Building in Public January 18, 2021

Paid newsletter is at $350 MRR without even a domain name

upenv

My newsletter about niche micro saas ideas is reaching $400 MRR. Started completely lean and completely built without writing any code.

Some key learnings for anyone to try newsletter writing

It takes time to analyze and write content
Have you ever written a blog post of 3K words? Found it tough?
Now imagine you have to do it every week on different topics. It takes a lot of time and energy to consistently write quality content every week.

If you are starting to write a newsletter, keep in mind that it takes a lot of your time.

Needs discipline
It takes a lot of discipline to write newsletters as you need to be sending them on time every week. There are exceptions always to miss it once or twice (or delay it by a day). But overall, you should be having a recurring schedule to publish content every week without missing it.

You need to find your style of writing
Every newsletter has its style. This could be based on the writer or type of content. Have a specific style for your writing. In my case, I start with current players making money in a given micro saas niche. Then I write about upcoming startups in the niche. This will be followed by "Negative Nancy" section and then followed by Deep dive into more micro saas niches, Technical chops, Marketing chops, Cost Analysis for 100 customers, "Must-read" section for anyone ready to implement the idea.

Writing code is easier than writing newsletter
If you are coming from the programming world, remember that - "Writing code is easier than writing newsletter anytime".
If you already built a product or in the process of building a product, think twice before starting to write a newsletter. You will often find it tough.

Coming up with high-quality newsletter every week isn't easy
Writing quality content every week isn't easy. Quality of content has a flywheel effect. If you write quality content, you get more subscribers. If you get more subscribers, you will be happy to write quality content. Similarly, if you compromise on the quality of the content, you will lose subscribers. If you lose subscribers, you would lose interest to write quality content.

Started lean - Not even a domain name until I crossed $250 MRR
I started lean on this. No domain. No web page. Just nothing. Starting with a simple substack but with super high-quality content. Only after I crossed $250 MRR, I bought a domain name two weeks before.
Currently, the newsletter flow is built on just Substack and Gumroad.

Recent poll on Twitter
I did a quick poll last week on Twitter and some stats here.

What next?
I may be going for a PH launch either this week or next week.

Subscribe if you are looking for a profitable micro saas idea
If you are someone looking for profitable micro saas ideas, you may subscribe at Micro SaaS Idea

Follow me at https://twitter.com/upen946 and subscribe to the newsletter at https://microsaasidea.com

If you are writing a newsletter and need some advice, please feel free to reach out to me. You may also try NewsletterCrew built by @yaroslawbagriy

  1. 2

    Congrats!! How do people find out about your newsletter? Is there any discovery via substack itself?

    1. 2

      Most of it is organic and there is no single source. One of my initial sources was Hackernews and a couple of posts on Reddit, IH, My Twitter.

      Otherwise, its pretty organic these days. I may be launching it on PH this week or next week.

      1. 2

        Have you ever done any cross promotion with other newsletters? I ask because I just made a cross-promotion network for newsletter creators called CrowdMagnet. Want to know if that is a channel you've used or want to use in the future.

        https://www.getcrowdmagnet.com

        1. 1

          I haven't yet done any cross promotion. But MorningBrew mentioned several times that promoting their ad in another newsletter is their biggest traffic source. So, technically cross promotions should work. I will see to use it.

          But good work on your product. I have been seeing it on my Twitter feed for the last couple of days and I already made a note of it.

          1. 2

            Awesome! Thanks for the kind words.

  2. 2

    I am the author of Elm Bits which is a free weekly email about a very niche programming language called Elm. And everything you said applies to a free newsletter too with one caveat: you're not obliged to send it consistently every week.

    It's been a year now since I started writing these emails, and over the year my style has changed dramatically. I am still figuring out the best way to do this.

    I cannot imagine the pressure you're feeling in terms of the quality of content. I have my ups and downs, and although I try to consistently produce good content, I give myself a break and sometimes do a decent job and send it anyway.

    I took a 2-week break during the Christmas as I was close to burnout. I haven't announced it, and everything was fine. Nobody complained. You might have lost subscribers for that.

    I have a lot of appreciation for you because you dive deep into different topics every week, which means a lot of research. I gather content produced by others, give a brief description of it sprinkled with my personal experience here and there. So my job is easier than yours.

    Wish you good luck in growing your user base and making it your primary source of income!

    1. 2

      Agreed with all your points. But I am not in any pressure as such as I already made a list of about 60+ hot niche trends and I only wrote about 10 so far. There are about 50+ topics still to write from my list and have been adding some good topics to my list.

      But yes, as you said, it isn't easy process but I have been enjoying the whole process.

    2. 1

      Interesting. I remember a lot of Elixir devs were getting into Elm 4-5 years ago. How did you pick that niche and how is the growth of the audience going?

      1. 2

        I have ~200 subscribers, and I'm not doing anything to grow the list :) It's roughly 1-2 new subscribers a week these days after I initially announced it on all Elm channels.

        Elm is getting a lot of love and hate (more of hate, I think) from newcomers because its governance and development process is completely different from mainstream languages or frameworks.

        I was sold on the promise of zero runtime exceptions, and because I cannot use it anywhere at the moment, I decided to start a newsletter to keep reading and learning about it. This was also my first experience with functional programming, and it had a lot of influence on how I started writing code (currently Python and JS/React).

  3. 2

    I'm always impressed when you newsletter people can monetize your newsletters. Great work!

  4. 2

    It's really inspiring to see your lean process. All the best. already subscribed to the newsletter.

    1. 1

      Thankyou!! You would get the next issue this Thursday.

  5. 1

    so how you do market reserarch? like I see your first issue is filled with to much information. how you get that much information?

  6. 1

    Been writing consistently now for 6 weeks and definitely share many of the thoughts presented here!

    My next "big" goal is also to get to $100-500/MRR with a paid version. Would love to pick your brain shortly if you have a moment for that in the near future @upenv. Can I DM you on Twitter or just email you?

    1. 1

      Sure. Please DM on Twitter.
      Would be happy to help.

      1. 1

        Will do later this week!

  7. 1

    How much do you charge per subscriber?

    1. 1

      Currently thats $20/m or $50/3months.

    2. 1

      Seems to be $20 per month :)

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