My personal newsletter has no set design.
It used to. Maybe it should again. But here’s why it probably won’t.
My metric for newsletter success is the replies (relationship building).
Some of my metrics for delight in the newsletters I love are: surprise, personality, and lack of formality.
The only design I’ve found that keeps people reading to the end of any newsletter is chaos.
If the reader doesn’t know what’s coming next, but keeps receiving value (in the form of links, photos, quotes, whatever), they tend to read the full newsletter.
Chaotic design is what seems to get read. In my experience, it gets the most replies. So, it meets my definition as being the most successful.
It makes sense too. A formal, well-scrubbed newsletter with a clear hierarchy, doesn’t seem personal. It doesn’t seem like you could reply and get an answer. It doesn’t seem like you could find something novel, like a really unique, sharable link. It seems corporate.
Remember, you’re writing for one person, not an audience.
Think of your newsletter as a letter to a singular reader offering something new.