🤖 Writing Newsletters With AI
How to source & summarize news stories using AI software, to eliminate the weekly grind
Hey there 👋,
Welcome to the second issue of Letter Meta, behind the scenes of operating newsletter businesses on beehiiv.
This is now on a weekly cadence going forward, every Monday.
This week I discuss:
How to use AI software to source and summarize stories
Why I’m killing my newsletter agency and turning it into a true productized service
Beehiiv done for you setup for just $99 this November
Weekly Grind No More
Beehiiv’s awesome AI for newsletter operators features, such as the smart editor, help us to simplify, shorten or extend content that we’ve already written:
But the key part missing right now is the sourcing and writing of news stories.
This takes up the majority of the time operating newsletter businesses; fortunately, there are now AI solutions to help with this burden.
Just like AI has been revolutionizing content sites, it’s now hitting newsletter businesses.
We’ve sifted through 100s of applications for writers, given test stories to the best ones, and quickly realized that AI summarizes and generates output better than 90% of them. And obviously with no grammatical errors.
We now take the AI output and give it to human editors who add a layer of opinion that all newsletters need to compete in an increasingly AI dominated world. Although I’m sure a forthcoming ChatGPT 5 would be able to give such thoughts!
This AI content + human editing model was first created by Content at Scale, the AI platform that enables website owners to output SEO-optimized content, who coined the term Artificial Intelligence Optimization (AIO).
The AIO Process for Newsletters
So what does this AI optimization look like and how can you implement within your own newsletter business?
We’ll start with the usual chat suspects, and then move to a new dedicated newsletter tool.
First up, you need your sources, where you will find stories from in your niche. Sure you can create a spreadsheet listing all the top blogs and news sites in your niche, but it’s far easier to pull the RSS into a tool that aggregates them and makes it easier to check.
With Bing Chat, you simply ask what the top stories have been over the last week and it gives you the results plus web links:
Bard isn’t as good or simple as you need to click on ‘Double-check response’ to get the sources and then hover over the coloured parts:
The output is better formatted for a newsletter, however, with short summaries. Even though shorter stories will result in higher click-through rates which helps email deliverability and also enables your sponsorships to get more clicks, most operators will likely want longer-form stories, 150+ words.
As such, select a particular source and ask the AI for the wordcount you want. I picked a recent top story on Hackernoon then asked each chat tool to summarise the URL.
ChatGPT can’t do this out of the box, even with paying for GPT-4 so that’s a instant fail:
You have to copy and paste the content in, and no-one has time or the desire for that.
Fortunately Bard can summarize URLs, and outputted in 130 words to my 150 word request:
You can also use a ‘TLDR’ prompt, this is the output from Bing which generated a 107 word summary:
AI Newsletter Software
If you want a tool that will automate the above sourcing and summarizing for you, you need to check out Neural News.
First up, its content discovery engine creates a newsfeed for you based on your niche or keyword, here is one about startups:
You then simply select which are the most relevant stories for the AI to summarize, and on the next screen select a tone (I went for ‘engaging’) and desired word count:
It then generates a newsletter with stories that have a title, email and view source link, and you copy as rich text directly into your newsletter platform, such as beehiiv.
From Agency to Productized Service
Whatever you feel about this AI-powered newsletter reality, there is no stopping it, the only thing to do is embrace it.
It’s going to kill most $5K/m newsletter agencies, like the package I used to sell so I thought I’d be the one to disrupt myself.
I now use the above tools (and others) to offer a $499/m productized service at Letter Operators to deliver 6 stories a week uploaded into your beehiiv account, ready for you to put your own spin on it:
I’d much rather own a business with 500 customers paying $500/m than 50 clients paying $5K/m, especially one that involves complexity due to human labor.
This anti-agency is anti-fragile in comparison, and is an asset that’s much easier to sell and will achieve a higher multiple.
In the niche website space, we’ve already seen the fall of a large content writing agency with 100+ writers due to the disruption of AI:
Niche website builders filed for bankruptcy, currently in administration
— Charles Floate 📈 (@Charles_SEO)
Jul 6, 2023
One of the owners stated that:
The steep rise in AI content resulted in an incredibly quick decline in revenue. Being such a large business with lots of staff and high overheads, we were unable to cut costs quickly enough.
I don’t want to be this guy.
And the beehiiv done for you setup offer is now just $99 this November ($100 off the standard price mentioned in the first issue).
So if you’re looking to start a newsletter or switch from a legacy platform, there’s never been a better time.