I just hit $10,000 Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) with my Substack newsletter, Blogging Guide. While this growth did not happen overnight, it was faster than I would have predicted when I first launched my newsletter. I was skeptical that Substack would even generate a single paid subscriber.
Blogging Guide (the newsletter) was really my first attempt to build a community for writer looking to navigate the digital publishing landscape and monetize their content.
This momentum has also lead me to create a related website full of free content (BloggingGuide.com). I didn't want to give up on either the newsletter or the website, so I made the call early on that despite covering similar topics, I would create 100% unique content for each. This has been quite a challenge and upped my content production requirements significantly.
However, the strategy seems to have paid off as the two direct significant amounts of traffic toward each other. They also help me map out my content production so that each site's articles are tailored to its unique audience.
For example, the newsletter tends to go to readers who are already familiar with at least one blogging platform, but may be looking for a new blogging platform, or a different way to monetize their existing blog. Some are looking to make the switch from traditional blogging to producing a newsletter. So many are curious about how to monetize their newsletter. Much of this traffic comes from readers viewing the content on their mobile devices, so the content needs to be a bit more concise.
The website is much more SEO focused, and tends to offer in depth guides on blogging topics. Most of these readers view the content on desktop devices and there is significant engagement with the content. Many also take advantage of the tools and forum that I created (using PeerBoard). Although the Blogging Guide forum is still in its early stages, it's a great way to build out a more robust community for my Substack subscribers.
Even if Blogging Guide's newsletter were to plateau in terms of ARR, it has effectively subsidized the creation of my Blogging Guide website, which I really love building. I am still amazed by this progress, and am eager to see how I can continue to grow this Substack newsletter over time.
And while it has been challenging, I actually enjoy the unique pace and content structure of both the newsletter and my main website.
If I hadn't seen this success with the newsletter, I probably wouldn't have created the main Blogging Guide website. I even managed to acquire the .com domain for my website (was formerly bloggingguide.org but is now bloggingguide.com). Without the success of my newsletter, I probably wouldn't have pursued this.
I just wanted to provide an update on my Substack newsletter, Blogging Guide. Yesterday I reached 250 paid subscribers!
When I started this newsletter, a little less than a year ago, I had no idea that it would be this successful. I would have thought 25 paid subscribers would be ambitious!
Of course, it took a lot of hard work to get to this point, and I don't want to mislead anyone into thinking that starting a Substack newsletter is in any way a "get rich quick scheme."
That said, if you are willing to spend 12-18 months building an audience by providing amazing content for free and create/run a newsletter for 12 months (creating both newsletter posts and premium content for subscribers, along the way), you can definitely create a subscription newsletter of value with Substack.
I'll be doing a post on my blog in the next week or so, detailing the process and some of the lessons I learned more in detail, but feel free to ask any questions here!
I just launched the discounted pre-order for my upcoming Medium Course.
I decided to offer the course for $19.99 to all pre-orders. The course bundled with the Blogging Guide Newsletter is discounted to $49.99.
The course will be launched October 12, 2020 on Gumroad.
A major priority in creating this course was to make it affordable and up to date. When I first started as a writer on Medium there were hardly any resources (I spent a lot of time searching).
The majority of the content that I found was riddled with inaccuracies, out of date information, or was extremely expensive.
But my goal in creating this course was to make it first and foremost accessible.
I know what it’s like to be a new writer who is very price conscious and my over arching philosophy when it comes to online content creation is to over deliver.
I’ve been working on this course for some time, but it has finally reached the level where I can confidently say that anyone who buys it will benefit.
So far I have already received 2 pre-orders which I consider a fantastic start!
I will keep IH updated as the course launches and more data comes in.
Although Blogging Guide and Canva Design cover similar concepts (Blogging News/Tips and Image Templates, respectfully), I had been operating them completely independently.
While they are still being operated as two separate newsletters, I have decided to offer Canva Design as a free bonus to paid Blogging Guide subscribers.
This newsletter is optional, but should be valuable for many of my Blogging Guide subscribers.
Canva is a free graphic design platform that allows users to create social media graphics, presentations, posters and other visual content. It is available on web and mobile, and integrates millions of images, fonts, templates and illustrations.
Although there is a premium version of Canva (Canva Pro), you will only need to create an account for the free version to edit these files.
I wanted to share an exciting update.
My Substack subscription newsletter Blogging Guide has reached 200 paid subscribers!
For a project started about 6 months ago, I am blown away by these results!
I’ve written a pretty good explanation of some of the strategies I’ve used to convert free sign ups to paid subscribers and I was fortunate enough to be featured on the Indie Hackers newsletter (which also has more tips).
A few additional thoughts:
If you are on the fence about creating a subscription newsletter, a few of the best reasons are—you can start a newsletter with little or no upfront cash investment; newsletters are scalable and hyper efficient; new newsletters are still being created every day (one of the few ways to make money online that leverages new cordless technology do well); and they can be run remotely by a single person.
Subscription newsletters typically succeed when they function as a hybrid community. The emphasis should not be on you, the writer, disseminating content to readers, but rather the conversations, ideas, tips, and partnerships that occur when you bring people together (Similar to what Indie Hackers has done so successfully). Engage with subscribers, create community chat features, or downloads that bring people together.
While it is easy to focus only on paid subscriber growth, your free sign ups have significant value as well. Remember, many of your future subscribers start as a free sign up. Do not alienate or spam this list since these are your best leads.
Don’t feel compelled to stick to a rigid posting schedule. Readers want actionable insights or entertaining content, the last thing they need is another “fluff” email cluttering their inbox.
Price your annual subscription competitively. Annual subscriptions give you far more stability in terms of revenue and it increases the opportunities to demonstrate passion, commitment, and newsletter value. Monthly subscribers may lead to a higher churn rate and increased pressure to produce on a rigid schedule (which can lead to writers publishing subpar content), which ultimately deters some monthly readers from continuing their subscription.
Thanks so much for all the support I received from IHs! Let me know if you have any questions!
I mostly focus on my MRR or paid subscribers when evaluating my Substack newsletter's success, but I was pleasantly surprised to see I had crossed 5,000 free sign ups (total email list) for Blogging Guide.
I started this newsletter in February, and it has been far more successful than I would have guessed.
Reaching 5,000 sign ups shows how effective Substack newsletters can be for generating leads. It also is a lot cheaper than having those same 5,000 users on Mailchimp on some other paid email marketing service.
I have yet to really market/send newsletters just to me free sign ups encouraging them to become paid subscribers, so I will be interested to see how many additional paid subscribers I can get by reaching out to this fairly engaged audience.
Very excited to announce that I finally launched a website to compliment my Substack newsletter (Blogging Guide) and better organize all the content I produce for writers and marketers.
My website is called Blogging Guide (creative, I know ;) )
The idea behind the website was to create a central resource where bloggers could find comprehensive blogging platform reviews, tools, courses, videos, and eventually, a podcast.
More specifically, this site allows me to take the next steps in expanding my growing online community for bloggers.
For nearly a year I had thought about creating a YouTube channel with informational content on blogging.
However, I didn't like the idea of constantly filming myself and having to upload, edit, and promote videos.
So I knew if I did create a YouTube channel it would need to consist of a different format.
A couple months ago I decided to start experimenting with a "no code" animation software. I quickly began making videos for fun. But I also realized that quick, useful, and animated videos could be produced to market my newsletter to a new audience.
So I launched my channel:
It only has a few videos so far but I plan to add more. So please be sure to subscribe!
I was fortunate enough to be featured on the Traction Growth and Income Podcast:
This episode covered a range of my online ventures, but it was primarily focused on the topics relating to Blogging Guide.
I was already a fan of this podcast, so it was cool to be featured, discussing my newsletter!
Blogging Guide is a newsletter which helps writers navigate the digital publishing landscape and shows them how to monetize their writing.