Setting up a newsletter with Mailchimp
One of the biggest roadblocks for me when it came to deleting my facebook was how I would keep in touch with my friends and loved ones and I think it's probably fair to say that for most people that's the case as well. Facebook very ingeniously integrated into our lives as a kind of social utility- by becoming our universal address book of sorts. But there are alternatives.
There are a myriad free and paid blogging platforms that you can publish on that allow you to have more control over your content. From there all you need is a way to automate notifications to let readers know when you update your site, and voila- you've replicated 90% of the functionality of your social media platform of choice.
Mailchimp is an email marketing tool that allows you to set up that kind of automation. While it's used mostly by brands and businesses to keep in touch with their customers, it can also be used to automate emails for general news and updates. The best part about it is that it allows you to use their service for FREE for up to 2000 subscribers. Essentially what you'll have to do is:
- Set up your blog and Mailchimp account
- Create a mailing list of emails
- Create an email campaign
Mailchimp does a really good job of walking you through all the steps and has a lot of great resources to help you get started. What did take me a few tries was how to set up the content of my email. My ideal blog update email consisted of some intro text, my 3 most recent posts, a button to read more on each post, and a list of older posts. Mailchimp fortunately has it's own markup that allowed me to do this, but it took some effort to learn- I'll breakdown how I did my markup, but first here's a screenshot for reference:
Just a quick little blurb to give some context to the email that will go right below the header (which is my logo).
If you're getting this email you're in a very selective audience of people whom I love and care about and want to keep updated on my comings and goings.
This markup inserts a feed of the 3 most recent posts. You have to open this block by declaring your RSS source.
$count=3 tells the feed to only include the three most recent posts while $constrain_rss_img=Y tells the feed to constrain images by their height. The next two lines tell the block to include the title and the first image form the post. Read more about RSS merge tags here. IMPORTANT: Your images will display at the height you add them in your blog! So make your first image size mobile friendly (I did 500px square).
You can use Mailchimps GUI to add a button at this point. Make sure you set the destination to:
Close feed block
After that all you need to to is add these two lines to close out your feed block:
Last I added a small footer of a list of older blog posts like so:
And that' that! All in all it's a pretty simple set up once you get going. Hopefully this helps you.