Behind the Site: wpMail.me, the weekly WordPress newsletter

4 Comments

Behind the Site is easily one of the most popular series on WPCandy. In each edition of Behind the Site, we welcome a new guest author to the site to walk us through their WordPress site, what they use to power it, and hear a bit about their overall WordPress technique.

This week’s Behind the Site is wpMail.me, a weekly email newsletter that collects and sends out all sorts of WordPress articles each week. Cristian Antohe is the one behind wpMail.me, and will take things from this point on to tell us more about the site.

About wpMail.me

I’ve started wpMail.me after learning about JavascriptWeekly, which is a free, once–weekly e-mail round-up of JavaScript news and articles.

I realized that I could launch wpMail.me in a ridiculous short amount of time, so it looked like a really cool side project. It actually took me just one day to purchase the domain, create a small HTML template and set up MailChimp.

The articles that are featured on each weekly newsletter are manually curated, mostly from RSS feeds, Twitter and Topsy.com. Also since a lot of articles are basically covering the same thing (not a bad thing mind you) I try to feature the source or the most relevant article. I admit it’s a subjective process but I’m fine with that.

The Theme

After the initial launch I wanted to stretch my self a little and improve the initial design. The reason behind it was simple: a cool looking design will make subscribers feel positive about it. Also the new design increased the conversion of new subscribers and I managed to get it featured on a lot of CSS galleries which in turn sent a little bit of traffic towards the site.

The theme itself started as Twenty Ten, then I modified it to support my design.

Core functionality

The main reason I moved from a basic HTML template to WordPress was to automate as much of the creation of the weekly newsletter as possible. Initially the newsletter was done using MailChimp’s visual editor, which is fine if you’re sending a simple newsletter once a month, but it would have taken me hours to finalize just one issue.

To solve this problem I’ve user the cool Advanced Custom Fields with the $25 Repeater Field addon. It lets me create the newsletter’s sections and easily add article titles, URLs and descriptions.

Once all the articles are saved we’re using a custom template for the newsletter custom post type “Newsletter,” where we’re pulling all the information for display on our own archive.

This template is 98% the same as the one you get in your email. To make this easier we went an extra mile and this is sent to MailChimp via a custom built plugin we’ve used before on client sites.

The Plugins

The active plugin count is rather small. I’m only using five plugins:

  • Advanced Custom Fields – In order to add content to the newsletter
  • BackupBuddy – I initialy used it to migrate the site from a test server to the live and now for backups.
  • Google Analyticator – To add Google Analytics tracking code
  • WpMail.me Mailchimp Newsletter – The custom plugin that connects with the MailChimp API
  • WP Super Cache – For caching (no point wasting server resources now is there)

What’s next?

At this point I’m focused on growing the mailing list. There are over 2000 subscribers and I’m hoping to get to 10000 by issue 50, which is when wpMail.me will be one year old.

Other then that I honestly don’t know. It’s a little side project for me and by curating such a large number of articles every week I’m bound to stay in touch with the WordPress community and always stay up to date.

Be featured on “Behind the Site”

Thanks for the insight Cristian!

If you have a WordPress site with an interesting story, using a clever mix of plugins and a theme to pull off its beauty, let us know and it just might be the next site we take a peak behind.

In the meantime, what do you think of what Cristian is doing at wpMail.me, and how it works? Are you an email subscriber on his list?

4 thoughts on “Behind the Site: wpMail.me, the weekly WordPress newsletter

  1. I really like the design of your site. Very nice. It would be even slicker if you could make the letter in the mail tray scroll with your recent articles or something like that. I think the main appeal here is your simplicity though. Not an oversell which tends to drive people away. Well done!

    PS-don’t forget to update your “in the press” with a link to this article!

    • Thanks for the kind words Chris! I think the scroll would be an overkill. All I want users to do is subscribe 🙂

      Also updated the “In The Press” article with a link here 😉

  2. Perfect! Just what i was searching for the other day, There is nothing better than a curated list of Week’s best WordPress news in your inbox.

    I think it’s an amazing concept.

  3. Thank you for sharing the “Behind the scene” plugins. It’s nice to see what you are using, for which purpose and also see it in action. Very helpful when you are developing website under WordPress.

    Fred

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