On newsletters

I love newsletters. Once upon a time, I started my professional online publishing career with one. It was called TVspel.nu and was about video games. I did a whole bunch of issues, but it didn’t take long until a website launched, and that made more sense to focus on. This was in 1997, pre-dotcom. I made some money, but didn’t get rich. It was the basis of my first business, alongside running the official site for Sega Dreamcast in Scandinavia. It was a nice way to make a living as an 18 year old. Incidentally, TVspel.nu ended up being one of the biggest gaming websites in Sweden.

My next serious newsletter was Kong. It had been a site before, but I canned it, probably because I was bored. There were 30+ issues of the newsletter Kong Magazine, before I had some money issues. Selling ads in newsletters has always been hard, and it still is. The Holiday season was approaching, and I launched a site for Kong, sold all the ads, and could live to eat another day. As with TVspel.nu, the site flourished, priding itself on having great content, an editorial vision (not very common with video game sites back then), and a shitload of visitors. It sparked other sites. It made money, post-dotcom. In the end I sold it, because I’ve had it with video games and the Swedish media landscape for the time being. That’s when I started at The Blog Herald, but that’s another story.

Fast forward to a September 2013, and another newsletter. This time it was Appmagasinet, which was – and is, although currently on hiatus – all about iOS and apps. Fun times ahead, and 46 issues later, I can’t wait to get back to it. It’s mostly an experiment, one that has – alas! – grown out of the newsletter format. Appmagasinet will be something else in the somewhat near future, because it has to.

Newsletters are all the rage, and has been for some time. It’s the New Thing for a lot of people. What the cheerleaders tend to forget is that newsletters never went away, it’s not something new. They were never boring, not really, although there were plenty of boring newsletters. Much like today, I might add. Hopefully I won’t make that sort of mistake. Email is the great conversation platform that everyone has, with a penetration that Facebook and Twitter can only dream about. Maybe that’ll change in the future, email’s getting a lot of slack (pun intended) these days, but for now, the inbox is the place to be.

Except when it isn’t. You won’t see me replacing my site with a newsletter, much like you didn’t see me do that with a Facebook page when that was a fun PR stunt. Your online presence should be own by you, not anyone else. I’ve written about that already, so I won’t bore you with that particular rant today.

I love the fact that newsletters are getting new wind, that they’re so hip that they can be launched with an editorial staff and everything (hi Lenny!). Newsletters are fun, they’re a way to open up the conversation with the audience in a way that might not become as infected as the comments on your blog. This – the new, fun, hip, thing – is probably a fad, though. It’ll blow over. When it has, there will still be great newsletters, and I’ll be just as fascinated by them. Hopefully you will be too.

This piece was first published in the inaugural issue of my newsletter, RE:THORD. If you liked it, by all means sign up for a free subscription.

Have you read <em>Haunted Futures</em> yet? cover

Have you read Haunted Futures yet?

I’ve got a story in the science fiction/near future anthology Haunted Futures, together with the likes of Warren Ellis and Tricia Sullivan. Check it out!