End of May 2021, I started a newsletter called 10+1 Things on Substack. The main idea behind the newsletter was to funnel some traffic to this blog and to other projects I’m working on. In fact, I came up with the name 10+1 Things in 15 mins and decided to start it on Substack as it was quick to start. As I’m writing this, 10+1 Things has just crossed 100+ subscribers. From being a small fun project, the newsletter has grown to a separate project and has become a part of my routine. All this happened in a span of 2 months and the newsletter is growing strong with a +50% open rate and an expected subscriber count of 300+ by end of 2021(I extrapolated the subscriber data!). I started at zero and haven’t spent any money on ads or promotions. All growth has been organic so far, thanks to some cross-promotion with other fellow writers in the community. Here’s what I learnt from growing my newsletter from 0 to 100 subs in 2 months:
I have always struggled to start. Being a person who cares a lot about design and aesthetics, I usually spend a crazy amount of time tweaking things to launch the perfect product. When I started 10+1 Things, I decided that I’m gonna start anyway irrespective of the design or clarity. If you check the initial few issues in the archive, you can see that the style was different and not uniform. All I wanted to do was start and write about 11 things every week. Things have changed a lot and now I have created a process to optimize the workflow. But I think the reason this newsletter has reached so far is that I decided to just start and forget about tweaking small things.
Impostor Syndrome is an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be. I always had problems with Impostor syndrome and always had the fear of not being good enough. This was one reason which held me back to start blogging or a newsletter. Even though I overcame it by publishing the first edition, I was reluctant to share it with the public. I was worried that I won’t be good enough and I would eventually drop this eventually by not being consistent. Only after I published my 2nd edition, I started to share the newsletter with friends and with the public. One quote by Derek Siver‘s on his book Anything you Want has helped me a lot in this matter and it says: “What’s obvious to you is amazing to others.“. Also, the book Show Your Work by Austin Kleon helped me a lot in overcoming this fear. To everyone who is reading this, my advice would be to just start and forget about others.
When it comes to newsletters, community matters a lot. I was lucky enough to get good support from my close friends which encouraged me to continue this journey. Also, Substack has a great community of writers who unite every Thursday for Writer hours helping each other. This feeling of community has benefitted me a lot. In terms of numbers, I have done 3-4 cross-promotions with other newsletter writers, which helped me to grow the subscriber base. I also have a close-knit group of newsletter creators whom I connect often for advice and support, and this has contributed a lot to this newsletter’s growth.
Developing a process
Since 10+1 Things is a newsletter that features curated content, it involves a lot of effort and time. Over time I have created a process that helps me to identify, collect and sort important snippets of information that I plan to be featured. Newsletter writing has become a part of my routine and it inspires me to read and learn throughout the week. Because of the routine, I’m more mindful of consuming information and weed out any unwanted distractions. I’m about to publish the 12th edition and because of the processes and systems I have created, I have reduced at least 30% of effort for writing every week. If you want to read more about the process I follow, I have written about it on the about page of my substack.
Are you a newsletter writer or do you want to start one? I would love to connect with you and discuss more.
Enjoyed this article? If so, check out my 10+1 Things Newsletter that I send out every Saturday. It contains 11 interesting Things I thought were worth sharing including books,articles, projects, and other things I'm curious about. Click here if you would like to check out the previous issues and may be subscribe!