Each week, we’ll break down the best hacks to scale your newsletter & email list - in real time - reporting on our fails and wins.
…This is gonna be fun.
Whether you're looking to start a business, scale your offerings, sell a course, or become a NYTimes bestselling author, the single best way to do that is to grow a newsletter.
WHY A NEWSLETTER?
Because algorithms & platforms can't be trusted.
Whether it's Facebook, Amazon, Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok, if you build on their platform, they own your followers - you don't. Going back to their inception, they have systematically been optimizing you to pay more, for fewer eyeballs. Anyone who has ever tried to sell on Amazon or run ads on Google or FB knows what we are talking about. Not to mention they have a pesky habit of ya know, disappearing, like Snapchat, MySpace, and even AOL IM for all you 90's babies.
Because you can build a community.
You're creating a following of people who want to hear from you. People who will be notified about what you're doing next straight in their inbox. Who can share with their friends and become evangelists. Brands are really just that, communities. Raving fans = higher profits, and multiples. You can grow customers by 40x more than social media, and sales by 333% with email. We think newsletters and email lists are the OGs that keep on giving. So does Andreessen Horowitz, which is why he dropped $15.3M on this newsletter platform we're on right now.
…BUT WHAT DO WE KNOW, RIGHT?
We've used email and newsletters to bring in millions of dollars in sales, establish ourselves as experts, build businesses, and grow communities. Here's our not-so-humble brag, and why you should accompany us on this journey to grow and monetize YOUR newsletter:
Codie 'Haven't Met A Mic I Don't Like' Sanchez
Partner at VC Fund Entourage Effect Capital, and has built up a nearly-billion dollar investment business in LatAm. Codie is an investment/small business pundit and, casually a former Kennedy award-winning journalist.
Why a Grow-Getter: Her Contrarian Thinking Newsletter scaled to 40k+ subscribers in 4 months, and her course built on it from Unconventional Acquisitions did $50k prelaunch, — all with zero employees.
Olman 'Olo' Quesada
Head of Business Development at AppSumo, where he has helped 1,000+ SaaS startups launch and grow exponentially.
Why a Grow-Getter: He's a newsletter junkie (shoutout to Robinhood Snacks and The Morning Brew), with years of experience helping SaaS companies go from 0 to 100, real quick.
Ilona 'No Nickname Required' Abramova
Head of Content at AppSumo, and a pretty damn good email marketer.
Why a Grow-Getter: She's a Type-A perfectionist, who loves to build a repeatable process for success. Plus, she's generated over $10M in revenue from email.
Now that the introductions are out of the way, let's get down to business.
Each week, we'll spend time trying out new growth methods — some traditional, some experimental, some shared by you! Then, we'll send you a newsletter about what we've learned to help you well grow YOUR newsletter.
We'll be following the MATCH technique:
(Yes, we made it up. Yes, its very official and impressive.)
Heuristic* (*fancy word that means rule of thumb)
Think of it as us doing the work so you don't have to.
At the end of each email, you'll walk away with:
A playbook on a new method that won't cost you $$$ in marketing spend
A time and ease score so you can know exactly what you're getting into, and whether its the right opportunity for you
Killer insights that your marketing agency doesn't want you to have, so they can charge you for it
We take what we learned the hard way, and break it down so you can learn it the easy way. And the best part? This is happening in REAL TIME. We started this newsletter to show you what works right now — and you'll know it's working because we'll share our subscriber count with you every week. Like right now:
Prelaunch we are sitting at around 922 subscribers. Not bad...
This is where we were a week ago:
We're pretty sure this is just Olo's mom - you know how Latino mothers are...
So, how did we get 922+ subscribers in a week?
It all starts with the idea. Disclaimer: this newsletter is here to help you grow, not ideate. BUT here are a few tips, tricks, and resources if you're in the ideation phase:
The TLDR? Ask yourself these questions to narrow your niche:
Am I excited about this project? (Read: Will I be hype to sit down and write an email on this topic on a regular basis? We suggest weekly.)
If a friend was going to come to me for advice, would it be on this topic?
What's going to set me and/or my business apart?
Would people pay for this or will it be good lead generation for my business?
What do I spend time reading, researching and thinking about for free.99 anyway?
What is my goal of the newsletter? My why? Money, fame, community?
Ok, back to growth! Let's kick it off with the first lesson...
The Method: Grow Where You Know
In the science of getting people to do what you want them to do, aka sales, there are a few golden rules:
Start by sending a message to those who know and like you
Step 1 - email request your network to subscribe Step 2 - social notify all of them Step 3 - reach out to friends, family, LinkedIn followers and let them know you just birthed a baby... newsletter. Sure, you'll feel like you're in an MLM (your 3 subscribers can get 3 subscribers, and soon you're in that sweet pink Hummer!) but its imperative to establish a baseline subscriber list.
Follow with those who are predisposed to want what you are selling
Start with your warmest contacts: people you know. Then, move on to your warm connections: people who are already interested in your topic given what you know about them.
Multiplier effect from centers of influence
We all have those friends who can sway minds and exert influence. Now is your time to start including them in your outreach with small asks to do what they do best, share.
Action Gameplan: Copy & Steal Away
We decided to have Codie start us off. Here a breakdown of what she did:
Downloaded her Gmail contacts from three Gmail accounts (how you do it: here). Make sure to download your other contacts, we guarantee you have thousands in there). This hack is a game changer no one does. Don't opt them in, just give them the option. That is approximately 5247 emails.
Sent the following email to all of them:
Used the Buffer app to schedule the follow Tweet (all while not getting sucked into the void):
(TBH this one didn’t land incredibly well - maybe better visual? Quote? More quality lead gen snippet?)
Center of Influence: Selected 5 people who have email lists or followings that are sizable to have a call with them to "pick their brain."
"What I really want is them to post my newsletter but I also don't want to be an a$$ and ask outright. I call for their advice on how to launch (or email), and mention that I'd love to get it in front of their audience but would never impose. Let the silence speak. Too soon to tell if this will work. Report back next week." - Codie
Started a list of Facebook groups in our niche. Going to harass them next week. Get ready!
Included a blurb about this newsletter to her other newsletter (we'll say it again - she's popular).
Since Codie has a larger personal and professional network, and has already built up a following growing her other newsletter Contrarian Thinking (shameless plug) - she was the best fit for this tactic. But you don't need a massive audience to make this happen. What you really need is to be resilient and not afraid of annoying people.
This newsletter is going to be awesome
You should share it with your friends
Speaking of friends, hit them up when you're launching something new
Your network cares about you and wants you to succeed, so leverage them!
It's more fun growing with friends than hacking it by yourself
In Ranking Order What Worked Best:
Google Contact Download - Use email to grow email. That Google contact hack was legit, use it. Immediate way to get a couple 100 subs. 350+ subscribers.
Center of Influence - One of our 5 selected forwarded to a big list of his. 200+ subscribers.
Close Friend Email - You have more immediate friends and family than you realize who (WHEN ASKED) will subscribe and share. Just rip the bandaid off. 100+ subscribers.
Other list Mentions - When Codie mentioned at CTA to join this list it worked. Think about where you can use an audience already predisposed. 80+ subscribers.
Sent out to Social Media - We tested a LOT of different social posts - 3 of Codie's 5 fell pretty flat. Took a while to come up with the right mix of educational, interesting and not spammy. Don't post just once! 75+ subscribers.
Accidentally scheduled some of these posts on 9/11, not our shiniest moment. #context
Didn’t have a very comprehensive launch plan. Next time create one? A funky creative video? A podcast series of interviews same time?
Social media posts needed better copywriting, they didn’t give the win. Should have been How We Got 1K Newsletter Subscriber in 1 week. Period.
We only used Codie’s network to grow thus far (so you’d see just one side), need to use all of ours going forward.
Your challenge, should you choose to accept it:
Answer the Idea Questions to make sure you're in the right place and have a healthy foundation set.
Name it, logo it (free at Squarespace here or just use your own picture).
Start a Substack account for your newsletter — it's easy, it's free, and it takes all of 1 minute to get started (plus, no FOMO when it blows up a year from now).
Make that email a version of your first post, it's your why (the reason you’re writing it), what (can be expected from you), how (weekly cadence, etc), and the ask (share it and give feedback).
Next come up with a list of 10 friends or colleagues and send them a PERSONAL message explaining your idea and asking them to subscribe.
Download your Gmail contacts and all your other phone contacts and ask them to join along.
Once you've ripped the bandaid off, link your newsletter in the comments!
If you boil it down all we did was email our own people announcing a newsletter, post on our own social, and reach out to a few friends/acquaintances for their help. Three steps, and we're almost at 1000 subscribers in a week. No paid. No ads. No influencers.
Most people are simply too afraid to put themselves out there, they half-ass it. Don't be most people. If you actually create something, you're already one of the few.
The results: Hours worked: 2.5, Subscribers: 636, Difficulty level: Easy.
Your one single rule of thumb: If you don’t start with people you know, you’re likely not going to start at all.
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