The Penguin Latte Podcast #20 – Uri Bram on Publishing a Newsletter with 50,000 Subscribers, How to Enjoy Writing, and Statistical Errors We Make Everyday

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple | Listen on YouTube

Warning: what follows is a communion of two souls in a chance encounter.

Uri Bram is the publisher of The Browser — a weekly newsletter curated by Uri and his team, read by over 50,000 subscribers. He’s written two books: Thinking Statistically and The Business of Big Data. Uri is also the designer of three games: Lettercat, Person Do Thing, and Days Old.

Uri and I had never spoken before we recorded this episode. And neither had I heard of The Browser prior to two weeks before this post. The morning I discovered their work was the morning I became brighter, smarter, more entertaining, or at the very least, half as much as the folks working hard to produce the world’s favorite curation newsletter.

I kept scrolling through their site.

I was floored.

Their website is topnotch. The giraffe mascot is cute as all hell.

Most important, they collect only the finest, most entertaining and thought provoking articles on the Internet. I’m incredibly impressed at their high bar for quality. I promise that any article chosen by their hard working team is worth the read. This isn’t your typical buzzfeed bullshit. And nor is it as high brow as The New Yorker. The content they collect is fun, interesting, hilarious, and full of humanity. Reading articles from The Browser is now a part of my evening reading routine. It’s making me less stupid, and it’ll make you less stupid, too.

In this conversation, we discuss Uri’s writing process at length. Uri’s a much more experienced writer than I am. And I learned so much about how difficult it is to organize hundreds, if not thousands of ideas in a book. We also discuss content curation (not creation), and why The Browser is world-class at it, game design, meditation, getting unstuck, going for walks and getting out in nature, how regular people can benefit from learning statistics, and much more.

So grab your favorite coffee and please enjoy our talk!

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple | Listen on YouTube


This episode is brought to you by my weekly newsletter, Hey Penguin. Hey Penguin includes tips for improving yourself through creativity, plus a bunch of extra goodies like drafts of blog posts, art I’m digging, letters from my audience, and previews of podcast episodes. Sounds good? Click here to subscribe and get the next issue delivered straight to your inbox on Sunday.

Thoughts on how to make newsletters better

Getting better at a game means getting better at thinking about how to play the game. It’s called meta-gaming. Even Monopoly can be meta-gamed.

If you’re a newsletter writer, it’s likely that you follow a lot of newsletter writers on Twitter. And so all you see is newsletter meta-game. This is the best platform. No, this platform is better. This is how you standout. No, that’s not how you standout anymore because now everyone is doing that. Newsletters aren’t dying. No, newsletters are dying and if you subscribe to my newsletter I’ll tell you why.

It’s as if all these newsletter writers are writing for other newsletter writers.

Your readers probably aren’t other newsletter writers.

To avoid the trap of newsletter meta-gaming, here’s a few simple questions.

Why should your readers keep reading your newsletter?

What would your readers say to their friends about your newsletter?

What’s cool about your readers?

What makes your readers different from their readers?

How can you be sure that your readers don’t become a commodity?

Remember your readers, and they’ll remember you. That’s all that matters.