Lessons Learned on How to Run a Newsletter

Day 15 of 30 Days of Starting Up

I have been running this newsletter daily for three weeks. While it is not long, I think it is good to reflect on the learning, share, and self-optimize.

What I knew before starting:

  • Showing up consistently is essential.

    I think #1 applies to many other fields as well. Overnight success does happen, but nobody can count on it. The majority of success stories are made by consistently showing up day after day. Consistently being good will make you great.

  • Open-rate will naturally drop when subscriber count climbs up.

    This lesson was passed on to me by my co-founder, who has been running newsletters for six months. Knowing open-rate will drop naturally set up my expectation correctly, so I am not worrisome when it happens. Be warned: it is easy to be kidnapped by the stats.

What I learned from the process of running my newsletters:

  • Don’t correlate the number of new signups with the quality of your writing.

    The quality of your overall writing is essential and will affect your growth in the long term. However, it is not equally valid at the micro-level. If I had fewer new signups after the last newsletter, it doesn’t necessarily mean that newsletter is terrible. This is the open rate and new signups for each newsletter:

Newsletter Stats.png

Check out the data in detail here.

  • There is no best time in the day to send a newsletter

    I thought there would be a prime time to send and tried to test what time works the best. First off, the test didn’t yield any sensible conclusion since I can’t control the parameters: each newsletter has a different title/subject; therefore, I can’t compare their open rates apple to apple. I also find the concept of the best time in the day is false because not all my subscribers are in the same time zone. I need to adopt “a global mindset,” which I wrote about in Learn by Practice: 3 Lessons from ProductHunt Launch.

What I learned from reading other’s newsletters:

  • Cross-reference your content.

    After accumulated some content, I can link-reference my previous posts. It will make my writing leaner since I don’t need to repeat the content. It also helps to drive traffic to older posts.

  • Make valuable content that is worthy of the reader’s time.

    This seems obvious. But for the build-in-public type of newsletter, it is tempting just to document daily work to keep it raw. I find it more healthy of a relationship to provide value worthy of readers’ time, maybe by summarizing learning or sharing advice related to that day’s work.

What lessons do you find resonating? Do you have other lessons to share? Let me know in the comments section! I am building my product – a brand designer app – in public and share my progress daily in my newsletter. If you enjoy the content, please consider subscribing to my newsletter!

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