How to start a newsletter on WhatsApp or other messaging apps

Ritesh Mehta, the co-founder of ScrollStack, believes that the real engagement around content is happening in messaging apps, especially on WhatsApp.

The engagement bit is absolutely true, especially in the Indian context. India has over 600 million internet users, and amongst them, over 500 million are active on WhatsApp. Clearly, it is the biggest channel to reach out to an audience. In fact, even the technically evolved, always-connected folks share screenshots of online stories (instead of links) on WhatsApp or social media for sharing information or engaging in a seamless conversation around the topic.

But most newsletter services like Substack, Revue (now acquired by Twitter), etc. are built around email distribution. ScrollStack, essentially at the intersection of Medium and Substack, aims to fix that.

Essentially, ScrollStack has built a one-click feature to convert your posts into PDFs that you can send to your groups, broadcast lists, and contacts on WhatsApp – manually, that is.

There's no automated distribution via WhatsApp, mind you. So, essentially, while the feature is marketed for WhatsApp, you can use it for your contact lists on Telegram, Signal, Skype, or wherever. However, with that limitation, I wondered if this really was a standout feature since there are many online utilities available for free that will convert a webpage into a PDF.

That’s where ScrollStack gets it right. The PDF version generated by ScrollStack preserves the formatting and links and is optimized for smartphone displays.

For example, check out the PDF generated for my first post on ScrollStack.

pdf

Let's do this

4.5MB

The preservation of links is important since, like on a webpage, you'd want your audience to be directed to your social media links, additional resources, and seek support (via ScrollStack, or other third-party services like Patreon, Ko-fi, Buy Me a Coffee, et al).

The problem with screenshots and extracted PDFs is that they don't loop back to the creator. All of us have received such content without attribution. With this feature on ScrollStack, if your content goes outside of your network (and viral!) on messaging apps, the reader will always be able to connect with you.

These links in the footer of the post are important.

So, here is how it works. Once you publish a new post, you will see an option to download a mobile-optimized PDF of your post. For your existing posts, you can click on new Send button floating at the bottom of your screen to download the PDF of that post. Then you can share the PDF file with your readers through groups, broadcast lists, or individual contacts – via WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, or whatever else, really.

Additionally, a lot of power users of Telegram have channels to publish and distribute their content, but that solution is contained in the walled garden of Telegram. This approach via ScrollStack will help you reach out to your audience across the web and myriad of messaging apps.


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Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko

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Abhishek Baxi

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I write tech.