If you’ve been wondering how to create a newsletter in WordPress using Newsletter Glue, this opinionated step-by-step post is for you.
This weekend, I took the plunge and moved my Substack newsletter, Coding Climate, to WordPress. In this post, I’ll take you along as I get set up with Newsletter Glue.
Get ready for lots of screenshots and my honest thoughts along the way.
Why I decided to move from Substack to WordPress.
Currently, my blog lives on WordPress and my newsletter on Substack. Readers come to my blog to read about climate tech. They then subscribe to my newsletter because they’re interested in reading even more about climate tech.
When I started this newsletter, I decided to use it as a place to update my readers on the site’s latest updates and what I’m working on. However, when I really think about it, I’m not sure that’s what my newsletter subscribers are actually looking for. They come to my blog to read about climate tech and then choose to subscribe to my newsletter. I’m guessing that’s to get even more climate tech news.
Updates about my plans for the site may interest some readers, but I’m pretty sure that climate tech stories in the newsletter will be of interest to all my subscribers.
I was curious how to create a newsletter in WordPress. I began looking for a solution that would allow me to send two newsletters:
- The personal and website updates plus links newsletter
- Full blog posts as newsletters
Subscribers can then choose to sign up for either or both newsletters.
As you can imagine, this quickly becomes quite complicated if I continued using both Substack and WordPress. Jumping between platforms and all that copy and pasting would not be fun.
Why Newsletter Glue?
I found Newsletter Glue on Twitter.
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This WordPress newsletter plugin allows me to continue publishing blog posts on climate tech on WordPress and send those easily as newsletters with a single click. It’ll also let me write my personal updates newsletters from inside WordPress.
By “glue-ing” everything to WordPress, everything is centralised on my website. This not only helps me keep my sanity, it also gives my subscribers a single place to find all my writing (previously, they’d have to hop back and forth between Substack and WordPress).
Perfect. Now that I knew how to create a newsletter in WordPress, I just needed to setup Newsletter Glue…
Shifting my newsletter to a supported newsletter platform
A quick clarification when using Newsletter Glue: the plugin lets you operate inside WordPress; however, you’ll still need to connect an email service provider to WordPress.
The email service provider takes care of subscriber lists, tags and email deliverability for you. So that you can focus on writing your newsletter.
Supported newsletter platforms
Unfortunately, Substack lacks the necessary API endpoints that allow Newsletter Glue to connect to them. However, Newsletter Glue already connects to 11 email service providers, so I simply selected one from the list:
- Campaign Monitor
In the end, I went with Mailchimp. I’ve used it in the past, and it’s big, well-known and established.
How to move your newsletter subscribers from Substack to Mailchimp
The Substack part – exporting your subscriber list
To start, I exported my contacts (subscriber list) from Substack. Substack’s Support section lists the following steps:
- Log in to your account and navigate to Dashboard > Subscribers.
- To export your email list, click “export list” under “Total Email List”. This will start a download of a .csv file.
- To export your subscriber list, click “export list” under “Subscribers”. This will start a download of a .csv file.
I honestly have nothing else to add here. I found this step really simple!
The Mailchimp part: importing your subscriber list
I then created a Mailchimp account. It’s free for up to 2,000 subscribers.
Time to import my subscribers into Mailchimp! I found this nice tutorial from Mailchimp on how to go about it. Like with Substack, this is a really quick and easy process and the tutorial takes you through it step-by-step.
Setting up Newsletter Glue in WordPress
Now that the newsletter platform stuff is out of the way, time for me to get cracking on setting this up so that I can create a newsletter.
First step: When I signed up, I received a purchase receipt email. This came with a handy tutorial video on how to properly install Newsletter Glue. It was pretty simple, but it’s worth quickly watching it if you want to make sure you haven’t missed anything.
Installation and onboarding
Done! I’ve installed and activated the plugin. That was easy!
I’m immediately taken to an onboarding wizard. I ended up blazing through this pretty quickly. I think it took me less than 5 minutes.
Here are the onboarding steps I went through:
- Connect your Newsletter Glue account to activate it.
- Connect your email service provider and enter your API key. Tip: click that “Get API key” link to have the work done for you.
- Set your default newsletter settings
- Personalise your patterns
- Add a logo
- Connect your social media accounts
- Annnnnd… that’s it. Time to click that big blue “Play with demo post and send test email” button!
Which is exactly what I did.
After that, I was taken to a demo post:
Ok, this is cool. Not only can I use this demo post to create a newsletter and send myself a test email, the post also serves as a hands-on tour.
- Instructions on how to create a newsletter in WordPress and send your first test email
- How to send a real newsletter campaign
- How to create a newsletter in WordPress using custom newsletter blocks (that’s right: Newsletter Glue uses Gutenberg Blocks!)
- Adding patterns, aka template designs, to speed up your workflow
- and more…
It even warned me of important stuff to sort out before I started sending real newsletters to real subscribers. In this example, I see clear red warnings that I need to verify my sender email address.
After verifying my email address via MailChimp and some quick DNS updates (most email platforms have step-by-step instructions for the popular domain providers), I was ready to send my first test email!
Not one to be blessed with an abundance of patience, I changed… absolutely nothing in the demo post.
I want to see this in my inbox NOW!
All I did was scroll down and click “Send” in the “Send test email” section and hey presto:
A shiny new newsletter test sitting right there in my inbox. It looked great!
Adding subscriber signup forms on your WordPress site
I nearly forgot! You can’t full answer the question, “how to create a newsletter in WordPress” without subscriber signups. I’ve moved my newsletter from Substack to Mailchimp. But, all the signup forms on my WordPress site still show the Substack subscriber form. That’s not going to work!
I could head over to Mailchimp and go through the process of setting up their subscriber signup forms… or, stay right here in Newsletter Glue. It has subscriber forms built right in!
Click to add a new Gutenberg block and simply enter “/sub”, to bring up the subscriber form blocks:
Select NG: Subscriber form to insert the signup block anywhere on your page. You’ll notice some toggles and formatting options too for you to play around with over on the right.
Best of all, it’s already linked to your newsletter platform. In my case, as I connected it to my Mailchimp account earlier on, the audience dropdown already shows my default Mailchimp mailing list, as shown:
Click to update or publish the page or post and you’re done, ready to start signing up new subscribers and get your WordPress newsletter in their inbox.
Quick tips from my personal experience setting up Newsletter Glue
Now that I’m all set up, here are some quick tips I thought were worth highlighting for people who are wondering how to create a newsletter in WordPress or just getting started with Newsletter Glue like me:
Sending blog posts as a WordPress newsletter
After installing Newsletter Glue, you’ll notice two new things when you go to create a new post.
That’s right. There are two new items.
The first, right up top near the Preview and Publish buttons, is a checkbox with the words “Send as newsletter.” Then, at the bottom of the post section, there’s a new section (closed in this image just to show you how it doesn’t get in the way of the editor) with the words “Newsletter Glue: Send as newsletter.”
Here’s the expanded version of that new section:
All the options are right there. Write your post, fill in the subject line (if you want to change it – the post’s title will already be pre-filled here), select your audience and tags, tick “Send as newsletter”, and you’re done.
As soon as you publish, your new post appears on the site as it always has, PLUS it gets sent out as a newsletter too.
Create a newsletter from your blog
Alternatively, if you just want to write a newsletter, i.e. not add a new blog post at the same time, check out your WordPress dashboard:
A brand new section has appeared: “Newsletters”. Click on “Add New Newsletter” and you’re presented with this:
A nearly identical editor to the normal post editor, but this one solely for newsletters. You can also see that the theme has switched to your newsletter theme. To update that, go to Newsletters > Settings > Newsletter theme designer.
Create a newsletter, just like when using the regular post editor version of this, add your subject line and audience, click “Send as newsletter” and off you go.
That’s really all there is to it. A newsletter sent out directly from within WordPress’s backend.
Where to from here?
Okay, earlier on I said that I was keen to set up two different newsletters: one for blog posts and another for those keen to hear about site updates, what’s coming soon, that sort of thing. And… I haven’t actually done that yet. Well, not at the time of writing anyway.
What I have done is show you how to create a newsletter in WordPress and get this all set up, really quickly. That’s the thing about using Newsletter Glue – once you’ve spent a grand total of five-or-so minutes to get up and running, the newsletter possibilities are endless.
What if I want to send each new climate tech post or story as a newsletter? Easy. Click “Send as newsletter”.
Time to update you on an exciting project I’m working on for Coding Climate? No problem. Click “Add new Newsletter”, type it up, once again click “Send as newsletter” and off it goes.
Create a newsletter: testing it out
The theory’s great and all, but I figured it’s time to give this a real world test. Keen to see it in action, I elected to go with the blog-post-as-newsletter option this time as opposed to a standalone newsletter.
So, I headed on over to the site and created a new post. That part is handled the way it always has been: just a regular old WordPress blog post. This time, however, I add one small extra step: that “Send as newsletter” checkbox:
Okay, here goes… Publish.
The end result
Time to head on over to my inbox (yes, I subscribe to my own newsletter using an alt email address to see exactly what my subscribers see.)
And there it is – my WordPress newsletter with Newsletter Glue!
Not going to lie – I always get excited to see my newsletter appear in my inbox!
I’d consider that a pretty good day at the office.
As an aside, as with the demo post discussed earlier, I haven’t changed anything yet. I simply went with whatever styling was set by default. While that already looks pretty cool, I’ll now start playing around with the styles and the design of my newsletter to match my blog’s overall look and feel, which is not massively different to how this first newsletter looked already. As before, patience wasn’t an option. I wanted to see it in action.
And it delivered, just like it said it would!
Honestly, I found the entire process of creating a newsletter in WordPress really easy and straightforward. I’m pretty comfortable with WordPress and setting things up within it, but I can’t see this being a challenge for anyone keen to give it a go, even those new to using WordPress and newsletters.
Besides, there are YouTube guide videos, linked to earlier in this post, that walk you through every step of the process. If you do get stuck, simply check out the knowledge base, and feel free to reach out to the team – they’re quick to respond and keen to help!
I’d recommend this WordPress newsletter plugin for anyone keen to streamline their workflow around blog posts and newsletters, and the overlap of the two. There really is no need to keep these two things separate.
If I had to say who this may not be suited to, I’d perhaps go with only those who really don’t want to tinker about under the hood of WordPress by uploading plugins and fiddling with their newsletter platform of choice. If you really just want to publish blog posts and then head somewhere else to publish a standalone and separate newsletter, then by all means feel free to do so.
Also, those not keen (or able to) spend funds on extended functionality. Newsletter Glue is very well priced for what you get (starts at $79/year), but, at the end of the day, it is a premium plugin.
In closing, Here’s the briefest of brief summaries for how to create a newsletter in WordPress:
- Time spent: Not much at all
- Difficulty level: 2/5
- Recommended: Yes!
Now, go create a newsletter!!