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All about referrals with Louis Nicholls of Sales for Founders

Yaro Bagriy
Yaro Bagriy

About this episode: Today we have Louis Nicholls. I’ve known him on twitter for quite some time now and I have to say he’s an amazing founder and newsletter creator. Louis runs two newsletters. Sales For Founders, which is a newsletter but also an in-depth course as well. His second newsletter is Five Minute Founder, which is a passion project newsletter with actionable, concise advice to improve your startup/company by 1% each week. Only what you need to know, in five minutes, with examples. On this episode we’ll dive deep into growth and referral programs. Louis is an expert in referral programs since he founded a referral program tool for newsletters called SparkLoop. If you’re interested in if referral programs are right for your newsletter then you won’t want to miss this episode.

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Show Notes & Insights:

  • Louis says newsletters are not a good business to start. What a newsletter is good for is to connect with an audience that wants to buy something from you at a later point in time.
  • Sales for Founders newsletter is not the business itself but is a tool to build trust and get in front of the right audience to sell his course.
  • Newsletters are a great way to have conversations at scale with your audience.
  • There are two schools of thought in newsletter monetization. Either the audience is the product via sponsorship, ads, and affiliates. Or the audience is the customers via subscriptions, courses, ebooks that directly come from you.
  • Having the audience as the customer for your newsletter is a much easier and more fulfilling way to monetize. You don’t need to worry about what a third party cares.
  • Every newsletter has its own monetization strategy. It all depends on the creator. Some like sponsorships and ads, while others use their audience to sell a course or ebook.
  • IndieHackers, Twitter, cross-posting, answering questions on Reddit or other communities, SEO, and a referral program are all amazing ways to market and grow your newsletter.
  • You don’t simply want to build an audience, you want to build an engaged audience.
  • Word of mouth referrals require little time and costs little but has huge growth potential. It’s a great middle growth channel for any newsletter.
  • Referrals thrive on your audience reaching out to their audience to build your newsletter for you.
  • A great subscriber number to have when starting a referral program is around 500 subscribers. This makes it worthwhile in terms of the amount of time needed to set up the referral program versus the return you’ll receive. At around 2000 subscribers is when you should absolutely have a referral program.
  • Referral program growth is based on 3 levers. The incentive the subscribers receive, the frequency you’re doing the referrals at, and how easy is it for your subscribers to refer others.
  • The more general your newsletters are the faster your newsletter will grow. It’s much harder for a subscriber in a small niche to find 10 others to refer that would be interested in that niche. In the end, it’s all comparative growth versus absolute growth.
  • Info products are a great and cheap referral product to give away for high-reach growth.
  • Reuse your content as a reward for your referral program.
  • Facebook ads are low effort marketing channels. The downside they cost a lot of money to get subscribers in the door.
  • Twitter and posts are high effort but low cost. SEO is a high effort but a scaleable way to grow. Referrals are right in the middle of all of these three.

Guest + Newsletter Info:

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Podcast

Yaro Bagriy

Podcast host & community manager