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I think it’s safe to say at this point that digital publishers recognize the importance of email newsletters. In 2016, Facebook pulled the rug out from underneath a media industry that had, until then, relied on it for hockey stick growth, and over the next several years publishers generally warmed to the idea that the decentralized distribution offered by email newsletters would prove more reliable than the fickle whims of social media giants.

Today, nearly every media company has a robust email marketing strategy, and some news startups interact with their readerships almost entirely within the inbox. We’ve also seen the launch of platforms that make it easier for individual writers to distribute their own newsletters and monetize them through paid subscriptions.

So are newsletters reaching a saturation point? Are they generating real ad revenue? And can newsletters actually replace Facebook as a referral source?

These are just some of the questions I put toward Ernie Smith, the creator and editor of Tedium, a fantastic newsletter that almost operates as a kind of Wikipedia of obscure topics. Smith also runs a popular Facebook group for the newsletter industry, and he’s one of the most knowledgeable people I know when it comes to newsletter trends.

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