Why I’m in love with Nuzzel’s big new expansion into newsletters

Today, social news app Nuzzel is making a major leap as it expands to become a platform for creating personalised newsletters.

I’d never really been tempted to create my own newsletter. Having launched and managed the popular TNW Weekly at The Next Web, I knew how much work it was to put together a weekly email that people want to read. I respected the work that people like Azeem Azhar, Jon Russell and Owen Williams have put into developing their own subscriber bases but doing a ‘Martin Bryant newsletter’ wasn’t appealing to me.

Then a few weeks ago, Jonathan Abrams of Nuzzel asked me to beta test the company’s new newsletter platform. I tried it for a few days and I was hooked. Now every day at around 8am I spend 10 minutes selecting stories to link to and adding commentary… and then I’m done.

The email is automatically sent to my subscribers at 10am UK time (you can choose your preferred publish time), but the only work I put in was those 10 minutes. Here’s where you can subscribe.

The interface is simple. It relies on Nuzzel’s existing ranking of links that my friends on Facebook and Twitter have been sharing. You’ll be familiar with this if you already use the app to find interesting things to read.

I just select a few articles I think are worth including, add a few lines of commentary for each, an introductory paragraph at the top, and a title. I really can do it all over breakfast and then get on with my day.

It’s really simple to create Nuzzel newsletters from my phone on my way to the office.

It’s not really about the audience

Here’s the interesting thing. Jonathan talks about Nuzzel’s big vision of a “network of newsletters” helping influencers reach their audiences with minimal effort and a personal touch:

“Imagine if the top million influencers on Twitter (which would be only approx. 0.3% of Twitter’s 300m+ MAUs) used Nuzzel to curate a newsletter, and each newsletter had only 1,000 subscribers. That would be a billion people we could be reaching right in their inbox every day. That’s why this is a big idea for building the only platform that could rival Facebook in driving significant traffic to publishers.”

That’s bold stuff, but for me, reaching a big audience isn’t the reason I do this each day.

I started producing my daily Nuzzel newsletter shortly before I left The Next Web. I knew that my new job at Tech North would mean less time spent poring over the latest news and discussion in granular detail. I didn’t want to become the kind of person who finds out about tech news five days late — being bang up to date is addictive once you’re used to it.

What this newsletter does is it forces me to spend time reading the articles people are sharing and talking about, and to digest them and come up with something to say about them — and that’s valuable to me.

The routine of having to prepare this newsletter each morning turns keeping up with news into a fun, creative project. It’s much more engaging than scanning through an RSS reader, skimming links on Twitter or just using Nuzzel in the normal way as a reader.

(Short) wishlist

It’s not quite perfect yet —while you get a graph tracking your subscriber numbers, but I’d love more detailed analytics so I can see what links got the most clicks, and I’d love to know who has subscribed to the newsletter. I can see why Nuzzel would want to keep subscriber identities hidden, though.

Greater visual customisation will be required as more people start using the platform, too — would you really want to subscribe to multiple newsletters from different people if they all have the same visual look?

Newsletters are going through a real boom at the moment, and Nuzzel is making it easy to get involved. Please subscribe to mine, but I’ll still enjoy producing it every day even if you don’t.