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17 tips for publishing newsletters with the WordPress Gutenberg editor like a pro.

I’ve been writing and sending posts to my email subscribers inside WordPress for months now. I do it because it’s a good way to test my plugin, Newsletter Glue.

But, more importantly, I do it because I genuinely love all the benefits this workflow and publishing in WordPress have given me.

In this post, you’ll get 17 tips that I personally use to publish my own newsletter. I’ve split them up from beginner, intermediate and advanced to make them easier for you to read and implement.

Many of these tips can be applied right away. But honestly? Tips 6-17 work best with Newsletter Glue.

Download Newsletter Glue for free on the WordPress plugin directory, or install it directly in your WordPress admin panel.


Table of contents

Introduction – People don’t realise how far Gutenberg has come.

Beginner Tips (Time to implement each tip: 3 Seconds) 

Tip 1: Keyboard shortcuts to create new blocks

Tip 2: Create links by selecting text and pasting URLs

Tip 3: Quickly create headings and quotes using shortcuts

Tip 4: Drag and drop images directly into the editor and get them auto-compressed

Tip 5: Not all emojis and CSS will show up for all your subscribers

Tip 6: Send posts to subscribers with a single click

Intermediate Tips (Time to implement each tip: 1-5 Minutes)

Tip 7: Send a test email with Newsletter Glue

Tip 8: Automatically get an easy-to-read and share archive for your newsletters

Tip 9: GIFs work in newsletters. Add them easily with block plugins.

Tip 10: A step further than sending blog posts to subscribers – create entire newsletters inside WordPress.

Expert Tips (Time to implement each tip: 10 Minutes ++)

Tip 11: Reusable blocks as a pre-formatted template

Tip 12: Reusable blocks as a newsletter footer

Tip 13: Reusable blocks for site-wide sponsored ads.

Tip 14: Reusable blocks for subscriber forms that don’t show up in your newsletter

Tip 15: Custom CSS for your newsletter (doesn’t show up on your blog)

Tip 16: Engage your subscribers by directing them to the comments section for that post

Tip 17: Create and send restricted members-only newsletters


Introduction

Can we be honest – does anyone actually enjoy publishing from their email software?

Email software providers compete by providing the best deliverability, segmentation and automation flows. And I think it’s important to keep using them for these features. But the one area they fail at is publishing.

Most people I’ve spoken to write elsewhere first. Then copy and paste into their email software, and go through the chore of formatting their email before finally sending it out.

People don’t realise how far Gutenberg has come.

With Gutenberg, WordPress has become a really powerful and customisable publishing tool. So it makes sense to get the best of both worlds by connecting your email software to WordPress, then publishing straight from the platform.

Having worked this way for months, I’ve become quite familiar with the (relatively) new Gutenberg editor and have discovered a few hidden tips to improve my publishing workflow.

These tips have become second nature to me, so I forget that not everyone realises just how powerful Gutenberg is now.

In fact, when sharing my workflow, even experienced writers were surprised by just how much is possible on WordPress these days.

Ready for the first few tips? These are mostly simple shortcuts that you can start using straight away on your WordPress editor. 

You’ll need at least WordPress version 5.2, and the Gutenberg editor.

Tip 1: Keyboard shortcuts to create new blocks.

One of my favourite things about Gutenberg is keyboard shortcuts.

To select a block using a keyboard shortcut, simply type /, then the first letter of the name of your block.

For example:

/h – Pulls up blocks beginning with h. The first option is for headings so if you type in /h and hit enter, you’ll automatically create a new heading block.

/i – Pulls up blocks beginning with I, including images, Instagram, etc. If you type /i and hit enter, it creates a new image block.

Tip 2: Create links by selecting text and pasting URLs.

Assuming you’ve already copied the link, you can select the text, then type cmd + v. This turns any text into a link straight away.

Tip 3: Quickly create headings and quotes using shortcuts.

Here’s how you can activate them.

Create headings using #

Type the number of #s you want, then press spacebar to activate:

# for H1

## for H2

### for H3

## and so on all the way to H6.

Bonus tip: Retroactively turn a block into a heading by adding ## at the beginning.

This is especially useful for anyone who writes in Google docs, then transfers their content into WordPress and needs to add formatting later on.

Create block quotes using >

> creates block quotes. Activate by hitting the spacebar.

If you’re interested, the term for these formatting shortcuts is markdown.

Many of the most famous apps in the world (like Whatsapp and Slack) use variations of markdown. And if you’re familiar with *bold* or _italics_, it means you’ve already been using some version of markdown without even realising it.Because markdown is so common, I was curious to see which markdown elements work in WordPress and tried all the markdown shortcuts on this list. Only headings and quotes worked, but I’m not complaining – these two shortcuts immediately make my life easier.

Tip 4: Drag and drop images directly into the editor and get them auto-compressed.

There are many image compression plugins that do this for you, but the two I’ve used successfully are TinyPNG and Smush.

I didn’t have to jump through any hoops to achieve compression. I didn’t have to manually upload the image into my media gallery, then select the new images for compressing, before finally adding my image into the WordPress editor. That would be a pain in the ass!

All I did was drag the full-sized image from my file manager directly into the actual post I’m writing.

This is actually enabled by default on both plugins. Which means all you need to do is download and activate the plugin for this to work.

If it doesn’t work, check to make sure you’ve got auto-compress images on upload enabled on your image compression plugin.

Screenshot of Smush auto-compress settings
Screenshot of tinyPNG auto-compress settings

Bonus: You can replace pictures by dragging and dropping a new image on top of the old one.

Tip 5: Not all emojis and CSS will show up for all your subscribers.

This is actually a tip for what not to do.

Have you ever wondered why most emails look so plain?

CSS elements load differently across email clients.

Something that shows up on gmail, might not show up on outlook. That same element might look funny on hey, and only partially show up on yahoo mail.

And let’s keep in mind there are dozens of email clients out there.

Oh! And don’t forget to multiply that by the existence of android and iOS apps for every single one of those clients…

Campaign Monitor's Ultimate Guide to CSS for email
Campaign Monitor’s Ultimate Guide to CSS for email

If your goal is to ensure your emails are readable, you should try to keep the design as simple as possible.

Campaign Monitor has an unbelievable CSS guide for what works and doesn’t across dozens of email clients. I highly recommend you check the guide out before doing anything crazy.

Now, let’s talk about emoji compatibility.

Modifiers (like skin tone or gender) often don’t work. And some of the less common/newer emojis won’t work for all subscribers either.

Here’s an example of the skin tone modifier not working in Gmail versus how it’s meant to look. These are screenshots from Deeper, a newsletter on Southeast Asian tech.

And here is a screenshot from Nat Eliason’s Monday Medley newsletter. It’s also taken from gmail + desktop + Chrome. Note the additional male symbol.

In the second example, you’ll see the same text from my Android phone using the gmail app. You can see that the emoji loads fine here.

If you want a good rule of thumb to follow, it’s this: Keep your emojis the default yellow and as basic as possible.

Tip 6: Send posts to subscribers with a single click

With the rising popularity of Substack, full length newsletters are becoming increasingly popular.

Rather than publishing twice, once in WordPress and again in Mailchimp, you can actually use Newsletter Glue to send posts immediately to subscribers.

Sending a post to your subscribers is enabled by checking a single box.

You have the option to make changes to any of the details we’ve pre-filled for you. Or simply leave the defaults the way they are.

And when you click Publish, you publish both your post and your newsletter at the same time.

Easy.

And just by using this plugin, you get all of Gutenberg’s publishing power at your fingertips.

Many of these tips can be applied right away. But honestly? Tips 6-17 work best with Newsletter Glue.

Download Newsletter Glue for free on the WordPress plugin directory, or install it directly in your WordPress admin panel.


If you’ve made it past the beginner tips, congratulations! You’ve just levelled up.

In this section, we’ll be talking intermediate tips. These are tips that take 5 minutes to implement, not 5 seconds, and will help your newsletter/blog stand out. Anyone should be able to successfully apply these tips. 

Don’t worry, we’ll ease into it slowly. The next tip is simple.

Tip 7: Send a test email with Newsletter Glue

Whether you’re publishing on WordPress or Mailchimp, it’s important to send test emails to see your email in situ, which is a fancy way of saying you should see them in the same context and place that your readers will see them. That is, as an email.

Newsletter Glue lets you send test emails directly from the WordPress editor.

Tip 8: Automatically get an easy-to-read and share archive for your newsletters

Many newsletter writers I’ve spoken to want a nice way to display past issues, along with an easy-to-share URL for each issue.

When you send posts to your subscribers, the post becomes the newsletter.

This means your blog archive is your newsletter archive. Here’s an example using my own website. You can see how my blog and newsletter archive are the same thing.

In contrast, Austin Kleon manually embeds Mailchimp’s auto-generated archive onto his site. I’m a big fan of his, but I have to admit this isn’t a particularly elegant solution. It also takes more effort and time than simply writing and publishing once in WordPress.

Here are more examples using other legendary writers that I’ve followed for years. The first is from Maria Popova of Brain Pickings. The second is Paul Jarvis’ Sunday Dispatch.

Tip 9: GIFs work in newsletters. Add them easily with block plugins.

Add GIFs to your newsletters. There are many plugins out there that do this, but here are two that work for me: Insert GIPHY block and Advanced Gutenberg Blocks.

Insert GIPHY block is a very basic plugin that does exactly what it says. The downside to this plugin is that it requires you to obtain an API key from https://developers.giphy.com/. This isn’t a big deal, but it’s also an extra step.

In comparison, Advanced Gutenberg Blocks gives you many other block options in addition to GIPHY (which you may or may not want). The upside is that there are no additional steps after activation. The GIPHY blocks just work.

Insert GIPHY block

Tip 10: A step further than sending blog posts to subscribers – create entire newsletters inside WordPress.

Not everyone wants to send their full blog posts to subscribers. Some people want their newsletters to consist of excerpts of their blog post, along with a few other interesting articles and videos.

To do this, you simply need to write a separate post for your newsletter. This lets you use the same publishing tools and workflow in WordPress for both your blog and newsletter.

In addition, I also recommend you create separate categories for your blog and newsletter. This makes your newsletter archives separate from your blog’s.

Many of these tips can be applied right away. But honestly? Tips 6-17 work best with Newsletter Glue.

Download Newsletter Glue for free on the WordPress plugin directory, or install it directly in your WordPress admin panel.


Aww yeah! You’ve levelled up once again. Welcome to the expert tips section!

Here, you’ll find tips that are more complex and should only be implemented if you’ve been writing your newsletter/blog for awhile and are looking to grow and monetise.

Tip 11: Reusable blocks as a pre-formatted template

Reusable blocks are blocks you’ve saved so that you can reuse them later in the same post, or in future posts.

You can use them as fully-formed content blocks, or as templates that let you keep the formatting but change the content.

In my case, I want a template to show the newsletter issue number at the top of each post. So I created the first one and formatted it to my liking. Then, saved it as a reusable block for future newsletters.

For subsequent newsletters, I simply add the newsletter issue reusable block.

In this case, the content in the block says Newsletter #32. But I want to change it to Newsletter #33. If I click the edit button, I’d be changing the text for the reusable block itself. This isn’t what you want! Don’t do this!

Instead, first convert your reusable block to a regular block. This lets me change the issue number only for this block, without impacting the template itself.

And that’s it. Now you know how to use reusable blocks as formatted templates.

Tip 12: Reusable blocks as a newsletter footer

In my newsletter, I also use reusable blocks for my newsletter’s Before you go footer.

Rather than having to recreate this every time, I simply add the Before you go reusable block at the end of each post. This takes me a second and I’m confident that my footer is consistently designed for every single newsletter.

Tip 13: Reusable blocks for site-wide sponsored ads

With reusable blocks, you can edit the content of the block, and when you press save, everywhere on the site that has that block, will be updated to the new content.

This makes it the perfect feature for creating site-wide ads. Let me explain…

Let’s say your newsletter has sponsors. In the past, each newsletter would have a different sponsor and that would be that.

By creating a sponsor reusable block, you can simply update that block and have all the ads on your entire site change at once.

This means that when a sponsor buys an ad for a month, not only will they benefit from being seen on your email, they’ll also be seen by anyone who views any past issue on your site. Pretty cool, right?

Tip 14: Reusable blocks for subscriber forms that don’t show up in your newsletter

Ok, I’m going to be the first to admit that my tip here is a little bit of a sneaky workaround. 

But hey, it works!

For this, all you need to do is publish your newsletter first.

After that, add in your subscriber form reusable block and update your post.

Easy!

Tip 15: Custom CSS

Add CSS for your newsletter that’s different from your blog post/WordPress theme.

You can do this easily by heading to Newsletter Glue > Settings and clicking on the Custom CSS tab.

Before you go crazy with customising your newsletter, don’t forget what I mentioned in tip 5: not all styling elements work.

Here are 2 good rules of thumb:

  1. In-line styles work, most other things won’t.
  2. Design for the lowest common denominator.

Here’s an 11-year old post that summarises what you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to email styling. All of the points here are still relevant.

I deliberately chose a really old post because it’s important to understand that lots of your subscribers might be on old browsers, hardware and email clients and you want to ensure your email loads properly for them too. And honestly? All of the advice in that post remains relevant to this day.

If you’re determined to create a design-heavy newsletter, consider testing them using Emails on Acid or Litmus. The two companies do the same thing: Show you previews of your HTML emails across dozens of different email clients, browsers, operating systems and screens.

It’s worth noting that both of these tools are targeted at big multinationals, so pricing is a bit on the expensive side. However, both have free trials which might be worth using if you intend to create an email template, test it, then never worry about it again.

Lastly, don’t let me get you down about the limitations of email newsletter design. Check out Kai Brach’s incredible newsletter, Dense Discovery. It’s custom coded and looks incredible.

When it comes to newsletter goals, Dense Discovery is the one that comes up the most often. And it’s certainly worth checking out.

Tip 16: Engage your subscribers by directing them to the comments section for that post

Having your email newsletter live on your site means you have a built in comments section for your newsletter.

Now, this part is a little tricky, but seeing as how we’re in the expert tips section, I’m confident you can handle it….

To begin with, I’m going to assume you’ve enabled the comments section on your website. If you haven’t, then that will obviously be step 1!

Then, you’ll need to find the id for your comments section.To do so, you’ll need to use the inspect elements tool, then use it to find the correct div id. In my case, it’s respond.

Then add the id to the end of your newsletter issue URL. So for example, this would be: yourwebsite.com/issuename/#respond

In order to get the URL, you’ll need to save or publish the post first to get the permalink.

So based on this screenshot, the comments URL for this post is https://lesley.pizza/good-mistake-bad-mistake/#respond.

After that, you can follow the steps in tip 11 to create a reusable block pre-formatted template to direct people to the comments section of each post.

Tip 17: Create and send restricted members-only newsletters

More and more people are creating members-only newsletters. Given that you’ve made it all the way to the end of this very long post, I’m not about to write another thousand words on how you can set up a membership site on WordPress.

However, if you would like to set up a basic membership site using a WordPress plugin, I recommend Paid Member Subscriptions.

The free plugin lets you accept payments from Paypal, Stripe and more. You’re also able to quickly set up content restriction based on membership tiers.

Another popular option is Memberful. They’re a SaaS and operate outside of WordPress, with a WordPress plugin to connect it. They do take a 10% transaction fee for their starter plan though.

Once you’ve got your membership and content restriction in place, you’ll also need to create a corresponding audience tag inside your email service provider (e.g. Mailchimp, ConvertKit) so that your members can start receiving the exclusive content they signed up for.

And when all that is done, you can use Newsletter Glue for the easiest part: Sending your post to your paying subscribers simply by selecting the relevant tag inside the Newsletter Glue: Send as newsletter section of your WordPress editor.

Summary

Whew! Thanks for reading. You’re now a newsletter publishing expert! 

If there are any tips I might have missed out, or that need clarifying, please let me know in the comments. 

Finally, if you thought this post was useful, please share it. I will be eternally grateful if you did. 🙏

Many of these tips can be applied right away. But honestly? Tips 6-17 work best with Newsletter Glue.

Download Newsletter Glue for free on the WordPress plugin directory, or install it directly in your WordPress admin panel.

Additional Gutenberg resources

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