Newsletters are a great way to nurture a developer community by providing value consistently - be it monthly, weekly, or even daily.
Unlike social media, newsletters allow you to engage your community on your terms without the noise of clickbait and the whims of feed algorithms.
But, developers get a lot of emails, so your newsletter has to earn its keep in their inbox.
What can you do to make your newsletter as valuable as possible to your community?
# 1. Offer value
A newsletter that simply covers the latest updates about you and your product probably won't be a "must-read" for most devs.
Instead, your newsletter should provide something of obvious value. One way to do this is to provide original content like:
- Case studies
- Quick tips
If you prefer to keep your original content for your blog, you could instead provide a collection of links, like:
- Top blog posts
- Top videos
- Top tweets
- Top open source projects
- Latest jobs
# 2. Stay focused
While it is important to offer value, it could be a mistake to go overboard and include too much.
Readers are looking for a quick, focused update, not something that's an effort to get through.
Like with any other product, newsletters that try to be everything to everyone are generally of interest to no one.
So, whatever you decide to focus on, keep it consistent so your readers know what to expect.
# 3. Curate your content
Some newsletters, especially those that share links, will post anything they find.
This could provide value, but you may create even more value by curating i.e. deliberately limiting the number of links or other resources.
The reason that many developers subscribe to a newsletter is that they don't have time to keep up-to-date with everything themselves. Readers trust you to tell them what is worth their time.
An example of this is my newsletter, the Vue.js Developers Newsletter (opens new window). I include 7 links per week, no more no less.
7 is just an arbitrary choice, so you can choose whatever number works for you. Even just one link per issue could work if you believe it is of great value!
# 4. Have a unique voice
Some newsletters focus mainly on sharing links and often do so by sharing plain links without comment.
You might engage your readers more by giving your take on an article. This doesn't need to be long - but there's an opportunity to explain why you think your readers could benefit.
If your opinion resonates with them, it will establish you as a trusted voice that they want to hear more from.
Here's an example from Swyx's newsletter (opens new window) where he provides his own "TL;DR" summary and an explanation of why the link is worth your time.
# 5. Show your personality
A newsletter will be more appealing if it has a human element or an emotional connection.
This could be anything from sharing funny observations to providing cutting critiques - it depends on your personality.
A good example of this is the Bytes newsletter (opens new window). This newsletter has great takes on recent frontend dev trends which in itself is useful.
But they make you want to open it each week due to the humor they use. For example, here's how they slip humor into their link descriptions:
Microsoft is officially retiring Internet Explorer (opens new window) in June 2022. Bad news for your Grandma who hasn’t updated her PC since 2008, good news for literally everyone else.
Maybe your skill isn't humor, but there are plenty of other ways you can create an emotional connection with your readers.