Build your own tribe, have fun, and earn money along the way!
As an online writer, a newsletter is one of the most powerful resources you can have. It is platform and algorithm independent and allows you complete freedom to express yourself. As a bonus, you can convert it into a dependable income stream.
If you still need convincing, read our post No Matter Where You Are in Your Journey as a Writer, You Need a Newsletter. Here’s Why.
Once you’ve decided to build your newsletter, let’s dive into the steps to reach more email subscribers. But before that, here are some things you need to do:
- Choose a topic or general theme for your newsletter. You don’t have to adhere to this all your life but can use it as a foundation to figure out the way ahead.
- Decide on your target audience. Remember you can write for somebody, not everybody.
- Give your newsletter an enticing name.
- Be upfront with your mailing frequency and dedicate yourself to a cadence.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at a step-by-step process you can adopt to reach your first 1000 email subscribers.
The first subscribers are always going to be people you know, whether they want to be on your email list or not. At this stage, the quality of your writing is not so important, because your closest friends will cheer you on anyway. Start with the theme you decided on, send out a few issues, and adopt the following steps:
Invite your friends
Share your brand new newsletter with your friends and colleagues and ask them to sign up. You can also add the emails of your closest friends and family members yourself.
Post on social media
Whatever social media channels you’re present on, announce that you launched a newsletter and add a sign-up link.
Mentioning the word “free” might be a good idea as it immediately makes your newsletter more attractive to potential customers and eliminates risks in their minds if they are yet undecided.
The next step is to keep writing quality content. Go with the flow to find your voice. After the first few issues, you’ll be able to fix a niche and format that feels familiar to your subscribers and is comfortable for you.
Maintain and stick to the publishing schedule you promised. Also, keep sharing on socials and ask other writer friends to give your newsletter a shout-out.
After the first 50 subscribers, you’ll probably run out of friends and relatives willing to support you. The next people who join aren’t as likely to give you the space to experiment as much as before.
Now is the time to write content that actually delivers some value and makes people want to keep coming back for more.
Aside from that, here are some other things to keep in mind:
A DMA report shows that 40% of respondents sign up for your newsletter because they like your brand. So, let your personality shine through your words and make your readers smile.
If your readers like you, they’ll subscribe. It’s as simple as that.
Personally reach out to every new subscriber and establish a relationship. You can also ask your subscribers to share the issues they enjoyed the most and invite their friends to join.
Make sure new readers know it’s a newsletter
If you’re using a platform like Substack that has good SEO (meaning, public newsletter posts can rank in Google searches and can be read by non-subscribers), readers might mistake your newsletter for an article. To make sure this doesn’t happen, you can do the following:
- Add a “Here’s what you missed last week” section at the top with a link and a quick summary of the previous newsletter.
- At the end of every newsletter, add a sign-up link along with a one-line description of your newsletter.
Build a high-converting newsletter landing page
Your landing has one goal: make your visitor sign up for your newsletter. Add anything that supports the goal (social proof, and actionable wording). Remove everything that doesn’t, including other products or services, social media share icons, links to other websites, and bland filler fluff.
Keep spreading the word
Like before, keep sharing about your newsletter on social media channels. You can also add a newsletter sign-up link to your bio on all social media channels.
At 100+ subscribers, it would no longer be possible for you to reach out and build personal connections with every new subscriber. At this stage, consistency and quality are the most important.
Keep writing valuable content, share on every platform you have a presence on. You can also share relevant posts on niche forums that cater to your target audience. Try new channels you might not have explored before like Product Hunt or Hacker News.
Collaborate & cross-promote
A great strategy is to collaborate with other writers who have a similar subscriber base. There are a few ways you can do this:
Content Collaborations: If you find another writer who writes to a similar audience and focuses on complementary topics, you can combine your expertise and work on a piece together. This is a great way to deliver value and also introduce yourselves to each other’s audiences.
Cross Promotions: You can swap newsletter shout-outs with the other writer to grow your subscriber base together.
Once you cross the 500-subscribers mark, you’ll have enough data to know what’s working and what isn’t. Stick to the strategies that helped and double down on the ones that have shown the highest conversion rates.
You can also consider creating an attractive lead magnet to attract more new readers. According to Investopedia, a lead magnet, also called an “opt-in bribe,” is a marketing term for a free item or service that is given away for the purpose of gathering contact details. Having a lead magnet and promoting that at the end of every article you write on other platforms can be a powerful way of getting more email subscribers.
Here are some ideas on what you can use as a lead magnet:
A checklist or cheat sheet
This is a 1–10-page collection of ideas or actionable steps in your niche that your audience will find helpful. For example, writer Max Phillips gives away a free Productivity Enhancement Guide to all new newsletter subscribers.
A free ebook
Ideally 3000–5000 words long, your ebook can contain brief but useful answers to the most frequently asked questions you get from your audience. For example, writer Shaunta Grimes offers a free ebook with all the lessons she’s learned to help other writers who are starting out.
An email course
Create an email series that will be sent to new subscribers over a few days. Writer August Birch is an excellent example of this. He uses his free 7-day email masterclass as a lead magnet for his newsletter “Tribe 1k.”
Growing a newsletter from 0 to 1000 subscribers can be hard. Remember to be patient and keep writing great content. Eventually, you’ll attract your ideal audience.
Bonus: Monetize anytime with Plug & Play
There are several innovative ways to convert your newsletter into an income stream. But when you’re growing it, it’s difficult to ask for a subscription fee or hunt for brand collaborations.
A cool trick is to monetize with Plug & Play— an initiative by the premium newsletter marketplace Swapstack — where the writer is pre-approved to include the links for brands in their newsletter. You’ll get paid depending on how many conversions you have. A conversion can mean a purchase, a free demo, or a community sign-up, depending on the brand’s marketing goals. Find more details about Plug & Play here.
The best part? You’re anyway sending a newsletter. You just have to write a few extra words introducing a brand that will be helpful to your subscribers, add a link to their product or service, and voila! you’re all set to get paid for directing your audience to their website. With Plug & Play, you never have to send out a newsletter without a sponsor!