How I'm Delivering Enough Value with My Newsletter to Charge for it

Hello! What's your background, and what are you working on?

I'm Andrew Kamphey. I curate a weekly newsletter on the influencer marketing industry called Influence Weekly. After working in the industry for a couple of years I wanted to level up, but wasn't sure where to go. I compiled a list of 70 good resources and started documenting what I was reading each week.

I feel that Influence Weekly is the week's most insightful, data-informed influencer marketing articles. It's like a weekly state of the industry report. My readers range from executives, to CMOs and VPs of Marketing at companies who do use or want to use influencers, to influencer marketing agencies love to keep tabs on their competition, to Influencers and those who represent them.

On average I'm making $704 per month. This goes up and down as I do ad sales. As of my lest check, I have 6,073 Subscribers.

What motivated you to get started with Influence Weekly?

I was already working in the industry, doing pricing and analytics, but I wanted to look further out and compare our work to others. I guess I generally wanted to see if our work was better or worse than industry average.

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It was hard to find consistent good work. As I read more and more in my spare time, I found myself sending more and more emails to the executives at my company. That's how I got the idea of compiling it into a single email each week.

I also wanted to keep track of what I read on a week to week basis. I could have kept a pocket, or a google sheet. Now I guess I'd have a Notion or a Roam research doc. But at the time I thought others would like this too.

What went into building the initial product?

It took one long weekend to start. Using Carrd for the landing page, I created an issue zero and sent it out to 20 people I respected in the industry, then asked them if I missed anything.

Do something old in a new way.

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Six days later I sent issue one to about 50 people. Issue two went to 100. And since then it's been almost 50 new subscribers each week. (6,000 subscribers / 127 weeks = 47.8 subscribers per week.)

At the time I used nights and weekends to publish it. Thursday night was a very long night every single week. It took a few months but I got into a rhythm and haven't missed a single week yet, in 127 weeks.

A year ago I quit my job and have used Influence Weekly to stay afloat as I try to make other products.

What's your tech stack?

At the moment:

  • Mailchimp to send emails and keep the list
  • Substack for paid members
  • Google Sheets to organize and curate the information each week
  • Stripe to accept ad payments
  • Carrd for landing page
  • Ghost for the blog (I hope I can eventually use this take over email and paid membership duties)
  • Sparkloop for referrals
  • Pigeon for email CRM.

How have you attracted users and grown Influence Weekly?

My number one growth tactic is content marketing.

  1. Influence 100: A list of the 100 most influential people in Influencer Marketing. At the time I only had about 300 subscribers, and in two weeks I doubled the subscriber count. This got shared all over LinkedIn.

  2. Influence 100 in 2019: This version gained the newsletter 700 subscribers.

My number two growth tactic is referrals.

I knew from the beginning CEOS are the most influential people, as one time a CEO told me he makes all his new employees sign up for the newsletter.

Only in late 2019 did I add a referral program. This was not meant to start referrals. It was to measure the referrals that were already happening. So far it's been a major contributor to my subscriber count. And I get to reward those who help!

Many make the mistake of seeing someone else use a tactic and blindly doing that tactic too. If nobody is sharing your newsletter you need to find out why. Incentivizing them to share it won't magically make them share it.

I created a Telegram group as a reward for those who share the newsletter. We share articles throughout the week and debate and meet others in the industry. It's going well!

What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

I make the most amount of money from selling ads. Each week's newsletter has an ad at the top and two text ads in the middle.

I also have a few paid subscribers who get the newsletter 24 hours early. They also get a bonus email about once week that either goes deeper into a specific report, provides my viewpoints on the industry, or gives a preview of major upcoming content.

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I've also made some money from donations through a BuyMeACoffee link. In addition to having the button available to people to donate at any time for any reason, I also used coffeelinks to "sell" info products. I mean infographics and reports that I released later for free. One method I had here that worked, (got a couple donations) is to release for free an infographic and one week early, announce that it's available for a $3 donation, behind a coffeelink. AT the time it was a list of 50 top journalists in the influencer marketing industry. A few highly motivated people wanted to see the list asap. Anyone who couldn't afford it, could wait a week.

In total, these "donations" contribute 5% to my total income. It's great to have it, but it's not the main event.

Each quarter I raise the price of ads, this allows me now to build packages for people. I have some who buy one ad a month, some who buy three ads in a month. If I kept to only selling one ad per week, it would be very difficult to keep it filled. It's easier when there's more spaces to fill because of how popular it makes my newsletter look.

What are your goals for the future?

My biggest goal is to reach 10,000 subscribers by the end of 2020. I plan to do this by executing lead magnets every two weeks. I'll create a sensational downloadable PDF and offer it to new subscribers. I'll send it to current subscribers first and announce that subscribers got it as an early bonus.

I'm also creating a new member site for paid subscribers. It has a searchable database of past articles. It will also have key information not found anywhere else.

What are the biggest challenges you've faced and obstacles you've overcome?

I'd do anything to get some growth without my active involvement. The hardest part of newsletters is that there's almost no way to have a network effect. The growth is very linear.

I wish I could figure out how to create better content on YouTube. That would increase the growth and not involve heavy lifting on my part. YouTube content would also reach more people more effectively, because everyone learns in a different way. I've enjoyed recording audio notes the last year on Substack. And I've now jumped into using Loom to distribute videos and screencasts.

Different types of people respond to different mediums, and I can use that to my advantage. It's incredible! I can reuse old content and repurpose it in new ways.

Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Chris at KintuLabs is the single most help I've ever gotten. His experience and advice through the years made this newsletter possible. Chris has written great in-depth blog posts about creating newsletters. He, as of now, is working on a new course. I hope hundreds can start newsletters with his advice. It's never too late to start a newsletter.

Be proud of your work and let people know.

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The Dip is the best, shortest, book for founders. Know when to quit, and quit 100%. Move on. Be it a project, a company, an angle, just something small you're doing that's not working. Quit it. Move on. Quitting is not a bad thing and can be great to hone in on the exact thing you're doing.

What's your advice for indie hackers who are just starting out?

Find your people. Build a tribe.

You don't need to find your niche. Build a niche.

Do something old in a new way.

Be proud of your work and let people know.

Where can we go to learn more?

I post updates all the time on IndieHackers, especially in the newsletter crew group. I'm also very much an open book and happy to see others succeed. Anyone is more than welcome to email me at [email protected].

If you're an online digital creator, or marketer subscribe for free on my website.

Andrew Kamphey , Founder of Influence Weekly

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