My next project is to stop publishing anything on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & Tumblr and spend all of 2013 updating friends via an email newsletter.
If you want updates from me during the year, please subscribe here and learn why below.
My ongoing goal is to create more than I consume. The ease of posting to social networks, gives me a false sense of accomplishing something meaningful. I want to spend more time thinking, creating & polishing stuff.
That’s not to say that it is impossible to publish meaningful content, for they are just the stage — the show you write, produce and broadcast is completely up to you. I just think it’s easy to get yanked into the short-witted drama of producing reality junkfood.
Take, for example, my photos of our 6 month trip across Europe. I started out the trip, with detailed observations and stories to accompany my photos. The last few months I fell back into the easy out… posting photos with no captions and leaving stories of bartering in Italian, free macaroons at Angelina’s, and our cross country train journey filled with mechanical failures.. all untold.
How can I set myself up with an experiment to encourage myself to produce less frequent, higher quality content?
By default, single-recipient emails do not encourage any specific behavior. In my inbox, there are one-liners from business contacts and essay-long life updates from friends.
But what about multi-recipient emails? If I had as many twitter followers subscribed to my email updates, would I publish a quick one-liner about something I overheard at the supermarket? Would I email a thousand people 3-4 times in a single day, each with a lone, caption-less photo?
I don’t think I would. I think I would choose carefully. So my next life experiment is to stop publishing anything on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & Tumblr and spend all of 2013 updating friends and family over email.
Reading these things in my inbox, instead of wandering over to a blog, changes my relationship. Subscriptions are an interesting relic of a past commitment. “This inspires me, give me more!” as I enter my email address.
Emails don’t care how busy or lazy you are feeling — and they don’t wait for you. Each arrival calls you to action with a new opportunity to learn, delete or save. And that big reply box! It beckons you to interact with the author. I’ve been friends with Simon for 6 years now because I replied to one of his VeryShortList newsletters.
The idea of ditching social networks for a personal newsletter isn’t new; there’s a Gigaom article from 2010 about Sam Lessin doing the same thing. He even launched a service around it called Letter.ly. And shortly thereafter Michael Galpert and Dave Morin, entrepreneurs I love+respect, joined in.
Part of their experiment was to prove that information is more valuable if you pay for it (all 3 charged a subscription fee) but I do think they felt a similar struggle to produce something deeper as well.
Examining their own usage made setting up my own experiment more compelling. Both Michael and Dave abandoned their lists after sending just 5 messages in 2010. Even the founder himself, Sam Lessin sent out 9 in 2010, 1 in 2011 and 1 in 2012. Alternatively, if you look at any of their Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram or Path accounts you can see hundreds, maybe thousands of updates over the past 3 years from them.
The sample size is tiny, but it makes me think that it’s difficult for the two to co-exist. How do you keep yourself motivated to create when you’ve already shared all your inspirations across tumbles, tweets and pics?
I’m running my newsletter on Mailchimp and plan on sending about one letter per week. Could be photos, life updates, app recommendations, an interview or something I made.
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