There are plenty of hot takes about how to build newsletters.
But there’s one idea in particular that we think is complete nonsense: “Your first newsletter subscribers need to be organic.”
It’s okay: You can dismiss this advice.
Organic, paid… It doesn’t matter how you get newsletter subscribers. Great newsletter audiences have been built from many sources.
For instance, we generated 3639 subscribers from TikTok Ads, at a very low CPA – $1.68.
Would you guess that a marketing newsletter would work well on TikTok Ads?
The idea that organic subscribers are better than paid is a contrarian take that isn’t actually good advice.
And we don’t think you should feel discouraged by it if you encounter it online.
What really matters is that your subscribers care about your newsletter.
Are they opening it? Are they clicking on links? Do they share your newsletter with others?
So instead, focus on getting readers
It’s easy to get subscribers. It’s hard to get devoted readers.
Don’t worry about where your audience comes from. Focus on retaining the people who choose to subscribe.
Should your brand start a newsletter?
It’s normal to feel like you should start a newsletter for your brand.
But is it a good idea?
And if it is, what type of newsletter should you start?
That’s what we’re aiming to answer here.
OK, so should you start a newsletter?
The answer is usually yes — as long as you have the right goals in mind and the resources to commit to it.
Most brands benefit, at least a little, from running a newsletter.
There are three different types of brand newsletters
#1 Newsletters that stand on their own
Some brand newsletters add so much value that they stand on their own instead of functioning as promotional tools.
These are helpful if you want to grow the largest audience possible, and if the majority of that audience hasn’t purchased from you before.
#2 Newsletters that combine product info with interesting content
These newsletters focus on product, but contain enough unique content to keep a lukewarm audience engaged.
That’s helpful if you’re sending emails to customers and people who have spent lots of time on your site.
#3 Newsletters that are entirely product-focused
Some brands prefer to send a newsletter that revolves solely around their own product:
News, discounts, sales, and more.
These are helpful if you’re sending emails primarily to current customers.
Takeaways from 25 years of sending newsletters
Ann Handley recently shared the lessons she’s learned from sending newsletters for the past 25 years.
Her insights may help you launch a successful newsletter yourself.
So let’s get to the good stuff…
Waiting for inspiration to write does not work
Because that will turn into an excuse to not publish anything. Brainstorm content ideas and create an editorial plan.
Set up a schedule you can manage, and stick to it.
A newsletter is a relationship-building channel
Not a distribution channel.
The one thing that nobody else can copy from you is the tone of voice of your newsletter
Develop one. And keep improving and reiterating until you don’t find one that you feel is yours.
Create guidelines and processes to make sure you stick to your tone of voice. We are not robots after all, and some days, we might be tempted to shift away from it.
Guidelines help you stay on track, especially when you have a team of writers.
The “from” name is more important than the subject line
That’s because you create a relationship with your readers over time.
Eventually, they’ll open your email just because it’s from you.
Your newsletter needs a “master of ceremonies,” or an MC
Though not necessarily.
There are tons of examples of successful newsletters sent by companies that don’t use an MC. The Hustle, Morning Brew, The Newsette… the list goes on.
An MC might make growth easier, especially in the early days. In general, people trust other people more than brands. But… it’s not essential.
So there you go: Lessons you can apply to your own newsletter.
How to get new subscribers for your newsletter… quickly
Starting a newsletter is one thing… but acquiring thousands of active readers?
That’s a different beast.
But here’s how to get subscribers fast:
Publish valuable, actionable Twitter threads frequently, and there’s a chance one of your tweets will “blow up” and go viral.
Try posting one thread a day if you can, then shift to a few threads every week. Some threads can get you thousands of subscribers.
We talk about how to go viral on Twitter here.
Same goes for TikTok.
Post engagement-worthy tricks once per day…
All it takes is one post going viral to win you new readers.
Sponsor in other newsletters
Putting your newsletter in front of other newsletter readers is the best way to get new subscribers.
These audiences are already familiar with the medium and are much more likely to become regular readers as well.
Plain text ads with a bold tagline and a compelling story work better than short videos when you’re advertising a newsletter.
This method works better for daily newsletters, since you’ll incentivize your readers every day to share your newsletter with friends for a reward.
Weekly newsletters are less frequent and it can take more time for you to see results.
But even if it’s slow, it’s a still steady way to get new subscribers dripping onto your list.
The bottom line
Newsletters are great.
If you evaluate what your goals are, where your audience is coming from, and how much time you have to spend on creating your newsletter, you’ll be on your way to creating something memorable.