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by Jacob O'Bryant

Advertise your newsletter in Yakread

Weekly highlights:

  • A year of new avenues by Robin Sloan. An essay about the opportunity we now have to rethink the way we relate online. I found it deeply inspiring. Join the resistance!
  • Postcard is a simple newsletter service for personal use. It's got a free tier and it has great design. I made a test account to try it out. If you don't already have a newsletter, start one here.
  • I made a form where you can send me links! I want to do my part to help other people get discovered. If you've got a blog post, product, or whatever that's in any way related to tools for online speech, send it my way.

Last week I finished the last essential piece for growing Yakread: the advertising system. It's similar to the paid-forwards system that I built for The Sample. If you'd like to advertise your newsletter or anything else on Yakread, head over to (you'll need to create an account if you haven't already). Here's the test ad I made:

I've made it so 1 out of 5 posts in Yakread's home feed will be ads. Seemed like an acceptable ratio. This week I'll include a single ad slot in the daily emails as well.

Yakread currently has 50 or so daily active users, so ads won't be getting many clicks. But you should get at least one or two, and the competition for cost-per-click is low 🙂. Crucially, when enough people have started advertising on Yakread, I will be able to start running my own advertisements for Yakread elsewhere. If I'm able to optimize Yakread's funnel enough so that the ads I buy are profitable (i.e. on average I get more advertising revenue from a user than I spend to acquire them), then I can start advertising heavily.

I also added this note to Yakread's settings page:

Would you be interested in a premium subscription that removes ads and includes additional features, or includes deals for paid newsletters, or something? Let me know, especially if you have ideas for premium-plan perks.

I think monetizing with ads will always be Yakread's main revenue source. I was honestly surprised at how well The Sample's ad system worked, and it made me feel a lot more gung-ho about advertising, despite the popular narrative. (An essay I'd like to write sometime: "Ads don't have to suck").

Plus I think there would be significant positive externalities if lots of people get in the habit of using a reader app and thus spend more time reading newsletters and such and spend less time scrolling through social media. I want as many people as possible to use Yakread! So keeping it ad-supported fits well with my goals.

But if there's anyone who would prefer to be on a paid plan and not get any advertising, I'd be happy to set up a simple subscription thing, probably for $5/month. Stripe makes it pretty easy these days. Let me know.

As hinted in that quote above, I also think there might be some creative things that could be done with paid newsletter subscriptions, for any writers who want to participate. I'm not exactly sure what it would look like, but I'm sure it would be... creative. I'm shelving this idea until after I'm making a living from the ad system.

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Coming up

There is an infinite amount of features and improvements I could code up for Yakread, but... I'm wondering if blogging would be a higher-leverage use of my time. Both because it can be a top-of-funnel for Yakread, and also because I'd like to continue growing a community around tools for online speech in general.

I'm thinking of sending this newsletter out twice a week, probably Tuesday and Thursday. Tuesdays would be the same as they are now: mostly focused on stuff I've built/am building, with various recommended links thrown in. Thursday would be for essays/blog posts. Here are a handful of post ideas from my todo list, for example:

  • "How you can help grow the unbundled web." There was a lot of interest in my How to rebuild social media on top of RSS post. I'd like to write a follow-up that gives recommendations for people—both developers and early adopters—who want to help make that kind of thing a reality.
  • "Protocols are less important than you think." Despite my focus on RSS in the post linked above, I think protocols are often a distraction for technically minded folks. They are just an implementation detail after all—user needs are more important, at least if your goal is to make useful software (as opposed to e.g. doing research, which is also valuable!).
  • "Community doesn't scale." A hypothesis I have is that the world doesn't really need any giant everyone's-on-it social networks. Communities perhaps should stay small, and if you want to write something that (hopefully) reaches across many communities, you should just write a blog post.
  • "Some entrepreneurs just need part-time jobs, not investment." I need a punchier title for this. The past four years of "living the dream" as a founder have given me lots of ideas about what kind of support entrepreneurs actually need.
  • "In defense of recommendation." The popular narrative hates recommendation algorithms. They're constantly derided as tools of manipulation. But recommendation can be a tool for good. Instead of abandoning it, we should look for ways to make it serve the interests of individuals.
  • "Ads don't have to suck." Ditto, but for advertising.
  • "The myth of the incentive-aligned startup." In which I discuss my beefs.

Let me know if any of those sound particularly interesting.

Share articles in your newsletter

Last week I also threw in a small-but-mighty feature on Yakread's Share page: a copy-to-clipboard button.

When you hit this nifty button, it'll take all the articles you've thumbs-upped in Yakread during the past 8 days and put them in your clipboard. They're formatted so that you can paste them into your newsletter editor and then do additional curating and editing from there. Since making the GIF above, I've tweaked the formatting, and I've also added a "check out my recommended newsletters" line at the bottom for anyone who has set up their Yakread recommendations. I used this button to create the "Stuff I read" section below—piece o' cake.

Remember Postcard, that newsletter service I mentioned way up in the new "highlights" section? That goes hand-in-hand with Yakread! Observe:

  1. Start reading stuff on Yakread, and thumbs-up the articles that you might want to share later.
  2. Create a newsletter on Postcard.
  3. Once a week, or once a month, or whenever you feel like it, mosey on over to and hit that "Copy to clipboard" button. Paste it into Postcard, do a few edits if you want, hit send.

Boom—who needs social media? You're in the open newsletter ecosystem now. It's never been easier to stick it to the man!

Stuff I read

Also check out my recommended newsletters.

By the way

I bought a picture of a chalkboard! Do you like it?

Published 26 Dec 2022

I write an occasional newsletter
about my work and ideas.

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