I recently launched a book, Doing Content Right, and I had one of the customers write in with what I thought was likely a question that many people are facing.
Newsletters are back in their heyday, due to recent emergence of new tools, communities, and of course, celebration of successful newsletters. But of course, not all of them succeed. And as a creator, sometimes it's more important to know when to stop pursuing something, rather than to know when to pursue something.
The question posed was, " Newsletters could be assumed to be some sort of a startup project in itself - and I would think that there would be indications that something is not working or growing as fast as we would like then we shelve the project and move on to the next. With that analogy would you say there are any markers/numbers to indicate when it's time to "move on" ?"
I wanted to publicly share my answer and see if others had anything else to add. Here's what I said:
I hate saying “it depends”, so I’ll try to give you some concrete milestones. Of course, it does actually depend on the size of your market, whether you’re free/paid, how often you’re writing etc.
Also, if you're sharing your content across many different channels that your target users are hanging out and no one is reacting or engaging with the material, that is a bad sign that they don’t like your solution or perhaps they don’t need a solution for that thing at all. Additionally, if there is no growth organically and everything is coming from your concerted efforts, that’s not a good sign either. You should have at least a few people come through by other people sharing your work, referring their friends, etc.
All of this is to say that it’s banking on the idea that you’re creating and distributing your work pretty consistently over this period of time.
I posted this answer in our little community and @harrydry added a great point that you can ask your readers to reply. If you're doing something awesome, people will want to talk to you.
I'm really interested to hear what other people think of this question. What metrics would you pay attention to early on? Have you shut down a newsletter before? If so, what gave you the resolve to move on?