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My journey to 100 newsletter subscribers - what has worked out so far.

Just couple of weeks ago I launched my personal blog, where I write about my side-projects and general thoughts and feelings about different topics from the fields of design and tech. My newest blog post is all about creativerly. Creativerly is a weekly digest about apps, tools, software, resources, articles, podcasts, which help you boosting your creativity and productivity. Everything started back in March 2019. I wanted to build something for the creative community. As a side-effect I was also thinking about building up my own community of engaging creative people. The perfect medium for that has to be email. So I decided to set up a weekly newsletter where I share different stuff which helped me building up a solid creative workflow. But it should also focus on new findings in the design/tech field and blog posts, books, and podcast to grow and learn. When I launched the newsletter I set myself the goal of reaching 100 Subscribers within 12 months. The first 6 months I mainly focused on improving the content of the newsletter. No bigger marketing measures were taken. Well now I have four months left to reach my goal. Currently the newsletter has 44 subscribers. At the beginning of October I decided to focus more on marketing and gaining news subscribers. Here is a short summary of what has worked out during one month of focusing on marketing.

First and foremost one of my tactics was to be more active in design communities on reddit and twitter. I engaged with users on twitter, leaving relevant comments. That brought some attention to my profile, which led to some new followers. On Reddit I was mainly active in subreddits like UI/UX Design, Learn Design, Graphic Design, etc. I found a lot of posts from design students and people who were thinking of switching careers into the design field. I always wanted to share my knowledge with others who want to get started. Since I finished my bachelors degree recently I had to share some thoughts and feelings about going to university and studying design. I've made some comments, which were over 500 words, on different postings. So I really took my time to make a relevant comment which should help the user. When it suited the initial topic, I also mentioned my weekly newsletter Creativerly. It was subtle self-promotion. And it worked out. Throughout of Ocotber I have made like 6 comments on Reddit, which were all over 500 words, with a load of useful information and a link to the website of Creativerly. On Twitter I also engaged with different product-makers, founders, indie hackers. With this strategy I gained 11 new subscribers in one month. In the first place, this might not seem that great. But since the comments I have made did not take that much of my time, it is a great outcome for me. It motivates me to know that I have some marketing measures which really led to new subscribers. So if I scale up the amount of comments I made in one month, it might be possible to also gain more subscribers.

On the other Hand I also started to write blog posts on my personal blog, but also on Indie Hackers. I did not share my blog posts anywhere on social media. Somehow I already had some nice organic traffic on my website (although it is just my portfolio website, but I was really active over some time posting designs every day on instagram I might have to get back to this). So I wanted to see if some of this traffic also reaches my blog posts and therefore generates some new subscribers for my newsletter. I usually write about my side-projects but also about general thoughts and feelings about design and tech related topics. At the end of my blog posts you will find a small signup form with a little introduction of my newsletter. I did got some engagement from my blog posts but not as much as from reddit and twitter.

So ultimately what has worked out great for me so far, is just being active in communities, delivering value, knowledge and insights. Whenever I can I insert a plug to my newsletter. I did not want to simply spam a lot of posts with some shameless self-promotion. I wanted to give value first and then just use the chance to indicate potential readers to my newsletter, since I think it also gives great value to designers, makers, and creative minds.

If you want to read the blog post correlating to this post, you can do so here: Growing my newsletter to 100 subscribers – my journey so far.

What has worked out for you in gaining new subscribers? Let me know. 😊🙌

  1. 6

    Email every app you featured, telling them they were featured. You should get subscribers from that. If they have a twitter...write them a tweet about being featured. Some will tweet it.
    Make sure to tell them they should reach out to let you know of feature updates or new products.

    Personally email every reader who opened your last 5 emails. Ask them why they signed up. Add the answers to your landing page as testimonials. Add their picture and tell them they are featured.

    Find 10 people who write, tweet, youtube or blog about being creative. Ask them for advice on your newsletter in a personal email. Do that every day for 5 days.. implement every change they recommend and tell them about it.
    Then do it every week.

    Get listed on Letterlist and InboxStash.

    1. 2

      Those are some great suggestions. Thank you Andrew for taking your time writing this comment 🙌

      I already tweeted about the newsletter, always mentioning every app, person, etc. I featured in the newsletter. Since I want to focus more on gaining new subscribers, I will definitely try to email all the featured apps. persons, etc.

      Also I want to update my website, so writing and asking my subscribers for some feedback to use it as testimonials is also something I will consider.

      Thank you Andrew, you helped me a lot!

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        FYI the "write a tweet" comment was really that you write a tweet for them to tweet out and email it to them. include a pre-written tweet for them.

        That way they either A) copy paste it and tweet it. or B) they edit it in their voice and tweet it.

        1. 1

          Ah gotcha! Will definitely try this.

  2. 1

    Hey - just added you to Inbox Stash. And I subscribed myself.

    In the past I've had success getting the first 100+ subscribers using Linkedin. Finding people who are commenting on relevant posts and then sending a connection request with a message.

    So in your case you're looking for posts by influencers in the design space. Then reaching out to the commenters with personal messages saying "I saw you commented on XYZ's post about blahblahblah. I'm working on a newsletter that pulls together the best info about blahblahblah, can I send you the link to the last issue?"

    I've found it's less spammy if you don't jump straight in with the link and ask if it's ok. Try to make it as personal as possible - it's not a scaleable approach but you'll hit 100 in no time.

    You won't get positive responses every time and it's a bit of a numbers game. You will however, get tons of connections even if they don't reply. Which is helpful if you're posting your own content on Linkedin (building your audience).

    I saw you had some sponsors in your newsletter. Are they genuine sponsors or are they just affiliate links?

    Couple of other things:

    • Your twitter name is different from the handle (missing an r).

    • Your subscription confirmation email comes from "The Creative Abstract" and there's no mention of Creativerly which is what I thought I'd subscribed to. Could be confusing and you might lose people who don't know it's the same.

    1. 1

      Wow, thank you Paul. I am currently overwhelmed by all the great feedback. Thank you for adding my newsletter to Inbox Stash, and also big thank you for subscribing.

      I have never considered using LinkedIn as a marketing funnel for my newsletter. But what you are explaining makes total sense. I am always a little bit timid when it comes to messaging people about my newsletter, since I do not want to spam it out, and people might find it disturbing. But looking for the right people and sending them a personal message with some context, and explaining why I am messaging them, seems like something I need to try out. There are already some groups and communities on LinkedIn about design related topics which get a lot of engagement. So I think I will definitely find potential new subscribers there.

      The "Sponsors" are indeed Affiliate Links, I wanted to change that section to "Featured" but currently I think I will delete this section and maybe reintroduce it when I have more subscribers. I just wanted to test things out and get some insights on click-rates.

      My twitter name got already updated.
      Thank you for pointing out the confirmation email issue. I just fixed that, something seemed to went wrong with some old sign up forms. I have read some articles which suggests to use a custom email domain instead of gmail, outlook, etc. Couple of weeks ago I changed that, since I redesigned my newsletter. Before that I have sent it from my @philipptemmel.design domain and I had amazing opening rates. Since I changed it to a gmail adress it is significant less. I think a lot of my newsletter will be delivered straight to the spam inbox. So I might change my email back to custom one, to test if the opening rates are rising again.

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        The other thing is if you say sponsored and it’s not, be careful. A sponsor implies some kind of endorsement when it’s just an affiliate link.

        1. 1

          Noted that, so it is already deleted for the next version of creativerly.

      2. 1

        Yeah - never use a gmail or other free email for a subscriber list. Providers will look at it as spam. Always go custom.

        1. 1

          So this should be on the top of my To Do list. Any suggestions for reliable and secure email hosting providers?

          1. 1

            I always use gsuite. Can have multiple domains and addresses on a single account. Costs me €5 per month.

            I’ve heard zoho Mail is also ok and maybe free.

            1. 1

              Gsuite unfortunately is only available for business use in Austria, no chance to use it for personal use.

              I have also heard about Zoho, maybe I'll give it a try.

  3. 1

    Super interesting and informative read, thank you. I have just started a blog about learning to build apps with no-code tools and hope to build a newsletter list. Your tips will be really helpful.

    What service do you use for sending the newsletters?

    1. 1

      I am using Mailerlite. Super easy to use and I love the Drag'n'Drop Email Builder. Customizations are great, >1,000 Subscribers and >12,000 Emails per month are free, if you exceed this pricing starts at 10$ per month.

      1. 1

        Thanks, that sounds really good.

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