Wednesday, July 7, 2010

E-mail newsletters: the new trend

I came across this post on GigaOm today that speculates it’s time to stop blogging and start an email newsletter instead. It seems to be the hot thing these days with people like Sam Lessin (the founder of opting for paid email newsletters. I am happy to report I remain committed to blogging and disagree with the whole paid newsletter thing (and no, it has nothing to do with the fact that I am not a celebrity with a fan following willing to pay for nuggets of my wisdom :)

To my mind, knowledge is not meant to be hoarded, it’s meant to be given freely. If/whether the recipient benefits is up to the recipient. To say that someone will share their best tips with you only if you pay $2 per month and sign up for their email newsletter seems somewhat disingenuous. It’s like charging someone to make an introduction - both parties know money was involved and that can potentially diminish the relationship. Seeing as how this knowledge is most likely not proprietary and was gleaned through interaction with others (either as received wisdom or experience), I question the fairness of charging for this knowledge.

E-mail newsletters seem like a step backward in some ways.

1. One of the huge benefits of social media is its inherent viral nature. Paid e-mail newsletters are big dampers of viral loops.

2. RSS feeds are a blessing for anyone trying to keep up with the information overload. To regress and increase the email volume in already overloaded inboxes is a big step backward in my opinion.

3. How many paid newsletters is the average person going to subscribe to? Even if each of these newsletters is priced $2 or less, it very quickly multiplies if a single person only follows 25 RSS feeds which convert to paid newsletters.

4. Then there’s the matter of how these people are going to get paid - I worry about credit card security and theft, and would be very uncomfortable having so many people bill me small amounts every month (increases the probability I won’t detect fraudulent entries), even if I am willing to share my credit card/Paypal information with so many third parties!

If this is the trend, I smell a new entrepreneurial opportunity. I want to build myself an email newsletter aggregator software that will take care of aggregating all those emails in one place and parse the data per my preferences, plus will take care of the billing so that I only need to share my financial information with one company. Interested in co-founding, anyone? :)

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