How To Get Your First 1,000 Subscribers
PLUS: Twitter ads, Deliverability Tricks, and more
Welcome to Newsletter Operator!
In today’s issue:
How to get your first 1,000 subscribers in 8 simple steps
The best links on newsletter growth and monetization
Let's dive in!
How To Get Your First 1,000 Newsletter Subscribers In 8 Simple Steps
1/ Pick a niche, then go 2 niches deeper
I love this quote from Naval Ravikant:
“Become the best in the world at what you do. Keep redefining what you do until this is true.”
It offers great advice on how to pick your newsletter niche and topic.
Don’t pick a topic based on what is hot right now. Or what you think readers want. Pick a topic you’re an expert in. Something you are (or can be) the best in the world at.
Often what you’re good at is very, very niche. And that’s ok! Creating a niche newsletter makes it unique and easier to market than just another “business” newsletter.
There are so many newsletters about “business”, “tech”, “sports”, “politics”, “fitness”, "health", etc.
Your newsletter will likely fall into one of these categories. But it needs to be at least 2 niches “deeper” to stand out!
Fitness -> Bodybuilding -> How to body-build on a keto diet
Let’s use my newsletter as an example too:
Business -> Media business -> Newsletter-first media business -> How to get newsletter subscribers
After niching down 2-4 more levels you can find a topic you’re a world-class expert in.
If you’re not an expert yet, that’s ok. Pick a niche you're obsessed with. Something you could see yourself writing about for 10 years. Over time, you will become an expert and your content will improve.
2/ Decide what type of newsletter you want to write
Read this article from Dan Oshinsky on the 5 types of newsletter businesses.
Pick one of the five (or a hybrid of two).
3/ Pick a newsletter name
Your name doesn’t need to be brilliant, but your newsletter shouldn’t be called “my newsletter.”
Think of your newsletter as its own media property. It should have a separate name and domain name.
Here are some examples:
Shane Parrish: Brain Food
Tim Ferriss: 5-Bullet Friday
Michael Houck: Houck News
James Clear: The 3-2-1 Newsletter
Sahil Bloom: The Curiosity Chronicle
Lenny Rachitsky: Lenny’s Newsletter
Matt McGarry: The Newsletter Operator
4/ Chose a sending schedule
Most newsletters should start by sending weekly. More often than that can create burn out and less often is not enough to keep subscribers engaged.
Over time, newsletters should send more (2, 3, or 5 times a week). But sending frequency should only increase after you find ways to consistently grow and monetize your newsletter.
5/ Pick a content format
Choose a short and simple content format that’s easy to repeat.
You don’t want to be writing from scratch every week. Your content should fall into a simple and repeatable template that makes it easy to write and research.
Also, this format will give readers a consistent experience so they will build the habit of opening and reading your newsletters. Readers should always know what to expect.
Here are some of my favorites:
The Big Idea - The biggest news story of the day
Snippets - One line summaries and links
Chart - Infographic and story
Around The Web - Cool curated stories and resources
5 things Tim has loved, used, or read: Books, gadgets, hacks, and more
Check out these newsletters for more great examples:
The Curiosity Chronicle
Then read this post on the 10 best newsletter types and formats for more.
6/ Pick and set up your ESP and website
2 years ago I could write 2,000+ words about this.
Now my answer is: Use Beehiiv.
Beehiiv simplifies the process and replaces 5+ tools.
7/ Pick a social media platform to post from and promote your newsletter
This is where 80% or more of your first 1,000 subscribers will come from.
There’s no getting around it - to grow a newsletter, you need to publish content. If people like that content, they will subscribe to your newsletter for more content.
It’s that simple.
Newsletter content is rarely discovered or shared like social media content is - so you must build an audience on social to build your newsletter.
You can also use paid ads, but that works much better after you have traction, subscribers, and revenue from your newsletter.
Here’s how I recommend growing on social and converting those views and followers into newsletter subscribers:
Step 1 - Pick one social platform where your audience is.
It doesn’t matter which one as long as your ideal audience is there.
For most newsletters, it’s Twitter or LinkedIn.
Also, the format of these translates well to newsletters. People who read text tweets for hours every day are likely to read newsletters. Where people who are watching hours of video on Youtube or TikTok may not be newsletter readers.
Step 2 - Pick a posting schedule you can stick to for 30 days.
At first, your focus should be posting consistently. Not content engagement.
If you post consistently for 30+ days, your content will get better and you will get engagement (likes, retweets, shares, comments).
Here’s my posting schedule:
1 Tweet per day
2 Threads per week
Step 3 - Include CTAs in (almost) all your content
Here are the types of CTAs you should use:
A. At the end of a long-form value-adding post
At the end of a thread add a call-to-action for your newsletter.
B. After popular content
After a 1-off Tweet gets 10-20+ likes, reply with a CTA for your newsletter.
C. In your profile
Have a CTA and link in your bio.
Before your newsletter is sent, tell people about what your newsletter covers and what they’ll learn.
Step 4 - Learn from the masters of newsletter Twitter
These accounts are amazing at converting followers into subscribers.
Watch what they do:
8/ Use these other tactics to get subscribers
Twitter DM your followers
CTA in your email signature
LinkedIn DM your connections
Make and promote a lead magnet
Email your friends and co-workers
After you get to 500+ subscribers, swap recommendations and promotions with other small newsletters in your niche
The 5 Best Links
Great breakdown of one of the best newsletters in the game.
This could be a sign to start a LinkedIn newsletter and use the LinkedIn growth hack I covered last week.
I recommend focusing on #1 and #4 - it’s hard to use all of these at once.
Max reveals exactly how he built his newsletter business to $120k per year. Awesome insights.
I'm excited to try this out as a newsletter and an advertiser. Jacob summed up the new feature best: “Advertisers only pay for unique clicks driven to your site, publishers earn based on performance driven. Values aligned!”
LetterGrowth just launched - it’s a free tool to list your newsletter and find partners for cross-promotions.
That’s all for today!
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