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The Sidebar newsletter was one of my primary sources when I started in webdev. Every workday, it shares (or used to share) web design links. It's now taking a break.

The reasons: lack of time, good content becoming less accessible and money.

Let's get to the last point. Sidebar wasn't a small newsletter. 60k people received five emails a week and it was not sustainable anymore. Wow!

Here's Sacha Greif talking about the money part:

I could justify the time expenditure when Sidebar was self-sustaining, but for a while now the site has cost far more to run than it makes. It turns out, sending 20 emails a month to about 60,000 people costs quite a bit of money!

It’s admittedly my fault for not working harder at getting sponsors, but again: no time.

Very sad. What many don't see, running a newsletter eats a ton of time.

Let's do some math: in Sidebar's case, we're talking about five weekly emails with a few links. That's quickly done, right?

To make things easy to calculate: let's ignore the content reading and curation part and assume that writing, grammar checking and sending these mails take an hour each.

This makes 5 hours a week, 20 hours a month, or roughly 250 hours a year. If we put an easy-to-calculate hourly rate of $100 next to this time, we end up looking at time worth $500 a week, $2000 a month and $25000 a year.

On top of that, sending over a million monthly emails (20 monthly emails sent to 60k subscribers) isn't cheap either. That's another few hundred dollars a month.

It's neither quickly done nor cheap.

Sacha points out that he failed to get enough sponsors on board. Meaning, he hasn't had time to knock on doors and ask for money. But is he really the one to blame for favoring sharing good stuff over putting ads in front of his readers? This feels off.

Good content is already becoming rare with AI and Search enshittification in full swing. Algorithms promote hate, drama, and "engagement". The state of online content discovery is bad β€” really bad β€” and it won't get better soon.

So, what am I getting at here?

We, you and I need to support our local content dealers. Content creators, newsletters and curators are essential for discovering "the good stuff"β„’.

I'll revisit my content subscriptions and feeds this month to see whom I can support. If you can, you might want to do the same.

If you're looking for excellent content sources to support, I'll keep track of the ones I support:

And if you're only looking for good web content, check my blogroll.

Either way, thanks, Sacha, for showing me the web dev and design ropes ten years ago! πŸ’™

Update: Sacha himself has read this post and commented:

Just to be clear I definitely don't blame Sidebar readers for any of this, I'm sure if I had asked for payment or even donations I would've earned enough. It's really mostly about the time and focus.

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About Stefan Judis

Frontend nerd with over ten years of experience, freelance dev, "Today I Learned" blogger, conference speaker, and Open Source maintainer.

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