Today I have a post on how to tell stories quickly, a personal essay on why I left ActiveCampaign for beehiiv, and our usual links roundup.

—Nick Wolny

How to tell quick stories that convert

One of the most successful advertisements in history was the “Two Men” letter by The Wall Street Journal. This sales letter is many copywriters’ Roman Empire; it produced over $2 billion in subscription sales for the paper over the course of the 21st century, largely without any edits or revisions.

Here is how the two men letter opens:

“On a beautiful late spring afternoon, twenty-five years ago, two young men graduated from the same college. They were very much alike, these two young men. Both had been better than average students, both were personable and both — as young college graduates are — were filled with ambitious dreams for the future.
Recently, these young men returned to their college for their 25th reunion. They were still very much alike. Both were happily married. Both had three children. And both, it turned out, had gone to work for the same Midwestern manufacturing company after graduation, and were still there.
But there was a difference. One of the men was manager of a small department. The other was its president.”

The letter then goes on to explain that the President, the desirable character in our story, had been a subscriber of The Wall Street Journal, and goes on to tout the features and benefits of a subscription, along with an introductory price.

The two men letter is an example of an anecdotal lead. By opening an article or post with an anecdote, you leverage storytelling elements that create a deeper psychological connection with your reader. Traditional leads usually don’t start with an anecdote, but when done well the anecdotal lead is one of the best ways to hook readers immediately.

Anecdotes are stylish, and in today’s AI-saturated world the ability to write or speak them can help you stand out in your industry.

A refreshed essay of mine in Medium will give you the scoop.

🔗 Read on Medium

Why I left ActiveCampaign

For several years, I have endorsed ActiveCampaign as an email marketing tool. I’ve personally sent tens of thousands of emails through ActiveCampaign, put my clients on it, made dozens of walkthrough videos on it, and recommended it to other business owners.

More than endorsing any one particular tool, what I endorse is picking something that works, then just sticking with it so you’re not bouncing around all the time.

Last week, though, I cut the cord. ActiveCampaign felt increasingly slow, and other tools were adding features that were more creator-centric. I've sometimes written that I don't see myself as an entrepreneur, but rather a creator with an entrepreneurial skill set, and that still rings true.

I migrated over to beehiiv, which also announced its $33 million Series B this week. Here's a quick personal essay on what changed both with newsletter culture and myself that inspired the switch.

🔗 Read on

Reading Is Fundamental

Content marketing and online business

Excuse me, is there a problem?One of the best essays I've read on market validation in business in a long time. (A Smart Bear)

beehiiv closed a series B of $33 million. The new-ish email service provider is what this newsletter is built on. (TechCrunch)

Notion 2.39 came out. Updates include the ability to embed PDFs into Notion pages. (Notion)

LinkedIn ghostwriting is becoming an increasingly popular online business. (Business Insider)

Writing by hand is better for memory and learning, according to a new study. (Scientific American)

The five sales letters every marketer should know. (CrazyEgg)

How burnout became normal -- and how to push back against it. (Harvard Business Review)

10 ideas on how to make money as an author or writer besides selling books. (ConvertKit blog)


MAMAA (Meta, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet) (Yes, this is the acronym now in news and investing -- sorry.)

Meta’s ‘set it and forget it’ AI ad tools are misfiring and blowing through cash. Topical if you run Facebook or Instagram ads. (The Verge)

An academic is suing Meta, arguing that the company banning tools that let users block or control their news feeds is a violation of Section 230. (WIRED)

The B.C. government in Canada is in conversation with Meta to enable public safety announcements. In response to Canada passing its Online News Act last year, Meta banned the sharing of any news on its platform, a decision officials say puts people in danger during emergencies. (the Conversation)

Apple is bracing for a big sales decline as investors await AI in iPhones. (Reuters)

The news is kinda dark right now. So here's an Apple Watch fitness app that's kinda like a Tamagotchi. You give your pet treats when you hit various step or movement goals. (CNET Instagram)

Eight U.S. newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune, sued ChatGPT-maker OpenAI and Microsoft for copyright infringement. (AP News)

In response to recent security blips, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will tie executive performance to meeting cybersecurity goals. So is DEI like over now? (Yahoo! Finance)

Nearly 60% of orders placed through Amazon Prime in the top 60 U.S. metro areas in the first quarter arrived the same or next day. Amazon reported just under $170 billion last quarter, beating analysts' expectations. (CNBC)

After 11 months of public testing, Google Search's AI responses technology, Search Generative Experience (SGE), still makes shit up all the time. (The Washington Post)



The Financial Times and OpenAI struck a content licensing deal, another iteration in how media is grappling with AI training systems on its content. (Financial Times)

OpenAI introduced a memory feature for its paying ChatGPT users. (Decoder)

A mysterious and powerful AI chatbot appeared on LMSYS, a chatbot testing arena, this week. People are speculating the bot is by OpenAI; a spokesperson declined to comment. (Axios)


Learn how to do it, so that you can delegate it.

Since I'm time-constrained, I'm leaning on my VA more this year. Anything that can be done by someone other than me should be.

But in my opinion, you can't delegate effectively unless you know how to do the thing you're delegating yourself. Maybe this is just my learner style of entrepreneurship, but I've always preferred learning about something like video editing or a software tool so that I can then teach a VA how to manage it and keep costs lower.

The image above is of this entire newsletter in Airtable. I made a screen recorded walkthrough of how to put this newsletter into beehiiv. Now I just write the newsletters in Airtable and check a box when I'm ready to pass it off.

Delegate the work. But don't delegate the strategy and leave yourself in the dark. Understand what strategy you're pursuing and why; this makes developing online content creation workflows easier.

Let's make it a great week!