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Referral program deep dive with Corey Quinn of Last Week in AWS

Yaro Bagriy
Yaro Bagriy

About this episode: This week we have Corey Quinn, who runs a successful newsletter with over 20k subscribers called Last Week in AWS. In this episode we're going to dive deep into his newsletter referral program. Why he started it, the growth that he's been seeing, and how he went about architecting the referral rewards.

If you're interested in hooking up your newsletter to the best growth engine, then you'll find Newsletter Crews own referral program software useful. We're currently onboarding newsletters so if you're interested then send an email to Put your newsletter growth on auto!

Episode Sponsor: EmailOctopus
"EmailOctopus has the flexibility to design great-looking newsletters that stand out. The best part is it's free until 2,500 subscribers."
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How to Identify and Activate Inactive Newsletter Subscribers
Are you losing subscribers from your newsletter lately? Have they become inactive or outright dead? Well, there isn't much you can do about the subscribers who are gone. But you can still try to get back the subscribers who have become inactive. In this article, we will guide you on how you can do that in 2 simple steps.

Show Notes & Insights:

  • Your newsletter will get a much higher engagement if you use your own voice. Don't try to pretend you're someone you're not. Be yourself, it's your newsletter!
  • The best newsletter to start is the newsletter that doesn't yet exist but you want to subscribe to.
  • You'll reach 10k subscribers by onboarding 1 subscriber at a time.
  • Word of mouth is one of the most consistent growth channels for a newsletter.
  • Newsletters are all about building relationships with your subscribers.
  • The ability to have a group of your superfans who evangelize your newsletter is amazing for word of mouth group. Giving them an incentive to really reach out to the niche communities they're a part of and spread the word of your newsletter.
  • A referral program rewards subscribers for doing the things that benefit you.
  • Newsletter referral programs are a longer term growth engine.
  • With a referral program you will see a sustainable increasing trajectory of growth in your newsletter.
  • The secret to a great growing newsletter is to write compelling content that others want to read and that you enjoy writing. Keep doing more of that.
  • Avoid giant jumps between referral rewards. For example, Morning Brew has a huge jump between their very last 2 rewards. The gap is 750 referrals. No one's going to work that hard to get to the last level without at least getting something in between. Make your referral reward milestones frequent with consistent rewards along their journey.
  • Referral programs allow you to gamify your newsletter growth for your audience.
  • Referral programs work really well when you know the life-time value of a subscriber. From there you can calculate exactly the ROI from the rewards you give out versus the subscriber that are referred.
  • A great time to start a referral program is when you know a rough estimate of the lifetime value of a subscriber.
  • When you're launching your newsletters referral program be intentional with the rewards. Save the physical rewards for a higher milestone.
  • Start physical referral rewards at 20 subscribers. Anyone can get 2-5 referrals for your newsletter but beyond 20 is actually really challenging. Most of your subscribers probably won't have a massive audience reach to be able to reach that milestone.

Newsletter + Guest Info:


Yaro Bagriy

Podcast host & community manager