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I started The Peak (Morning Brew for Canada) and sold $150,000 worth of ads in year 1. Here's how.

Earlier in the pandemic, my friends and I were looking to start a new indie hackers project. Our big observation was that everyone we knew were getting their news from newsletters like The Hustle, Morning Brew, and The Skimm. But we couldn't find a Canadian equivalent to these products.

So we started our own. The Peak is a daily summary of the top 5 Canadian and global business, finance and tech news. In our first year, we grew it to over 30,000 subscribers (wrote this post on how) but we also sold over $150,000 worth of ads—and I want to share with you our process.

Prospecting

As any sales person will know, prospecting is a numbers game. It's all about identifying and reaching out to as many leads as possible. To make prospecting qualified leads easier, we setup a number of processes to streamline the search.

Newsletter Navigator

Inspired by this Makerpad lesson—we have all similar newsletters sent to a HTML to image tool that pings a team Slack channel. Our team will check this Slack, identify the ad in a rival newsletter and input it into an Airtable.

We've found that newsletter advertisers are already comfortable with the channel and more likely to purchase inventory in ours, so this is a particularly useful lead gen tool.

Fundraising Announcements

We've found that high-growth startups are another great advertiser for us. They've got big budgets, are focused on growth and want to access our audience of 30,000 emerging Canadian business leaders.

So to keep an eye on who's raising, we're constantly checking:

Outreach

Once you've got a list of leads, you need to find a point of contact at each. To do this, we use a combination of LinkedIn (for search) and Apollo (for contact info pulling).

With the contact info, we do a unique outreach to each lead. Here's an example of cold email we'd send to a B2B SaaS lead:
Outreach email

Call

The goal is to setup a call with each lead. On the call, I tell our story—how we loved Morning Brew but wanted a Canadian alternative—and go into our audience and different placement options. My main messaging is: we've got the perfect audience for your brand. I also like to cite case studies with similar products if we have them.

Follow-up

After the call, I follow up with our media kit. A few points on the media kit:

  • Include an overview of your product
  • Focus on audience size: # of subscribers, open rates, CTRs
  • Show any demographic data you have — who is your audience?
  • We included details on growth to show our trajectory
  • Testimonials from other advertisers if you have any
  • A summary of our placements
  • Rates — self explanatory

Closing The Deal

If the partner decides to purchase a placement, we run them through our onboarding process. Using Zapier, we've automated it so that our small team can keep track of all active campaigns. Here's how it looks:

  • Deal lead fills out internal onboarding Typeform, which creates a card in our Notion Campaign Tracker
  • Deal lead sends invoice and external Typeform to partner
  • Partner completes external Typeform which creates a new Google Doc for our copywriter
  • Copywriter completes copy, sends to client. When client is ready, they fill out another Typeform to approve copy which sends a message to our Slack.

The Future

With our sales processes in place and a strong understand of who our target customers are, we're looking to scale up our sales by hiring a full time Partnerships Lead. We've sold out of inventory for the next two months but are looking at creating additional inventory, including:

  • A daily podcast
  • Events
  • A new weekly lifestyle newsletter to complement the daily newsletter

I couldn't be happier with our progress to date and excited to share with you how we did it. If you have any questions about how your newsletter/indie media project can drive more revenue, I'm always happy to chat with creators. Feel free to comment here or reach out directly at [email protected]

  1. 1

    WoW!! Congrats Bro.

    This is really tooooooooooooooo cool.

  2. 1

    This is super cool. Congratulations.

    I run https://partnerwith.io and can help you on the Partnerships side. I will reach out via email to discuss the potential of working together.

  3. 1

    I think your forgot to black out the name "Mural" on line 11 on the email screenshot. In any case, it's an inspiring post. Thanks for sharing it.

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