3 Great Products

3 Great Products

Today, we're introducing three great products. The first is a superb new link blog. The second is a fantastic new column. And the third is a fun new newsletter.

So, three things:

  1. A superb new link blog
  2. A fantastic new column
  3. A fun new newsletter

A link blog. A column. A newsletter.
A link blog. A column. A newsletter...

Are you getting it? These are not three separate products. These are one product. And I'm calling it Spyglass.


Thank you to those who signed up on launch day yesterday. I can un-ironically say that I was humbled by the response. And as promised, I wanted to give a bit more color on the plan going forward and then hopefully I can stop writing posts about writing posts for at least a few weeks.

The above, of course, references the best product unveil of all time. And while I'm perhaps aiming a tad lower than Spyglass growing into the most profitable product in the history of business, it is a good encapsulation for how I've been thinking about the publication. That is, three products in one.

My aim is for the link blog to populate a steady stream of interesting posts in the Spyglass main feed on the homepage. I intend for these posts to always be free of charge, and the goal is hopefully to drive traffic elsewhere, to great writing or information – perhaps in some cases comically bad content that I'll skewer and warn you about (but will still leave it to you to click and read, if you so choose).

A link to the external site (not necessarily always an article, by the way) will feature prominently at the top of the post. I'll often surface some key quotes off of which to riff with my own commentary on the topic at hand. Yes, this really is a link blog. These were popular back in the day before social media took over and ruined everything. Okay, not everything. At first, social media was great for sharing links, which is why link blogs largely went away. But that has changed over time as tastes and algorithms and Twitter's (mis)management has evolved.

Newfangled newsletters, just like the newsletters of old, took up some of the slack. And actually this was the focus of my previous newsletter, 5ish (as in, 5-ish links to share). But it feels like the time is right for the return of the link blog (with an assist from the newsletter – more on that in a minute).

Related and of note, I do not plan to send these link posts out via email to all of you who signed up for Spyglass. I'll share these posts on social channels and, of course, they'll reside on the main Spyglass site (and feed – including RSS). But I want to keep the mailing list a bit more pristine. Again, I plan to do these link posts regularly and so I don't wish to overwhelm everyone with the worst thing in the world (at least in my world): more email.

I know some of you may want these posts sent via that channel. And depending on demand, I may consider creating a separate email feed for this down the road (this is actually pretty simple, but again, I aim to keep things really simple to start).

A link blog post in the wild.

Columns

These will be longer posts – actually, strike thatoften they'll be longer, but sometimes they may very well be short. There's long been this annoying tendency for people to overwrite on various topics. If I had more time, I would have written a shorter post, and all that. But I do truly believe in that mantra. And that was the point of my last longer form site, 500ish. That is, trying to keep posts to around 500 words or so in length. I often failed at this, of course. But the intent was the key. I plan to carry that mentality over here. All of that is to say, not every post will be a dissertation. Some will be longer, but some will be quite short. They key isn't the length, but the words that reside within.

Such posts will focus on analysis and/or original thoughts on various topics. I suspect there will be a very heavy tech focus given my history and general area of knowledge. But I'm a man of many interests. I know there will be a lot of content around media and entertainment as well. I'll try to keep the sports content to a minimum. But did you know that the Michigan Wolverines won the college football national championship this year?

In relative short order I do hope to start charging for at least some of this content (probably not the posts about Jim Harbaugh). As noted yesterday, I want to get my writing legs back under me a bit first. But the truth is that I'm close to that point already. I'm sort of holding out hope that my infant daughter completes her sleep training before I start taking your money, but delirious paid posts are fun too, right?

The model will be super simple: $10/month or $100/year. This will give you access to all of the columns, which will be emailed to your inbox as I publish them (something mildly terrifying for me as I'm a person who historically likes to edit in post – that is, tweak a lot of things after I publish, which writing in newsletter form makes very complicated!). These posts will, of course, also go live on the main Spyglass site, just paywalled.

Why charge, you may ask? To quote Willie Sutton, "because that's where the money is." But seriously, I want to align our interests. You're not paying for the content, you're paying for something far more valuable to me: my time. Such alignment will keep me honest and going. I'm genuinely curious how good of a business I can turn this into, and I'm excited to find out. But I truly believe such pressure will make me a better writer. I'm old enough now to know myself: such stress – knowing people are paying me their hard earned money to do this – tends to motivate me. And so your future patronage is much appreciated and valued. It's up to me to prove the value.

What a column might look like -- this one wasn't good enough to be paid, IMO.

Newsletters

The final leg of the Spyglass stool will be a weekly newsletter, sent out on Fridays. This will be free to everyone who has subscribed to Spyglass (both free and paid). This will feature some thoughts about the week that was, or perhaps another unique bit of content up top. But the main content will be links to things that either didn't make sense for the link blog (i.e. no commentary required) or that I didn't get to (but are still worthy of your time, of course). And I'll include links to my work from the week (both commentary and columns) for those who aren't going to be refreshing the Spyglass website 24/7 – no ads, so fine by me!

I promise not to try to upsell you too much on the paid version of Spyglass. If you want to consume my content this way for free, that's cool with me too. The newsletter will be similar to the aforementioned previous newsletters I've done on other platforms, and those had quite a number of subscribers (many of whom are now reading here – thank you for your continued readership!) so let's keep with what was working, shall we?

I don't yet have an example of what this will look like, but I'm working on it for this coming Friday!


So that's the plan when it comes to content on Spyglass. At least at first. Everything is subject to change, of course. But I feel pretty confident in making the above work. It all feels quite natural, honestly. At the same time, it gives me plenty of room to maneuver if I want to experiment with some other forms of content or styles. A key thought here is simply to bring back some of the energy to writing online. The blogs of yesteryear had that – some might say too much. Now most things I read feel too bland and vanilla. This should be fun, I hope.

I mentioned it yesterday, but the key North Star I'm looking to here is simply to be right in what I write. A simple task but not an easy one, of course. As vain as it may be, anyone who knows me knows that I care about this perhaps above all else. If I'm being honest, it's a strength and a weakness, but it comes from a good place.

When I'm right about something, you'll undoubtedly hear about it. When I'm not, we'll move on. I kid, I kid – I'll make a point of revisiting such mistakes as well. And you all should hold me to it. As I've learned, that's how you learn. There's huge value there for me and hopefully you. But again, I'll try not to be wrong. Ever.