10 Great Newsletters

Email newsletters have been around a while, but they’re now a Thing. It’s where many internet-based companies and creatives channel their energy, and for good reason: we don’t control or own our social media feeds, which means we have very little control over whether the messages we care about get seen — but with email, people are giving permission to talk with them via their own inbox.

Even deeper for me, as a writer and podcaster, is how email allows me much more freedom, space, time, and focus to talk directly with those who’ve said they want to hear from me. And as a subscriber and reader of certain newsletters, I can much better control what I read when it comes into my inbox versus, say, my Twitter or Instagram feeds.

And if I don’t like what comes my way — whether it’s the content itself, or how it’s delivered (too long, too frequent, too sales-y), I can unsubscribe with a simple click.

I’m a big fan of newsletters.

But because they’re so everywhere these days, it’s overwhelming to subscribe to everyone’s list — that doesn’t do anyone any good. Your inbox is bloated, and the sender’s letter doesn’t get read while still having to pay for you to be on their list (that’s a real thing). The best approach is curation.

While my reading habits ebb and flow, here are newsletters that currently make my shortlist — and therefore, my inbox.

1. Useletter, by Amy Lynn Andrews 🖇

Amy’s weekly Saturday letter is one of my very few go-to emails I open religiously, and one of the few I subscribe to specifically about my line of work. If you want short, to-the-point-yet-friendly thoughts on running your own small, nimble, internet-based business with a sprinkling of grace and humanity, Amy’s your gal. She’s the best in the business.

Check out The Useletter

2. The Examined Life, by Seth Haines 🔦

Seth is a friend and he’s one of my favorite current thinkers. I love his perspective on all sorts of stuff, but especially addiction — the idea of misplaced adoration, and that we’re all prone to addiction to something. His words are a reset button for my perspective.

Like my newsletter, his new one lives on Substack, which means there’s both a free and a paid version. Naturally, I recommend paying people whose work makes your life better, so that they can continue to do what they do. I’m a paying member of his newsletter, which means this month I’ll have access to his series on silence.

Check out The Examined Life

3. Pantsuit Politics, by Sarah Stewart Holland & Beth Silvers 🌎

I just love these women. Yes, they cover politics (mostly on their podcast of the same name), but they insert a heavy dose of humanity in every issue, sharing more than their takes on politics and the news. But they do that, too, and they do it well — this duo gives us the nuance we need when the world feels more and more polarizing. I’m a huge fan of what they’re doing for the rest of us.

Check out Pantsuit Politics

4. Sectional Healing, by Knox McCoy 🛋

You already know he’s hilarious if you listen to him on The Popcast. But he’s also really thoughtful, and I personally believe it’s in his writing where he shines. His letter includes plenty of GIFs alongside plenty of deeper insight, which both surprises and affirms in solidarity many of my own thoughts. Knox’s speciality lies in the intersection of faith and pop culture, and if that’s your thing, his newsletter will be, too.

Check out Sectional Healing

5. 3-2-1, by James Clear 💪

My adoration for James is no secret (his book continues to be an annual read for me), and his newsletter fits the bill with what I look for most in a regular email: short, to the point, and chock-full of truth nuggets. Every issue includes three ideas from him, two quotes from other people, and one question for you to ponder.

If you’re a fan of my own 5 Quick Things, I think you’d like James’ approach.

Check out 3-2-1

6. The Skimm 🗞

I prefer weekly newsletters over daily, but this one’s — wait for it — skimmable. Written by women, this quick email hits your inbox every weekday morning for a summary of what’s in the news. It’s a great way to stay informed without feeling overwhelmed. I do wish they’d create a weekly version, because I’d sign up for that in a heartbeat, but alas, this is the next best thing. If I don’t feel like reading an issue, I simply archive and move on.

Check out The Skimm

7. The Daily Good 👍

Here’s another newsletter I wish were weekly, but thankfully it takes only about 30 seconds to read, Monday through Friday. Sent by the people behind The Good Trade, they share, in as few words as possible, something to listen to, visit, shop at (they feature only ethical brands), and read. It’s a nicely curated, quick read.

Check out The Daily Good

8. Girls’ Night In 🛀

An enormously popular newsletter, it’s a weekly (yay!) letter sent out Friday mornings; so, if you get my 5 Quick Things, it hits your inbox around the same time as mine. Their angle is self-care for women, but it’s more than that — it’s more about ways to care about what you care about most. This means, even though it’s a bit long, you can skim and read easily what’s important to you, then leave the rest. I do enjoy their upbeat-yet-not-obnoxious voice.

Check out Girls’ Night In

9. Bowerbird 🦜

When you want a quiet, reflective email in your inbox, you should look to Emma Marsh’s Bowerbird, because it’s just that. Emma attended last summer’s Literary London, and I loved hearing her quiet, purposeful, Australian voice amongst the group. She one of those types where when she says something, she means it — and that’s what Bowerbird does. She collects thoughts, and then she shares them with us.

Check out Bowerbird

10. Books & Crannies 📚

It’d be weird to curate a list of my favorite newsletters and not include my own, right? On Friday mornings, I send an email called 5 Quick Things, where I share five things I either created or loved from the week. But on Mondays, I create a space just for those who’ve chosen to support my work as a paying subscriber with a safe space for us to talk about all sorts of things — what we’re learning from books we’re reading, the best things to watch and listen to while we’re folding laundry, what’s hard and good in our life at the moment, and of course, what things are currently making our own good lists.

Then occasionally, I also share goodness I don’t share anywhere else: longer-form essays, WRLD at Home podcast episodes, interviews with friends, and more. All of it fits the intersection of what I like to talk about the most: stories and travel, work and play, and faith and questions.

Check out Books & Crannies

Blogs are still a thing, yes, and I do love reading quite a few. But email newsletters are even more personal, more voice-driven, and as a writer of both, I’ll be honest — an email feels safer. People have opted in to hear your words, so as a writer you’re more vulnerable, more honest, less afraid.

I love the direction of platforms like Substack, where writers can share some of their words for free, to anyone who subscribes, then go deeper with the friends who’ve chosen to support a writer’s work. That’s such an important shift in the internet’s landscape, I believe — if we want to keep this place lovely and dumpster fire-free, paying writers for their hard work is where it’s at.

Never be afraid to unsubscribe what’s not for you, either. I continue to open and enjoy the newsletters I do because I curate often. If a newsletter doesn’t resonate with me within a few issues, I click that unsubscribe button, guilt-free. It’s truly better for the sender, too, I promise — and I include myself there. I’d love you to subscribe to my newsletter, but if after a few issues you decide it’s not your thing, please do unsubscribe. No hard feelings whatsoever.

Check out these newsletters I’ve shared, and I’d love to hear if you have any don’t-miss regular letters you enjoy!

Reading Time:

5 minutes

 

 

 

11 Comments

  1. Kathleen

    I was a subscriber to The Daily Good until recently. Then I decided every day was feeling like a bit much so I hit “unsubscribe.” That took me to a page where I could opt in to a weekly format. Maybe you could do this too?

    Reply
    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Ooh, good to know! Thanks; I’ll check it out.

      Reply
  2. KC

    I prefer blogs to newsletters.
    1. There can be comment conversations at blogs, whereas with newsletters, while you know that other people are reading the same thing, there’s absolutely no method of connection.
    2. Almost all newsletters I’ve seen have obfuscated links – you can’t tell what you’re clicking or where it will lead, which is especially obnoxious for links that lead to limited-free-post landing spaces… where you’ve *already* read that article because you are interested in that specific topic, and it’s often helpful for conversation to keep up on what’s being said even if you hate the site, but now two of your five “freebies” are gone for the month. And you didn’t even like the article! – or for opaque links to content that is Not What You Are Psychologically Up To Today (such as link text being “a super-important and encouraging news article” and while yes, the article linked has some encouraging stats on how child sex trafficking is being reduced in one place, the general content still isn’t necessarily what I can cope with when I’m on the bare edge of emotional function). In both those cases, if the links weren’t run through a obfuscator/tracker, I’d be able to vet them appropriately; I’d also be able to choose to click through or not click through on other things, like “oh, yes, that is the same adorable penguin video that I’ve seen three times this week.” But almost all links in newsletters are entirely obscured; some still have the “real link” content at the very end of the weird gibberish tracker link portion, but most don’t, and it drives me nuts.
    3. This I could fix with inbox rules, but I’d rather keep my reading out of my general inbox flow – I’d rather not clutter up the list of emails that are from people I am likely to reply to with an assortment “oh, I should read that later” newsletters. I like my Feedly list and the blogs I manually visit – I choose when to see the content.

    That said, I’ll take newsletters over Facebook, which I ethically can’t get behind signing up for (psychological targeting and manipulation of those it sells to [often deceptive] advertisers literally *is its money-making business* and the corporate ethos has zero problems with the collection and drastic misuse of private data, and doesn’t understand why anyone else would).

    I also generally prefer essays in newsletter rather than Twitter; while it is at least *less* base-level evil than Facebook, it’s designed for short-form quick thoughts, not for deeper dives.

    But blogs where the maker owns the space: my favorite. They won’t die if a big tech company folds or makes unacceptable changes to policies (see livejournal), the authors are in control of what is shown and the readers are in control of when they read the content, there’s often commenting capability (sometimes communities form there; other times, it’s just additional material to the blog post and often useful). And probably, also, I’m old in internet years [mid-thirties] and I just plain like them. 🙂

    Anyway. Not to say you shouldn’t be closing your blog when it is time for you to close your blog. I just would prefer that blogs be the future, rather than Facebook being the future and (corporately-managed) newsletters being the future. 🙂

    Reply
    • Tsh Oxenreider

      I get your reasoning, KC! I do still enjoy blogs a great deal. One of my favorite things about the paid version of my newsletter — and all newsletters on Substack, really — is the ability to comment collectively as a community. It’s like a hybrid blog/newsletter; the best of both worlds.

      And I’ll just say honestly that, as a writer who does this for a living, it’s getting harder and harder to make a decent income from blogging. I wish it weren’t the case, but alas, it’s true. Newsletters provide an option for that.

      Reply
      • KC

        Definitely true on blogging decreasing as a source of income – I’ve seen the numbers on how ads are paying less, even as most ads inch ever closer and closer to the Really Not Okay zone. Most of the blogs I follow are not professional – they’re someone’s hobby/community/project-during-retirement – so that isn’t as immediate of a concern at the top of my head – but it certainly is a concern for anyone trying to make a living by it!

        I didn’t know that paid Substack items allowed for community conversation – but that’s great to hear! (I’m chronically ill and don’t have a budget line-item for supporting artists, other than via birthday/Christmas/book-club book purchases, which do have line items [for budget reasons, we mostly buy used, but make exceptions for authors who are still alive and who we *really* want to support]. Anyway, something to discuss with Spouse sometime when life is not crazy. But until then: no paid Substacks for me, and that is fine. 🙂 )

        Having a walled garden probably helps a lot with moderation and civil discourse – you presumably don’t get as many trolls! (although you may still have some people who like making drama occasionally, and who may feel more like they’re entitled to something-or-other since they’re paying?)

        Anyway. I love blogs and wish they had fewer environmental factors against their continued existence. 🙂

        Reply
  3. S Lubbock

    Books & Crannies is a paid subscrlption-$7/mo or $60/yr, which you don’t find out until the end, so that’s irritating. (In case you don’t want to waste your time like I did). Already getting spam from something, so going to try to unsubscribe now to get rid of it. Very disappointing. Nothing of value in some of these. Girls’ Night In looks like it’s a good one if it’s not generating too much of the spam. Wait & see I guess.

    Reply
    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Like almost all Substack newsletters, there’s both a paid and free version — getting my weekly 5 Quick Things is free, and I hope to keep it that way. I’m not quite sure what you mean by “find out until the end,” but I mention right here that you can support my work by becoming a paying subscriber. I also mention why it’s a good idea to support the work of people you like.

      But truly, if you don’t find value in supporting my work, nor of B&C, absolutely feel free to unsubscribe! It’s clearly not for you. Thanks for your comment.

      Reply
  4. Karen Johnson

    Check out Bentlily. Great poetry.

    Reply
  5. Andrea Debbink

    You’ve given me a different perspective on newsletters today, Tsh! As a working writer myself, I love the idea of readers being able to directly support the work of writers they appreciate by both paying them for their work and joining the conversation they’ve started in a more meaningful way. Now I’m eager to sign up for some and see what I like! 🙂

    Reply
  6. Emma

    Oh Tsh, this is so kind! What a lovely list to be a part of. I’ve begun taking an extended Instagram break, and it’s made me realise just how much I appreciate those whose words land in my inbox – it’s quite a treat!

    Reply
  7. Liz C.

    I can’t remember where I first found out about it, but Garden Variety has become one of my favorite weekly newsletters. Jacey Verdicchio’s monthly release In a Word is pretty great, too.

    Reply

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