Web Design Weekly is a weekly email newsletter that curates cool content for developers. What began four years ago as a passion project for Jake Bresnehan has blossomed into a successful newsletter with 25K+ subscribers.
Each Friday, Jake sends the Web Design Weekly to a community of designers and developers. He’s laser-focused on simple design and digestible content that his subscribers want to read.
Jake works full-time as a web developer for a company that’s based in Sydney, Australia, and Web Design Weekly is his successful side hustle. His partner acts as a proofreader, but besides that, he’s a one-man show.
We sat down with Jake to learn about how he’s grown Web Design Weekly from a fledgling passion project to a successful email newsletter with an engaged and growing audience.
How did you get started with Web Design Weekly?
JB: About four years ago, when I was doing freelancing and consulting work, I worked in an incubator space full of developers. Everyone around me was working on cool stuff, and we often chatted about interesting articles we’d seen online.
I was collecting tons of links to read for myself and thought that I should start sending them out. It was before companies were doing a lot of weekly digest emails. Every Friday for the past four years, I’ve sent out a weekly email campaign to other web developers. I see it as a way to give back to the community I’m part of.
What’s your philosophy on email marketing, and how has it worked for Web Design Weekly?
JB: Whether it’s a real world interaction or via email, I want to be real with no frills. My motto is “I like to send people emails that I would like to receive.” Every weekly email that I send out is something that I would want to get every week. I don’t want any clickbait. I’ve kept things very simple. It’s been amazing how well this simple philosophy has served me.
I have a page on my site where folks can submit a link to an article of interest and if it meets the standard, I do my best to include it in the newsletter. This is part of building a community, and I try to be as personable as possible. I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from how Campaign Monitor does customer support. I’m only a one-man show, but it’s inspiring to see larger companies approach customer relationships with such care.
Many companies use email as a marketing tactic, but for you, email is your product. What insights can you share?
JB: The key to my success is being consistent, and having a routine. This is something I do now, like filling out a timesheet. It’s non-negotiable. Consistency is, without a doubt, the biggest root for my success.
I continue to treat my audience like regular people. It would be easy to come in and say “I’ve got this huge list now, let’s target them with marketing,” but I’m sure I could lose so many subscribers instantly if I went in the wrong direction. I’m not willing to take that risk. I need to be true to what I offer.
I also have a blog, and have a call to action in the footer to sign up for the newsletter, so I’d recommend that strategy to others. That worked extremely well. Every time I blog, I get more subscribers. I also have a large call to action to sign up on the homepage of my site to encourage people to sign up.
I’ve also developed a few plug-ins, like a Campaign Monitor plug-in that shows a dashboard, that I can share with my followers.
What’s in the future for Web Design Weekly?
JB: Web Design Weekly is email first. I’m not a company that has a product I’m promoting. Now, I’ve got a large audience, and even though my email newsletter is my product, I still need to figure out how to serve my audience.
I have a large audience and would love to be able to serve them with helpful products and services. I’ve got a couple of products, which aren’t quite ready, that I’d love to release in the coming months. Giving back to the web development community feels good, and I’ve been able to do that for four years by sending an email every Friday. Now it’s time to figure out where to go next. I’m really excited about these great looking WordPress themes I’ve just released so we’ll see where it goes.
Web Design Weekly doesn’t just incorporate email marketing into their marketing tactics — it IS email. Jake uses Campaign Monitor to grow his audience and believes that consistency is the key to his success. He’s kept it simple, and that’s worked extremely well for Web Design Weekly.