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Alright, so I’ll do some minor housekeeping and then complain about newsletters some!
First off, I will be out of town this weekend, first in Rochester for WordCamp Rochester where I’ll actually be talking about newsletters. I’m then going to NYC for a few days with my partners So I’ll not be posting a newsletter in a week, but I will probably talk about my trip a few days later!
So, speaking of newsletters, my last two have been a bit of a pain. But I’ll go back in time a little to get there, since it ties into this weekend too.
Back in January I was preparing a presentation for WordCamp Birmingham. My first in person event in three years! I was excited, and excited to share the tool that has made me happy on WordPress, Newsletter Glue. But then NG changed their business model two weeks before the event, pricing out most people that I would share with, including myself if I were not grandfathered in on pricing.
Reworking my presentation was a pain due to how much I included them. But this ended up becoming a moot point, because I got COVID within a week of the event, and had to cancel last minute. Figures on the timing 😔
Two weeks ago I noticed that my newsletter didn’t go out at all. I kept trying to find the issue and it was only after talking to a Mailerlite (the tool that I used to do the actual bulk mailing) representative that I learned that in the switch to their new platform, they limited API access for free accounts. I’d been sending normally for about a month before the switch, so this threw me for a loop.
Looking at their pricing, I saw that at minimum I’d spend at least $216/year for them to send out my free, personal newsletter to a small list. No thanks. It’s worth spending some money, but a lot of platforms offer cheaper options.
Instead of just jumping to another free option, I decided to get Sendy, which I’d looked at before as an option when I first setup Newsletter Glue. It involved self setup, which was actually not that bad on their end, but it also involved setting up Amazon SES. This started easy, but got complicated quickly.
I had to prove to Amazon that I wasn’t a spammer to be able to get out of sandbox mode and send emails. This took longer than expected because they kept asking for more information through multiple emails back and forth. Then I sent a newsletter, and I was flagged as suspicious and needed to prove myself again, because I didn’t make it clear how I was going to keep myself from spamming. It was frustrating because I felt that I did all of the right things and had history to show them, but responses were purposefully vague and didn’t give me something clear to respond to. So I just responded to everything.
Finally, I got this cleared up… for now. This is the first newsletter that I’m sending since that second issue, so let’s see if I get flagged yet again.
Sending newsletters while having more control over the conversation and not ceding it to a third party platform like MailChimp or Substack should be easier than it is. I get that bad actors use email for spam. But I want more people to be able to write and share their own things in their own spaces for their own audiences. And when someone who is well versed in the technology has troubles with it, what hope do I have for the people that I want to hear from most?
If you made it this far, why not share this newsletter with a friend? Or share with me some of the things that you found that you liked this week. Either way, I’m thrilled!
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