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October 25, 2016 | Issue 50
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the morning shakeout
Shakeout stoke! | Fairfax, California
instagram.com/mariofraioli

Good morning! Today’s issue is noteworthy as it marks the 50th straight week I’ve published this newsletter, an arbitrary milestone that, admittedly, has filled me with an odd sense of pride. I am extremely humbled by the interest and encouragement I’ve received thus far from friends and strangers alike and I very much look forward to writing and sharing the next 50 issues with the morning shakeout’s growing readership. Thank you so much for your support!

Given all that, it seems appropriate a time as any to post the first State of The Shakeout and reflect a bit on how this weekly missive came to be, look at some of the ways it’s evolved over the past year and also shed a little light on how it will continue to grow into 2017. Here we go!  

Spin it your way.

I’ve been running competitively since 1997 and writing about the sport in various capacities since 2004. Most of that writing has been very newsy, feature-y or prescriptive in nature, which is the standard mix for many of the running industry’s established publications, including the one where I most recently worked. And while there’s nothing wrong with those types of pieces, it’s not the kind of writing that gets me most excited to sit my ass down in the chair every day. 

My experiences as an athlete, coach and journalist have provided me a unique perspective on the sport of Athletics (and the running industry as a whole) and I’ve always wanted to have an independent outlet where I could share my insights and opinions with others in an effort to create awareness, generate meaningful dialogue and inspire healthy debate. Whether it’s exposing a recognizable athlete's ignorant comments, taking a deep dive down running’s dark rabbit hole of doping or suggesting that the head of USA Track & Field step down for abusing the office, I am committed to calling it like I see it.

In addition to providing this type of running commentary (pun totally intended) on a somewhat regular basis, the morning shakeout is a place where I can share thoughts on other topics that interest me, including writing, media, philosophy, business and self-improvement. Many of these areas intersect with running in different places, although that’s not always the case. Writing this newsletter has become my weekly exercise in deconstructing what I’m reading, listening to and/or thinking about while trying to understand how it applies to my life. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the interest and response around ideas like adopting a process-oriented approach to goal setting, death, taking meaningful breaks or experiencing deep play. It’s my hope that my sharing these interesting links and personal learnings gets you to think more deeply about a particular topic or inspires you to spark a change in your own life.

Putting my own spin on things, sharing what I’ve learned through my own experiences and connecting with people on a personal level through my writing has always brought me the most enjoyment. This is why the morning shakeout exists and the reason it’s in the form of an email newsletter that gets delivered straight to your inbox.

Talking ’bout an evolution.

All it took was this Tweet to begin getting the word out about the morning shakeout and put the pressure on myself to actually produce it. That said, it’s scary as hell when you publicly tell several thousand followers you’re going to do something but for some sick reason I’ve always seemed to thrive when I put myself under the gun.

I’d be lying if I told you that I knew what I was doing when I launched this thing and the truth is I’m still trying to figure it out. the morning shakeout has slowly evolved in both style and substance since that first send but I’m happy with where it’s at now that we’re 50 issues into its existence.  

Looking back, I’m mildly embarrassed by some the early layout and design choices I made but it’s been fun to see those things evolve and improve over time. The biggest and most significant changes in this area are as follows: 

  1. Getting rid of these hideous hypertext headlines after the first issue. 
  2. Introducing a header photo in Issue 10
  3. Doing away with black text boxes for good after Issue 10. 
  4. Going to all black and white social buttons in Issue 20
  5. Eliminating the social and share icons under the header in Issue 36
  6. Making the social and share icons in the footer bigger and bolder also in Issue 36. 
  7. Introducing a light gray band across the top and bottom of the newsletter in the same issue. 

In terms of subscribers, the first issue went out to 246 people. Some 49 weeks later that number has nearly 10x’d itself, which is both flattering and somewhat surprising, not that I had a specific target I was trying to hit. The open rate has settled in at just over 67 percent while the click rate lies just shy of 18. All that tells me is that you’re a very engaged audience, and for that I am grateful. I’ve heard from many readers that the morning shakeout has become a regular part of their Tuesday routine and that makes me smile. 

I’ve done nothing deliberate to market the morning shakeout aside from asking readers to share the web link to worthy and interesting issues. Those same links get posted to my own social media channels from time to time, I’ve repurposed a few select pieces to the morning shakeout publication on Medium, and that’s it. Word of mouth has been my most effective form of marketing and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Again, a since thank you to everyone reading for your support. 

Turn on the light. 

So where does the morning shakeout go from here? That’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot of late and fortunately I’ve settled upon a few exciting answers. Over the past year, this newsletter has become my most consistent—and enjoyable—creative pursuit and I have no plans to stop anytime soon. To steal a line from Daring Fireball’s John Gruber, one of my biggest inspirations for starting this project, I’m going to keep writing the morning shakeout (and making it freely available) “until I f*cking die.”

But just because it’s free doesn’t mean it comes without cost. As I mentioned in Issue 47, the morning shakeout surpassed 2,000 subscribers earlier this month, which means it now costs me money to send it out each week. As such, I’ve been exploring a couple revenue models that will help support the work I do here at the morning shakeout while also allowing me to create additional content that complements the weekly newsletter in different ways. I look forward to sharing more of those details with you in the coming weeks! 

In the meantime, here’s a quick peek at some of the things you can expect to see between now and the end of the year: 

  1. A new, cleaner website with a blog that lives on themorningshakeout.com.
  2. An updated logo that will look good on a t-shirt, stickers and coffee mugs. (Hint hint, wink wink.)
  3. Exclusive longform interviews with runners, coaches, writers and other interesting folks who have stories to share. 
  4. More frequent rundowns of things that interest me and inspire me, including podcasts and music I’m listening to, apps I’m using, products I’m testing, people I’m following, books I’m reading and so forth.

That’s it for Issue 50. Hope you enjoyed this first State of The Shakeout. Let me know what you thought by replying directly to this email or giving me a shout on Twitter. We’ll return to our regularly scheduled programming next Tuesday.

Thanks for reading, 

Mario

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