How would you grow this?

So, I've been building letterbase.co for the past 3 weeks. I want to add more things to it like email marketing jobs, buy and sell newsletters, etc. But I need newsletters to join first so that it provides value. How would you go about reaching newsletter creators?

I've been reaching out to people on Twitter, and it works, but I'm looking for more ways to reach them.

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    Right, I see this and I'm not sure I see the grand vision for the project. What are you trying to do?

    You've mentioned adding more things but these sound disjointed. I get the vibe that you want to do something in newsletters, but you're not sure what. So you're just hoping that if you throw enough features or content at it and that something will stick.

    So take a step back. What problem do you want to solve here?

    Now... as it stands Letterbase is targeted at people looking to advertise in newsletters, not those who want email marketing jobs and not those who want to buy/sell newsletters. So let's assume that's what we're going to be looking at growing the advertising part. We know there's almost definitely a market for those who want to advertise but it's a two-sided marketplace so you'll need to scale both the supply and demand concurrently. That's always a challenge.

    If I've understood this right, I'm v happy to give some pointers on how you might grow a marketplace. But take a step back first and just think before you dive into trying to grow it. It's much easier to sell a product and grow a business with a crystallised vision.

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      Thanks for your feedback Thomas. Right now I'm focusing my efforts on getting newsletters to join. And the primary idea I'm gonna focus on is being a repository of newsletters that accept sponsors.

      The problem I want to solve is: I want to make it easy for newsletters to get sponsors & I want to make it easy for sponsors to find newsletters.

      If that works I'll probably work on new features like jobs, community/forum, marketplace to buy and sell newsletters, etc.

      But right now I need to find newsletters to join. So, what would you do to reach newsletters?

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        The additional features you mention though, don't do anything for the initial problem. They're sensible enough ideas in isolation, but I really struggle to see how they fit into the bigger vision of "make it easy for newsletters to get sponsors & I want to make it easy for sponsors to find newsletters."

        As a sponsor – I don't want email marketing jobs, to join a community or to buy a newsletter. So forget them. Focus on your problem.

        Now I know it doesn't answer your question but personally, I would focus on the demand side before supply. If you have demand then the supply becomes much easier. There are multiple ways to do this but any specific reason why are you going for newsletters to join first?

        First thing I'd do is lock the site up, make it so potential sponsors need to sign-up to view the newsletters, I'd remove any open contact details and force the transactions to take place on site (as much as possible). Then you have a closed marketplace from both sides and you're fixing any leaks. You can crack on building a list of potential sponsors, even if you don't have the supply yet (as it's a hidden list!).

        With the site locked up I'd look at increasing the demand and building up an audience of potential sponsors. I'd niche down and focus on a sector, then going a step further to ask all the potential sponsors who have signed up what industry they're in and what kind of newsletters they like.

        Once I have that industry, then I know which newsletters I need to bring to the site. No point sourcing a supply of knitting newsletters, if the demand is for high-tech IT.

        With 100 sponsors ready to advertise in knitting newsletters. I'd then spend a few days researching knitting in depth. I'd sign up to the knitting newsletters. I'd see who has ads and who doesn't. If they've got ads, I'd cold email a pitch saying how LetterBase can automate their advertising process and increase their revenue with 100 sponsors ready to go. If they haven't got ads, I'd share a case study from a knitting newsletter who is making $100's a month from using your service and making it clear how easy it is. If I find a high traffic knitting website without a newsletter, then I'm emailing them to let them know this is where the money at these days (with case studies) – it's the long game, but always look at growing the market and helping people out.

        Once I've got the knitting world locked down, I'd begin looking again at the demand side. Is there any demographic crossover beyond the knitting world? What do those industries look like? With those insights I'd scale out demand, and supply concurrently into those industries.

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          Thanks for all the feedback Thomas that's an amazing write-up. I've taken notes and will probably change my backlog and focus on demand more as you said. Thank you for your time!

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            Absolutely phenomenal strategic advice from @td_evans.

            I'd add a couple things from a tactical, product-led standpoint. The first thing is that while I agree that you should "lock down" the marketplace, I don't think you want to hide the marketplace entirely prior to signup. People want to get an idea of at least some of the value/experience before signing up. Perhaps a limited preview of the https://letterbase.co/newsletters page (which looks great) would give customers an idea of what the marketplace would look like without highlighting the current supply-side limitations.

            The second is that your landing page is elegantly simple but only addresses the demand-side of the marketplace (aside from the small "Add your newsletter" button in the upper right). You're also providing a new and automated way for writers/businesses to monetize their newsletters. Something you can consider is keeping the simplicity, but have two sections side by side that say "I want to monetize my newsletter" and "I want to sponsor a newsletter" where users can click through. This way, not only do you avoid confusion (I was initially confused that this was a marketplace), but you'll have data on which side of the marketplace has interest, even if they bounce directly after.

            The last thing I'd say is that most of the value of marketplaces driven by how much activity they house, and people know that. When you've built up a bit more traction, I think a live counter on the home page with stats like "Total Newsletters listed", "$X Sponsorship Revenue created", etc. could provide valuable social proof of marketplace activity and encourage new users to investigate further.

            I hope this helps!

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    • Scrape Substack and all competitors
    • Search Reddit for people promoting their own newsletters and then DM them about your product
    • Consider using https://syften.com to find mentions of people launching new newsletters
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