Growing your newsletter can be quite a difficult feat, and it takes a lot of patience and consistency to reach that first 1000 subscribers mark, but it's definitely not impossible. After my newsletter had recently reached that 1k milestone, here is a detailed account of the measures and practices I used to reach that, and that you can take away from.
You’ve made your landing page, your email software is set up and you're good to go, but you have no clue where to go from here. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there, and it's very daunting at first because you feel as if anything you say will fall straight into the deep dark abyss of the internet.
Find out where your audience hangs out
Starting out, joining an engaged forum like Indie Hackers can be a great way for you to get your initial subscribers as well as validate your idea.
In the early days of The Slice, a good portion of my initial subscriber base were all from there, and it's a good start point. It's a great community and they are very inviting of newcomers, so ask as many questions as you can, comment on the posts, be active, ask for advice. Maybe you have just finished building your landing page, ask the community on what improvements you can make, and there are hundreds of sub groups that have a specific focus.
Important thing to remember though is to “give more than you take”. Nobody likes that person that just spams every group, telling them to subscribe to your newsletter or buy your info product. You need to provide value first before you can take it.
Joining Twitter is another good way! Most of the users on the Indie Hackers are Twitter users too and it's been proven that Twitter is a great way to build an audience if you know what you’re doing.
To give you a little anecdote of how I got my initial subscribers, here is the accidental growth loop that I made.
- I’d post on Indie Hackers asking people if they wanted their product featured (I usually got 20+ replies in comments).
- Choose the ones I like and DM them on Twitter saying I’d feature them on my newsletter.
- In turn, they would give me a follow back and would sub to my newsletter.
- Send the newsletter out and post on twitter with a weblink mentioning all the founders and features.
- I’d get likes and retweets because their product is featured, thus furthering my tweet to their own audience.
- They would click on the weblink, and I’d get subscribers directly from that weblink being shared on twitter.
Because of this, in my early days I saw rapid growth averaging between 30-60 news subs a week all through Twitter and Indie Hackers.
This can be a great way to get a nice little bump in subscribers that can be super fans in the future.
It goes like this. Find another newsletter that has roughly the same in the subscriber count as you with the same interest and you promote each other's newsletter to each of your audiences. This can really be a great way to get a few new subscribers and its great networking with the rest of the newsletter community as well.
What I did was I’d reach out to a good 4 or 5 other newsletter creators, plan a few cross-promotions for the month ahead and I made a new growth channel.
It's also worth noting that when you scale and your newsletter becomes bigger, you can effectively cross-promote with bigger newsletters, which makes it even more worthwhile.
This can get expensive, but if you know what you are doing, this can be a great return on investment.
Here are your options that I’ve seen a lot of newsletters do.
- Facebook Ads
- Reddit Ads
- Quora Ads
- Google Ads
- Bing Ads
- Newsletter Classifieds/Sponsorships
- Paid blog posts
I recently did my first form of paid advertising in which I took out an ad in the Dense Discovery newsletter for $69 and it was well worth it. If you’re looking for a good ROI, taking out ads in newsletters works out to be better and cheaper than any of the other above mentioned channels.
I’ll break it down for you.
Dense Discovery has 28k subscribers with 52% open rate and a click rate of 22%.
I payed $69
Got 371 clicks on my ad.
Gained 173 new subscribers in one day.
I basically paid just under 30c a subscriber. 10/10 would pay again.
These can be facebook groups, Slack Channels, Telegram Groups, Discord servers, subreddits.
If you look hard enough you can find a lot of these tiny groups/communities covering specific topics, you can find a lot of potential subscribers, but again, remember, give more than you take, a bit of self promo wont hurt anybody, but keep it within reason.
Here are a couple groups that I recommend.
Newsletter Geeks (invite only)
Serial Marketers (Slack Channel)
Other channels of growth.
Launching on product Hunt can be quite beneficial, but I’d recommend doing this only when you have a few subscribers and you have made a tiny audience to back you up.
Growing via SEO is a really good long term option, but it takes a lot of time and you need to have a blog alongside your newsletter for this to work properly, but the pros of this far outweigh the cons.
Using a lead magnet. This can also work great by giving your subscribers an incentive to subscribe by offering something free and of value. It can be a free ebook, or a database, as long as it provides some sort of value.
If you have a nac for writing, try guest posting on blogs that have a lot of organic traffic.
HackerNews. This can be a big hit or miss, but if executed right, you could land on the top page. I got lucky once and it gave me 73 new subscribers in one day, but again, it's the luck of the draw.
Growing a newsletter can be quite hard, and it takes a lot of time and patience, but you will reap the rewards if you can stick to it. It sounds cliche, but consistency really is key when it comes to building a newsletter. Even though the journey is slow, it's an enjoyable ride.
Newsletter Crew Newsletter
Join the newsletter to receive the latest updates in your inbox.