What’s in a Newsletter + what platform to use?

I’ve learned a lot as I have worked on building my very first newsletter…

You’re going to want to see my recommendation at the end…the newsletter platform I found is awesome.

Newsletters are growing in popularity

This actually surprised me a bit because you don’t really hear about newsletters much. At least I hadn’t…until I started researching them. It’s a bit like when you research a certain model car and then you start seeing it everywhere.

I guess that is called the Baader–Meinhof phenomenon – or frequency bias.

It makes sense though.

You need to “own” your audience

With all of these social platforms making it so easy to grow an audience, the thing people don’t realize is that they don’t really “own their audience”. That means that if Instagram went belly up and that is where your audience was…you would lose them forever.

Newsletters essentially cut out the middle man and let you publish directly to your core followers. You have the emails and those emails go directly to the people.

Audience “owned”.

Newsletters are another revenue stream potential

Diversifying your revenue streams is almost cliche at this point…but perhaps that is my own recency bias talking.

If you’re on YouTube you can’t (or shouldn’t) rely completely on Adsense to make money. If you produce a podcast then you should think beyond whatever sponsorships you can secure.

You get the idea. Diversification keeps your business safe. If one piece falls down, then the rest can keep you afloat.

The #Historic Newsletter

I’ve written about our Walk with History YouTube channel and our Talk with History podcast. So let me introduce the #Historic newsletter!

I was inspired by the Colin and Samir newsletter…The Publish Press. These two run a YouTube channel that covers the creator economy and they talk to people across the YouTube, Podcast, and online media industry. I listen to their podcast and it is honestly one of my current favorites.

All that to say, they have a VERY successful newsletter that even I read each time I get it. (3 times a week right now) They have regular sponsors, constantly preach revenue stream diversification, and give great advice on growing an online creator centric business.

They use BeeHiiv.com. I did some research and saw that Substack was pretty popular and used by some pretty big newsletters…but BeeHiiv was geared towards flate rates (if over 2,500 subscribers) vs 10% commission from Substack.

The main difference is that Substack keeps 10% of the revenue from each newsletter membership, while beehiiv doesn’t charge these fees. Instead, they use fixed pricing, which is cheaper for writers after they charge more than $3000 per year in memberships.


For me…it’s all about the look, feel, and future customization. I think that beehiiv (which only started in 2021) has that and I’m excited to see where it goes. Plus, Colin and Samir use and I LOVE the look of their newsletter.

Should I start a newsletter?

Well if you have every blogged regularly…then I say go for it. You can create paid newsletter memberships so if you already have a blog, this could be your “premier” option that people pay for.

If you are on other platforms like YouTube, Instagram, or you’re a Podcaster…this is a great way to get some control of your audience and take out that platform middle man.

If you enjoy history, travel, and interesting articles…the #Historic newsletter is free! (if you follow below you can see what our welcome email looks like 😉)

Plus…how cool is it when you get the .com you want? www.hashtaghistoric.com

Hobby to Side Hustle to Full-Time Job

A Hobby is Born

Jenn (my wife) and I had our own personal hobbies. She was a history nerd turned Historian (graduate degree and all) and I had taken up making videos of the family. For a very long time, I had been the “video/computer guy” in my circle of friends and family. Making videos was a creative outlet for me, since being in the military does not lend itself to artistic output. (not complaining, just the truth)

We both loved other similar things like camping, fitness, travel…but none of those were always possible or easy for a military family that moves every couple of years.

Photo by Artem Podrez on Pexels.com

The Walk with History YouTube channel started like so many others…with a “hey, I was watching YouTube and what if we made videos like xyz?”.

In February of 2021, my wife and I began a hobby together.

My first “joint” Hobby

What is a “joint” hobby?

A joint hobby is not something you do with someone else. A joint hobby is something you cannot do without someone else.

To be honest, I didn’t realize that until just now. I COULD NOT do the Walk with History YouTube channel without Jenn and she COULD NOT do it without me.

She finds the topics, does the research, searches out the locations, and keeps the idea generator going. I am not actually that interested in History – which is odd to say when I produce a history YouTube channel and (now) two history focused podcasts.

I produce everything. Video work (aside from vlog style shots), editing, publishing, website creation and management, finance tracking, podcast creation/production, and all around tech guy. Oh and I drive everywhere. Very important.

She loves her part of this and I love my part. We joke with people, when this hobby turned side hustle comes up, that it only took us 15 years to find something we like doing together. Most of our friends and family laugh at that because they know we have done a lot together…but this is the first thing that we are both truly passionate about.

Photo by Suliman Sallehi on Pexels.com

Hobby to Side Hustle

I knew early on that this hobby could be a future business. I believe to my core, that we can make Walk with History something that will work as a business.

So it became a side hustle pretty quickly.

With YouTube as one of the foundations of this side hustle, this channel checked all the boxes for us and for our future success.

  • Specific niche (history)? Check
  • Someone who is passionate about the topic (Jenn)? Check
  • Someone who loves to video and edit (me)? Check
  • Topic(s) that have potential business opportunities (history, travel, education)? Check
  • Consistency in production? Check

I tracked expenses early on and we even claim these on our taxes. We’re not working the system, we truly are treating this like a business. My plan is to slowly build this up enough, perhaps over the course of 7-10 years, so that this can be my full time “retirement job”.

To be honest, tracking it like a business has made some decisions easier. As I write this Jenn is in London, house sitting for some friends for two weeks. She works remotely so she is filming Walk with History videos in the morning and working her regular job in the afternoon/evenings. Buying that plane ticket is an expense we can claim to this business as are other expenses she may incur while in England and filming.

Side Hustle to Full-Time Job?

Success will take time.

There are no shortcuts to the top of the mountain – and we are climbing this mountain together, one step at a time.

Building this business from hobby, to side hustle, to future full-time business will easily take 10 years…less if I’m lucky…but success is just when preparation and luck finally meet.

Let me say that again…

Success is when preparation and luck finally meet.

If we got lucky to early…we would not succeed because we wouldn’t be prepared. Same goes for anyone. If your very first video went viral, what would that do for you? If your very first blog post was read by millions of people what would that give you?

You MUST have a foundation of preparation.

I know that Jenn and I will succeed because we are both passionate about this project and we have the drive and patience to build that foundation over the course of many years.

I have zero doubt in my mind that we will find success. What that success looks like?

Well that’s a different question…😁

Work Hard, Change Fast

My motto this year:

Lay low and grind


I have been working REALLY hard on my other site and the YouTube channel I run with my wife…and it’s been paying off.

We have been fortunate enough to gain over 2,000 subscribers in our first year and I attribute that to years of me experimenting and the fact that my wife is a Historian…and figured out that people like history on YouTube. (niche down they say…and they were right)

I don’t have it figured out though

What do you mean? 2k subs in a year on YouTube is not easy!? What is your secret?

No secrets, just hard work and being willing to change. Change fast.

I love getting feedback as that is really the only way that you can change yourself or your product for the better. That and learning from others…but direct feedback is something everyone should seek.

To improve is to change, so to be perfect is to have changed often.”

Winston Churchill

We released a membership tier and were pretty aggressive with the pricing at the high end. I worked really hard to make those products and I thought I might be worth more money. But then I saw a friend also release a membership…at a much lower, single price.

It hit me right in the gut.

Be Realistic

His YouTube channel is MUCH bigger than our (about 15 times bigger as of writing) BUT he didn’t offer as much as I do. (interactive maps are work to make!)

So I Changed…Fast

Even though I had just released a smooth and well written and logical 3 tier membership, I changed. I got rid of the low and high and merged my perks to the middle pricing. ($5/month for what we are giving is a freaking steal)

It’s ok to admit you are wrong.

What is not ok is to recognize you are wrong and not adjust…not change.

Change is good…so change often and change fast.

oh…and if you like history and/or travel…check out our patreon. (my interactive travel guides are pretty cool)

Walk With History Memberships are Live!

If you like History…you are going to LOVE this.

Worked like a crazy person to get this done. I have a lot to say about how I built this…but for now, see what all you can get with these brand new memberships.

To celebrate here is 20% off at our Gift Shop.



(expires March 1st)

Would love to hear your honest thoughts on the membership options…especially if something doesn’t make sense or looks off. You can message me if you find something like that.


*Stickers, coffee mugs, t-shirts (at no extra cost depending on membership level starting at $2/month)

**Behind the Scenes updates and member posts. (a lot of the stuff doesn’t make it past my editors cuts…)

***Episode Travel Guides! (particularly proud of this one) These are interactive maps that can take you to the locations we filmed at. These took (and will take) a lot of work so access depends on membership level….BUT THE FIRST 5 ARE FREE.



search “Walk With History” on Patreon. 😁

Now I’d say I’m gonna relax and watch the superbowl…but on to editing the next video. 😉

Don’t Fall For “New Year New You”

And here is why…

Think about it.

New You?

What does that really mean? Taken at its most literal, it could mean that your old self should be cast aside for a new and better “you”. That your previous “you” is not worth keeping and only a “new you” is worth presenting to the world.

Which is a HUGE mistake.

Photo by Kinga Lopatin on Unsplash

What makes you better is not throwing away your years of experiences — the good, the bad, and the oh-so-ugly. It is precisely those experiences that make you better!

They have refined you.

Just as a sculpture needs to be carved out of an imperfect block of marble so do you need to be carved out of an imperfect shell of humanity.

Photo by Pavel Nekoranec on Unsplash

New Year?

I may be one of the few that has never been one for New Year resolutions — and here is why.

You should not wait to start something new. There have been countless articles written as to why New Years Resolutions Fail and I believe that is because when you pick an arbitrary date to start something…you never really wanted that thing in the first place.

New Years resolutions are an excuse to not begin today.

If you TRULY want to start something new START NOW!

Stop reading this article and act!! (you won’t hurt my feelings)

Photo by Caleb Miller on Unsplash

Not Built in a Day

Rome was not built in a day…

Do you know when that quote originated? Almost 1,000 years ago.


The earliest known version of this expression is found in the collection of medieval French poems Li Proverbe au Vilain, which was published around 1190:

Rome ne fu[t] pas faite toute en un jour

(via phrases.org.uk)

For almost 1,000 years people have known that it takes a long time to build something beautiful. They didn’t wait until the New Year to start building Rome.

You can’t tell me that on January 1st you are going to start the “New You”…and why?

Because that is impossible.


Your old self is part of who you are. It is that original marble block that only a select few saw the beauty within…heck…for many of you, only YOU SAW WHAT WAS POSSIBLE.

That’s ok. That is normal.

Because year after year, you have survived and refined yourself. That block of humanity took hammer blow after hammer blow — and only now is the world ready to see what was inside all along.

You Are Ready

Photo by Amy Burgess on Unsplash

There is no “New Year New You”…because today, right now, you are here and ready. Do not wait for tomorrow or some arbitrary date to act. If you do, you will always be waiting for that “perfect time to start”.

Start now. Fail. Start again and fail again. Learn from that.

Hammer blow after hammer blow…those failures will fall away to reveal a more refined you.

You got this…

Don’t wait for “New Year New You”…because it’s bullshit.

Starting a Podcast…on How I Started a YouTube Channel

First 3 episodes go live on Monday!

Ok. So there’s a bit more it it than the title may suggest.

The Talk With History podcast is a history based podcast that talks about how the past continues to impact society today and what it takes to produce a successful history based YouTube channel.

My wife and I started the Walk With History YouTube channel back at the end of February and we have been floored at the community that has grown around us.

Even more surprising we were able to monetize in barely 4 months!

To be honest…our 10th video on that channel got “picked up by the algorithm” and that got us to the required 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time required. It took me a little while to get in to the YouTube partner program so we have only technically been monetized since July/August timeframe.

Why Start a Podcast?

I was listening to the YouTube Creator’s Hub Podcast a couple weeks ago and Dusty Porter, the host, had a guest on that is big in the podcast industry and he was talking about how those who run a YouTube channel already have everything it takes to podcast.

They understand audio, storytelling, and the digital medium. And it’s a lot less work to produce a 20-30 minute podcast than it is to make a good video of the same length. (trust me…as someone who makes 12-15 minute videos every week…podcasting is WAY easier)

So this podcast fit right in line with what we are trying to do with the Walk With History YouTube channel…but in a different medium.

  • We have already done the research (as our podcasts will be in depth looks at our videos)
  • Barrier to entry is VERY low for podcasting
  • Audio is the focus…which I’d say is a bit easier than video
  • Podcasting is only going to grow and not even close to saturated right now

Pretty exciting huh?

Curious on how to start a Podcast or YouTube channel?

Drop me a comment below! I’d be excited to write more about everything I have learned. 😁

Oh yeah…and you can find our Talk With History Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and everywhere else!!

The Ebb and Flow of a Personal Blog

Personal blogs are a different…no…special…part of the internet.

Has it been a while since you have posted on your blog consistently?

That’s ok.

Because it is yours.

Personal blogs are a different part of the internet. Special in my opinion. Some people write long enough (and well enough) to make some money…but many (like me so far) don’t.

That’s ok.

Because it is mine

Perhaps it is just my generation (I fall smack in the middle of Gen X and Millenials) but a blog/website that is mine and mine to do what I want with…has always felt special.

I have followed a blog by Greg Morris for some time now: gr36.com. I also follow Greg on twitter @gr36. I don’t remember how I came across his site but I have always been glad I did.

And I follow him for no other reason than I enjoy the thoughts he puts out in to the world through his blog…and I feel like if we knew each other in real life, we might be friends.

That’s it.

He has done things that I have done here: switch blogging platforms, turned ads on and off, tested features, pontificated on whether or not he should keep writing, etc. Greg has treated his blog much like I treat mine…as an avenue for him to write, create, think aloud, seek feedback…and he has done it for quite a while.

That’s ok.

Because it is his.

It is ok

The beauty of a personal blog is that (hopefully) people are there for you…not necessarily for an ever flowing feed of information, gear reviews, etc. It’s personal…it is yours….it is you.

And that means it is ok to step away and take a break every once in a while. It is ok to try something new, to write on a completely new and random topic…or to take a deep breath and think aloud…while writing those thoughts down.

Don’t worry about the optimal time to publish and there is no need to sweat the thoughts of how long a post is or if it has too many pictures.

It is ok.

Because your blog is just that….yours.

Let me encourage you my friend…the world is better when you are in it…and in this day and age a personal blog is my favorite way to contribute to the digital world we all operate in.

Start that personal blog…or keep the one you have going…make it yours…hit publish whenever you want to…it is ok.

Behind the Scenes Filming Flashdance Locations in Pittsburgh | @WalkwithHistory BTS

Go watch Flashdance…then watch this…or just watch this.

This is a behind the scenes look of us filming an episode of Walk With History in Pittsburgh, PA. We went around to the filming locations for the classic 80s movie, Flashdance.

Super fun day…and a beautiful afternoon spent in the Steel City!

Rokinon (Samyang) 14mm f2.8 RF – 1 Month Review

Last month I posted about my new purchase of the Rokinon 14mm f2.8 lens for Canon RF mount cameras (ie. EOS R, R6, R5).

I was pretty excited to discover this lens as I have always been a fan of wide angle lenses. I took a wide angle lens to the UK on a vacation I took quite a while ago (2010)…and the pictures I got are still some of my favorite pictures to this day.

Wide angle lenses are the only way to get those castle and cathedral HUGE ceiling shots.

I believe I owned a Nikon D90 DSLR at the time and was using a Tokina 10-17mm lens. (I loved that lens)

Canon RF Mount Lens Options

Even though the EOS R has been out for a couple years now, there are not many third party options for the RF mount that Canon will be using for the foreseeable future. Yes, you can purchase their “fast” RF lenses…and they are fantastic…but they are also expensive!!

Canon RF 15-35 f2.8 – $2,500

Canon RF 24-70 f2.8 – $2850

Canon RF 70-200 f2.8 – $2,900

Canon did just come out with their RF 50mm f1.8 lens for only $200…it’s a great lens and that classic nifty fifty option, but 50mm is pretty limited.

Don’t get me wrong, if I could afford to buy these expensive lenses I absolutely would.

But I can’t…nor can most non-professional photographers/videographers I would imagine.

Third Party Lenses for Canon RF Mount

Rokinon (aka Samyang) RF 14mm f2.8 – $629 (currently) – can find it for less if you look around

  • All the others (lots of brands I’m not familiar with and many are manual focus)

There are a few…but none of the typical names you see associated with Canon like Sigma or Tamron. I will say though…Rokinon’s RF 85mm f2.8 lens for Canon looks VERY nice…probably a great deal if you’re considering that focal length (popular for portrait photography).

Rokinon 14mm f2.8 Initial Impressions

  1. It FEELS like a quality lens – I know that isn’t a real metric…but if you have owned enough cameras and lenses you probably know what I mean. This lens is MUCH heavier than my old Canon 10-18mm EF lens…but to me that means this thing is well built. I just feels like it will be able to take a beating and keep on ticking. (heck I’ve already used it in light rain with no issues…thanks weather sealing!)
  2. It is bigger than I expected it to be You can see the specs on paper, but until you start using it you won’t know how big it feels. It’s nice though…especially with the R6…feels like a pro lens. When taking pictures or video I don’t hesitate to grab the lens for balance.
  3. Autofocus is still fast –Canon’s new Dual Pixel Autofocus is amazing and super fast…and I haven’t noticed any slowing of that with this lens.
  4. Image quality is FANTASTIC – I haven’t had the chance to take many pictures with it yet…but I filmed a video for our Walk With History YouTube Channel on Washington Crossing that comes out on 30 June…and here is a quick teaser clip from that video that I filmed with this lens and my R6.

that little bit of shake is my handheld technique (or lack thereof)

The image is sharp from edge to edge…the Canon “colors” feel so natural (that I don’t always see with Sony images)…and I just love the wide shot I can get with 14mm on a full-frame sensor.

Expectations Going Forward

For someone like me who is a wide angle fan, I know I am going to get some serious mileage out of this. Not only do I enjoy the kind of photography that you can only get with wide angle lenses..but with the vlog style videos I make for my personal YouTube channel and now for mine and my wife’s channel…this 14mm lens is perfect.

I did also purchase the Haida Rear Lens ND Filter kit since this lens does not have front filter threads; rather, it has a rear filter set up…which has its upsides and downsides. (more on those later) I have only used the filters once so far, so I need some more usage before I can reliably write anything on them.

Rokinon (Samyang) is on to something with these RF lenses and I am not the only one who thinks that.

If you are interested in buying this lens, here is a link to it on Amazon.

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