What creating an email newsletter as a side project has taught me about content.
I was sitting in the hospital with my mom one evening. She was going through back treatment. Looking at her suffering, I wished there was something more I could do for her. I felt an urge to get back to my hustle sooner. So, I thought I’d take on a side project.
I have personally found a lot of noise when it comes to good content around product, design, and growth. I consume a lot of good content every day and found people interested in getting more quality content which can help them grasp some valuable knowledge, so I decided to share the best possible content with people around me. Everybody kept telling me that newsletters are dead, but I am very fascinated by the way The Hustle has done their business over it. So I decided to launch a newsletter and see if I could get some early subscribers without sending the first newsletter, and I was amazed by the results I got.
Eight hours. Eight-hundred subscribers. Zero newsletters sent
Amit Agarwal, my mentor cum partner, has always told me that growth is not magic. It is all about doing small things in the best possible way.
And that is exactly what I did.
Here are a few learnings this side project has given me:
Decide the right tool for your newsletter
The first step was to look for the right tool for collecting email addresses and then sending out a newsletter without writing a single line of code. I noticed that one of my friends, Tiffany, had been using Revue, and her response on the product helped me form an opinion. I decided to go with it.
It is an amazing tool if you are looking to send out newsletters in your network. They have very clean UI to collect emails and send the newsletter. The volume of my use case was sizeable, hence their premium service was the perfect fit for me.
From experience, I know that no one really evaluates a newsletter based on design or UI. It should be in a readable format, packed with enough information for people to find it useful for themselves and their peers.
Your closed network will always be the first ones to buy anything from you
In the last five years, launching multiple products has taught me that your closed network of friends is always the first to try out your product.
Accordingly, I shared the news about my newsletter’s launch on my social networks and started observing whether people were really interested in reading content curated by me.
The second thing I did was share emails about this side project with a few people (less than 15), and found that people have started buying into it. They start sharing about this. My first 100 subscribers came from people I have worked with closely or have known for a long time.
Hacking into the network of your first set of users can skyrocket your growth
This is the small thing I have learned while launching Toymail. If your first set of users is excited about your product, you should find ways to go into their network. There are more chances that you will acquire users from their network without spending a dollar.
I did the same thing. I have started identifying people from the subscribers’ list who are influential in their network because if these people talk about my newsletter, there will be subscribers from their network. I have started asking every such person to share with three people in their network who would benefit from it. I wanted to track the ROI also.
Any referral campaign without measuring ROI is not scalable at all.
That’s why I had asked them to share the names of the people they were referring so I could ensure they were getting my emails.
This small hack worked like magic for me and helped grow my numbers very fast.
Creating FOMO always works
Fear of missing out on something pushes users to try out the product. This is what Snapchat and Facebook have cracked very well. Taking learnings from these two stories, I have started sharing the responses I have received on social media. This created curiosity in the mind of readers and converted them to subscribe to a newsletter about to be launched.
To find who the people actually waiting for the newsletter were, I delayed it. The results were unexpected. Ten percent of people from my email list of 800 reminded me about the delay in the newsletter.
And, I am finally back to my hustle mode, while hacking into stuff. I haven’t done anything like magic. I just did some very small things in the best possible ways, and you know the result.
If you want to talk about product, design, and growth, feel free to reach out to me anytime.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)
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- Human Interest
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