Sorry for the, uh, [checks calendar] three month interruption in weekly Buttondown coverage.
I wrote some of this on Twitter, but it has been a period of vague and guilty restoration. I am not sure whether or not to call this writer’s block or developer’s block: I was fatigued, and busy, and could not muster the energy to do much of either.
The good news — Buttondown sits mostly stable even when it’s not being actively tinkered with. Sure, there are customer service emails and requests (mostly around help importing and help with inbox placement) — when are there not! — but being able to yawn and check my queues and metrics and see nothing awry is a little blessing, and a good reward for the boring work of building boring software.
(If you’re interested in getting three months of this newsletter for free, as a small measure of recompense, just respond and let me know.)
Halfway through rebuilding Buttondown’s documentation, I decided to abandon ship and rebuild the FAQ in Notion. Notion has its flaws, but it’s really good at displaying semi-structured data, and optimizing for ease-of-search and ease-of-addition over everything else seems like the right move.
I’ve already added more entries in the past week than I did in all of 2019, which is gratifying. Building desire paths and ergonomic tooling is not exactly rational when you’re the only person using the tools, but I’ve found that making the most odious tasks as frictionless as possible goes a long way to making them habitual as opposed to the thing that sticks at the bottom of your todo list forever.
For a long time, “better documentation” and “respond to customers” were at the bottom of my todo list — not of placement, mind you, but simply because they were the things that I was least keen to work on.
Now, of course, it is marketing.
I implemented probably the single biggest improvement to Buttondown’s deliverability which I budgeted around two weeks’ worth of effort for and, of course, it took twenty seven minutes: sending from
@mg.buttondown.email, to essentially solve the “people are sending from gmail addresses and getting flagged as spam” problem.
(It should be noted that this is not a clever or novel solution: this is what many other tools rightfully do.)
The question now is how heavy-handed I want to be with delivery: I am tempted to grab the ten thousand or so newsletters still sending from a gmail/hotmail address and automatically enroll them (with a cursory email explaining why). This is effortful, and somewhat chaotic, but would unambiguously improve email delivery.