Setting Yourself Apart—In A Rather "Unpopular" Way (So Far)

Newsletters—personal newsletters. I wrote this opinion to hopefully encourage someone to take up writing a personal newsletter. Bear with me, it's a little lengthy, but I attempt argue the hidden benefits of writing one and even how I started my own: The One Percent.

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Every day, I've started off my mornings digesting insight curated to me from select newsletters that I've subscribed to. I've found this to be one of the easiest ways to stay up to date with information and a reliable form of accountability ensuring that I start my day off with some quality content.

I've personally seen the rise of personal newsletters—from young tech and bio students release quarterly updates on what they've been working on, to productivity gurus sending weekly doses on what they've learned throughout the week. I've always wondered why, and sometimes even how, people have these newsletters. But then I've realized: newsletters are a great way to connect with your audience on a macro level, and to keep them in the know.

Well, I've finally did it. I succumbed to the influence of the newsletter world and started my own weekly newsletter: The One PercentLet me tell you why.

Perks of Starting a Newsletter

Newsletters hold people accountable.

For the longest time, I've always wanted to get into writing. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, I told myself that this would be a perfect period to capitalize on the extra time I would have at home. So, my Medium account was all set up, and I eagerly wrote my first article: The Power of Just Starting. That sparked a slew of ideas, writing over 20 drafts in the next month—all 50-70% complete.

See, my experience with beginning to write is that the initial phases is always quantity > quality. You want to just get into the rhythm of things and practice writing; to find your voice and your unique style. However, I always felt that it wasn't perfect, that I wanted more people to read and edit it until it was. Only then was I happy with publishing it.

That mentality of chasing perfection really bottlenecked my attempts at writing. I had over 20 drafts which have yet to see readers' eyes other than my own. I needed some accountability, and that's where newsletters came in.

I wrote my newsletter without any expectations. By telling people that I would release an article or a weekly "brain dump" every Sunday, I knew I had something to put out there. So, perfect or not, I would release a weekly newsletter, and I found that as the weeks went on, I became more and more comfortable with my writing and developing my voice. 

It was just that initial layer of accountability that I really needed to get me into writing—something having your own newsletter can really help with.

Newsletters reach people on a greater scale.

I do YouTube. No, not vlogs for entertainment purposes (at least not yet), but rather educational content (I hope it is). I have been privileged with a unique set of circumstances that have shaped a rather different perspective on life as a student, and thought that setting up a YouTube channel would be a great medium in conveying that at a macro level.

Newsletters do the exact same thing—they allow the writer to reach their audience in a huge capacity. Those interested will be learning from you weekly, and it could be anyone from your family, friends, corporate executives that are interested in following your growth, etc. 

The newsletters I've subscribed to (STAT NewsMorning Brew just to name a few), reach hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people every day. I'm not saying that your newsletter has to blow up like that, but it's a whole lot better telling one life experience, one story, one weekly thought; through one medium at one time that reaches many people. Not sure if that was clear but essentially, what I meant to say is it's reaching a lot of people through one article. Unless you're the type of person to tell the same story to 100 people, then maybe the newsletter may not be necessary for you. But, I don't know too many of those people. 

Newsletters build your brand.

Your brand is invaluable. I'm actually writing about that in two weeks on The One Percent, so I'd recommend subscribing if you haven't done so already (if you'd want, because it'd really make my day).

I know so many people who have gotten opportunities that they wouldn't have because of their newsletter. It's a reflection of your brand, and having mentors and potential employers keep up with you through a newsletter is quite something else. 

Newsletters give you the opportunity to be completely genuine—completely yourself, and speak about anything you'd want. Obviously, you won't be recommending your "nature and animals" newsletter to a potential engineering employer, but you get what I mean. It's a great way of letting people know what you've been up to, and how you're spending your time.

One more thing—your writing gets exposed. More and more, I recognize the invaluable nature of  writing. It's a great reflection of one's personality and a peek into the way they think.

The One Percent

If you'd made it down here, you're probably somewhat interested in potentially having your own newsletter. So, I'd thought I'd tell you a little bit about mine, The One Percent.

The One Percent is a certain subset of people, people who set to redefine the status quo and pave their own path. I've had the privilege to be surrounded by people who are in the One Percent, and learn from their habits and mentalities—their tendencies that allow them to do what they do. 

The One Percent is a story of my journey to the One Percent. With weekly personal updates, One Percent habits/mentalities, and cool things I find throughout the week, I aim to deliver this Sunday newsletter to encourage the pursuit of the One Percent.

So that's my newsletter—built off of something I'm passionate about and something loose enough where I'm able to talk about a diversity of topics. This is a great place to start for those of you interested in starting up a newsletter.

At the end of the day, we all have unique experiences and thus a lot to offer. A newsletter serves as a great way to effectively share our thoughts and opinions with an abundance of people, and also as a great way to document your journey as a student.

Take some time to consider starting a personal newsletter. For the past couple of months, it's been a great addition to my weekly tasks, and you may find it to be as well.

Brandon Yu

Student & Research Fellow, University of Toronto

I'm a student at the University of Toronto interested in neurological and ocular health, immunological mechanisms and self-immunity, as well as innovations and leadership within health care. I look to empower the aspiring youth through limitless, accessible education, and foster positive change in our dynamic reality!

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