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I grew my email list to 6000 and Twitter following from 300 to 35k in a year. AMA

I had 300 Twitter followers in 2019. In 2020, I had over 35,000. I also grew my email list from 0 in 2020 to 7000.

I’m also building CrowdFox.io, a SaaS app to help you grow your Twitter following and convert followers into customers. The only Twitter app on the market from someone who actually grew their following from nothing to 35k in a year.

And I’m working at Gumroad as the head of community.

  1. 9

    I guess 'How' should be good start.

    Congratulations on your success.

    1. 5

      Thank you! I would say one of the biggest factors was @dvassallo's twitter course. I grew from 300 - 1500 followers on my own but then took his course, and grew to 35k in a short time.

      I mostly focused on not tweeting unless it was valuable to my audience. Sounds backwards I know! But I focused on creating high value tweets and rarely asking my audience to buy something, etc. This is a list of some of my top performing tweets: https://twitter.com/RandallKanna/status/1285630729850953729?s=20

      Cracking the code to twitter in a way was one of the reasons I wanted to create a Twitter app to help others grow their following because I saw some people take his course but struggle implementing it. Most twitter growth tools will just spam your followers or were created with accounts with <5k followers who don't know what it takes to grow a large Twitter account quickly.

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          Thanks for sharing the summary. Very helpful.

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    Hey girl! My big question is genuinely, how do you find the TIME to create e.g. 3 useful tweets per day? Do you do them in bulk? Any efficiency tips?

    Also, any tips from your experience on where you source ideas? Or specific topics you return to again and again because they work well with your target audience?

    I feel like I get what resonates on Twitter but damn, copy editing on tweets takes me ages and I can only manage a few per week 😂

    1. 3

      After being an engineer for 5 years, I had built up a lot of resources and knowledge so I just did a massive brain dump! I wish I had a better answer haha. A lot of my tweets are from massive excel sheets that I created with places to job hunt or learn a specific thing.

      I actually did check a lot of what other successful people were doing on Twitter in engineering. What resonated well and what people wanted.

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    Are there things you don't like to tweet, but you tweet anyway, because it helps you grow? And vice versa, are there things you want to tweet, but don't, because it would interfere with your Twitter growth?

    1. 4

      No, I wish I could do that but I don't have the Twitter fortitude. I know I could start tweeting boring trite tech tweets and grow my following much faster, but I just can't do that. I'm repulsed by the idea.

      I definitely don't tweet a lot of things anymore because I would just lose followers. For example, nobody wants to see my dog photos (or at least very few people!) so I don't tweet dog photos anymore. Or at least, I rarely tweet them. I want to train my audience to stop and not scroll when they see a tweet of mine.

      It's another reason why I don't use twitter automation tools and started building my own instead. Most tools will just auto retweet constantly or spam your followers with sales, and that will train them to scroll instead of stop.

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        Full agreement on the automation Randall.

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          :) I kept getting invites to spammy twitter tools and saw the market need for a genuine one! I still feel rather silly building a Twitter tool but I'm far more excited about helping others get more customers and twitter followers for their projects.

          1. 1

            I love your vision.
            In full support of it!

  4. 2

    Hey Randall,

    I would really like to know how it felt (in your daily life) going from scarcely tweeting (or even no tweeting at all) to tweeting avidly and being consistent. Was that a steep curve or it came about progressively, as the time passed?

    Do you consider Twitter an integral part of your everyday life now?

    1. 2

      It felt weird because I hate social media! It still feels weird. A mean comment used to really make me upset. It was a steep curve because I realized I was writing a book and nobody was going to buy it!

      But now Twitter is definitely integral in my life but it’s brought many cool opportunities like my job at gumroad so it was worth it!

  5. 1

    Hey @randallkanna Firstly amazing effort, real congratulations in order for that.

    I've been trying to avoid Twitter as I'm just not a fan to be honest. Although it feels like it is unavoidable 😂

    What other methods did you use to grow your email list?

  6. 1

    How’d you get to be so cool? 😎

  7. 1

    I'm also curious to ask - do you segment blocks of time for your tweets/replies? How much time have you spent/did you spent on twitter in an average day or week?

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      I did not but that would have been a good idea! I made a goal to tweet three times a day and respond to as many tweets and provide as much value as I could.

  8. 1

    This is super-inspiring, Randall! I'm curious to ask - is there anything you've done mindset-wise in the last couple of years (or previously), that you feel has helped you reach this point today? Or, otherwise anything 'personal-growth'-wise that you'd like to share?

    1. 2

      Hahaah thank you! I actually did read the motivation myth and something just clicked with me that you just need to get shit done instead of waiting to feel inspired to do it. Where was that book ten years ago....

      1. 1

        Sounds like a powerful realisation :) I'll have to check out that book.

  9. 1

    Hi Randall 👋

    Reading all the AMAs, is it safe to assume that we just need to be genuine in Twitter to put it simply? Providing values and engaging among other things looks a lot like being brutally genuine. I am new to the indie scene and hence trying to understand it better. :)

    Also curious if it would be better if you just create a new account specific to crowdfox and steer away interested people which for most part could be potential customers. This way you wouldn't have to sacrifice or lose followers in your personal account but at the same time could be used to amplify your product/venture. Wouldn't it be a win-win?

    Oh, congrats too! :)

    1. 2

      Yes! Be genuine. I’ve been lucky people saw that. I guess after doing weeks of free resume reviews, people knew I wasn’t some Twitter guru trying to just get followers. I’d rather tweet nothing than tweet just to get followers. But highly recommend taking Daniel Vassallo’s Twitter course on gumroad!

      I did create a new account actually! TryCrowdFox on Twitter

  10. 1

    Hey Randall 👋

    That is amazing growth, congrats! You mentioned in a comment that you rarely asked anyone to buy something - will you strategy change now you're launching Crowdfox?

    1. 1

      Thank you! I’ll probably still rarely ask. I’ll still try to focus on providing value. But I am super nervous about moving to a new topic since most of my followers are developers!

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        fwiw, I suspect you might be surprised by what happens re: moving to the new topic. A friend of mine made quite a major chance (introvert/business stuff to astrology), and she was nervous but has been flabbergasted at the reaction. Good things seem to happen when we own more of who we are :)

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          Thank you so much! That makes me feel less nervous. I don’t want to make any of my followers unhappy but I’m really excited about indie hacking so... I can’t help it!

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            np! follow your gut and it usually turns out just fine =]

  11. 1

    Hi Randall, that's very inspiring! I'll love to feature your growth in my newsletter Their Timeline; I'm wondering if you remember a rough approximation of what the number of Twitter followers was in each month? This is so as Their Timeline aims to curate growth without the revisionist history, so exact numbers will be great! If not, I'll use the number of likes/comments on your tweets as an approximation of the number of followers. Thank you!

  12. 1

    Personally, I think social media is an interesting channel to use for promotions and advertising but not all goods and services sell well on social media platforms. Followers !== buyers. When you pay to advertise, at least you get to market to people in your chosen demographics.

    I do, however, think it's a great way to interact with customers.

    Are you building a following to eventually promote and sell CrowdFox.io or are you wanting to engage people in conversations?

    1. 1

      Definitely agree. I frankly don’t think my existing audience will help me much. My audience is mostly junior developers. But I don’t think paid advertising will does well on Twitter at all. I know whenever I see an ad, I get annoyed and/or block who ran the ad. So it’ll be interesting trying to see what works.

  13. 1

    Hey Randall!

    I'm curious about your take on 2 things:

    • what value have you seen from your growth on Twitter?
    • how did your Twitter experience change at 10k/20k/30k+ followers?
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      It’s crazy but Twitter has changed my life. I met my amazing podcast partner @swyx and my accountability buddy @farazamiruddin. I also got my gig at gumroad and sold over $40,000 books I wrote. I get way more speaking opportunities which leads to more visibility to companies that reach out to me about jobs.

      And for the second question, I think I had better interactions at 10-20k followers. I think people see 30+k followers and they don’t want to reach out anymore in DM’s. So I do miss that!

  14. 1

    Do you think your growth is replicable by indie hackers here, given you are who you are and they are who they are?

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      That is such a great question! In 2019, I had no online presence. No one had ever even heard of me. I had a very low-key engineer in job, almost no followers, and no side projects. So I think it is achievable!

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    I think having 300 quality followers gave you a head start, because you do need some seed followers to grow into thousands. I have 0 followers what do you suggest I do to get to 300 assuming I have good content lined up ? thank you.
    Congratulations on your success.

    1. 2

      Haha not insulting my friends or family, but my followers were mostly my friends and family! :D Who also had very small audiences. I would suggest you still do what I did. Reply to other people's tweets who are in the niche/topic you want to establish yourself as an expert in, and provide value to their tweets.

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    Hi Randall, thanks for doing this AMA! How do you balance publishing to your audience and responding and interacting to build your audience? I'm wondering if there a methodology you use that you've found more effective to determine where you interact and devote your effort?

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      I think it's great to respond to as many people as you can. It's something @arvidkahl discusses quite a bit! That you should always respond to anyone no matter the follower count. I think it also makes your tweets more engaging to other people knowing that they'll actually get a response.

  17. 1

    Very cool. A few questions:

    1. How frequently do you post?

    2. What kinds of content have you found most resonates?

    3. What other tips or tricks could you share?

    1. 2

      When I was working on actively growing my account, I'd tweet at least 3 times a day. I've gotten lazy now because I've been busy building CrowdFox.

      The content that resonates the most is something that provides value to others. But you also have to find a subject that is interesting to people. For instance, I created a course on habits that took ages to create and I got... fifty subscribers. And it was free! It wasn't worth it.

      Don't tweet if it doesn't help someone. And find other large Twitter accounts and provide value on their tweets because if you have a small following, you're just tweeting into the wind.

  18. 1

    Hi Randall, I like your content, story and personality.
    One question I've had for a couple weeks is how much of our products are in the same space?

    I run SocialQ a Dashboard focused on providing actionable
    analytics to grow a Twitter Audience.

    TBH, I think it is a hugely undereserved market (compoared to Web Analytics), so I welcome competition as it brings awareness to the problem: tweet better!

  19. 1

    Hi Randall, would you share your insights reagrding your most engaging with Tweets?

    1. 1

      I keep my most valuable tweets in a thread pinned to my profile.

      Here they are: https://twitter.com/RandallKanna/status/1285630729850953729?s=20

      I would say Twitter growth really changed for me when I started focusing on what provided value to other people. Before, I would share dog photos or political tweets. And nobody really cared.

      Now, I don't tweet unless I think it will be valuable to my audience.

  20. 1

    Hi @randallkanna congrats, that's impressive! I recently got started on the journey of growing our email list. Any insights on getting started?

    1. 1

      Thank you! I would say that the best thing you can do when getting started is to offer something valuable. When I started out, I offered a free course as my lead gen. And... the course wasn't valuable to people. I got about 50 subscribers after I spent a month making it!

      So I spent less <30 days creating a free guide on how to become an engineer, and <14 days on a free job hunting guide, and those immediately got 1000s of downloads.

      TLDR: Find out something valuable you can give away for free to your email list. Like Amy Hoy's year of hustle chart. I think I've downloaded that 5 times now.

  21. 0

    Great effort.

    I am a bit overwhelmed with fixing issues with mine here: https://femttra.com/

  22. 0

    Good job! You're the 1% of folks who manage such stellar growth - what worked for you?

    1. 1

      Thanks! The biggest game changer for me was thinking about what was actually valuable to a large audience. And commenting on other large Twitter accounts tweets. If you have a small following, you have small reach. But you can reach more people by adding value elsewhere.

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