Five years ago, I was sitting in the basement cafe at Google Campus in London, writing the first issue of H+ Weekly. The idea was to create a weekly newsletter about AI, robotics, biotech and other technologies that blur the line between human and machines. I haven't found anything like that back then and I thought I can fill this space.
I wrote the first issue. Then I showed it to people and people started to sign up. The next week the second issue went out, then another one, and another one, and so on. 262 weeks later and we are here.
H+ Weekly is the longest project I have ever done. Nothing I did before lasted for 5 years. I haven't missed a week (although some issues went out a day later).
I'm proud of what I have built. I'm happy hundreds of people read what I created every week. It is an interesting journey to be on. I learned a thing or two and along the way, I have changed how I work and I changed personally.
Make the content come to you
I would not be able to research articles, videos and other media for the newsletter if I was actively looking for it. I just don't have time to scroll through Reddit, HackerNews, tech blogs and news sites, and fit that next to my day job and other commitments. So instead of me going to hunt for content, I have made content come to me.
Block time for writing
In the beginning, I was writing the newsletter in between other tasks. It did not work. Now I am blocking Thursdays evenings to write the newsletter. It is a 3-hour block where I do nothing but write the next issue. It is much better to focus on one thing instead of switching your mind back and worth.
Automate as much as you can
When you do everything on your own you quickly realise you cannot do everything on your own. You can either delegate the work or automate it. I have chosen the latter.
Whenever I can automate something, I automate it. Making content come to me is a form of automation. I have written scripts to generate thumbnails because I had enough of opening Photoshop to change one thing. I have another script that takes the links from the newsletter and queues them in Buffer so they can go later on Twitter and Facebook.
There are other tasks I can automate. The general rule is this - if a task is repetitive and boring, it is a good candidate to automate. I prefer to leave those tasks to machines and focus on being creative.
Use the right tools
Choosing the right tools is important. I have already mentioned some tools and services and here are other I use.
I use Mailchimp to send emails. It's good enough for me right now.
Initially, the website was running on Wordpress and hosted somewhere I had to pay for. About two years ago I moved the site to run on Gatsby and be hosted on Netlify. It's way faster now and I don't have to pay anything (yay!).
Building a community is something I failed to accomplish. The community wasn't something I was considering when I started H+ Weekly 5 years ago. I see it now as a missed opportunity. It is something I want to improve in the next year. I want H+ Weekly to belong to the community, not just to me. I want H+ Weekly to be bigger than me.
Running a weekly newsletter required me to change how I work. I had to schedule my time correctly and put the right tools and processes in place. Changes I have made ultimately changed me.
Years three and four were the hardest. Writing the next issue felt like a chore. I was considering quitting. But I couldn't. I just could not say I'm done. It is over.
In the last months, I took the newsletter more seriously. As a result of that, last month the newsletter grew more than in the previous year.
I started to have ideas on how to make the newsletter better. One of them become The Timeline of the Future. The Dead Robots series is another one. The idea of creating a community showed up. And I have more ideas I want to see becoming a reality.
For me, H+ Weekly is a journey that taught me how to research, how to automate, how to write and how to be creative and how to move forward when I don't want to. I've got exposed to many thought-provoking ideas and met interesting people along the way. This experience shaped how I think and who I am right now. I'm happy that those 5 years ago I followed up with an idea and made it happen.
Thank you to all of you who were or still are a part of this journey.