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On grudgingly Just Using Gmail


I just use Gmail now.

In the past I’ve used: Mailchimp, Buttondown, MailerLite, ConvertKit, Substack, and Gumroad for sending newsletters. Meanwhile, I used Protonmail for daily emails. But now: just Gmail.

As you might’ve guessed by the long list of tools, I spent a lot of time looking for something I couldn’t quite find.

Mailchimp is robust and built for scale, but I found its UI unbearable. Gumroad makes it easy to publish products, but has weird sending limits. Substack locks you in to their design (and domain).

And across all of these apps, I found that I don’t want most of the features they offer.

In fact, I end up spending energy fighting their features. Manually editing the HTML they generate. Restyling the default newsletter template so it doesn’t look so … styled. Finding clever ways to disable their ‘auto-embed YouTube videos’ feature. (Actually I never figured out how to do that last one—instead I just gave up on ConvertKit.)

Here’s 8 minutes of me figuring all this out:

The one feature I thought I needed from these platforms was deliverability. No point sending emails if they don’t reach people’s inboxes, right?

Each one of these platform will proudly tout their deliverability rate, and from what little I knew about the topic I figured it’s worth having a team of smart, dedicated engineers focused on making sure my emails land.

But then I learned a little bit more, and it turns out that deliverability essentially means “whether Google, and to a lesser extent Apple, think your email domain and IP address are trustworthy.”

Here’s 9 minutes of me figuring that out:

It’s a strong argument—one of many—against running your own mail server. But it doesn’t mean you have to use any of the tools I listed.

In fact … if Google is deciding where your emails land, why not just send them with Google?

Unless you’re a guy who has a whole page on his website dedicated to complaining about Google, it seems like the kind of thing you might try. In fact, it might make sense even if you are that guy.

In fact, that’s what I’m doing. I copied my ConvertKit list to Gmail, and I’m just using their mail merge feature to send emails.

I can’t report on how it’s working just yet, because I’m writing this post to share in my very first “bulk message sent via Gmail.” (If you’re reading this, there’s a very good chance you received that message. I guess it worked!)

But I suspect it’ll work just fine. In fact, I suspect that most people who are giving money—and ceding autonomy—to a bulk email tool … should just use Gmail.

If you’re thinking about doing that, feel free to get in touch. Apparently I love talking about this stuff :)


    © 2023 Brian David Hall