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I knew that if I kept blogging for long enough that it would become fashionable again, and it is, sort of, but not in the way that I imagined. While more people are blogging from their own domain — which is fabulous — an enormous number of people are choosing newsletter platforms like Substack and Buttondown instead. Newsletters are where it’s at, and being fashionable has passed me by once again. I subscribe to *checks notes* 29 newsletters. Last year that number would have been in the single digits. I expect it to continue to rise.
Blogging isn’t easy. Ask for advice on the internet and you’ll end up with something like this:
Innocent: “Oh, hi. I’d like to start a blog. Can you help?”
Nerd: “No problem. That’s easy! Just connect your GitHub account to Netlify and run a custom build pipeline from Hugo and some markdown files”.
Blogging is a technical and creative endeavour, requiring a whole host of different skills, a large amount of time, and for most people no recompense other than the joy of doing it. It’s not for everyone.
Newsletter startups have solved the problems of difficulty and monetisation, so if people find that newsletters are the best way to distribute their content, and get paid for it (if they want to), then more power to them.
New to the world of newsletters? Here’s a few of my favourites to get you started:
- The Bluestocking, by Helen Lewis
- Garbage Day, by Ryan Broderick
- Letters from an American, by Heather Cox Richardson
- Life is so Beautiful, by Hugh Hollowell
- Money Stuff, by Matt Levine
RSS aficionados will be pleased to know that both Buttondown and Substack provide RSS feeds by default, though my preference is to subscribe via my NewsBlur email address so that authors know they’ve got a reader.
This would be a good time to plug my newsletter, but I don’t have one. I’ll make one in ten years when it’s no longer fashionable.