A newsletter subscription service with no email

Recently I began looking at a subscription newsletter for this blog. From my experience in digital marketing, I know starting some form of mass email isn’t trivial. I also noticed many of these email services force you to contain a sender address to comply with GDPR. This is an understandable feature for businesses, however, for a small blog like this one, that would mean renting a PR box, or attaching my home address to the emails. And even after all this, you still need to pay for and implement it on your site, so I propose a solution.

My proposition was an idea that people could subscribe via discord channels. I know many people can’t invest in services like PR boxes or business addresses for their small projects, so this would be very much targeted at small / developing projects. My general target audience for something like this would be small blogs (like this one), podcasts, open source projects and music artists.

I posted about this on reddit, however I wrote this article before I made the post. The post on reddit was market research mainly aimed at podcasts to see how many people would take to the idea. The response was not a lot but fairly positive. However all my talking points would be a wall of text on reddit, so I think it may be best to summarise on reddit and go into detail here.

Original reddit post

The implementation would be simple, you’re given a link. When you click that link, it would take you through to discord to authorize a webhook into your discord server. Once you use that link, a message would be sent to that channel to let you know you had subscribed. It would save this webhook into a database along with the other webhooks in that database. A message could be sent through to all these webhooks at once, like a newsletter.

This blog will be primarily about discord, but I think this could easily be expanded and implemented to other platforms. Such as Slack and Google chats. These platforms also support webhooks in a similar style to discord.

Why not just use discord announcement feature?

The announcement feature on discord is a very good feature, however it has its limitations. These announcements are also effectively webhooks, however they are very restricted. The first limitation that comes to mind is that these announcements will not change server icon or name, even if the server does.

a screenshot of a discord announcement about a new website for quotebot

An announcement webhook that contains my old server name and logo, before I decided to dedicate the server to QuoteBot.

But it could be updated dynamically with a subscription service, and even changed for each message.

Another disadvantage of this is that it requires a community discord server. That may seem obvious, but if you’re running a small project in your spare time and don’t have the money to hire moderators, this may not be the best option.

It also isn’t easy for those unfamiliar with discord and can be forgotten easily. I’ve done it myself when I’ve forgot to configure permissions for a channel or role (Anyone could @everyone in the QuoteBot server for months before I noticed it). A good, simple, straight to the point interface could help in this scenario.

This is also a discord exclusive feature. Obviously you can’t subscribe to a discord announcement channel in a slack channel and vice versa. A subscription service may potentially allow messages through both slack and discord, as well as other services potentially.

Isn’t there bots for this?

Yes, but this can be an issue. It’s unlikely for a discord bot created for every service, since it requires knowledge of coding, infrastructure to host the bot, and some people may not be able to verify their bot (which restricts the bot to 100 servers).

There is RSS bots, however, this is strictly limited to what services support RSS. This is also strictly limited to how well a person is familiar with setting up bots on discord (and finding where said RSS feed is located). These bots can also only read stuff that’s in the RSS feed. It might benefit a creator to be able to give different content in their messages then their content description. Also if similar pieces of content are pushed at once, this can result in a bot posting needless pings for variations of the same content (It’s happened before and trust me, it’s annoying). A messaging service would prevent this happening. Given I’m going to have to publish three articles in the same hour for this project, it will be a great example.

I feel this would also be a great system since it can remove the barrier to entry for making an app. For example many free game services need their own bots, which can be a lot of commitment. As mentioned before, bots require infrastructure, which costs money which can be a financial barrier. Infrastructure also takes management and the ability to secure a server which can be a knowledge barrier.

Proof of concept

I have created a small application to see how well it performs, this is Subscriber Guru. Right now, the site is only a landing page. The application isn’t ready to use yet but I wanted to see if other people would use.

Feedback is always welcome on this, I have many ideas for this project. I’ve created a Frill board of ideas which anyone can access and contribute to. You can give any feedback also in the comments. Thank you for reading, and I hope you find this useful.

Subscriber Guru - A modern newsletter that doesn't rely on personal data | Product Hunt

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