Okay, this is gonna be controversial...

But as-promised -- recommendations on the best tools for your newsletter stack.

These are based on my opinion as a developer and newsletter operator + research into what's being used at The Hustle, Morning Brew, NYT, and others... 🧵
As a quick reminder, there are 5 key parts to your newsletter's technical stack:

🖥️ Website
📜 Registration Software
💸 Payment Processor
✉️ Email Service Provider (ESP)
📈 Analytics

Companies use a mix of pre-built and custom tools. More on this here:
If you're just starting out, pick a simple all-in-one tool, like Substack or MailChimp.

Whatever's easiest and cheapest.

Focus on writing a kick-ass newsletter. That's the most important thing.

Save these recommendations for after you've gotten established and monetized.
Here's how we'll do this...

Each tweet will have a little inside scoop on how to think about each tool.

❤️ 🔧 Then, a recommended option.

Hopefully that combo helps you make your own decision.

Ultimately, there are lots of ways to skin this cat. But here are concrete recs...
🖥️ Website has 2 key functions:

1️⃣ Help people find & sign up for your newsletter.
2️⃣ Store past content (which helps convince people to sign up).

❤️ 🔧 @WordPress:
Best balance of power + simplicity.
Lots of plugins to extend functionality.
Super popular --> easy to hire help
📜 Registration Software is most important for paid newsletters.

It's your paywall. People are always trying to circumvent popular ones.

If you're huge --> build your own. Otherwise...

❤️ 🔧 @pico:
Easy website integration.
Flexible business models.
Keeps readers logged in.
📜 Considerations for any paywall tool...

1️⃣ Your CX team will be a major user, so get their opinion.
2️⃣ Get really clear on pricing (often a combo of monthly fee + % of revenue).
3️⃣ Can it do group subscriptions?
4️⃣ Has it been compromised?

🔥 Hot take: Don't use WooCommerce.
💸 Payment Processor handles CC info so you don't have to store it.

The 2 big dogs are @stripe and @braintree. Similar pricing.

To decide, ask:
1️⃣ Do you want to accept PayPal? If so, Braintree (they own PayPal)
2️⃣ Will Braintree work with the rest of your stack? Some won't
✉️ Email Service Provider (ESP) will change a few times as you grow:

<100k subs ➡️ pick anything. MailChimp is most popular.

>100k subs ➡️ focus on deliverability and your sender score. Get one that will help you understand & set up:
1️⃣ Dedicated IP Address
📈 Analytics help you track performance on the newsletter, website, ads, etc...

❤️ 🔧 Google Analytics is nearly universal.

Can add on with things like @SumoMe or @hotjar for specific insights.

Key is not getting MORE data, but focusing on the RIGHT data (see image)
So those are some recs and things to think about.

But, as you can see below, there are lots of "right" ways to do this.

Again, the biggest thing if you're just getting started is not to let any of this trip you up.

This is for bigger lists.
If this was helpful, go ahead and follow me (@damn_ethan).

I've got 300+ pages of insights like this I'm sharing here, based on interviews across the industry.

DMs are open if you have any questions, and feel free to holler if you want me on your podcast!

🖥️ Website: @WordPress
📜 Registration Software: @pico
💸 Payment Processor: @Stripe or @braintree
✉️ Email Service Provider (ESP): Depends heavily on your size
📈 Analytics: @googleanalytics

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More from @damn_ethan

2 May
Let's talk about newsletter tech.

Most people ask, "What ESP should I use?"

But that's only the beginning. There are actually 5 key tools that power a newsletter biz.

Here's a quick overview for beginners...🧵
The combination of tools that power your newsletter is called your "stack."

There are 5 key parts:
🖥️ Website
📜 Registration Software
💸 Payment Processor
✉️ Email Service Provider (ESP)
📈 Analytics

The most important thing to know: Your stack is always a work in progress.
A quick breakdown:
🖥️ Website: For publishing blog posts & landing pages

📜 Registration: Adds people to your list

💸 Payment: For billing subscribers/advertisers

✉️ ESP: For designing & sending the email

📈 Analytics: Measures newsletter, marketing, and website performance
Read 11 tweets
30 Apr
Have you heard of the Inverted Pyramid?

Once you know it, you'll see it everywhere.

It's a framework you can use to make ads in your newsletter better.

Better Ads >> More Clicks >> More 💰

Here's how it works...🧵
Marketers have a term: AIDA

It stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.

Great ads:
1️⃣ Grab readers attention
2️⃣ Transform their attention/interest into desire
3️⃣ Prompt them to act

The inverted pyramid helps you structure your ad to do this well.
You do this with:

👀 Eye-catching headlines
📈 Easily readable body copy
🚀 Great use of links and calls to action

Let's use this old example from The Hustle to talk through each...

(I guess you're welcome eToro)...
Read 11 tweets
29 Apr
Wow... You people are way too nice!

I tried to share a thread today, and didn't realize it got cut off 2 tweets in.

To everyone nice enough to like it anyways, here's the FULL scoop on the newsletter engine

(a model we developed to explain the newsletter business) 🧵...
This is the Newsletter Engine. It shows how money/attention flow through a newsletter business.

What's really cool - when you understand how it works, you can use it to deconstruct any newsletter biz, diagnose problems, and find new opportunities.

Let's break it down.
There are 3 levels to the Newsletter Engine, starting from the foundation and building upward.

The levels are:
1️⃣ Product - What you make
2️⃣ Monetization - How it makes money
3️⃣ Growth - How you get new readers
Read 24 tweets
27 Apr
Everyone says to build a successful newsletter you need an authentic voice.

But how do you ACTUALLY DO that?

After talking with some of my favorite newsletter writers, here are a few concrete tips...🧵
First - why voice is important...

Your voice acts like a beacon that attracts the right readers to your newsletter.

As Dan Oshinsky says, you want people thinking, "Where has this been all my life?"

That happens when your voice resonates with them.

In her book on content marketing, @stephsmithio says:

When people talk about their favorite publications, they often talk about HOW they cover a topic, rather than WHAT they cover.

In other words -- your voice is what makes you someone's favorite.

Some examples...
Read 17 tweets
26 Apr
Thinking of investing in the newsletter space?

Here's your executive summary -- everything you need to know in 3 mins or less, including:

-How the media industry is changing
-How the business model works
-Major funding & acquisition deals

Based on 6+ months research 🧵...
The media industry is changing.

Since '08, newspapers have experienced a 68% drop in ad revenue. Down to roughly HALF what it was in 1956.

Papers are folding left and right.

In 2020, Berkshire Hathaway sold its 30-paper news unit to Lee Enterprises for $140m.

Today, 200 US counties have neither daily nor weekly news papers.
Read 15 tweets
21 Apr
"How do I do paid growth for newsletters?"

This is one of the most popular questions we heard while researching the Newsletter Guide.

So we interviewed our growth team @theHustle, plus experts from all over.

Let me break down what we found...
Over and over we heard the same thing from growth experts:

"When it comes to paid growth, the MOST important thing is understanding your Target Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)."

No matter where you're advertising, knowing your Target CPA is crucial to success.
To figure out your Target CPA, you need 2 things:

1️⃣ The lifetime value of your readers (CLTV)
2️⃣ Your desired profit margin or pay-back period

Buckle up... we're gonna explore math in tweet form (apologies in advance).
Read 23 tweets

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