Harry Cresswell

Newsletter changes

For the past 172 issues the format of my newsletter has remained pretty much unchanged. It’s been a good run and for the most part it’s worked well and I’ve enjoyed doing it.

However, over the course of last year sending a weekly email became a real struggle, not just because it was 2020, but because there were various things about the format which were no longer working for me. So with the start of a new year it feels like the right time to make a few changes. I want to take a moment now to share these changes and briefly explain the reasons I’ve decided to make them.

Now monthly not weekly #

I will now send newsletters once a month on the last Friday of the month, rather than every week on a Friday, as I’ve been doing until now.

It takes a fair amount of time to each week to research content for each issue and I’m at a point where I want to focus more energy elsewhere. By reducing the frequency I’ll have more time to focus on other things which I hope will contribute to an even better email–one that’s worthy of the space in your inbox.

More content from me #

Until now most of the content in my newsletter has been links to the work of others, with the odd piece of my own thrown in when I find the time to write something. I still plan on sharing the work of others, but I want to scale back to my favourite pieces from the past month.

To fill the gaps I plan on creating more of my own work, sharing what I’ve been up to each month, including a roundup of articles I’ve written or projects I’ve been working on. This is something I didn’t do enough of last year, so this year I’m making it a priority to share more of what I’m learning.

Also, I’ve come to realise most people who sign up for my newsletter arrived on my site via articles I’ve written on building things with static site generators like Hugo, Eleventy, Gatsby, and so on. So I plan to create more content on these subjects, as I’m sure that’s what you were expecting all along.

Published to my website first #

You can now find every newsletter I’ve ever sent in archive on the newsletter page of my website. I will now publish all new issues directly to this page, before sending them to your inbox using Mailchimp.

Originally I thought I’d create a microsite for the newsletter, but with plans to create more of my own content I figure it makes more sense to host newsletters directly on my personal website.

Either way, this is something I’ve wanted to do for a while now as it’s more inline with the IndieWeb and I now own the content I’m sharing, rather than relying on a 3rd party service. No offense Mailchimp.

There’s also quite a few other advantages to this workflow. One of which is RSS.

Subscribe using RSS #

By publishing newsletters directly on this website you’ll now be able to subscribe using RSS, if you prefer it to email. RSS is actually my preferred method for handling email subscriptions. I’m a big fan of Feedbin and I know many others are too, so it seems like a good idea to offer RSS as another way to subscribe. Head to the feeds page and click Newsletter to grab the feed.

With an RSS feed it now makes it much easier to syndicate the content elsewhere, whilst owning the canonical URL. Win win.

Varying structure and themes #

At some point in the past 3 years I settled on a structure to my newsletters which organised content under 4 distinct themes: ‘Thought Provoking’, ‘Design and code’, ‘Typography’ and ‘Something to watch’. There were a few iterations along the way, but these are the themes that seemed to stick.

It’s been helpful to have a rough idea of the structure, it’s much easier to organise and plan content for each issue with themes in mind. The drawback is that my enthusiasm for creating what feel like templated emails has begun to fade. So it’s time to change things up a bit, be less rigid with these themes and vary the content depending on where my interests take me.

Content will still focus around web development—mainly HTML, CSS, JavaScript, design and coding static websites and all that fun stuff—but you might also find music I’m listening to, quotes I like, tools I’ve found useful, artwork I’m making or books I’ve been reading. So no real limits.

No more fancy name #

Finally, I‘ve decided to drop the name Braintactics as I’m really not fond of it. I’m not even sure where it came from in the first place. I seem to remember it was a mash up of two different ideas I had at the time, but either way it’s never exactly had much context. As I begin to share more of my own content I feel there’s less need for a branded email, so it’s time to move on.

In terms of what will replace the name, I’ll most likely continue to use the issue number and take a subject line from the content. All very boring I know but the future me will find it much easier to live with. Alternatively I might replace the subject line with the month and year, something like ‘#172 - January 2021’. We’ll see what happens.

In any case, I see no reason to overcomplicate it. At the end of the day it is what it is—just another web development newsletter.

Summary #

So here’s a recap of the changes I’m making to the newsletters I send out, just in case you’re still with me. Newsletters will now:

  • Arrive monthly not weekly
  • Contain more content from me
  • Be published on this website first
  • Have an RSS feed if you want to subscribe
  • Have varying themes and structure
  • Have a new name or more likely no name

I realise this is a fair amount of change. It might might be too much for some and not what you signed up for, I get that. You’re very welcome to unsubscribe now if you’re no longer interested. You will find an unsubscribe link at the bottom of each email.

Monthly Newsletter

Each month I share a roundup of articles, tools and tips for designers and front-end developers. Check out past issues and sign up to get on the list.