Newsletter distribution is broken, it needs to be fixed urgently.

In this post, I’ll share a little bit about my background, my thoughts on the problems I see in the newsletter distribution space, and why I’m building LetterDrop to fix a few of them.

What's the big update?

On Friday June 12, I launched the landing page of LetterDrop on Twitter. Since then, my DMs have been blowing up with positive reactions from the community and as of Sunday evening, it had reached 272 early access sign ups. This feels incredible! If you are one of them, thank you.

But first, who am I?

Hi, I’m KP, a serial maker, writer, and community evangelist living in Atlanta. I love building things online, solving interesting problems, and adding value to people. You may have heard of my other project Cuppa from Twitter.

Alright, what’s the premise?

Modern publishing platforms like Substack, Revue, Convertkit, etc. have made it incredibly easy for anyone to publish a newsletter and build an audience. This inevitably resulted in the recent explosion of the number of newsletters as you may have noticed. Which opens up a unique set of challenges for readers on the Internet especially around discovery of high-quality, well recommended and curated newsletters. The publishing platforms themselves are trying to promote and surface their best content (see this and this) but there’s no single destination that is cross-platform, community-centric and unbiased.

From the writers’ side, not having a distribution channel means they have to do two jobs: 1) produce amazing content 2) promote their content themselves.

This is hard and inefficient and I believe it needs to be fixed with a powerful distribution platform which is community driven. Before 2013, even startup product launches had a similar challenge and Product Hunt emerged as an answer to the challenge. It served product makers as a distribution engine and product enthusiasts as a discovery engine.

This is what I intend for LetterDrop to become. And I thank you for joining me early on in this mission.

Wait, aren’t there people already doing this?

I humbly disagree. There are many products that are in the “newsletter space” but only tangentially related to the problem I describe above.

A lot of them are solving for quantity. They are being the Digg.com of newsletters, just an aggregator site with user-submitted links to a bunch of newsletters. This when done poorly dilutes the quality.

Then there are others solving for "sign up fatigue” which act as a broker platform between you and thousands of newsletters you want to sign up for.

So yeah, there are many players in the space but I am not aware of a solid platform attacking the root problem which is quality, not quantity. (Please reply if there’s a product I should know about!) Even Substack's CEO agrees quality is still an unsolved problem.

Last week, I saw the problem first hand when I asked my followers on Twitter to plug their current newsletter along with a quick intro. The thread exploded with more than 75 unique newsletters submitted on a broad range of topics. But it was impossible to sift through their replies and find relevant high-quality newsletters. And it is even more impossible to find the specific posts/issues that would qualify for high-quality within a given newsletter. So I asked myself, how can this be solved?

What’s the goal for LetterDrop?

LetterDrop’s goal is to add value to savvy readers by surfacing only the top 10 high-quality newsletter issues produced by independent writers onthe home page.

Success metric: If we can surface *just* one new think piece to a savvy reader who thinks it added value to their day, we’ve succeeded. This will compound over time.

Who is it for?

Savvy readers on the Internet who want high-quality independent content.

We'll start with tech founders, VCs and startup operators since these are the people within my immediate reach right now.

What can you expect?

A lot of these are obvious if you are familiar with Product Hunt but we will evaluate and roll them out slowly to make sure they are actually adding value.

  • a refreshing daily feed of high-quality newsletters upvoted by a community of savvy readers

  • Ability to discover top content from Substack, Revue, Converkit, Mailchimp or more

  • Ability to filter by main categories (Fiction, non-fiction, tech, sports, politics)

  • Ability to filter by subcategories (For tech: startups, AR, VR, no-code)

  • Ability to filter by content tags (ex: How I did X)

  • Ability to filter by reading time estimates (<3min, <10min etc)

  • Recommendations from top influencers/writers in relevant niches

Why now?

With the rise of the passion economy, there are more newsletter writers in 2020 than ever before. While many journalists at major media corporations are struggling to keep their jobs in this economy, the top-earning writer on Substack is making more than $500,000 a year from reader subscriptions.

Newsletters will soon be a lucrative career for knowledge workers. (if it’s not already!)

Why me?

This is not my first rodeo in this space. Late last year, I attempted to take a shot at bringing long-form writers together to build writing routines and habits with a platform called WritersCompound. It had an “ok” reception from the audience (200+ signups) but it felt like I was pushing a boulder uphill than simply cruising downhill. I didn’t have the *market tailwinds* helping me. However, those lessons are still close to my heart. With LetterDrop, I’m coming full circle with a much simpler/clearer problem statement and with unbelievable tailwinds blowing in the direction of the newsletters market.

What's next?

I'll be spending the next few weeks listening to feedback and building a simple beta app using no-code. I'll let you know once we have a working prototype and open up the beta invites.

Want to help?

Please share this tweet and tag 2 of your fellow newsletter readers or friends who might find value in LetterDrop. It’ll help me build a really passionate community who are open to giving feedback, sharing ideas and trying the beta first.

Thank you for reading!