Lessons from 300+ Indie Hackers Posts about Newsletters

As I prepare to launch my own newsletter this weekend, I went on a deep dive into the fabulous Newsletter Crew community. Below are my rough notes for what I learned.

Where to Promote Your Newsletter

Subject Lines

  • The first two words are the most essential to capture attention. The general advice seems to be to start your subject line with an emoji (to differeniate from other emails) and then your newsletter title (e.g. 👋 More Every Week: Issue #1)
  • @rita also put together a nice list of helpful tools/resources

Should You Remove Inactive Subscribers?

  • If you're paying for subscribers, then definitely yes.
  • If you're not paying per subscriber, then still probably yes, for three reasons:
      1. Your open rate is the most important metric, since it tells you how valuable your audience finds your content. Having people who never open your emails leads to a muddled metric. Overall subscriber numbers are a vanity metric - open rates show you how effective your content is.
      1. If someone continually ignores your emails, they might eventually mark it as spam just to stop receiving it in their inbox (since that's easier than actually clicking unsubscribe). That is of course bad for deliverability.
      1. Inactive readers can potentially hurt your deliverability rate.
  • But, before you remove anyone, make sure to send a re-engagement email first:
    • One way to do it is to send a re-engagement email ("hey, do you want to stay on this list?") before you remove people that haven't opened the last 6 emails
    • Great language from @buttondown: In case you don’t remember, you signed up to Newsletter name to find out x, y, and z. Not interested any more? No hard feelings — I’d hate to clutter up your inbox! Unsubscribe here.
  • An alternative idea from @xwle - rather than unsubscribing the person, ask them if they'd like to move to a less frequent version of the newsletter

Resending Emails to Non-Openers

  • @joshspector has a great article on this here. In summary, he found:
    • You'll get an additional 10-15% overall open rate on each newsletter every time.
    • To my surprise, I hardly ever get any complaints and actually get thanked by people every week who genuinely missed the newsletter and were happy to get get the reminder.
    • Some people will unsubscribe, but that happens any time you see an email and I figure they if they're not opening my newsletter I don't really need them on my list anyway. It's a way to weed out people who aren't really interested from my list.
    • I make it clear on the re-send that it's a re-send. The subject line is "Here's what you missed..." and I add a paragraph at the top of the newsletter saying I'm resending it because it may have gotten lost in their inbox.

All About Monetization:

  • Avenues to monetize any newsletter
    • Paid Subscriptions
    • Ads
    • Products
    • Affiliate Marketing
    • Donations
  • As per Sam Parr's interview with @courtland, if you're starting a paid newsletter make sure you:
      1. identify a tiny-but-growing audience who have money to spend
      1. provide utilitarian content that helps them make more money
      1. charge a lot (he suggests $500-$1k/year, which seems wild to me but he's the millionaire, not me)
      1. grow your subscribers with ads and free viral written content

Misc Great pieces of advice:

  • "Start before you think you're ready" - @simonpblogs
  • Include a Feedback Mechanism
    • @simonpblogs tracks the following responses with links that tie to Google Analytics
      • 👍 YES - I liked it
      • 〰️ MEH - Average
      • 👎 NO - Almost no value
  • @stephenafamo says your length should be "Inversely proportional to frequency". If its every day, its got to be short. If its every month, quite long.
  • Include quotes as Tweet Intents. This makes it one click for the reader to tweet out the relevant section.
  • Create a simple tagline for your newsletter: "what you do" FOR "who you do it for" (@AndrewKamphey)

Tools for Curated Round-Up Newsletters:

Misc Tools and Links I Found Helpful

If you want to see these tips put into practice (and receive an email filled with interesting things for interesting people), subscribe to my newsletter, More Every Week.

And, of course, if you have other things to add just comment and I'll add them into the post (with credit, of course)!

  1. 4

    Don't forget to include the Newsletter Crew podcast (https://newslettercrew.com/) :)

    1. 2

      Apologies for the delay, but it is now added!

      1. 1

        Thank you! I appreciate it!

  2. 3

    What a thorough compilation! This should be a "sticky" post for newsletter crew.

  3. 2

    Thanks for mentioning Thanks for Subscribing!

  4. 2

    Do not forget the Newsletterest (https://newsletterest.com) ;)

  5. 2

    Thanks for the mention :)

    I even have a Quora Marketing Ebook :P

  6. 2

    Mind blown! I would suggest creating an info product out of this and use it as a lead magnet

    1. 1

      Not a bad idea! Might just do that

  7. 2

    Epic write up dude!
    Thanks for the mentions. hope I've been helpful.

    1. 2

      Thank you Andrew! You've been an essential resource for me early in this journey - appreciate you sharing so much wisdom around here

  8. 2

    Thank you for sharing this, will take a while to go through 😄

  9. 1

    Incredible post. Signed up for more every week. Keep doing your thing.

  10. 1

    Hi Kash - great write up! Thanks so much for taking the time to share it with everyone. Here's an additional newsletter directory you can add: narrowSCALE (https://narrowscale.com/) ...your newsletter is in there now too :)... https://narrowscale.com/newsletters/more-every-week-by-kash-dhanda.html.
    And also, there's another newsletter subreddit I stumbled into that might be helpful for folks: https://www.reddit.com/r/Newsletters/ .

  11. 1

    Oh my! This is an excellent post full of insanely useful information. (Feel free to add us by the way :) https://www.listory.com/ - curation, collection, discovery, and newsletter matching - based on readers' interests)

  12. 1

    this is SO good. just shared this in the mailing list hackers chat, would love to have you join us and share how the newsletter launch goes!

  13. 1

    Hi @KashD, and thanks for the mention — much appreciated.

    You mention using Roam Research, and I'd be interested to know more about the how and why of using it.

    1. 2

      It's been a real revelation for me. After reading "How to Take Smart Notes" a few months ago and trying to hack something together in Notion, I found Roam easily able to connect thoughts and make writing much easier. The "why" is the 2-way linking between not just articles, but individual sentences (since Roam uses "blocks"), which makes it much more efficient to see connected and related ideas.

      My basic workflow is to copy articles into Roam, add hashtags to related topics, and then add more specific hashtags to individual paragraphs or sentences that have key ideas. Then when I go to write or just to think more generally, I can see the whole web of connecting ideas.

      For example, in my next newsletter I'm going to include some content about the effects of coronavirus in people who are asymptomatic or recover without issue. With one click, I can see everything I've collected on that topic in the past few months

      Happy to answer more specific questions if you have any!

      1. 1

        I'm glad you're getting value from the linking because that's a core component of the the product I've built, although I've taken a much different approach to it.

        Notion does sound like a formidable product (I've read both good and bad user stories), and Roam is much nearer to the Under Cloud.

  14. 1

    Amazing! Thanks for sharing this content

    1. 1

      Hope it helps you like this community has helped me

  15. 1

    Great content Kash - thank you

    1. 2

      Glad you found it valuable!

  16. 1

    @KashD Thanks for the extensive resources.

    1. 1

      Thanks for sharing your own experiences! Super helpful for me

  17. 1

    Thanks for the shoutout @KashD

    1. 2

      It was a great idea!

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