I woke up with a paralyzing hangover on this same day about ten years ago.
My partying had gotten so bad that I had peaked before all the New Year’s celebrations had even started.
Now I’m several years sober and in the best shape of my life. Every day, I wake up with energy and a drive to create. And that’s why I’m doing this crazy project of creating one email course per week.
If my calculations are correct, I’ll send you a total of 260 lessons plus another 52 summaries in the coming year. That’s a lot of emails. So, how will I create all of it?
That’s the topic of this newsletter: my approach to creating six pieces of educational content a week for one full year.
In January, I’ll dedicate an email course to each major step in my content creation process.
For now, let’s start with an overview:
How I’ll find content ideas
Twitter is by far my favorite social network. It’s how I find most ideas and how questions find me. I even met my girlfriend on Twitter!
I only need to post about a topic for a few days before people start sharing resources and asking me questions. When I don’t know the answer often enough, that tells me to learn more and start writing about it.
But I’m also a passionate lurker on forums and Reddit.
Long-form discussions are the best material to find content ideas. People ask questions and friendly internet strangers give insightful advice about what did and didn’t work for them. I can use this knowledge (with attribution) and share it with my audience, but the holes in these discussions are most interesting to me.
When I spot a question that's asked by several people, that’s my first signal to pay attention. If I don’t see anyone mention the answer that I have in mind, that’s a second signal.
With these signals, I usually set out to craft an answer. This could be a direct reply to the question, a post on a social platform, or even an in-depth blog post or video.
How I find content ideas will be the topic of the second email course I’ll publish in 2024.
How I’ll design learning experiences
Creating 300+ pieces of educational content is impossible without a system.
What does my system look like? Right now, it’s pretty barebones and I only have a few principles I’ll stick to. But that’s the beauty of this project: with every course I create, I (hopefully) discover better ways to do it.
Here are the principles I’ll stick to for now:
One theme per week. How can I create 52 courses in a year? By sticking to one theme a week and going deep.
Every theme gets five lessons. Monday through Friday, I send one email lesson. If a theme needs more than five lessons, I’ll break out the rest into a separate course.
One idea per lesson. I believe that focusing on one thought per day is the best way to make things stick. So every email will cover one idea, and will have one question to chew on for that day.
Below 1,000 words. Wordiness is one of my chronic illnesses. So, I’ll send you no more than 1,000 words per email lesson. That’s 5 minutes of reading per day. Doable, right?
How to design learning experiences (via email) will be the topic of the third email course I’ll publish.
As for systems…
How I’ll write and publish email courses
You’re reading this newsletter in your email client or web browser. Either way, the open-source platform Ghost made sure you have access to this content.
I’ve used many platforms in the two decades I’ve published online — from WordPress to ConvertKit and everything in between — and Ghost is the perfect solution for me. And for some of the automation it’s lacking, there are other tools (more on that in a bit).
But Ghost is where my content ends up. How does it get there?
Unsurprisingly, I heavily lean on Logseq (where I work in support) to store my research, manage projects, and outline content. Logseq is where I spend most of my time while in the messy writing stages.
Once I have a better idea of what I want to say, I open Ulysses next to Logseq and start drafting. Directly from Ulysses, I send a draft to Ghost to prepare it for publishing to the web and sending via email:
Ghost is great for me as I’m basically writing a daily newsletter. But what if you don’t want to publish your email courses to the web and instead want to send them automatically to people only when they sign up for your email list? Unfortunately, Ghost does not support this.
But luckily there’s this nifty service called Outpost, which I’ll use more as the year progresses. Outpost makes up for some of Ghost’s shortcomings, like welcome emails and sequences. But I’m sure that at some point I’ll also use some of ConvertKit’s awesome tools, which I’ll teach to you as well.
How to write and publish email courses will be the topic of the fourth email course.
Recap and what’s next
That’s it for now. Let’s recap what I've shared today:
- Social media, forums, and you will be important sources of inspiration for the email courses I’ll write. So please don’t be a stranger and use that
Commentbutton at the end of the emails to share your thoughts. Or just hit reply and share anything privately via email.
- Each email course (and lesson) will be formatted similarly, so it’s easier for me to produce and for you to consume. However, I’ll likely change the format as I get more experience with the daily cadence. If you have suggestions, never hesitate to let me know.
- Because I want to publish content both online and via email, I’ll use the open source publishing tool Ghost in combination with Outpost for automation. For my writing process I’ll use Logseq for note-taking and outlining, and Ulysses for drafting and sending content to Ghost.
In less than 48 hours, you’ll receive the first lesson. We’ll start our year of courses with a deep dive into all the benefits that email courses have for learners, content creators, community builders, and you (regardless of your external goals).
I already wish you an amazing New Year!
Write to you on Monday.