The Revival of Newsletters

As a dedicated worker you have to stay informed about the latest news and technology in your job. This counts for web developers, designers as well as many other jobs that develop vastly over just a few months or years. It is hard to stay up-to-date while still getting work done – that’s why we need some selection.

Newsletters – a medium which has been struggling for years now since every company sends out weekly or even daily mails that only disturb you during work. It is a medium that is very powerful but can easily and has been used in a bad manner (think of plain product advertising).

If you look on the web you can find thousands of blogs and articles describing lots of new techniques and tools. But simply finding them is a hard thing, and so is ‘filtering’. Of those thousands of articles only a few are really important. Selecting means reading a lot of articles on which you will spend about 1-3hrs every day doing that (at least that is an approx. time of what I do for WDRL). It is clear this is not manageable for most employees or freelancers.

How to Stay Up-to-date

Staying up-to-date is easy if you learn from others who already went through the whole process of trying and failing. There are three ways how to access such ‘resources’:

  1. The Manual Way: Searching, Filtering on your own. A lot of work but it might help you finding exotic topics and things other people don’t know. But be careful you don’t ‘burn-out’.
  2. Conferences: On conferences Experts for specific topics are invited just to share their knowledge with you. They clearly know what they are talking about and you can profit from them in a short time like one or two days.
  3. Summaries: Some people write subsumptions from the overload of articles and share them. This is done on blogs, magazines, social networks or via the good old email. Such reading list save you the filtering-work.

All three ways are good ways to keep yourself on the latest technologies but the last one is clearly the easiest and is available to everyone. I won’t dig deeper into the first two solutions in this post.

But why the hell email?

This is a valid question but it is fairly simple: As example, I maintained a Reading List for over 1.5 years – first published on my blog, now as a Newsletter. By publishing it on a blog I hadn’t solved the key problem: Finding the right resources. One still needed to search for my blog or follow me on Social Media to know of the latest Reading List on my blog.

Email is our tool we couldn’t work without today and to keep it short: It is our main work management tool. So why not including education into it?

Of course you could argue RSS readers do exactly the same: Notifying you of new posts – but with newsletters like my ReadingList you get a (almost) weekly summary with selected resources that matter. You get it via email meaning you can sort this in the proper folder or mark it as you want. Read it later without forgetting about it – it just is one step simpler than most other solutions. And if not, I for my own list, provide an online archive that can be accessed by everyone. With a massive increase of readers by introducing a Newsletter for WDRL I think providing it via Email has been a success for me. In reverse, this could also mean I hit a nerve and people really like the idea of getting resources via Email.

I am not sure this fully explains why Newsletters are on the uprise again but I heard a lot about overworking, over-sharing (“death to bullshit”) and think summaries via email can ease those problems.

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