Dang. It’s been a minute.
How are you?
The last time I sent a newsletter was back in February when I shared that 7 For Seven was going on a break so that I could catch up on life and work on moving the newsletter to something new that I’m working on. (More info below on that “something new.”) If you’re a longtime subscriber, it’s great to see you, even though I can’t see you. (You know what I mean.)
If you’re a new subscriber who signed up after my last email from February, welcome! I usually don’t take such long breaks. I appreciate your patience in signing up for something and then not hearing back from me for a while.
Tonight’s email is long, but it’s full of important updates. Think of it as a sort of “previously on …” recap before we get back into the swing of things.
I’m sending an update tonight to let you know that, after some healthy and enjoyable time away, the move of 7 For Seven is pretty much ready to go. Almost. I think. It’s close enough where I can start sending out weekly emails and troubleshoot the final touches as we go along.
One of those troubleshoots: getting y’all over to Mailchimp. If you’re reading this, then I’ve already transferred you over, and tomorrow morning (7 AM EST) I’ll send out my first email to you from Mailchimp. It’ll be a freebee email; I just need to test to make sure you receive it and that it’s not going to spam. The transition should be seamless — I’ve sent Mailchimp emails in the past — but you never know, right? And THEN next Wednesday, I’ll share the link to the new 7 For Seven.
So for May = get back into the groove of sending weekly emails
June = continue getting back into the groove (it’s been a while!) and make tweaks as needed.
Then for July = get back into publishing bi-monthly (or maybe monthly, still deciding) writer interviews, which also will be sent from Mailchimp.
[deep breath] TOMORROW MORNING, IF YOU DON’T SEE AN EMAIL FROM ME, PLEASE CHECK YOUR SPAM. IF YOU STILL DON’T SEE ANY EMAIL, REACH OUT (respond to this email or reach out directly to my gmail, bradywgerber) AND WE’LL MAKE SOMETHING WORK.
Another bit of housekeeping: If you wish to unsubscribe — if you’re not into the idea of 7 For Seven moving to a new place, if you’re sick of emails in general, if you forgot who I am — now’s the time to do it. Well, like, any time is a good time to unsubscribe from any newsletter. But the next few weeks will include some growing pains, and that might not be what you’re into. I understand that and want to be upfront about it. 7 For Seven is about to change into something that you maybe were not expecting or wanting when you first signed up.
I obviously care very much that you follow and read this newsletter. I’m glad 7 For Seven has attracted so many different kinds of readers over the years who get different things out of it. Some of you have shared that you only click on one link per week, but that link ends up being the best thing that you’ve read all week. I consider that a success. And it looks like most of you click on multiple links anyway. 7 For Seven’s vagueness (or the nicer-sounding “open-ended-ness”) is its weakness and strength. It’s all about sharing amazing stuff that can help us stay engaged with the world around us, even if it has nothing to do with writing. This is the space where I want to keep things loose and weird. Keeping 7 For Seven free also allows me to be more flexible and on the move with these links. I’m glad I have something in my life where there’s a stronger sense of ownership, even if it’s technically hosted on a different platform. With that specific freedom comes your freedom, as a reader and subscriber, to come and go as you please. If you’re no longer interested in the links, it was an honor to have you here in the first place.
It’s worth repeating: The next two weeks are a free grace period to unsubscribe from this newsletter guilt-free. If you unsubscribe three weeks from now, I will take it personally and not be able to sleep, of course. I’ll also keep this Substack open for a little while to make sure everything has moved over alright.
How will you be rewarded for sticking out for the next few weeks? Why change at all?
The main reason: I’m building something!
As I’ve gotten more into software engineering (I went back to school this past winter via a coding Bootcamp, after years of casually coding and programming for fun outside of writing) I’ve become more excited by the idea of building my own platform, where I can experiment and test out different ideas on a more technical level. It’s opened up many doors that I didn’t know existed just a few years ago, and I’m excited by checking out what’s on the other side of it all, even if I have to stumble my way through the dark for a little.
That’s a nice transition into the final part of this update. I want to dig a little deeper with y’all into my thought process going forward. I’ll expand upon these ideas again soon, but here’s what I’m thinking for what I want 7 For Seven to become, and why. In seven points, of course.
This is a weird experiment. Let’s have fun with it. Right now I’m in the early stages of building a new writing platform. In my mind, I imagine it sort of like a more fluid and interactive spin on Google Docs, which … I recently learned how to do? Or at least, I learned that it’s possible to do with my current technical “knowledge” (and ability to Google). I’m also a big fan of Dan Oshinsky’s monthly newsletter-as-a-doc, Not a Newsletter. So what better way to make this transition than to first test 7 For Seven out on … Google Docs! And guess what: y’all get to be in on the experiment. We’re all going through this together and seeing if this could work. If I fall flat on my face, you get front-row seats to it all and get to hang it over my head for the rest of my life. If it works out, you get to be the first to take advantage of something slowly being built in real-time. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Space >= Content (for now). This is a big theme of the new 7 For Seven. From writing professionally for over a decade, and building and running blogs and newsletters throughout those years, I’ve come to believe that the majority of you care the most about the consistent links I share. The specific medium isn’t the dealmaker or breaker. I’m betting - and I could be wrong - that many of you could actually get into the novelty and experimentation with this space. Or not! If this isn’t your thing, or if you can only associate Google Docs with work, I get it. But this is just holding space until the new thing is built. (I hate that for now, I can only call it “the new thing,” still working on a fancier name.)
Same content, different views. Again, the most important part of 7 For Seven - the part I consider core - will remain the same. Most of the compliments 7 For Seven receives come from either the writer interviews or that every week, there’s at least one or two links that they click on and really enjoy. None of that is going away.
The Front Page. I think one of the limitations of an email newsletter is that you have to scan the whole thing to maybe only read parts of it. For example, if you’re not into the first half of an email and you click “delete,” maybe you missed out on a link that you would have loved that was hidden in the second half of the email. Most of us don’t think in linear terms anymore when it comes to going online. Most of us are probably past-numb to emails anyway. I want 7 For Seven to try to reflect that. To help guide y’all through all the links, I’m trying to make a sort of front page that’ll act as a table of contents with blurbs for the numbers and different sections. This will act like a digital newspaper that links throughout the rest of the doc; if you only want to check out link #6, let’s make it easier for you to get to #6 right away. And if you’re fine to scan all the links and try something new, you can still browse. I don’t pretend to hope that you’re going to click on every single link each week. So let’s make it easier for you to find the link that you’re most interested in.
This doc is a time capsule - a collection that grows with us as the year moves along. In a way, this new doc will try to be one single document with one “post” per week, but it builds upon itself into something larger and more encompassing across the year. As we move along, we get to see all the things shared all in one place, instead of seeing and deleting one email a week and forgetting anything great from past weeks. I’ll keep a section that stores all the past links and interviews I’ve been sharing. And then we get to hit refresh with each new year. New year, new doc, new us.
I don’t have to annoy you for “engagement” anymore. I also think that many newsletters (intentionally or not) have a certain look that benefits from a lot of shares, likes, and other numbers that are visibly displayed. A tweet with thousands of likes, shares, and replies? mUsT bE gOoD cOnTeNt. It would be sweet if every one of my newsletters could prove that hundreds of hundreds of people have “liked” it, even if I don’t know what that actually means. I also think playing the numbers game adds a weird level of stress for everyone. It’s not enough now just to subscribe; as a reader, there’s still all the other “work” to be done to support it, like keep liking it, and keep sharing it, and keep clicking on every single link. Not with this doc. I could care less about those numbers (I’m making zero money from this newsletter; if I was charging people to read it, I would care very much about numbers and engagement), so I don’t want any pressure for leaving comments or “liking.” Obviously, I’d love for you to share the doc because word-of-mouth and getting shout-outs by cool people in their newsletters remain the biggest factors in how 7 For Seven has grown. But I don’t want to put a number value on any of it anymore. What we take away from life and each other is more complicated and nuanced than, “This blog post made me a more mindful person because it had 100+ shares.” Some of the best writing I’ve read in recent years have been from blogs or newsletters with less than 100 followers. Once you subscribe to the new email that’ll go out tomorrow that sends you the doc link each week, that’s it! Enjoy the doc! You made it! Check out the doc and then go live a life away from it.
And if this doc ends up being a dud, there’s always Mailchimp, or something else. 7 For Seven originally started as a Tinyletter and very much still channels the energy of a scrappy newsletter. If this doc truly falls flat on its face and ends up being something that none of us like, I can always go back to the traditional newsletter format, or to something else entirely. I’m fully prepared to do that. We’ll find out together.
Thanks for reading. Y’all rock.
Stay tuned for tomorrow morning.