TechStack: There's a lot of tech that goes into putting a Newsletter together, building a website, managing the membership, promotion and social media. And that's before you've written anything! Here are 10 tools I use to run Wiser!
Making your next conversation a better one!
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 time and agony, here are the 9 must-have technology tools that I use to build the Wiser! Newsletter.
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).
To find out more about the Wiser! Newsletter, go to //rickhuckstep.com
w/Tech Tool #1
The beating heart of the Wiser! Newsletter
Over 3 million creators, startups and businesses publish with Ghost.
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.
If you're starting out, or want to move over to Ghost, and you just want to concentrate on your content and building a membership, go with Ghost(Pro).
Ghost(Pro) is a fully managed service for Ghost users. They handle everything technical so that you don't have to. The support is excellent if you run into difficulties or need help getting started. (€)
IMHO, Ghost is the best Content Management System on the market today.
w/Tech Tool #2
Use professional styling for the Wiser! Ghost website
Ghost is extremely versatile when it comes to the look and feel of a website. There's no reason for your newsletter to look the same as everyone else's (which is what happens on Substack and Revue).
On Ghost, the presentation is controlled by 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 novice when 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. (€)
w/Tech Tool #3
See what's going on under the hood of your Ghost website
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.
w/Tech Tool #4
Easy no-code automation to replace manual tasks
Zapier 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 to 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 feeds into Tweets and Posts.
w/Tech Tool #5
Time-saving AI writing tool for content creation
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. (€)
w/Tech Tool #6
Simple and effective Tweeting tool
A huge part of building a newsletter business is promotion. There's no point in creating beautiful content if nobody is reading it!
In the early days, generating social media traffic to drive organic growth is critical. I already have a huge following on LinkedIn (over 100k) and that is converting well. But I wanted to build a new audience and chose Twitter and Reddit for this.
For tweets, I use this awesome tool called Typefully. 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 web tool or via a desktop or mobile app. (€)
w/Tech Tool #7
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 a lot 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.
w/Tech Tool #8
"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.
w/Tech Tool #9
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.
w/Follow me on Social Media
Over 110,000 people follow me across Social Media for Insights and Information from the Tech Economy (whoop-di-do!😊). You get to see most of it here because you're subscribers to the Newsletter. I'm most active on Twitter and Linkedin, however here are some other places you can find me:
A great place to find tons of content from independent writers like me.
Medium: Still the number 1 place for bloggers and writers (IMHO).
TikTok: No dad dancing, I promise!
YouTube: Over 36,000 views last time I looked
Instagram: the place to make writing visual.
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 portion of your subscription fee gets paid to every content creator you read.
If you'd like unrestricted access to my content AND the content of 174,999 other writers on Medium, sign up using this link. (€)
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