Each issue of the Almost Timely newsletter begins in social media. Every day, I share 5 items that I think are worth reading and sharing, a process I call #the5. This lets me curate in small batches daily rather than having to do a whole bunch of work at the end of the week. I’ll take my #the5 shares for the week and paste them from my Twitter feed in a text document. I used to use Evernote for this, but it’s simply easier at the end of the week to scrape my own Twitter feed instead and use a few text editor macros to clean up the text.
At the end of the week, typically on Sunday evenings, I dust off that collection of links and paste them into a placeholder template I made with the eBook authoring platform Scrivener.
I’ve taken the time in the past to configure Scrivener to publish a newsletter in mostly clean HTML. Inside the newsletter, there are topics, and I’ll just cut and paste the links into their appropriate sections. If a section is empty, I’ll typically go back to my news feeds for the week and fill something in. I’ll also write the Premium Content section as well.
Scrivener dumps the raw HTML from my newsletter to a file; I have a series of scripts that then clean up the HTML, remove extraneous styles, fix known HTML bugs, and do find/replaces on the text. I’ll add my weekly unsubscribe photo meme, tidy up anything else that needs to be tidied, and prep the HTML for sending.
From there, I load it into WhatCounts Publicaster, my email service provider of choice (and my former employer, and a client of SHIFT Communications (my current employer), and a sponsor of the marketing podcast I co-host).
Publicaster sends out the newsletter; I’ll typically do a social media announcement at send time (which can be done from inside Publicaster) so that people know to check their inboxes. Doing so helps to boost the open and click rates early, which can impact deliverability positively – some ISPs are reported to measure early opens and clicks as a way of judging whether something is spam or not.
From beginning to end, if you don’t count the time needed for curation during the week, the newsletter takes about 90 minutes to produce.
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