I’ve now completed the migration and automation of the Weekly Thing using MailChimp, and I’m very happy with how it has all worked out. Newsletters are experiencing a renaissance, so let me share why I moved from TinyLetter to MailChimp.
Be aware that TinyLetter was purchased by MailChimp. I don’t expect TinyLetter to get shut down, but I also don’t expect it to get any significant attention. TinyLetter is purpose-built for personal newsletters and ease-of-use. It is very easy to use, as promised, but it lacks power features that I knew I would want.
My move to MailChimp was driven by a few things:
- I wanted to customize the template for my newsletter. I make frequent use of block quotes and TinyLetter didn’t deal with those, neither did the standard MailChimp templates. TinyLetter doesn’t allow you to change the template, so I knew I would need to use something more powerful, and at some point I would need to author my own template. This a pain because dealing with HTML in email is really gross.
- I wanted to automate the process of creating the newsletter. I use Workflow to build the sections of the Weekly Thing. I also can use Workflow to access the MailChimp API to create my campaign, upload pictures and send the HTML of the newsletter. This saves me significant time each week.
- I knew that the advanced segmentation features of MailChimp may come in handy at some point. I haven’t used them yet, but it’s nice to know I can reach out to a subset of subscribers if I want.
MailChimp gives significantly more freedom and control, but it comes at the expense of additional complexity. When I first moved from TinyLetter to MailChimp, the time it took me to generate the Weekly Thing doubled or worse. I also had to use a laptop, since some of the tools wouldn’t work on my iPhone. Now that I’ve gotten my workflows updated, I can generate the newsletter faster than ever before, and once again I can do it all on my iPhone.