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62 Comments

Who Is Starting a Newsletter Now?

It's been months and months and months of sitting at the computer for work and play.

Who, right now, has decided to start a newsletter?

Happy to answer any questions you have. Comment below.

I ran a profitable newsletter for 3 years. Sold ads, got consulting gigs, sold info products. It paid all my bills for a couple years.

Note: The first year was not profitable, I lost $137

And I started a daily newsletter earlier this year to promote my @BetterSheets product.

  1. 2

    I've decided but I keep jumping ship.
    One minute I want to start a local weekly news newsletter - curating the top news of the week.
    Then I read somewhere else that you need to 'create content not curate it'. Which stops me in my tracks. So I end up doing nothing.
    My dream newsletter would be within the 'sports world' but no idea where to start with that. :-/

    1. 1

      Yo, if you haven't subsribed to the HuddleUp newsletter by @JoePompliano on Twitter, give it a read. I'm fascinated by it. As he says "I write a daily email breaking down the business and money behind sports."

    2. 1

      Write for someone. Pick a person in your life and send them an email.

      We focus so much on the content, sometimes forgetting we write or curate for someone.

    3. 1

      There's room for both curation and original content in newsletters.

      One of the most popular categories on InboxReads is sports and there aren't that many newsletters in it. I'd go for it!

      1. 1

        Thanks, I will.

        Quick question: do you think a niche newsletter on a certain sport is more advisable than a general sports newsletter?

        E.g Rather than a newsletter covering a range of North American sports, would it be better to just focus on a single sport such as NFL or running, etc?

        1. 1

          Covering all sports could work but I think a single sport would be easier to find an audience at least at the beginning.

  2. 1

    Hey Andrew! I did start a newsletter 4 days ago 🙋‍♀️

    The Apparent Letter: https://blog.apparent.today/letters/

    It's a weekly letter that nurtures parents with ideas from mindfulness, psychology and neuroscience.

    Quality of content is more of a priority for my time usage at this moment (over growth) so I wonder what is a healthy growth rate for you?

    1. 2

      Early on from my own growth tactics I could get around 50 new subscribers per week. In 3 years it pretty much kept to that average. Even as i changed growth tactics from direct outreach to content to ads.

      1. 1

        Missed this one! Thanks a lot for the reply! 50 per week is solid.

  3. 1

    Just starting mine, Ark Watcher (https://join.arkwatcher.com), a daily newsletter with a list of stocks that Ark Invest bought and/or sold more than 5% of their holdings. This was built for myself initially to facilitate my investment strategy of "growth + income" (growth tech stocks + covered calls) but soon realized there probably are a lot of people who would like to keep tabs on what Ark Invest is buying and/or selling just like me.

    I don't know if there is a big enough crowd out there for a newsletter like this but figured it was worth a shot. If you are interested, feel free to subscribe!

    1. 1

      Sounds like a good plan. Just do it and see if you can find all the disparate folks who want the same thing.

  4. 1

    Hey!
    Read some good stuff from your Twitter & bought the BetterSheets today too.
    I have dove head first into all the content about creating a newsletter --- it's a bit overwhelming to be honest, as there is an influx of good resources on the topic. Booming.

    I turned down a CEO position offer I had been working up to for the last 3 years and went part-time to start www.evuniverse.io - a newsletter about the world of electric cars (I've got 4 years of experience with 'em).

    I've put out 4 weekly issues for 89 subscribers and focusing on finding distribution opportunities right now.

    ASK - what would you say is the biggest opportunity for fast distribution right now, to get a critical mass of quality (that are interested in my topic) subs?

    Cheers

    1. 2

      for the fastest distro, use paid ads. Pay for time and get in front of people on google ads and facebook. Targeting is going to help bring the cost per sub down.

      1. 1

        Thanks! Will look into it - luckily there's a whole special Interest on FB ads for "Electric Cars" - might make it easier to target.

        Cheers

  5. 1

    Me. (raises hand). I started Scrappy MarTech for growth marketers who use technology to get things done.

    There is a gap between agile marketing people with a hacker's mindset who have limited resources (think startups, small business) and the overlooked tools & apps that no-code & indie hackers build that would be great solutions for these marketers.

    I am on issue #4 and have 90 subscribers after one month. I am building an audience on twitter & engaging in communities & submitted to directories.

    I have used @Janel Newsletter OS.

    Organic growth is slow and lumpy. I am looking for those "scrappy marketers", and have a hard time finding them, even though I am one.

    1. 1

      At first, I'd say double down on what you know, and where you are comfortable.

      Also, take a good 24 to 36 hours to dive into a new marketing channel that's tangential to what you're comfortable with.

      Meaning, if you like online communities like IH, try finding 50 Facebook Groups and work on content directly for them for a day. Par down your list to 5 that work well and then keep up with those once a week for a few more months.

      Once you're past issue 5, I think you can start putting together compilations and ebooks and pdfs that new subscribers can get for free. This always works.

  6. 1

    I am! After almost 15 years in the web industry, I started my first newsletter last month. 236 subscribers so far!

    The audience is African entrepreneurs and business professionals. Feedback on the content welcome!

    http://notes.notebook.red/

    1. 1

      I can't comment much on the content itself since it's not for me. But I will say looking through an issue: you ask a lot of questions. And you ask to connect and share.

      Early on, just distribute. Focus on the content being useful from your own internal gauge. People will connect and share if its useful for them.
      In my opinion, asking questions wastes valuable space and energy and focus.

      Newsletter subscribers are used to reading. let them read.

  7. 1

    I've decided to start one that covers tech and SaaS partnerships, alliances, and channel development. I've been in this space for many years and have managed and built partner programs within enterprise and now currently at a startup.

    This is really my first attempt at writing publically (outside of a couple of blogs here and there) and really look forward to learning from the experience.

    https://partnerup.substack.com/

    1. 1

      reading through your issue 1 I found a lack of interesting blurbs. Your headline of the article you shared is almost the same as the text under it.

      for example: "Channel Leaders Offer Insights" is in the headline and the text under it has "they left with an armful of insights". What insights were there? What was learned?

      One thing I learned early on curating content: Don't just use their headline.

      Make the headline and the text in your newsletter informative.

      Pull out the insights, pull out the lessons learned and put them in your newsletter.

      I learned this from my mentor: "I want someone to read my newsletter and be able to talk about the article over a cup of coffee." If you just re state the headline, your curation is no more than a link list. I can get this on twitter.

      What I did in Influence Weekly is read the whole article, rewrite it in 3 sentences. Or sometimes just pulled the best quote. Or pulled out the useful data. Each of these are tools in your toolbelt that you can pick and choose based on the article and what you know about your audience.

      1. 1

        Andrew
        I agree that it won't provide any value to the reader in it's current format. I like your suggestions so will make changes going forward. Thank you for taking the time to look at it!

  8. 1

    Cool,

    Well I'm starting a Newsletter about Sales which will be a combo of my experience as an in person and online sales copywriter and marketer. As well a some of the best books Ii read and tips I used from them in small bites that my readers can read and do.

  9. 1

    I just started one! https://digitalops.substack.com.

    I've been sitting on it for months and grew a subscriber list to 1300+. Had to do something and now feeling great about the three emails that I sent.

  10. 1

    What was your biggest monthly mailing volume?

    1. 1

      Do you mean most subs or most sends? I send weekly and have 7k subs.. now.

      1. 1

        Thanks for the answer - I need to design a "roll your own" system for 100,000 weekly.

  11. 1

    I started https://basicproblem.co/ some time ago out of frustration always building stuff nobody else was interested in. Initially I thought about monetizing it with ads. But currently I'm more thinking about building an audience, adding a paid version, and therefore writing for my users, not the advertisers. We'll see how that goes ;)

    1. 2

      Lots of biz models available.
      I talk about them all here:
      http://subscribersintoprofits.com/

      1. 1

        Thanks, Andrew! I really appreciate any feedback and help :)

  12. 1

    I had started one around 6 months ago.
    Started off when I felt like we could spend some time each week reading something which the AI doesn't push upon us.

    It's hosted at https://knowledgeday.in

    1. 2

      I'd say you can harness the AI. It's really really good if you add a human into the loop. And you being the human makes sure you have full control. Let the AI do some heavy lifting though.

      and seek out personal connections. I had a lot of success talking to PR people and journalists alike.

  13. 1

    ✋Me.

    After growing a successful bootstrap software company (w/o knowing how to code), I know I have insights that would save people both time and money.

    However, the "entrepreneur newsletter" is so oversaturated. At this point I'm thinking on an attractive angle instead of the typical "how to get your first million dollars ARR" (unless ppl like that angle, in which case I'll look into that! ha)

    1. 1

      Be the Youest You You Can Be.

  14. 1

    Something I'm struggling with is confirming growth or interest.

    I'm trying something new; analyzing shareholder letters plucking out interesting thoughts, strategies or ideas. It's a new pivot, but I guess I'm already skeptical about interest. Although I enjoy reading these letters myself, how would you assess subscriber interest in the topic?

    https://dopaminehits.carrd.co/

    1. 3

      i would email 20 people I respect with an issue and ask them whats missing that should be in there? And whats in the issue that should be taken out

      1. 1

        Thanks Andrew! Let me know if I could add you to the 20 people I respect ;)

        1. 2

          You are more than welcome to.

    2. 1

      That’s great advice, go straight to your readers and ask them directly. Can also monitor your open rates for any change from before

  15. 1

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for sharing! I started my newsletter, The Developer Content Digest, earlier this year. I launched my first digital product in January and launched the newsletter in March, primarily for customers, but have since expanded to letting anyone subscribe. It's aimed at software developers who want to become better content creators; I answer a question submitted by subscribers and I also include a section of curated articles on content creation that I've found. I'm exploring ways to monetize it in the new year and am thinking of opening it to sponsorships!

    1. 1

      write a list of 50 companies that should sponsor it. Reach out to them.

  16. 1

    Hi Andrew, at NeeKids.com we are interested launching a newsletter about neuroscience and education, but is quite a heavy subject, any ideas on how to make newsletters entertaining and fun? Any format rules to follow? Words extension, etc.

    1. 1

      Depends on what fun and entertaining are. I love data and charts about Influencer Marketing. I found digging deep, contextualizing and analyzing were fun for me and c level readers.

      While I am sure most find spilling tea on influencer behavior is more clickbaity yet "entertaining"

      Not every subject has to be fun or should be.

      A newsletter about neuroscience for those who work in neuroscience is easier to grow and monetize than a newsletter for newbs.

  17. 1

    Hi Andrew, some of the question I have:

    • What where the top two mistakes you made in that first year of the newsletter where you lost money?

    • What did you do the next year to turn the ship around and become profitable?

    • Which mistakes you see new newsletter creators make time and time again that you can't help but groan and think, "welp, there goes another one..."

    • What don't newsletter creators do that you think they definitely should do (or do more of)?

    1. 1

      I spent more than I made. And the 2nd mistake, I didnt make enough money.

      Grew the newsletter subs and raised my ad rates.

      Everyone thinks there is some magic moment to monetize. By the time you start u coulda started earlier.

      They should talk to subscribers. All growth and monetization tactics will come from talking to as many subscribers as you can. Jump on a call with them. Ask them what is an existential threat to theielr business. Ask them what kind of dog they have.

      You will be surprised at the power of anecdotal information.

      1. 1

        Great advice, thank you Andrew!

  18. 1

    Hi! Can you share:

    • the best ways to build an audience
    • how to stay motivated to keep churning out a weekly newsletter

    Thank you!

    1. 1

      the best way to grow is to do everything to grow. The one thing that will work... you wont know until you try.

      Set your self an effort goal. Send 100 issues. Do not stop until you do. I havent missed a single week in 3 years. Even sent during holiday weeks.

  19. 1

    I have a podcast and blog about Hackathons since January. I truly love doing it and sharing stories about that side of the maker community. I also recently started a newsletter. I focus on being consistent but today was the first day I questioned whether I'm going about this all wrong. Not sure the signals of how I know I'm going in the right direction.

    My Newsletter is:
    https://hackathonentertainment.substack.com/

    1. 1

      Get to 1 year and then figure it out.

      For every creative project the 1 year mark is magical.

      You got this.

      And watch this quote from Ira Glass about Good Taste and Creative work.

      https://youtu.be/PbC4gqZGPSY

  20. 1

    Sold ads

    Would be useful to know:

    how you attracted advertisers,
    judged what to charge,
    how much you charged,
    any tools used to manage the ad-sale admin,
    how ad income compared to gigs and products

    1. 1

      mix of direct outreach, replying to content pitches, and readers seeing the ads.

      My prices are here: sponsor.influenceweekly.co
      7k subs now.

      I made a tool called HypeLetter, we shut it down to work on other projects. I use a google sheet to manage ads now.

      Ads made up 90% of my revenue for a year. Then I got a big consulting gig that essentially doubled my total revenue for 2020.

      1. 1

        Many thanks. Very helpful.

        Now read your $137 loss where you say:

        "For the first year, all revenue came from sponsorships. I charged $50 and quickly raised it to $99 early on. Recently when I got over 200 subscribers I increased the cost to $200. Sold 14 weeks of sponsorship to 9 companies."

        That is helpful, too.

  21. 1

    Hi Andrew, just launched a new site to help people with procrastination:

    https://www.producthunt.com/posts/the-procrastinator-s-toolkit

    The site is a curated list of resources to help people beat procrastination. But it also has a newsletter component. Planning to send out productivity tips once a week.

    Do you think this is the right approach to take? Or would you do something different?

    1. 1

      I hope this doesnt come off as negative. I have found productivity tips to be more distracting than helpful.

      My own personal experience: If I am procrastinating it is because I am scared. Sometimes it is best to kill the scary part, and sometimes if I am going through Hell, go faster.

      1. 1

        Not negative at all, thanks for the feedback. To each their own, I've found productivity content to be really helpful personally.

        1. 1

          I think I lost a good 3 months of my life learning bullet journaling.

          Dont get me started on Pomodoro...

  22. 1

    This comment was deleted 5 months ago.

    1. 1

      I'm not sure what your question is.

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