Continue reading / Stay in the loop

I’ve been thinking more about emailing posts along with providing an RSS feed, so I started mocking up some designs for the bottom of posts. Previously, this area consisted of only the next/previous links, so I needed to factor those in, too. While I think I ended up with a good direction, I realized I could break up this work a bit and make the improvements in increments. Instead of going the full mile with the new footer layout as well as the subscribe form, I can ship the easy part—reworking the next/previous links and listing links for RSS, Twitter, and email.

With this new addition, I’ll now have two “sections” in the post footer. To better organize them, I thought they’d benefit from a couple headers to label both groups. For the next/previous links, I wanted to keep it optimistic and label them “Continue reading”. For the other links, I went with “Stay in the loop” for the folks who follow a long in more of an asynchronous way.


When I laid out all the links for both sections, I was irked that the “Continue reading” links are one line short of the other group. At first, I considered a link to a related post, but I really didn’t want to figure out the logic for that, so after a minute of thinking, I realized I could actually just include a link to a random post. This would bring a bit more serendipity to the links and encourage folks to explore other non-sequential posts.

Next up, I’ll continue to work towards a way for folks to receive posts as emails. I’m definitely more interested in sending these emails once a week rather than per-post, and considering the recent frequency of my writing, I think it need to be a list of posts from the week. Now, I could sign up with an email service, like I normally would, and go through the motions of embedding their form, etc., but that would wear me out like it normally does—an additional weekly chore of gathering the links, composing the email, and sending it. Instead, I figured I’d take this opportunity to shed the dependency, get “closer to the metal”, and set up my own simple system to automatically handle everything.

I’ll write API endpoints for subscribing folks and store the emails in a database, then I’ll set up a weekly job to send the emails. I realize it’s probably going to be more work than I want to spend on it, but I just can’t sign up for another email service—I always end up frustrated with them because they all try to do too much. That’s why a super lightweight, straight-to-the-point solution might work really well. I’ve been dabbling with AWS DynamoDB and AWS Simple Email Service (SES), which seem like my best bet for spinning up quick. Fingers crossed that this doesn’t become a rabbit hole… Narrator: It probably will.