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Revue Creator Highlight: Meet Caroline Criado Perez

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Hello all,
Thanks for joining me for the third-ever Revue Creator Highlight. In this series, we’ll hear from brilliant authors on Revue — and talk to them about their experience of newsletter creation.
Today, you’ll get the chance to meet Caroline Criado Perez: writer, campaigner, and creator of the fantastic Invisible Women newsletter. Her newsletter follows on from her book of the same name by drawing attention to all the ways our world is designed for men — from scientific studies to smartphone design, and everything in between.
Find her online:
You can also meet Caroline in person by tapping in to our Twitter Space. We’ll make sure to discuss all things newsletters, and you’ll be able to ask your follow-up questions. Follow me @aemelliott or our official handle @revue to join — or sign up to get a reminder here. We’ll go live on Wednesday May 26th at noon ET, 6pm CET. See you there!
This interview is relatable, eye-opening, and inspiring. Jump in.
First things first: how did you start writing your newsletter?
I just… started! Ever since Invisible Women was published I had people from all around the world sending me fascinating stories, experiences they had, research papers they published or came across. There was so much amazing content. I didn’t want it to go to waste, but I didn’t know what on earth I was going to do with it all.
I also knew that people wanted to hear more from me about the gender data gap, where else it was manifesting, where there were new developments. And eventually I hit on the idea of using a newsletter to curate this material. It has gradually become my way of continuing the work I started with Invisible Women: an ongoing project of documenting and ultimately, hopefully, closing the gender data gap.
What was the hardest thing about getting started, and how did you overcome it?
I was really nervous about writing my first newsletter. It felt like the stakes were absurdly high as I had Tweeted about the idea before writing my first edition, so I already had hundreds of subscribers before I’d written a single word! I was scared of letting all these people down who had all this faith in me. I was scared of embarrassing myself.
So how did I get over the fear? In two ways that I have actually used pretty much forever. First: I just did it. The only way of getting over your fear of doing something is to do it.
And the other thing I did was just to be honest about how nervous I was. I didn’t pretend I was a professional newsletter writer or that I had any idea what I was doing. All I knew was that I had more to share, and that there was this amazing burgeoning community of people who were hopefully up for going on a journey with me. And so off we went!
How did you land on this formula for format, tone, and content?
I can’t pretend I had a great plan; it all came quite naturally since it grew out of the book. I knew I wanted to make it as light-hearted and fun as possible since the issues I discuss can feel so overwhelming and disheartening.
So it’s important to try to make people feel like they’re not alone and that while we have a long way to go to fix these problems, we can have a bit of a laugh along the way too.
Love that. What is your process for building a newsletter issue?
As the week goes along I will drop into the newsletter to make notes of things I want to cover. When I sit down to write I start off with the headings that are always in there: Default Male of the Week, Gender Data Gap of the Week, Poppy Pic of the Week. I used to have Toilet Queue of the Week which was a popular section, but the pandemic killed that one off — one of its many crimes. I confidently expect it to make a tedious comeback as the world starts unlocking…
I usually do the writing in one go as I find that makes it flow better but sometimes if a section takes a lot out of me I will come back and finish up another day — which is also why it’s useful to break it down into sections.
I used to write the newsletter on the morning I sent it, but I found that meant it was too rushed and I didn’t do as good a job as I would like, and often forgot things or made annoying mistakes. I now try to write it on Friday so I have the weekend to proofread and correct any mistakes, or add in anything I’ve missed, before I send it on Monday.
How are you communicating with your audience?
I get so many lovely emails in response to my newsletter, I absolutely love my readers. They are such an engaged, interesting bunch. A lot of the responses are just really lovely saying thank you for writing the newsletter and how much they enjoy it, which I LOVE getting but don’t really know what to say in response… I am still figuring that out!
Other times I will be sent really interesting studies, or good examples of the kind of thing I feature in the newsletter — these sometimes end up in a future edition.
I don’t have as much interaction with my audience as I would like, it’s quite one-way at the moment — but this is something I am looking to change in the coming months so watch this space!
How do you think about your newsletter in the context of other content you produce?
The first thing that comes to mind is “safe space”. Social media can be, and has been for me, a really unpleasant and abusive space. The newsletter is the exact opposite.
It allows me to reveal more of myself because I don’t feel like that knowledge is going to get twisted and used against me, and ultimately tainted like it can on social media. I also feel able to discuss more contentious topics because I have more space to lay out exactly what I think and what I mean without having someone jumping down your throat and twisting your words. It’s just generally a much healthier space for me to think and experiment as a creator.
That’s a very interesting point, and one I’d love to dig into more during our Space on Wednesday. For now, onto our final question:
Newsletter audiences tend to look very different from social media followings in terms of size. How are you experiencing that disparity while growing your newsletter?
I guess it’s quality over quantity!
Thank you so much, Caroline. What a great note to end on. And I can confirm that newsletter audiences are, in fact, the best.
Speaking of, I’d love feedback from all of you on what you thought of this Creator Highlight. Did we ask the right questions? Did you learn what you wanted to learn? How was the length? Let me know by replying to this email.
Looking for even more inspiration? Read on.
Newsletter inspiration
Ever had trouble sticking to a word count, or generating words on the page in the first place? You’re not alone. But there is hope: Check out Ernie Smith’s newsletter project MidRange:
Ernie gives himself a time limit for every issue, and produces 3 per week. Oh, and they’re always very good.
Here’s his first issue from January this year, containing his bold mission statement:
Mission Statement
The week in newsletters
More news from the newsletter space this week:
An interesting thread (with data!) on how Axios’ local newsletters are doing
Meanwhile, 6AM City aims to be the “marketing engine” for America’s small- to mid-sized cities
SparkPost acquired Taxi for Email
Matthew Smith, CEO of Really Good Emails, on what actually makes a "really good email", anyway
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