools they use.

If you are ready for the hard work, the good news is that the business opportunity in “newsletter-only” media are on the rise.

Successful newsletters can be monetized by sponsorship, paid product listings and so on. Glenn Allsop cited stories of entrepreneurs building successful businesses around newsletter curation and making revenues up to $320,000 per month. I also recently stumbled on Inside.com which is an empire of curated newsletters that cover different niches.

 

Ready to give it a try?

Asides from money, publishing your own newsletter can help you to attract thought leadership and even grow your brand and business.

If you need help starting or improving on your own newsletter, shoot me an email, I will be happy to help.


Let me know your thoughts. What favourite newsletters do you read or the ones you publish?

 

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