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How I compose my newsletter

Four weeks ago I decided to start putting out my own weekly newsletter. It’s called zzmag, full of internet and delivered every Monday. Some folk have asked how I go about publishing it so decided to jot down some notes.

Prerequisites

  • A text file for your work-in-progress newsletter. I use Simplenote1.
  • A Jekyll-powered website to host your newsletter archive and handily convert Markdown to HTML.
  • An account with TinyLetter to send your newsletter.

Drafting

  1. Create a new text file for your newsletter.
  2. Write all content in the Markdown format.

Jekyll

  1. Once your newsletter is ready to go out, create a new Markdown file in your Jekyll-powered website and paste in the content from your text file2.
  2. jekyll serve --watch and visit localhost:4000 to view your newsletter.
  3. View the source of the HTML page and copy the HTML markup of the newsletter.

TinyLetter

  1. Log in to TinyLetter and click Compose.
  2. Click the View Source Code button on the WYSIWYG editor and paste the HTML markup you copied earlier, replacing any existing markup.
  3. Click Send Preview and admire your handiwork!

Good things!

  • Jekyll provides a handy way of generating only valid, essential HTML markup for your TinyLetter newsletter. In my experience WYSIWYG editors have a bad habit of creating surplus and spurious HTML tags.
  • Own your platform: if anything happens to TinyLetter you have your own archive of newsletters, hosted on your own domain.
  1. I keep my draft newsletter in Simplenote as I make heavy use of the Simplenote web, iPad and iPhone apps. It’s readily available wherever I’m consuming internet. 

  2. Here is Issue 4’s Markdown file as an example