Grow With Habits Not Tactics

When indie hackers and startups talk about growth, they tend to talk about the tactics.

Things like:

✅ Optimize for SEO
✅ Capture emails
✅ (Don't) use pop up email captures
✅ Create a launch list
✅ Have different pricing offerings
✅ (Don't) use Twitter
✅ Hang out where your people are

If you are looking for specific growth tactics then I'd recommend having a look at:

However, if you've struggled with tactics, maybe you need to look at your habits.

Just like you can't get fit overnight. Or a quick fad diet won't keep you at the weight you want to be at. You can't grow a successful business without good business habits.

Habits involve showing up, consistently.

Annoying, right? 🙊

When I started my Rosieland newsletter last year I intentionally didn't try to grow it. I had done newsletters for years before. I had experienced the tears of having to show up every week, and my god, did I end up hating Sunday evenings, the day before my newsletter went out.

I wanted ☁️ Rosieland to be different:

  • I avoided growth. I got an insignificant 100 subscribers in my first 6 months.
  • I wanted to ensure I enjoyed the process
  • I wanted to create the habit of showing up and committing to the journey
  • I wanted to build confidence within myself
  • I knew it all kind sucked to begin with, I wanted time to improve it without the pressure
  • I wanted to ensure I had the time to do allocate to it
  • I was committing myself to a weekly newsletter, nothing more, nothing less
  • I still don't share my newsletter that much, I have links to them in my bios 'n' what not, and only occasionally share it.

All of these things were about building up habits, validating whether they were habits that I wanted to have and whether I was happy with the direction I was heading.

16 months later, where has it lead me?

  • 1400 (free) subscribers
  • 65 weeks of a weekly curated newsletter
  • I added in a new weekly (paid) article
  • 6 months ago I started it as a paid newsletter, am currently at approx $20k ARR
  • I still don't promote it much, I've been very much head down in keeping focused on delivering and improving
  • I've met many friends, fans, and now collaborators along the way!
  • And I kept at it through this damn crazy pandemic year! 🎉
  • Life would feel very weird for me if I wasn't showing up to deliver every week.

What next?

I feel 2021 is where I'll push for growth, it's taken me 18 months to get here.

Though I'm conscious, that the habit game will have to start again, just with growth activities. Where there is a rosie will, there is a rosie way! ☁️

Best thing of all, I feel like I'm on the right track and am ooooooooozzzing with confidence with what I'm creating.

  1. 4

    Thank you.
    This is so spot on.
    I'm on the process of quitting the tactics drugs. It felt good at first, so many techniques, tips, etc to eventually turn into anxiety and FOMO. And not a lot of work done.

    Lately, I've been focusing on the basics. What's behind the tactics. I'll be adding that you want to build a business on the back of habits that you'll enjoy doing.

  2. 3

    I love this post and train of thought Rosie!

    Habits breed consistency... and consistency over time yields results.

    1. 2

      Loved Rosie's post and your reply. :-)

  3. 2

    Kudos for you Rosie! It looks like you let go of some toxic habits.

    If you want to dive deeper into the topic of habits > Here's a good read, The power of habits (Charles Duhigg). It taught me so much about how we're programmed with all these habits, that it's easy to lose sight of our goal and ultimately our own why.

  4. 2

    I can see how the metrics and such become such an obsession. Personally, I think oh I wrote this cool post I should promote it. Oh, let's see the open rate, and new subs, and... on and on it goes. But I can see how that leads to false positives...

    An example, I recently put out a feedback tool-type embed on my newsletter issue. Subs could click; Good, ok, not interested. Someone clicked the not interested and I immediately felt that pit in my stomach feeling. But is that what I should be concerned with... I mean yes subs matter and so do their opinions, but maybe it should be about the habit of posting and just trying my best to get better week in/week out.

    I like your lead on this Rosie its resonated for sure.

  5. 2

    Hey Rosie, a great post. I'll be trying to take this into account when writing new posts here for my Zero to Users series.

    I've read the "Tiny Habits" book and was really inspired by it. I think I can apply the same principles to growth tactics as well...don't just present the growth tactic, but also write the "tiny habits" version of it, by asking myself: "What's the smallest action a founder can take to get started with this?"


    1. 1

      Yes, I love the TinyHabits approach too.

  6. 2

    This really struck a chord with me. I am creating software instead of a newsletter but I totally get where you are coming from. I want to keep improving my craft and create something truly great without the pressure of growing too fast, just yesterday I came across a quote by Paul Graham that it's better 100 people to love your product than millions sort of like you. I'll focus on making something that (a few) people really love.

  7. 2

    Great story! I didn't realise how much discipline one has to go through when creating newsletter until I'm starting one. This has proven that good habits win.

  8. 2

    I think it depends on the kind of person. Some people are very tactical and need work on their habits. Others are good at regimenting their lives into carefully selected habit loops but they're focused on something that doesn't move the needle.

    Re your newsletter: 20k ARR is amazing for only 1400 free subs!

  9. 1

    Rosie - Is this a good way to get started for the first six months? https://www.growthgeeks.com/gig/weekly-email-newsletter

  10. 1

    100% ! I created hadbitdaemon.com for this very reason.
    I agree that creating consistent habits is the most manageable and frictionless way to improve. One thing that is not often appreciated is that it is not a straitjacket, you can iterate and tweak your habits over time; but you do have to keep showing up consistently.
    As an aside, I really appreciate the authentic positivity of your posts @rosiesherry

  11. 1

    Wait, how did you add the subscribe input at the end? Is this something anyone can do? Asking for a friend 😅

    1. 1


      But seriously, a new feature on Indie Hackers that we're enabling for people who want to write 'Series', basically kind of like newsletters via the IH community.

      Let me know if it's of interest. 😊

      1. 1

        That sounds cool! I am not personally interested, my series are always one post long 😂

        1. 2

          🤣 Well, make sure you subscribe to my one. I'm quite proud of the name, lol. (The Indiependent).

  12. 1

    This comment was deleted 2 months ago.

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