The Importance of Your Calendar
4 June 2021 | 1:30 pm

A few great quotes from Merlin Mann from this week’s Back to Work podcast:

“A calendar is a map for your time. A calendar is the decisions you have made about your future. This is the glass that holds your temporal water.”

“If you’re young and don’t need a calendar, enjoy it while you can. But as you become less young…you might want to start getting ready for a future where you’ll do better if you lose the conceit of thinking you will, can, and should remember everything. Because you’re not an alarm clock and you’re not a whiteboard. You’re just a big, pooping, meat machine and you’re going to need some help. ”

I’m a sucker for this stuff.

The more agency you have over your work and life, the more this all makes sense. But gaining agency is the key.

Experiments Check-In 2
2 June 2021 | 2:18 pm

I have a few updates since my last 2021 experiments update. I do these mostly for myself, but I figure they may help others on similar journeys.

The Good

  • Readership and follows are still going up across all platforms, but especially the newsletter.

  • Engagement is way up.

  • I’ve gotten way more experience behind the scenes that I hope to bring to the site in the next 6 months.

  • I wrote a massive amount for others, and I’ll be re-purposing some of it for the public soon.

The Bad

  • My mom passed away, leaving so much to be done. In these situations, business is never a priority. I’ve let a lot of things go for a while.

  • Daily writing is actually up for others, but writing in public for my own stuff is way down.

  • I’m really not loving my newsletter service. When a service is built for e-commerce and newsletters, chances are the newsletter part is an afterthought.

  • Books sales have dropped since winter.

What’s Next

  1. Build a better personal newslettering process.

  2. Switch to a better newsletter service.

  3. Try a new newsletter I’ve been sitting on for a while.

  4. Turn my Twitter feed into something more useful to others, rather than just a time sync for my reading (this may turn some people off, but it’s an experiment I’ve wanted to try for a long time).

A Good Philosophy for Personal Publishing
1 June 2021 | 12:53 pm

From Om Malik:

“I have often lamented that the ‘why’ of blogging got overtaken by the ‘what’ and the ‘how,’ with the tools and format becoming the primary focus. Ironically I made the same mistake with my newsletter. I don’t work for a publication, so I don’t have a deadline. I no longer have anything to sell. In short, I write, because I am…my reward for writing and sharing is your time and attention.”

I love everything about this philosophy. It’s perfect for personal (if not business) publishing.

The line after it, however:

“If I find that you have not read the last dozen emails sent to your inbox, I will assume you are not keen on what I have to say. You will automatically be unsubscribed. I am not interested in building the biggest community — only one that is thoughtful and engaged.”

A few years ago, it may have been that easy and automated. Now, the data that does exist for opens is untrustworthy, and its collection is almost impossible to excuse.

Yes, it has traditionally cost the publisher (myself included) lots of money (not to mention deliverability issues) if this unsubscribe automation isn’t being used. But that’s not the reader’s problem, that’s our problem.

The only happy compromise I’ve seen for email has come from membership-related or paid newsletters, where it’s in the reader’s interest to keep their subscription status up-to-date.

Sending free email is tough these days.

Perhaps this is the reason Google is dipping its toes in RSS again?

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