There are a host of tools, platforms and systems behind the Wiser! Newsletter. This is a breakdown of the Tech Stack behind Wiser!
Recognition for my work!
The Wiser! Tech Stack
Building a newsletter business is hard enough without having to spend hours and hours deciding which tools, technology and platforms are best for you.
To make your life easier, give you a head start and save you the time and agony, here's a list of the tech stack behind my Newsletter. I've included items that I have used at some point in my journey even if I don't use them anymore.
Some of the links are affiliate links denoted with a € (which means I collect a small commission if you buy their product using the link on this page).
Ghost - the beating heart of the Wiser! Newsletter
Over 3 million creators, startups and businesses publish with Ghost.
Ghost was founded in 2013 as a new type of platform focused solely on professional publishing. Its mission was/is to create the best open-source platform for independent journalists and writers across the world. Today, Ghost powers an incredible range of websites; from individual bloggers who are just getting started, to large teams of writers and editors at some of the largest organisations in the world.
Ghost is a powerful tool for the creator economy; to publish, share, and grow a business around original content. It comes with modern tools to build a website, publish content, send newsletters & offer paid subscriptions to members.
When I first started Wiser! I went with Substack because everyone else did. Whilst it is true to say that Substack made it really easy to get started, it soon became clear that Substack was also very limiting. That's why I chose Ghost(Pro) to run a fully managed Ghost content management system to build my nascent Newsletter on. (€)
IMHO, Ghost is the best Content Management System on the market today.
Genei - Time-saving AI writing tool
Genei is an AI-powered research and note-taking tool. I use it to analyse web pages and documents so that I can work with more efficiency and clarity. Genei uses natural language processing models, such as GPT3, to "read" a long text and summarise it. The tool does abstractive summarization, entity annotation, semantic search, and question answering. The biggest advantage of such models is that they can consider the context of each word within a document in relation to all others, enabling deeper insight. (€)
Typefully - Simple and effective Tweeting tool
This is great for Twitter and I use it all the time. I use Typefully as my primary scheduling and content creation tool for creating Tweets, Threads and managing Twitter Engagement. This is simple to use as a webtool or via a desktop or mobile app. (€)
Canva Pro - Creating professional designs and images
I use Canva for creating the images and heros for the website and for social media posts, especially on Instagram. Canva has become the defacto standard for creating images, cards and graphics for social media. It is cloud-based which means that you can see all of your designs on any device. I use it on my Macbook, iPad and mobile (although that is much trickier to do and I only create very simple output). There is a FREE account with alot of functionality, but the best option is Canva Pro. It has tons of image creation tools and lets you schedule posts as soon as you've created them.
Excalidraw - "Hand-drawn" stats and data
This is a great (and free) drawing tool that I use to create all of the graphs and charts I use in my posts. I love the simplicity of using the tool to knock up data visualisations to support the story I am telling. Here's an example of one I made earlier. I've used block colours for this but it is possible to also show them to look like they are coloured in by hand. You will also see that the tool lets you add images (like my logo) to the charts to further enhance the quality of the output.
Biron Themes - Professional styling for the Wiser! Ghost website
Ghost is extremely versatile when it comes to the look and feel of a website. This is controlled by what is called "a theme". The theme defines how each online page looks and behaves whether it is being viewed on a desktop or mobile device. They are the coded templates that define the look and feel of your website.
There are free and paid-for themes and I have chosen the Nikko newsletter theme from Biron Themes for Wiser! I have made a few modifications myself to the theme to tailor it to exactly what I want. I'm a moviewhen it comes to HTML and CSS, so I've kept it simple. But if I can do it, anyone can. For a non-coder like me, it is surprisingly easy to do. (€)
BuyMeACoffee - for donations to support the running of Wiser!
BuyMeACoffee is a tipping service that enables your audience to acknowledge their support by Buying You a Cup of (Virtual) Coffee. These are small donations that I start at €2 each (which is more than enough to buy a decent cup of coffee where I live in Spain). Readers can buy multiple "cups" or even sign up for an annual subscription.
Click this button to go to the Wiser! page on BuyMeACoffee.com.
GhostBoard - what's going on under the hood
GhostBoard is an invaluable tool. Built specifically for managing a Ghost site, GhostBoard provides detailed analytics in a meaningful and intuitive visual display. It's a million miles better than Google Analytics when trying to see what's going on under the hood.
Zapier - Easy no-code automation
I use Zapier because it is the default integration tool on the Ghost platform. There are tons of preset integrations that connect my Ghost installation with other platforms. Zapier is a so-called "no-code" automation tool, which means that you don't need to be a computer programmer to write your own routines.
It is easy to use so that you can automate many standard tasks (it must be simple if I can use it!).
For example, I wrote a simple task so that every time someone new subscribes to my newsletter, Zapier fires off a welcome email to them. It even sends a copy me so that I know every time someone new signs up.
I also use Zapier outside of Ghost. For example, every time I create a Bitly short URL (using the Bitly extension in my browser), Zapier creates a new entry in a Notion database with all of the information created by Bitly. This makes my social media posting more efficient, because everything I read and research gets automatically put into a Notion Database that is built to automatically turn the Bitly feed into Tweets and Posts.
Automate.IO - Bots to automate routine tasks
I use Zapier for Integrating workflow between 2 different platforms and Automate.IO for building Bots to do repetitive tasks automatically and in the background.
Automate.IO is also a no-code automation tool, which means it is is super easy to build a Bot and set it running. It also helps that Automate.IO has been acquired by Notion and this means there are plenty of template integrations already set up.
I use Automate.IO mainly for social media publishing. Here's how it works. When I read an interesting article online, I hit the Bitly button. This triggers Zapier to write it to a Notion database. The Notion database creates a set of predefined hashtags specifically for the article and formats the Tweet or Linkedin post.
When I'm ready to post, I check a box in the Notion database and this triggers Automate.IO to run several Bots to take the raw data from Notion, format a Tweet or Post for Linkedin and Facebook, and push it to Buffer where it is added to the queue.
I use the free plan from Automate to take social media posts from my Notion databases and load them into Buffer. It's super easy to set up and manage.
Buffer - scheduling posts across social media
I've tried several different social media scheduling platforms and they all have their strengths and weaknesses. The reason I settled on Buffer is that (a) it lets me post simultaneously to Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook and Instagram and (b) it will handle the posting of videos within the free version, and (c) it's easy to use and integrates well with Automate.IO and Zapier.
I buy the Essential plan which is only $60 a year and that gives me massive flexibility to build a pipeline of content to be drip-fed into my social media channels.
Medium - an alternative place to read good content
Medium is a publishing platform for content creators. It is great if you don't want to mess around with a website or get caught up with complicated bulk email newsletters. The way Medium works is both free and paid. Just like a newspaper, there's a paywall in front of all content.
Free subscribers can read a few articles a month and then the paywall kicks in. Content creators, like me, put their writing on Medium for free, whilst readers, like you, access that content by paying a subscription. A very small portion of your subscription fee gets paid to every content creator you read.
Hacker Noon - independent writing for the tech economy
Hacker Noon is built for technologists (like me) to read, write, and publish independently produced content. All submitted articles are vetted in advance by an editorial team from an international community of over 15,000 writers. Accepted and approved stories are then posted and promoted to the Hacker Noon readership of over 3,000,000 monthly readers.
I post articles on Hacker Noon because it gives me reach and access to an audience I would never have any chance of touching via a conventional social media platform.
Bitly - more than just a URL shortner
Shortening URLs is essential for social media posting. The best tool that I have found to do this is Bitly. This is the tool that I use to shorten links. Not only does it mean that my posts look neat and tidy with a shortened link, it also allows me to track usage and engagement across all the links I post on social media. This way I can see which ones do well and reuse them.
Slick Inbox - the inbox for newsletter
Newsletters are the best way to keep up to date and informed about what's going on in the world, especially when you are interested in specific subjects or themes. Specialist newsletters are the answer. But, the problem with newsletters is that they get jumbled up in a reader's Inbox along with all the other stuff.
That's why I use Slick Inbox. It runs as an app on my mobile and iPad and allows me to collect, read and organise tons of newsletters without the interference of everyday email communications. This is a great free tool that is still in its early development days.
The Sample - Solving newsletter discovery
There are a gazillion newsletters out there, and not all as good as Wiser! But occasionally they are. The issue is, how to find them. Here's the solution.
The Sample uses AI to identify what you like and make recommendations of newsletters you won't have seen. The Sample sends you the recommendation every day in an email with a simple, One-Click signup. If you like the newsletter they sent you, hit the button and voila! you're in! Easy.
Cloudflare - Internet Security
As the Internet has gotten bigger and the threat of bad people messing up your website continues to increase, services like Cloudflare provide a valuable service. They provide one of the biggest networks operating on the Internet and people use Cloudflare for the purposes of increasing the security and performance of their websites. The Cloudflare dashboard provides me with useful analytics about the usage on the website and allows me to manage my domain and DNS settings (although don't ask me to explain it because it's way too technical for me).
YOUCompress - Image compression
I use images, charts and graphs in my Newsletter, which can be heavy when it comes to file size. To improve the speed of loading my webpages I compress all images using YouCompress, a free resizing tool that is super easy to use.
Mailgun - automated bulk email management
Sending bulk emails is a completing different ballgame to normal email. You simply can't send out 1,000's of newsletters in a single go from a "normal" email account. They will get blocked and spammed and all your hard work and effort to craft a great email will be wasted. I know, I learnt the hard way!
Ghost uses a platform called Mailgun to handle bulk emails in a controlled and deliverable way. I've learnt a ton about email that I simply wasn't aware of before I started Wiser! Most of it from Mailgun, who have excellent technical support to guide a novice like me through the complexity of email.