As most of you know, I always try to be as transparent as possible when it comes to insights about Creativerly. I missed out on that over the last couple of months, so I decided to give all of you a general update of what has been going on.
The last big update I made on Indie Hackers was back in April 2020, I wrote about a huge milestone, reaching 100 subscribers, making my first money through Buymeacoffee donations, and moving to Substack. After that, it got quiet, at least over here on Indie Hackers.
Therefore, I decided to get back to the community that helped me out when I was starting my weekly newsletter. Indie Hackers has always been my number one resource to get useful insights, tips, and recommendations from other fellow Indie Hackers.
Let’s get into it!
For the majority of 2020 I have used Substack for the delivery of my weekly newsletter. Substack was great to get started and really kick-off Creativerly. The biggest plus of Substack, in my opinion, is the fact that you do not have to worry about creating an archive of all your posts, since every single newsletter you send out is also immediately available as a blog post online (also great for SEO). I liked the experience and the overall product, but anyway I decided to make the move. Why? Because I always wanted to use Ghost, and turn Creativerly into a full-fledged publication consisting of a newsletter, a blog, and also interviews.
I am a fan of open-source software, and I love to support companies working on them. Therefore, Ghost was my preferred option. I recently published a blog with more in-depth reasoning why I decided to move from Substack to Ghost.
Back in 2020 I also started to monetize Creativerly, although it was more or less unintentionally. It never was my prior intention to start a newsletter for the sake of making quick bucks. My motivation always was to create a writing habit, learn something everyday, and gain experience in different fields. Nevertheless, I started to use a Buymeacoffee Link at the bottom of my newsletter. I did not promote it in anyways, I just had it sit at the bottom with a short caption, that it is a super simple way to support Creativerly. And it worked out well for me. Over the last 12 months, I received 16 donations, worth over $120. Let me tell you one thing: it is a magical feeling to get support from people, who do care about the content you create. Therefore, I am more than thankful for every single subscriber, that already showed some support and „bought myself a coffee“, on top of that, I am also thankful for every single new connection I have made. It warms my heart when I open my Inbox and see some new emails by subscribers, talking about tools, resources, articles, or just some random stuff.
Besides the money I have made through Buymeacoffee, I also started to place affiliate links in my newsletter. Important notice: since I never had the intention to make money through Creativerly in first place, I carefully selected and curated the affiliate links I have used. I did not want to simply place affiliate links in my newsletter just for the sake of making some quick bucks.
Therefore, I became affiliate of tools, services, and products I personally use and also admire. Through those affiliate links, I managed to generate over $270 since start using them. So, in total, I made over $400 with my newsletter in 2020. The best thing about that (besides the incredibly great feeling of making money online) is the fact, that this income completely paid for my expenses regarding my newsletter.
In my last bigger update I shared about Creativerly, I was celebrating 500 subscribers an incredible milestone, I had no idea I would ever reach. On top of that, I had also no idea I would ever write those upcoming lines: as of writing this, Creativerly has 891 subscribers, slowly coming close to the magical number of 1000 subscribers.
I did not take action on any „Growth Hacks“ to reach those numbers. Simply because I hate that term. When growing a side-project I do not want to hack growth, I just want to work on a project and get it out there. Therefore, I shared Creativerly across Twitter, Reddit, and LinkedIn mainly. Currently, I am only focusing on Twitter. My tactic there: just being as active as possible.
I moved the newsletter to Substack with around 120 subscribers back in April 2020. While using Substack I grew to over 800 subscribers. In total, I gained over 720 subscribers within 2020.
My growth has been slow, but steadily, and I love that.
Besides writing and curating creativity and productivity-boosting tools and resources, I planned to expand on the content I created and shared. Therefore, I introduced a new content section to Creativerly: Interviews. I always had a major interest in how creative minds stay productive during their work, what tools they use, what productivity techniques they use, and in general connect with fellow designers, writers, indie hackers, solopreneuers, etc. For the first interview, I had the pleasure to ask Noemi Stauffer from Fresh Fonts (a newsletter for typeface lovers with over 20.000 subscribers several questions about her day-to-day life, her process of operating her newsletter, launching a new product, her workflow stack and why we should talk about mental health more openly.
The launch of this new content section was a huge success. Loads of subscribers messaged me saying how much they love the launch of interview