Writing This [Email] Sucks

For the Love of Content Creation
May 14, 2021

There is a dread that only a content creator knows: the cycle never ends. As you ship a new report, or a new essay, the next one is right behind it. For instance, every Tuesday we ship a new episode of Stairway to CEO. Wednesdays we put out a 2,000-word essay for Insiders. Fridays we publish the Future Commerce podcast and The Senses. It’s r e l e n t l e s s. (Send help.)

But there’s an upside. The relentless nature of content production makes you better, and more efficient. Content is ephemeral, especially in the retail trade industry which is changing so rapidly, so you get lots of reps. The feedback cycle is tight — unsubscribes tell you exactly what works and what doesn’t. And if you do it exactly right, you make it look effortless. It can be gratifying, and thankless, but you’re sharper for it.

“Content creation may be one of the hardest jobs that people believe to be easy,” says Web Smith of 2PM. While he and I don’t always agree, on this we stand united. Newsletter author and DTC alum Aja Singer agrees, too. Author of the For the Love newsletter, she has adopted a weekly publish cycle that keeps her on her toes. “[It gives me] accountability. If I were to set aside time to think deeply about these things for six hours or twelve hours, however long it takes me in the week, I would be much less likely to follow through on that if I didn't want to publish the newsletter.”

Her letter is aptly titled For the Love, a hat-tip that we in the DTC and retail space do this not because it is a lucrative business, but because we are students of the very industry that we work within. We’re all moved and challenged by — fascinated by — the evolution of eCommerce and its role in people’s everyday lives. 

As a subscriber to her letter, I think the recency-and-frequency model has given Aja a brilliant voice and a sizable audience. Aja joins us to talk about the hardship of the content cycle and being a solo media operator on this week’s Future Commerce podcast. You can subscribe to her here, along with a few of our favorite eCommerce newsletters. You won’t be disappointed.

— Phillip


ReBarbie. Mattel launches a free takeback program to recycle old Barbies, Matchbox cars, and Mega toys to use them to create new toys for future generations. The real question is: will they accept decapitated Barbies with face tattoos and super cool haircuts? Asking for a friend.

Can’t Return This One. Paypal continues its expansion into the retail space and has agreed to purchase Happy Returns, a start-up based out of Santa Monica, CA, that gives shoppers the ability to return items in person which were purchased online. For Paypal, this is one purchase that can’t easily be returned.

In The Dogehouse. The housing market shoots for the moon as a seller in Providence, Rhode Island will only be accepting Dogecoin payments for his real estate, just as Elon Musk changed his mind about accepting Bitcoin for Teslas.

A Lighter Shoe. Adidas and Allbirds partnered up to reimagine sustainable design and have brought to market a running shoe with the lowest carbon footprint so far. The FUTURECRAFT.FOOTPRINT boasts less than 3 kilograms of CO2 emissions per pair.

ReCommerce Needs a Reboot. Poshmark sales fell over 12% after hours Wednesday, despite a sales rise of 42% in Q1. ThredUp fell in a similar fashion (groan) with a 8% drop after its own disappointing earnings of a $16.2M loss for the quarter. What do you call it when you have the opposite of earnings?

Poultrygeist. Remember those pre-pandemic days when no one was ever “out” of anything, and dozens of dipping sauces flowed from the tributaries of heaven into our drive-thru meals like the torrents of the Mighty Mississippi? Those good ol’ days are gone. Supply chain struggles across the restaurant industry have reached the hallowed doors of Chick-fil-A and the nugget whisperers are facing a saucy shortage. Customers will be limited to one sauce container per dunkable order. 

Ebay took down multiple listings on Thursday selling the coveted sauce packets for $10 for just three packets. One listing began at $15,000 for a 5 ounce bottle.


Just another Milkshake Monday. In an interesting twist, IHOP announces all-you-can-drink milkshakes that benefit comedians, after a video of Adam Sandler leaving an IHOP went viral on TikTok. Hey, if going to IHOP for bottomless milkshakes is cool, consider us Miles Davis.

Fintech is Coming for Healthcare. Platforms like Afterpay and Klarna have made it commonplace to buy an expensive pair of leather boots and pay later without using a credit card. Now the model of paying for things in installments is entering other sectors and fintech apps have necessities like Health Care and Rent in their sights.

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