“There’s nothing to do in Waterloo.”
I heard it so often that I decided to do something about it. In February of 2016, I started a weekly events newsletter to showcase music, art, theatre and cultural events happening around Kitchener-Waterloo.
Almost five years later, it was time to make a change. Not to the content of the newsletter — but to the platform behind it. Goodbye Mailchimp. Hello Substack.
Mailchimp is great, but it’s built for marketing and e-commerce. Building the newsletter each week was taking around two hours in Mailchimp. This is my personal project on my personal time. Two hours is a lot — especially since I build the newsletter on the weekend.
Substack was my choice for four reasons.
- It’s built for writers and it’s built for speed.
- You can build subscriptions into your newsletter — something I’m not doing yet, but may do one day.
- Founder and CEO Chris Best is a University of Waterloo grad and was the co-founder of Kik here in Waterloo.
- My favourite newsletter, Twelve Thirty Six, moved to Substack a while ago and I really love the way it looks.
Setting up is a snap. Create your account, name your newsletter, add a log and you’re off to the races.
Moving four and bit years worth of content was the next step. I exported my audience and campaign archive from Mailchimp and imported it in minutes into Substack.
I use the same format each week — events running Tuesday through the following Monday, a list of ways to support local charitable organizations and a reading list of local news.
There isn’t a way to copy an existing newsletter, so I created a draft that has the structure I can copy and paste from each week.
Moving to a new platform gave me a little bit of anxiety when it comes to open rates. Would subscribers get the newsletter in their spam/junk folders? I used the same send email address for both Mailchimp and Substack to help mitigate this. In the end, there wasn’t an issue — the open rate of the first Substack newsletter was around the same as when sending from MailChimp.
If you have an existing newsletter or are looking to move, give Substack a look.
And if you live in Kitchener-Waterloo, sign up here — https://tlwr.substack.com/