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by Jacob O'Bryant

Some publisher console updates

Submitting newsletters to The Sample is now completely automatic! At least, it's automatic for me. I guess what I really mean is, people who submit their newsletter to The Sample now have to do the work instead of me. I made a little demo recording of the new flow for anyone who'd like to see it:

I did get a couple bug reports already, but I think everything's been ironed out now.

Along with that, I've made a few updates to the publisher console.

Subscribers page

There isn't one anymore. I've moved it to a "Subscribers" section under the Settings page.

Within that new section, where you can select an integration for importing 1-click subscribers automatically, you can now select "Other" as your active integration. If you select this, you'll get an email with a link for exporting your subscribers CSV whenever you have new 1-click subscribers, and you'll need to import them yourself--I won't add them manually. (This is the same as it's worked for Substack newsletters since January, but now this is an option for everyone.)

If you're thinking "why would I do that," the answer is (1) if you have double opt-in enabled, you should be importing the subscribers CSV every now and then anyway in case some people don't click through the confirmation email, (2) eventually I'll enable it for anyone who hasn't already set up an integration, so might as well do it while you're expecting it.

Directory settings

Last week I mentioned I would be merging ye olde newsletter directory with The Sample proper. I have begun that process: the newsletter submission flow includes a step for joining the directory, and the Settings page has a "Directory listing" section where you can join/unjoin/update your settings:

That "the directory" link goes to the directory (as you might imagine), which is still stored in Airtable. I will probably leave it in Airtable since it provides nice table-y operations like sorting and filtering and stuff.

Caveat: updating your directory settings from the publisher console will not actually do anything yet. I still need to write some code to sync your directory settings to Airtable. That's on the docket for this week. But if you'd like to join, go ahead and update your settings, and I'll get you in the directory soon.

The submission page now mentions the directory too, and I was feeling fancy so I called it "exclusive":

You'll also have the option of joining our exclusive newsletter directory, which lists other writers on The Sample who are interested in cross-promotion or sponsorships.

Minor UI enhancements

  • I've renamed "Issues" to "Posts."
  • I removed some gratuitous white space.
  • Previously when you saved your settings, there was no indication that the button had done anything. Now the page reloads, so it's more obvious that something happened.

For this week, my todo list looks like this:

  • Finish merging the directory into The Sample.
  • Add some more subscriber-import integrations (Zapier and Beehiiv), and improve the custom webhook integration.
  • Make charges for paid forwards more automatic, including notifications for failed charges. Also I might start charging less frequently to save on transaction fees. Might even add a prepaid option (but no promises).
  • A bunch of miscellaneous improvements to the publisher console and these weekly email reports. (Instead of "the publisher console", maybe we should call it... "the writer dashboard"??)

All these updates to The Sample are making me feel a lot better about it in general. Better... "vibes." The Sample has required daily manual maintenance from me to keep it running, ever since I launched it over a year ago. When I finish this batch of updates, it should run smoothly on its own. I feel like a weight is being lifted.

I'm especially looking forward to seeing where we get in, say, two years from now. As I've mentioned previously, I'm probably going to start working on some more products besides just The Sample soon. I already have an experimental publishing platform, and I'd like to add (1) a reading app for newsletters + everything else on the internet, (2) a forum + real-time chat app (like a combination of Slack and Discourse/Substack comments), and (3) a self-serve booking tool for newsletter ads, so you can easily sell ads in your newsletter without any back-and-forth with advertisers. All of those tools will be standalone products, and The Sample will provide the network. Social media 2.0.

Published 25 Jul 2022

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