I've been running a newsletter for the last few months. It's been a great way for me to stay in touch with friends from all around my life while at the same time writing about things I care about.
Nowadays we have a huge amount of things that are available for us to buy or do, but it can be genuinely difficult to ascertain which objects or experiences are actually quality and which are just marketing. It doesn't make sense to trust ads — people paying to tell us their product is good — so how do we discover great new things?
The Wirecutter provides an example of a recommendation business that is (was?) funded not by advertisement, but by actually providing value to the customers. Instead of forcibly injecting recommendations into a user's daily life, they use a pull-based model, giving people useful information just as they seek it out. They are incentivized to do this well and provide good recommendations, lest they lose user trust and traffic.
My goal was to provide something similar with my newsletter. The structure so far has been to recommend 3-4 products or pieces of content that people might like and describing why they brought me happiness. This has turned into a whole range of things: podcast recommendations, songs, software, velomobiles. My hope is that this kind of "marketing" — peer-to-peer recommendations spread en mass, for the good of the receiver — might one day come to outshine the current industry centered around manufacturing consent. Turns out there are other people struggling through the same social situation we are.
And if you're curious, here's Cloud Bites.