I write 200+ words a day - this article has 691 words.
A writer who I deeply admire has a daily newsletter, to which I subscribed as soon as I found out he had one. Back then, it wasn't easy, as the newsletter subscribing box was somewhat hidden. Nowadays, the site was remastered, and everything is easy to find.
He sent those emails for a very long time, and each of them was leaving an echo in my mind. His writing style makes me see a lot of aspects from a fresh perspective - he has a vast culture and experience, and can connect things that I had no idea until then they are even remotely related.
He now got to the point where he struggles to find topics for the next emails, and tried to discuss some of the alternatives he is facing.
The only method that he didn't mention is "get inspiration from your readers." That is, he has a lot of readers on that newsletter, and I'm positive some will have some questions they'd like him to answer.
As polished as his site looks, it's missing, in my opinion, a simple way to getting feedback. Let's say I want to write him something : how do I do that?
I read somewhere that the best two kinds of feedback systems are:
- a ticket support system
That is, if I send him a message, I want to be sure he received it, and I'd also like to know if he read it. Plus, the conversation is all in one place. It's way better than the email, because, with email, you can't know for sure if he even got that email in the first place.
- an anonymous feedback system
If someone wants to send feedback / suggestion, without giving his/her name (not matter the reason), how can that person do that?
I had this implemented on my Romanian Math site here:
Send anonymous message
and I received some very interesting suggestions over the years. I received genuine praise, genuine hate, poorly written spam, and valuable suggestions. Of course, he would decide what suggestions to accept, but if he implements that anonymous feedback system, and mention the link in every email, and welcomes those suggestions, I'm sure he'll never run out of the ideas ever.
Why not replying directly to the address from which the newsletter is send? Some people simply have questions that they are ashamed to ask, like "I want to write my own book, but I have no idea where to start", because of their ego. Yet, the same persons would love to read his answer to that, but some topics simply don't appear in that newsletter.
Some persons just want to give feedback, stripped of any identifiable metadata (like their identity). They sometimes don't even want a reply to that feedback - they just want to deliver that particular message, in a way that's easy, and guaranteed to arrive to the owner of the site.
In my opinion, it's a misalignment between "I, the writer, struggle with what topics to talk about" and "We, the readers, don't have a simple way to suggest topics we'd like you to discuss", emphasize on "suggest", as in "we'd like it" not as in "you must answer those, or we'll unsubscribe". If I didn't know him better, I would say he writes for himself, not for the readers.
Plus, it's more fun to answer to an actual question, than to try to invent a question.
I removed any references to that person (name/website) from this post, so you can't say for sure who I was talking about, and he can't be upset if he ever reads it.
I was wondering if I should tell him this directly, but I decided against it. It might be considered unsolicited feedback, and I hate to do things that are not appreciated. One idea I remember from his is "mind your own business". He's 100% right - why not write this as a post on my site, instead of just an unsolicited feedback? 🙂