What Makes a Bad Newsletter?

I only want to make two points here.

Mister Editorial
2 min readMar 26, 2021
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  1. No two newsletters are alike
  2. If you subscribe, it’s a good newsletter

No two newsletters are the same because no two audiences or topics are exactly the same.

Using examples of three newsletters I subscribe to:

  • Axios is quick and to the point, with few articles going beyond 400 words and few links to external sources. They use a graphic for every article in the bulletin.
  • The Hannah Arendt Center’s philosophy newsletter often has 1,500-word introductions to the longer articles on their website, to which they link. There is usually just one image in the entire newsletter.
  • Arts & Letters Daily is actually a weekly email with five of the best articles published on their website that week with one very short sentence describing each essay. You can read everything without scrolling.

Two totally different topics — daily news and philosophy — so therefore two totally different newsletters!

  • It’s easy enough to compare/contrast any two newsletters you receive.

How do I know that the 20+ newsletters I subscribe to aren’t BAD?

  • Because I haven’t unsubscribed from them!
  • They’re doing their job…for me.

A bad newsletter:

  • doesn’t understand the audience,
  • isn’t consistent with its content, tone, aesthetics, etc,
  • isn’t clear about what the reader should do with the info,
  • is irregularly delivered, and
  • is ugly

Simply put, if you haven’t unsubscribed, then the newsletter is at least good enough for what you need.

Remember that when you’re designing your employee newsletter…and then do it much better 😉.

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Mister Editorial

Many internal comms teams don’t have an editorial strategy. I’m here to fix that. Newsletter: https://mistereditorial.substack.com/.