This past quarter has been about strengthening foundations – brick by unglamorous brick. We updated our user interface, made our email code significantly more robust, and integrated 3 new email service providers (Sendy, ActiveCampaign and GetResponse).
We also did case studies, podcasts and more on the marketing front.
Let’s dive into it!
Updating our user interface
This was the most personally satisfying update we made. I spent the December holidays learning more about user interface (UI) design. In particular, I found Refactoring UI and Learn UI Design the most helpful.
I then applied what I learnt to Newsletter Glue. Here’s a before and after:
On top of improving how things look, this also gave us the opportunity to significantly improve the steps to send and schedule a newsletter.
Here’s a video demonstrating how you can now send a newsletter with us.
More integrations: Sendy, ActiveCampaign, GetResponse
We now integrate with 7 ESPs: ActiveCampaign, Campaign Monitor, GetResponse, Mailchimp, MailerLite, Sendinblue and Sendy.
Every quarter, we spend a couple of weeks integrating new email service providers. We decide what to integrate based on popular ESPs and user requests.
It’s very satisfying to create these integrations and make Newsletter Glue usable for more people.
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One nice thing about adding more integrations is making slight improvements each time.
For example, we added the option to customise email signatures when we integrated Sendy. We noticed we were able to add this feature to MailerLite too and did so.
Improved newsletter blocks and restructured email template system
This major overhaul was actually the sum of a hundred tiny tweaks. The end result is that our email template is now more robust and formatting works for the majority of email clients. This will no doubt be an ongoing journey of constant bug fixes, but our foundation is now significantly stronger.
Here’s a shortlist of some of the improvements we’ve made:
- Twitter and YouTube embeds now work simply by pasting the links directly in the post.
- Columns are automatically reconfigured as tables in email
- Simple formatting for Post Embeds blocks now works
- Fallback fonts and font families now consistently work for all email clients.
- Significantly improved consistency by wrapping all elements in tables.
- Improved formatting for Outlook, a notoriously difficult email client when it comes to email design.
Our emails always looked great in Gmail and modern email clients which the majority of subscribers use. But now our emails look great even in legacy email clients.
This is particularly helpful for people publishing business newsletters with subscribers who are on enterprise email clients.
Our marketing efforts
Instead of just writing blog posts for SEO and cold emailing people for backlinks, my favourite way to do marketing is via collaboration.
Doing marketing this way is much more fun. Better still, the more I do this sort of stuff, the more embedded I feel in the bootstrapper and WordPress communities, and the more opportunities arise.
We cheer each other on every day and leverage each other’s audiences to grow our own. Having this encouragement from people in the trenches with me is invaluable against the war on inertia. And is the perfect counterbalance to sitting alone at my desk, staring at my screen all day.
Here are a few highlights:
From the blog
Here are 3 of my favourite and most popular blog posts so far:
I was a guest on some podcasts
I’ve had a lot of fun improving the sound treatment of my desk setup. And even turned it into a marketing opportunity. This tweet alone got me booked on some podcasts:
Here are some of the podcasts I’ve been a guest on this year:
I highly recommend both podcast shows (not just the episodes I’m on).
It is an utter delight when users create guides or mention us of their own accord. I am so grateful to these people:
- Jared Newman wrote about how he uses Newsletter Glue in Fast Company.
- Mark Bowley wrote an in depth guide on Makerpad on how to use WordPress, Mailchimp, Newsletter Glue and Pico to create a paid newsletter.
- Matt Madeiros from Castos made a video tutorial on how Newsletter Glue lets podcasters quickly send their latest episodes to subscriber’s inboxes.
- Antonio Cambronero from Blogpocket did an entire livestream on how to use Newsletter Glue (Español).
- David Bisset and Cory Miller talked about us on their Post Status Excerpt podcast.
We are still small. We have ~30 customers and have made ~USD3k total revenue since launching our pro plugin 4 months ago.
January was really stressful as we had zero new customers. Fortunately, it turned out to be a seasonal thing and sales picked up around mid Feb.
Frankly, it’s a little stressful sharing these numbers since they’re small and unimpressive, but I thought it’d be nice to document our journey.
Many of our customers are unusually enthusiastic about the plugin and I think that matters more at this stage than huge numbers.
There’s still a lot of work to be done in terms of robustness, tweaking our pricing plans and offering new features, but I’m confident that as long as we keep chipping away, our business will grow.
Growing quickly, and at all cost, has never been the goal for me. Instead, I’d rather enjoy the process, and build a plugin people genuinely value and trust. With good fundamentals, the score takes care of itself.
Personal reflections for 2021 Q1
I always feel like we’re moving too slowly, and am prone to feeling guilty for not working harder.
This is why quarterly reviews like this one are so helpful. Forcing myself to reflect makes it abundantly clear how much we’ve done.
Honestly? I can’t help but feel a sense of pride.
Here are our two major projects for 2Q2021:
We’re creating a custom post type for writing newsletters! This is a technical way of saying that you’ll now have a newsletter editor in the same way you currently have a post or page editor. It will definitely be using the Gutenberg block editor.
As a user, you’ll get:
- Patterns – Imagine newsletter templates but native to Gutenberg
- More intuitive experience – We still get a lot of people trying to build newsletters with other block plugins and page builders. And many people still don’t understand the difference between the blog theme and the newsletter theme.
This is on us.
Our current user experience requires some technical know-how and figuring out. By creating our own newsletter editor in Gutenberg, we’ll have more control over the entire experience and will be able to make the experience more intuitive for our users.
We’ll be creating an affiliate program. It’s my first time implementing one so I plan to keep it small for now. If you’d like to be on the waitlist, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll notify you once we’re up and running.
As mentioned above, I thrive on marketing by building relationships. So the best way to become an affiliate is to try our plugin, message or email me with your thoughts and feedback, and give us both time to get to know one another.
That’s it for this 2021 Q1 review. Thanks for reading! 👋