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Give your newsletter a strong identity

Anna from Revue
Anna from Revue
Hello newsletter editors,
Happy new year 🎉. It’s Mark from Revue with The Week in Newsletters.
Last week, to mark the end of 2020, several readers shared their predictions about the newsletter world in 2021.
There were some really great thoughts and I hope they got you thinking about your own newsletter plans for 2021. If you still need some inspiration, I think newsletter identity is a great place to start. So what exactly is that and how do you give your newsletter a strong identity?

Give your newsletter a strong identity
This week, there was a fun podcast with Ernie Smith over on the Newsletter Crew community.
Ernie is a newsletter veteran who started his newsletter Tedium about “the dull side of the Internet” in 2015 and also runs the popular Newsletter Nerds community on Facebook.
The interview starts with Ernie explaining that “having an identity” is the most important thing for each newsletter.
I must admit that I had to chuckle a bit at him trying to explain exactly what that is. It seems to be one of these “you know it when you see it” kind of things. Ernie talks about the newsletter needing a certain “shape” and “rhythm”, and being to be more than a summary of a trending topic or weekly news round up (oops…).
But jokes and struggles aside, Ernie is clearly spot on. Which brings us to the next question. How do you improve the identity of your newsletter?
Turns out that NPR has developed and published an identity exercise that is basically a series of questions that newsletter editors can answer to define what Ernie calls shape and rhythm.
The identity exercise has been around for a while. We actually talked about it as one of the most popular newsletter strategy frameworks a year ago. As suggested by its name, it excels at getting at the part that sets your newsletter apart from others.
NPR approaches the shape and rhythm of a newsletter from the audience perspective. Who is the audience? Where do they hang out? What do they desire from you?
And then ties the audience to the content with the next series of questions: How will the newsletter fit into the existing ecosystem? What tone and style resonates with the audience? What format serves them best?
With the identity questions answered, NPR adds a few more business focused questions: Where will you find subscribers? What’s success in 3 or 6 months? And what’s your publishing workflow?
I think it’s a very helpful exercise and no better time than the beginning of the year to take a step back and work on questions like the above. I am sure every newsletter can benefit greatly from having an identity like Ernie’s Tedium clearly has.
Curious to hear from you: What’s the shape and rhythm of your newsletter? Would love to hear all your secrets at Not sure yet what it is and want help? Feel free to reach out and I’ll do my best to help.
The week in newsletters
Working on other aspects of your newsletter at the moment? Here are the best tips of the week:
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Anna from Revue
Anna from Revue @revue

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