I think about this section a lot when discussing newsletter structure, because it kinda breaks the rules of how to make things easier for your readers — and yet it just works.
Here’s why. It’s usually better to separate out long chunks of text so that readers can skim through and pick out the links that interest them most, but this newsletter is not for skimming. It’s for taking your time with. It’s a rich tapestry of threads that lead in so many directions, and the experience of picking some (or all!) to follow is part of the joy of it.
It’s a bold choice that won’t work for every newsletter, but it’s a great example of why there isn’t a golden rule for structure that every creator should follow.
A few weeks ago, I spoke to Matt Navarra
about how he structures his newsletter Geekout
— a weekly download of everything happening in the world of social media:
The newsletter format is shaped like a funnel. It starts very wide with a summary of the big stuff I spotted that week, plus lots of light-hearted and fun stuff to draw people in without it feeling like a heavy read. As you scroll through, the newsletter goes from talking in detail about the biggest news stories at the start, to a quick link list of all the other stuff people may want to skim or bookmark for later.
It’s clear from his response that he’s also thought long and hard about how people read his newsletter — but not only that. He’s thought about how the reader’s energy and attention changes over the course of an issue.
The longer chunks of text at the top give way to bullet-point lists and visuals later on, hitting the reader with the meaty content right at the moment when they’re showing the highest levels of intent: when they’ve just opened the newsletter. Later, when their attention may be starting to wander, the information is delivered in snippets, and they’re rewarded with fun memes and other tidbits.
It’s a deceptively sophisticated strategy that once again keeps the reader front-and-center.
Photographer Kirsten Alana
’s newsletter goes down a very different route to the examples above. It is highly focused on showcasing her stunning work, and that of others she comes across in the week.
Each issue starts with a short, thoughtful essay, which she wraps around one of her own photographs like a poetic, personal envelope: