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🎄 Here's the story so far ...

🎄 Here's the story so far ...
By Dan Mason • Issue #19 • View online
Thank YOU for being part of the Useful Stuff for Storytellers journey. So what’s next?

Seasons’s greetings! 🎄 It’s a good moment to share a few thoughts on Useful Stuff, launched in the summer for three reasons:
  • To share the answers to ‘how do I do that?’ questions from friends and creators, for the benefit of all.
  • To inform my training. How to launch newsletters using tools like Substack and Revue is part of my digital training mix.
  • To stay visible. During a decade of consulting, teaching and training in over 30 countries, I was never short of interesting stories to share, which brought in more work. I love online training and the fact that it has made learning more accessible. But images of Zoom sessions can become a touch repetitive.
The numbers
I didn’t set out to reach a target number of subscribers, so don’t regard my current tally of 100 or so as a failure. Growing a core of engaged subscribers is more important, whatever the total.
My average open rate across 18 issues to date has been 43.2%. Of those, half are, as Revue puts it, ‘high engagement’ (readers who have opened at least two thirds of the past ten issues) or ‘medium engagement’ (at least one third of the past ten issues).
Levels of engagement are rising, which is a good sign ✊ … but many of the other half have not opened a single issue 🙈
Did it work?
The newsletter numbers might be tiny, but it still takes time. To make it worth investing up to a day a week on each issue, I set a modest goal of generating at least one additional workshop per month. So far, that has been exceeded 🙏
I have also seen a rise in views of my LinkedIn profile and visits to In fact, the subscription form on my website is the second-highest source of new subscribers (after Revue).
I’ve learned lessons, like ...
🔗 All those high-quality links I pour love and energy into? Only one in ten readers clicks any of them. Fewer is better.
💤 What looks fine as a website post can appear way too long in an email. Guilty. That’s something I have to work on.
⚙️ It seems a chore to submit the newsletter to directories. But it works. Again, small numbers, but more subscriptions have come via directories like InboxReads than Facebook.
🔦 Titles need to be punchy (four or five words) so they are not truncated, with a tightly-written pre-header (the 100-odd character intro next to the title in your inbox). Shorter paragraphs, emojis 👀 and subheads can help keep interest.
Popular reads
The most-opened issues so far have been Find story ideas the easy way, The mobile video secret weapon, and Show some love for lists. Or … here’s where to browse past issues.
So what's next?
I narrowly decided to launch on Revue (rather than Substack) because of the clout of Twitter. Overall, it has been a positive experience, but having the newsletter appear in my Twitter profile hasn’t made much difference.
One big gripe is the way Revue plonks the newsletter title and issue number over images shared on social media (but not, oddly, Twitter). I’ve spoken to Revue a couple of times about it.
Ouch! How the image appears when a Revue newsletter link is shared on Facebook
Ouch! How the image appears when a Revue newsletter link is shared on Facebook
From the start, I expected to change platforms along the way, and that’s something I’m looking at. I may try a different approach to content, or follow a distinct theme for a series of issues. Depending how 2022 shapes up, I might pause the newsletter for a while.
Your comments are welcome, as always!
I hope 2022 does shape up to be different for so many of the journalists and creators I’ve worked with, who have fought so hard, both professionally and personally, during the pandemic.
Their resilience and positive attitude - and your support - inspires me to continue doing what I do ❤️
I wish you a peaceful Christmas, and a healthy, safe and prosperous year ahead.
⭐️ Gifts image: Anncapictures/Pixabay
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Dan Mason

Practical tips and fast, free tools for journalists, content creators and communicators in a hurry

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