The Virtuous Cycle of an Email Newsletter

tl;dr It's not how, it's why

I get asked on occasion how the This Week in Sound email newsletter comes together, and how much work is required. I wrote up a response to a recent such inquiry, and wanted to post it:

I should start by saying I’ve tried half the note-taking and information-organizing tools under the sun, and I still try out new ones regularly. And in the end, I always come back, for the most part, to two simple things: a text file and a spreadsheet.

I have a text document (actually it’s a markdown file, but for no meaningful reason) that I keep on my computer. Over the course of the week, whenever something of interest surfaces, I put the URL and some associated thoughts in the document. Then, come Sunday afternoon or Monday, I tidy those up and put them in Tinyletter and hit send, along with some other things I’ve written related to sound.

In the spreadsheet, I have a list of resources to remind me to take a look at: specific Twitter accounts, specific publications, specific search returns. I use Google Alerts for some keywords. I use for bookmarks. For all my researching, one of the greatest sources of information is simply hearing from readers.

And that about covers it.

I organize the This Week in Sound email precisely because I come across so much information, that the only way for me to make sense of it, to process it, is to produce the newsletter. If I didn’t do the newsletter, I’d probably read a tenth of what I do, and I’d never hear about the stuff readers send me.

The newsletter is a virtuous cycle: I send stuff out, which means I process and retain the information, and in return, people share related information with me.

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