1️⃣ Subscribers are a vanity metric
3 weeks after I launched on Product Hunt and went #1, my growth started to slow down. I had grown to about 2400 in about 24 after my launch. Then in the following week I grew to 3500. The week after, 3600. 70%+ of this traffic came from Product Hunt.
Still being a newbie in the newsletter game, I hadn’t set up solid metrics to know how much growth was good growth vs bad growth. I applauded myself for the insane growth at the start. But then I started to blame myself for the tapering growth now. In reality, neither are in my control.
I can only control a couple of metrics, namely:
While it’s good to feel accomplished about your amount of subscribers, don’t believe that it’s all your own doing. Because just as quickly as you feel good when that number goes up, you’ll start to feel shitty when that number goes down.
2️⃣ Focus on 1-2 attention channels
Starting out, I had in mind to distribute my weekly issues on multiple channels: Reddit, Medium, LinkedIn, Twitter, HackerNews. But after 2-3 weeks of seeing the traffic stats, I realized that Twitter was my 2nd best at 9% (~70% was still coming from PH). Indie Hackers was also tied with Twitter for me at 9% as well. I think mostly due to this IH post. HackerNews drew in 4%. Reddit, Medium, and LinkedIn drew a dismal amount of traffic. All 1%.
Here’s some quick feedback on what I’ve learned:
Medium - terrible organic reach. You have to generate traffic to there from elsewhere. You have to have metered paywall for Medium algo to share your posts.
LinkedIn - strong organic reach. I recommend. You get views from people you aren’t connected to. I think you’d have to work on getting your post shared by others within LinkedIn for it to blow up there though.
HackerNews - good organic reach. Be really particular with your post title. Make sure it’s relevant to people there.
Reddit - terrible to good organic reach (depending on subreddit). If you want to post in huge subreddits, don’t self-promote. Hold off on the self promotion and keep communication with mods. Ex: r/startups has been good for me, upvote-wise. 1st post - 135 upvotes & 2nd post - 235. I imagine that a patient strategy will work best here: Constant “humble” posting for months == brand equity eventually.
Going forward, I’ll be more active on Twitter and Indie Hackers. Which means helping others, cheering other on, and posting thoughtful relevant stuff. Having too many channels can dilute your efforts.
My main focus now is bringing attention to my issues meaning driving page views & views of my issues. This is in order to build brand for myself and attract sponsors.
My 3 “lever” metrics (what I can control to move view counts numbers) are:
-Quality of my posts
-Activity on Twitter & IH
-How often I talk to subscribers
3️⃣ People like numbers & pictures
I’ve come to learn that if I can communicate something visually either through numbers or emojis or images, then I’ll do that.
Having visuals to break up the reading makes for a more pleasant content consumption experience. I feel that way went I consume content and my subscribers feel that way too. I’ve been complimented on my recent efforts to make my website and content more aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
“Design is a marketing channel,” as said by Ryan Kulp. Having quality and uniform designs across your brand makes you more recognizable and people perceive you more positively.
4️⃣ Learn to accept silent likes
In a recently deleted tweet by Paul Graham, he says learn to accept 1000 silent likes over 3 comments of dislike.
I’ve come to find that only about 1-5% of your audience will ever compliment you. So it’s better to accept that 95% are happy with your work in silence.
That’s been hard for me to learn because I heavily enjoy feedback from others. I need to know if I’m doing well or not. Not sure if everyone is like this. Feel like it’s one of those things I picked up from my childhood from how I interacted with my parents.
Learn to just accept that you may get 0 compliments but people will still silently fuck with your work. And just deeply appreciate when someone actually opens up to compliment you.
5️⃣ Talk to your subscribers often
This one is like a “Duh, obviously” one. But it’s still important. You’re writing for an audience meaning you’re crafting a product in the form of content. You gotta know what the people want.
Respect their attention. I think that the ones that’ll “win” in this new blogging era will be the ones who respect their audience’s attention the most over time.
6️⃣ Have fun 🙂
I was born in Nigeria but raised in the Bronx so although I still have an international background, the people in my environment growing up had limited world-views. But now I’m having people like tech execs from fucking Sweden email me telling me they like my shit. It’s wild.
I’m playing the long game with this to build brand and also learn ALOT. Eventually, I’ll be building larger businesses than the small internet stuff that I’m doing now. And having an audience when that time comes will be extremely helpful.
I’m still in uni right now and hanging out on Twitter has made me realize how slow old establishments are moving and where the future will be. If you’re not relevant on any attention channels (for ex. Twitter or IH), then it’s going to be increasingly harder to be seen as credible or be given opportunities by people. People invest in trajectories, so make sure to have some sort of tangible evidence of growth or accomplishments.
Anyway, I’m having a blast and I’ll continue to have fun.
Thanks for reading 🙂
See ya around