The Story Behind DanylkoWeb Digest, The Weekly Newsletter

In a previous job, I didn't realize I was building a newsletter. Today, I discuss how I started the newsletter and how I create it every week.

Written by Jonathan "JD" Danylko • Last Updated: • General •

A collection of newspapers

UPDATE: As of March, 2022, the newsletter was discontinued.

I was talking with a former colleague and thinking back to when I posted my "first" newsletter.

Looking back on it, it's amazing how things evolve when you introduce ideas to your friends and co-workers.

With that said, I thought I would answer some newsletter questions with the 5 W's in journalism: What, When, Why, Where, and Who (and maybe throw in a "How")

What is DanylkoWeb Wire Digest?

UPDATE: It used to be called the DanylkoWeb Wire, but it was mostly a summary of full-stack news and techniques for developers and designers.

In short, DanylkoWeb Digest is a weekly newsletter containing curated links around the web about full-stack development with a focus on Microsoft technologies and, recently, a move towards mobile and responsive development and design techniques as we go into the new year (2018).

The newsletter is like a newswire even though I'm not a news agency, but I send curated content to my readers to make them aware of industry ideas, tips, and techniques with a little bit of humor thrown in.

So I decided to go with DanylkoWeb Digest.

Who writes DanylkoWeb Digest? 

Just me...Danylko. Jonathan Danylko.

Yes, I'm the only one publishing DanylkoWeb Digest.

When is it published?

I publish the newsletter every Friday morning around 6:30a EST.

Where Is It Located?

As mentioned, it's on MailChimp and is archived so you can view previous newsletters.

Why Did You Start the Newsletter?

This is a loaded question.

Some time ago, I was working at a company where every week, I would send links of interest around to my co-workers.

Everyone has done this from time to time. You find something interesting and want to send it to those people in your group.

Naturally, this would take a split second, but each link I sent would focus on one of four things:

  1. Improve the group's skill set with a cool technique in .NET.
  2. Notify the group of a new gadget
  3. How to advance your career
  4. Send a entertaining post around (like a Dilbert or technology comic)

After sending out links for the week, I thought it was too sporadic and some people wanted a list of them for later in case they missed them.

I decided to write them up and present them on a Friday every week. I called them "Friday Links."

I would pass around this collection of links to my own "subscriber list." I kept track of it through an email list I had on my PC. If someone wanted to receive the links, I would add them to my list and they would receive the Friday Links every Friday.

Sounds like a newsletter, doesn't it?

Once I left that company, I was told by a couple of individuals they missed the Friday Links.

So being a developer and since I have a blog, I created a way to send out multiple emails through GoDaddy.

After a month of building this custom, automated process into my blog, I started writing my newsletter and sending it out to my subscribers.

It didn't take long to find out I didn't have enough email relays.

After the first month, I only had 250 email relays, but I had more than 250 subscribers. I would have to purchase more relays and add that onto my monthly bill for GoDaddy.

Yeah...not gonna happen.

I started looking for a third-party service.

Looking around, I saw developers using MailChimp for their newsletters. The first 2,000 subscribers were free.

Boom! I immediately started using MailChimp.

Every since August of last year (2017), I've been pushing out a newsletter every Friday to my subscribers to help them with their career as a full-stack developer.

Something so small became something bigger.

How Did I Build It?

The whole idea with creating this newsletter is to automate as much as possible so I don't waste four hours creating a newsletter.

My normal process is like this:

  1. Curration (automatic)
    Every week, I receive links from across the web from RSS feeds I've grabbed in the past from newsworthy sites. I place the RSS feeds into Feedly.

  2. Selection Process (10-20 minutes)
    As I scour my feeds, I find these links and drag their URLs into a section folder on my bookmark bar for when I need them on Thursday evening. The bookmark folders are labeled with categories such as Design, Programming, Database, etc. I try to find the most compelling, informative, and entertaining stories of the week in each category for my readers.

  3. Transformation (10 minutes)
    Once I have my list, I use Google Sheets to take URL's and transform them into a format I can use for MailChimp. The only reason I have Google Sheets is to speed up the conversion of links into an HTML format. Once I copy the links into Google Sheets, it uses an ImportXML to retrieve the title, images, and descriptions from a live HTML document and creates an HTML format in another cell for me. The ImportXML function alone is worth using Google's spreadsheets.

  4. Transfer (15 minutes)
    Once I have the cells with the formatted HTML for each section, I open MailChimp and copy the HTML over to it's related section. There are times when I want to comment on numerous links. Depending on the amount of links, this gives me a chance to explain why I selected this link and how it could affect my readers.

  5. Finishing Touches (10-20 minutes)
    I change the date of the newsletter, write up a title, share some weekly news, and highlight posts I think are of interest to my readers from the weekly list.

As you can see, it takes a little over an hour to create the newsletter every week.

Recently, I've received feedback from my readers about too many links, so I'm going to cut back.

I'll be adding 2-4 links for each section every week instead of almost 10.

If you have any suggestions, want to comment on the newsletter, or even help promote a blog post you wrote, don't hesitate to contact me.

Good or bad, I love to hear from my readers.


I always try to produce a newsletter to my audience every week along with my Morning Coffee Links.

If there's something of interest, I try to "share the wealth" so my readers are up-to-date and have a pulse on the IT industry instead of falling behind.

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Picture of Jonathan "JD" Danylko

Jonathan Danylko is a web architect and entrepreneur who's been programming for over 25 years. He's developed websites for small, medium, and Fortune 500 companies since 1996.

He currently works at Insight Enterprises as an Principal Software Engineer Architect.

When asked what he likes to do in his spare time, he replies, "I like to write and I like to code. I also like to write about code."

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