Newsletter Crew October 23, 2020

3 Simple (and Impactful) Newsletter Improvements

John Saddington @8bit

I haven't quite made it a full month yet on our new email newsletter and although we've surpassed our original growth goals there's still a lot more learnings to come!

But one must not forget that capturing the learnings is one thing while executing against those new learnings is another! The latter is just as important (if not more important) than the former.

Here are 3 small yet worthwhile improvements that I've made in the last few weeks of publication that have helped increase subscriptions as well as user experience...

1. Text Ornamentation

"Ornamentation" is a fancy word for text styles, like bold, italic, and even making the text format for code as well as font choice(s), size, and the distance between letters and paragraph breaks.

This also includes the coloration of your hyperlinks / urls and how these interact with the overall color of your newsletter and brand. Sometimes, we totally mess this up by being too creative; for instance, I received this invaluable feedback just the other day:

The links were too hard to read! So, I changed the color on both the WordPress + Substack newsletter stack:

Above is editing the WordPress styles while below is quickly changing the color via Substack, my delivery system:

Now, the links are much more obvious (and on-brand!):

You and I know what it's like to encounter a hard-to-read newsletter and yet we sometimes fall for our own "creative logic" and mess this up ourselves!

🤦🏻‍♂️

2. Adjust Your Goals

This goes without saying, but, as you start building your new email newsletter it's important to have have growth goals but this only works if you plan on actually trying to reach those goals and making real-time adjustments to your goals as you get more data about your efforts.

In other words, goals are great only if you are actually using them and adjusting them to reflect new realities.

Consequently, after crossing the 100 subscriber mark I quickly adjusted these goals to be "aggressive but achievable" aligning around 300 subscribers for the "launch month".

From our start, this meant that I needed to acquire ~7 new subscribers per day — I'm grateful for the daily reports that Substack delivers so I know if I'm pacing well:

Making goals is good, adjusting goals is better.

3. Break Your Own Rules

This is especially important in the very beginning of a new email newsletter as you start with a plan and then you typically get punched in the face (a'la Mike Tyson) as you start to execute.

In other words, your initial plans for roll-out, content development, and pacing / scheduling should always be subject to change as well, even and especially as new and important data comes into view.

Consequently, just like your goals, your own "rules" for how you wanted to build a community through a newsletter should be reviewed continually, every week, so that you can deliver maximal results with minimal effort.

A good example of this is the change-up is my content schedule and coverage, which I originally shared to my growing audience as-such:

What I didn't expect is that there would be so much positive feedback about our deep-dives — the posts where we effectively "break down" larger presentations and workshops into the #mustread content in bulleted-form.

As a result, this week's issues have featured more breakdowns than previous weeks and I'm "breaking my own rule" so as to serve my audience and community better.

You should do the same.

  1. 2

    I learned a lot from this. One thing I could do a lot better with is in the “What you can expect” department.

    1. 2

      that was something i stole from casey who left the verge recently... he suggested doing a better "about" page!

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