Behind The Content of The Slice


The Slice highlights the underdogs of the tech world. Anything from a new startup, SaaS collaboration tools, newsletter, podcasts, or simply an interesting creation, Nic curates his favorite catches of the week and sends it out to his readers every Friday at 11am EST.


We chatted with Nic to get an inside look at how he mines the best creations of the web, curates an awesome list of stuff you didn’t know that you need to know. The coolest part about Nic’s newsletter is that he’s an underdog himself, with only 6 issues out he’s definitely making a mark in the curator scene. If you haven’t yet, stop reading, and go subscribe...but come back and learn more about the voice behind the content of The Slice. 


Who’s Nic?

If there is anyone that follows his intuition it’s Nic. Born and raised in South Africa, Nic was always “unconventional,” he is always seeking knowledge and looking for new and interesting opportunities. When something calls his name, he packs a bag, buys a flight, and runs to try it out.


Nic entered the writing scene back at University while studying a business degree in marketing and management, where he wrote what life was like as a student in Cape Town. There was always so much to uncover that no one knew about, aside from shedding life on social scenes and experiences, mainly he wanted other students to get involved, explore all that Cape Town had to offer, and meet new people, thus sparking the idea to create a blog called The Daily Portion with his best friend. Fast forward a couple of years and Nic started The Slice, an homage to his Daily Portion.

Cape Town, South Africa


He moved back to his hometown and joined a Magazine and Marketing agency, where he began learning Content Marketing at this agency. The summer job was over and it was time to go back to school, instead, Nic felt he was learning new things every day, he decided to defer a year and continue to gain as much as he could from this opportunity. 


Nic then became a freelancer and hopped around Asia for 2 years, primarily making his home base Bangkok. During his travels, he learned how to code, SEO, and copywriting because, well, that’s just Nic. Along the way he was introduced to the newsletter space by Chris Osborne (founder of GrowthList, and the original founder of the CryptoWeekly and FoundersGrid - which were later both acquired) where he helped do a short freelance project with him.


The Slice You Know Today

The Reason Why I Created The Slice

When I was working back in the marketing agency, the organizational structure and tools that were used were super old school where they didn’t implement any technology to better collaborate and streamline projects, which always bothered me. While I was freelancing, I had to use different apps, softwares, and extensions that would keep me organized. I was always trying new things out, exploring what works and what doesn’t work, and immersed myself in the tech/startup world. I noticed that the underdogs had features that the major apps didn’t have, and that became my biggest pain that I wanted to solve for. I wanted a place where people could try out new tools and applications that would make their life easier.  

Why Is Curation So Important and What Are Your Goals?

Discovery is hard, plain and simple. Finding new tools that are not the “10 best” is nearly impossible. Now, is that due to the underdogs not being great at SEO, if they can’t compete in the marketing game, if they don’t have enough employees to do it all, maybe. But I still have the same issue, I’m looking for productivity enhancers while being unproductive by spending all my time trying to find it. 


From my own experience, I only knew about publications and my issue with that is every article has to go through an editor and it’s up to the editor’s discretion whether or not that article gets published. Newsletters changed that. From Paul Graham to Julian Shapiro, these people changed the course of writing, they excluded the middle man and wrote down their own experiences, their personal opinion, and became a trusted source. I think the main takeaway here is that there is so much distrust when reading online, that if I really wanted to move the needle to highlight great companies, the only rational response would be starting a newsletter. 


All I want to truly do is let my readers know that I’ve been there, I’ve had a niche project and needed something to assist in bettering the process, an actionable solution for my pain points, and most importantly, I wanted a personal recommendation, a community, and a trusted resource. That’s what I want to do and hope to achieve with The Slice. 

What’s your process like when creating an issue? 

It takes me all-in-all a day. The hardest part is the research and finding different catches that I want to feature. Typically, I like to talk to the companies and allow them to give me a copy for them to speak to the product that they’ve worked so hard to develop. Eventually, I’ll start a system.

Research, Collection, and Curation

I discover new tools on IndieHackers, Owwly, Product Hunt, Reddit, newsletters, and crucially, Telegram groups. Telegram is where I’ll crowdsource recommendations and tools. 

Notion


I’ll then extract the tools that interest me to Notion (post taking notes on Bear and add extracting from Google Sheets) which is my personal database to store all the products inclusive of founder name, email addresses, bios, photos, etc. Before I add it into the newsletter, I, first, make sure that there is a free trial if it’s paid (what’s the point of adding something to the newsletter if my readers can’t check it out.) Second, I will trial it myself, I’ll never add something to my newsletter that I have not tried out, that would just defeat the purpose of a recommendation. 


I really have established my own vetting process. One, I’ll make sure that I would actually use it by trying it out and seeing whether or not I could benefit from it. Two, will the audience like it, will it better their needs, and three, is this a viable, accessible option for the readers to try out to decipher whether or not it’s applicable for them. 

Creation

The design and layout of my newsletter is inspired by The Hustle, and I opted to use EmailOctopus because it's easy to pick up, right off the bat and I love it because because I like to code and create my own HTML in the email and EmailOctopus allows me to do that.  

[Email Octopus Review: I wanted to use something that would be user friendly, that anyone could use. The verification process is intense: your email and domain has to be verified, including your industry, and they are quite picky on the industry you are in, so they might reject your application. I got accepted in two days, but it differs upon the submitter and their specialty]



Formatting was super important to me, as a copywriter, I used to write plenty of CVs which are made for skimming which directly impacted the way I wanted my newsletter to be read. The odds of the reader liking everything I put on the newsletter is slim to none which is why I created it to be an easy, quick read for all readers, whatever industry, come and find something that resonates with them.  

Your newsletter doesn't need to be read by everyone and you don't need to click on everything. It's just for you.

Editing

The rule of thumb should be my mother is able to read and understand every issue. If you try to edit yourself you often may miss things. It's important to choose people that you trust. The people I share my newsletter with pre-publish, are not tech-y friends to ensure that it would be readable, understandable, and interesting. 


Send your draft to people that are not necessarily in the space, see if they understand it, and listen to their feedback because they are the real readers. 

Publish and Distribution

Usually, I try to complete the email on Thursday night.  I'll spend some time reading, checking it over, air out all the fluff, and schedule the issue to go out Friday morning at 11:00 am EST.

Originally, I published at 11:30 am SA time, the majority of my subscribers are based in America with the rest in the UK, Netherlands, and Berlin. This week I tried sending it out EST time and the readership was a lot higher. The reason why I chose Friday was because it gives me a week to plan ahead plus, I try not to work on the weekends. Then, on Sunday night, my circular process starts again. 

Truthfully, every time I send out an issue, I'm never happy even though other people may love it. I never 100% feel satisfied. A bunch of times, I read a new article right after and I'm like shoot, I should have put that in. But, it’s not about perfection, typically the issues I’m most critical about will receive the highest amount of attention and appraisal. 

As I hit the publish button, I'll tweet and shout out everyone that was featured in the newsletter (which includes: 12 people - podcast, articles, blogs, tools.) I'll link to the post as well, the best part about my format is that once I add someone’s tool they’ll almost always retweet which allows for my newsletter to get exposure from their audience. Then I’ll post my newsletter on the Telegrams I’m a part of, Reddit Channels, Facebook Groups, IndieHackers, and Quora


Find where your audience is and post your newsletter there. Everyone needs to find their tribe - whether you have a blog, podcast, newsletter, it’s so important to find your audience and hangout where they hangout. 


My last piece of advice would be: 

  1. Don't look at the analytics because it doesn't matter, you are doing this for you. I take the analytics with a grain of salt, but my main metric to measure is just one reply.
  2. Make it simple enough for your mom to read. 
  3. For a bit more technical advice for those wanting to start a newsletter, learn more about the encryption of your newsletter and how to not end up in spam. [We’ll collaborate on a post that will be coming soon that will give more details on this issue.]