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.