16 Mar 2021

How to Write a Newsletter with Alex Braae

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan, 1:46 pm on 16 March 2021

Alex Braae knows how to write a digital newsletter people actually read.

The Bulletin - a current events missive he writes for The Spinoff - lands in close to 40,000 inboxes every day.

Writer Alex Braae

Writer Alex Braae Photo: The Spinoff

Freelance writers now have a straightforward way to monetise their work via the content platforms Patreon and Substack, Alex says.

He's a fan of local newsletters Emily Writes Weekly, Webworm with David Farrier and Liam Hehir, and also The New York Times'  The Morning.

But Alex's favourite newsletter of all is Boston writer Luke O'Neil's political musings in Hell World.

"[Hell World is] a very angry product written from the perspective of a man who feels like life in America is fundamentally unfair. What I like most about is it's just written as this big stream of consciousness… the way that [O'Neil] uses the format, it's really interesting and exciting."

Alex Braae's tips on launching a newsletter

1. Be true to your own voice

It's important to ask yourself who you are and where you're coming from, Alex says.

For The Bulletin, he collects news stories from the  New Zealand media and attempts to help people understand not only what's going on but why it's important.

"Sometimes friends tell me that [receiving The Bulletin] feels like I'm just sending them an email in the morning and telling them what's going on … What is news but people telling each other what they think is important and why it matters?"

2. Be consistent

"It's all about doing a good product day after day after day … so if you are going to start a newsletter you have to be willing to put in the effort to maintain that quality over a long period of time.

"If you're asking people to give you their attention for any length of time… it's gotta be worth their time and you've got to make sure you're giving them a quality product each day."

3. Be unique

"[In a newsletter] it's important to give some sort of insight that people aren't necessarily going to get from elsewhere.'

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