| 16 January, 2024

What Makes a Good Newsletter? Some Trekkies’ Faves and Why


Email newsletters are an extremely popular way for brands to engage with their audience, as there are an estimated 4.26 billion email users and data indicates email marketing has an ROI of 38:1. These are exciting stats for email marketers, but what makes a newsletter worth opening and reading? How can brands best leverage this powerful channel?

I went around the Trekk office to ask a few of our Trekkies about their favorite newsletters. Here is a list of some of our favorite newsletters and why we keep reading them.

Austin Kleon’s Substack

When I talked to Shayne, our Director of Content Strategy, she said a favorite of hers is Austin Kleon’s Substack. Kleon, author of Steal Like an Artist, sends out a curated list of ten things he believes are worth sharing with his subscribers. His weekly lists may include music, books, his own work, and things that inspire him. When I asked Shayne to tell me what made this her favorite newsletter, she said, “I have been reading it for almost 10 years. I like his outlook on life, I find his newsletter to be uplifting, and I think he's one of the best curators/collectors out there. I frequently discover something new that I love via his newsletter!” If you’re looking for inspiration for your next creative venture or just want to learn about something new, go check out Kleon’s Substack.

Morning Brew

The next newsletter on our list comes from Sean, our Social Media Strategist. Morning Brew sends out a daily newsletter that covers a variety of topics in a bite-size manner. I asked Sean to give me the rundown on why this is his favorite. “Morning Brew is a great newsletter that covers everything from sports to economics and world events as well as internet culture and celebrity news — all in a conversational voice that isn't afraid of injecting humor and personality. Because each newsletter comes out around 4 AM, it's sure to be in my inbox when I am looking for it first thing that morning.” 

Emilee, our Director of Client Services, echoed a similar sentiment. “The tone is fun and lighthearted so it's easy to read, even when the subject matter would otherwise be dull.” She added, “They link all their sources right in the newsletter so not only does it feel a little more legit and transparent, you can read more about the topics that stand out to you.” Morning Brew is perfect for those who have a busy day-to-day life, want to keep up with the news but have no idea where to start, and enjoy a joke or two while reading about the world’s latest events. Consider Morning Brew to be the Millennial’s daily newspaper. 

Messy Nessy Chic

The third newsletter to make it on our list is from Mike, our Creative Director. The weekly Messy Nessy Chic newsletter curates an eclectic mix of stories and topics, ranging from travel and art to culture and food. I asked Mike what kept him coming back and he said, ”I keep coming back because it is curated, non-mainstream, unique curiosities that I find interesting — I almost never come across these anywhere else.” Messy Nessy Chic is a whimsical amalgamation of the writer’s passions and interests. If you want a newsletter that makes you feel like you’ve gotten lost in an obscure Parisian antiques shop, this is the newsletter for you.

No Failure, Only Practice

Finally, I asked Nick, our Content Strategist, to weigh in with one of his favorites. No Failure, Only Practice is a monthly newsletter by Matt Bell, the author of Appleseed. This newsletter provides writing exercises that subscribers can use to write flash fiction or start longer projects, reading recommendations, and a place to host discussions about writing as a craft. I asked Nick why he kept returning to this newsletter, and he answered, “I like newsletters that invite the subscriber to be an active participant in some form or fashion. No Failure's content builds on itself and develops a narrative arc within the exercises, book recommendations, and essays.” For those of you who want a newsletter that is more than just reading, check out No Failure, Only Practice for an interactive experience that provides practical and thought-provoking activities to hone your writing skills.

What now?

So, what can be pulled from each of these newsletters that would be useful to email marketers? Here are some common characteristics I observed: 

  • Consistent. First and foremost, let’s get practical. A good newsletter should operate on a consistent basis so that subscribers know when to expect it to hit their inbox. It’s difficult to return to a newsletter when it’s sent sporadically.
  • Predictable. There’s a reason why subscribers signed up for newsletters — they want to read content that covers a specific topic, whether it’s for professional or personal reasons.
  • Passionate. The newsletters on our list are successful because the writer or writers are passionate about the content they write and the topics they cover. Subscribers will quickly lose interest in a newsletter for which the sole purpose is to make money.

Want to read more about newsletters and email marketing? Check out our blog post Email Newsletters People Actually Read.

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