Big Bang Theory of Newsletters
Welcome to the age of newsletters. Which is surprising if you have been following the development of the internet. One of the first developments has endured well into Web3.0. This is the world of augmented reality and virtual town halls. If Mark Zuckerberg is to be believed, it is the future.
And yet, the humble email is thriving. Newsletters are simply emails sent with some regularity. A sole creator can communicate directly with their audience without a middleman.
Newsletters come in all shapes and sizes. If you are thinking of creating a newsletter, you not only need to think of how you will send your email (you'll need some way of allowing people to subscribe and unsubscribe, etc) but you'll need to figure out what type of email you want to send.
This is important for both you and the reader.
The reader will want to know what they are getting in their inbox. It also gives you a framework to iterate upon.
This article will explore six different styles of newsletters, exploring their unique aspects and how to create them. To make things easy, we'll be framing them as characters from The Big Bang Theory.
If you don't know what The Big Bang Theory is or think that there weren't characters when the universe came into existence, please stop reading.
Imagine a conversation with Sheldon on trains, or string theory. You would get a complete guide to everything imaginable on the topic.
Sheldons are typically narrow focused on specific subject matters. These newsletters are fantastic if your reader is as passionate about the topic as you, the creator. Lean into your extensive knowledge of the topic and be prepared to do a lot of research. Your readers, because of the shared passion, will want a deep dive: just think of Sheldon discussing
A great example is Weekly Planet by The Atlantic's climate reporter Robinson Meyer.
Leonard's role in the show was to bounce off Sheldon's antics and Penny's unattainability. He's the perfect ambassador for the reporter type of newsletter. With this journalist lens, you aim to inform your audience of the current events in a particular field. There is no need to Sheldonise things here. Just stay up to date and put a great spin on things.
One of the biggest emails out there is Morning Brew. They provide a daily snapshot of world events with a bias towards how they affect markets.
It was Penny's unique perspective on the world that really drove the show.
The key to a Penny newsletter is the personality of what you offer. And don't limit yourself to just words, include pictures, video, audio. You need to showcase your unique perspective.
A perfect example of a Penny is Maria Popova's The Marginalian (formerly Brain Pickings). This is a one-woman labour of love and it shows. Each edition is fresh and unique.
Howard is an engineer, the only one without a doctorate (as Sheldon constantly reminds him), and yet, the only one to go to space. Fruit Loops anyone?
What we can learn, in terms of newsletters, is the need for practical advice. The value proposition, from a reader's standpoint, is the easiest to understand. You will give them practical advice on a subject.
Caroline Chambers does a weekly called "What to Cook When You Don't Feel Like Cooking". It comes out every Sunday and as the title suggests, you will get a simple, no fuss recipe.
Poor Raj. The only one to not find his soul mate after twelve years, even though he had the perfect "pantie dropper" pickup lines.
Being the outsider, Raj would be the perfect person to show us around. If you have a passion for a subject, or simply want to share what you discover, then curation is perfect. They are the fastest-growing type of newsletter. No-one can stay up to date with the ever-growing internet, and you can help people sort through the noise.
There are two examples. The first is David Perell's Friday Finds. This weekly newsletter focuses on timeless pieces that are diverse. There is always something of interest.
You can also cater for a niche audience. Eleanor Konik curates Obsidian Roundup, a detailed guide to the happenings inside the world of Obsidian, including updates and tips and tricks.
Let's face it, Howard has some serious mummy issues. And Bernadette is Mrs Wolowitz 2.0, being both his wife and mother.
The hybrid combines any of the above into one newsletter. If standing out is important, and providing something unique to your reader, then the Bernadette is going to be perfect.
A stalwart of this type is Nate Eliason's Monday Medley. He combines the curated with his unique perspective.
No matter who your favourite character was from The Big Bang Theory, you can use them to create a newsletter that your reader will fall in love with and provide you with the structure to ensure you know what to do.