Your First 1000 Subscribers
The easy way.
Welcome to the free edition of this newsletter. Each week day I breakdown a question asked by readers. Send me your questions by replying to this post 👇🏻 and if you liked this newsletter check out more of my writing below:
And consider subscribing to the paid version, you’ll get access to all my content & a breakdown of weekly experiments I’m running for the Part-Time Creator Club 👩💻
In January 2022 I opened a Substack account.
The big creators I followed at the time kept raving about starting a newsletter so I decided it was probably a good idea. My ‘attempt’ adding subscribers was a little call to action at the bottom of my articles, if anything, I was just trying to fit in.
It was something like this:
“If you liked this, sign up to my newsletter”
Please don’t cringe at me. I know it’s bad. And things (predictably) went badly for a long while. A long, long while.
My first 9 months were a car crash
For 9 months things were slow. Like snail slow.
Like ‘I’m not even going to look at the stats I’ll be too sad’ kind of slow. For the first 10 months of my newsletter’s existence, I did everything wrong.
I barely posted.
I didn’t actively promote it anywhere.
The content I did post was just a regurgitation of other stuff.
And the results, well they sucked the life out of me. I’d decided starting a newsletter was fairly pointless by this stage. But like any good story, a bad start is just what you need for a happy ending (not that we’re at the end, we’re nowhere near the end).
The turning point
But recent months I’ve gone from 1,000 subs to nearly 8,000 (I know that screenshot above says 4,500 ish but my main newsletter is now on ConvertKit, I’ll add a screenshot below).
So something happened a few months back, something that shocked me into doing better. I’ve done it badly. I done it better. I know what doesn’t work and what works better.
If I was to rewind the clocks back and start all over again, this is what I’d do to hit my first 1,000 subs in 60 days.
Walk the journey
The first question to ask is where. Where do your readers go, I’ll give you a version of what I think happens with my readers:
Reader finds me through Twitter homepage
Reads a tweet
Clicks on my website
Clicks to subscribe
It means each element of this journey needs to be optimised. Every step of the way should be encouraging people to click onto the next step. It means functionally things must work i.e. there must be a link in my profile to click, the website must load etc. But it also must be convincing. Every step I have to answer these 2 questions:
What can you do for me?
Why should I listen to you?
That means, you need to talk about two things: the transformation and your authority.
Then once you’ve done that, optimise your content (and I mean all of it), an optimised CTA with personalised content can increase conversion by 202%. I know. Wild.
Walk the flow, optimise the flow, ask yourself ‘would I click?’ if not make it more compelling.
Post on Twitter every single day
I’ve post on Twitter every single day.
I take articles I’ve written and rift off of them to create posts for Twitter. I have a number of ways to generate tweets (something I’ll talk about in future newsletter editions).
Anyway, here’s what I would do if I was new to Twitter:
Comment on others’ posts (20 minutes)
2–3 tweets a day
1 thread a day
It took me 5 months to hit 200 newsletter subs. Then last November I added 200 new subscribers by Nov 16th. It means I’d achieved in 20 days what it took me 5 months to achieve previously. Wild.
That’s the power of Twitter.
Get it right on Twitter and it’ll be the best top-funnel source you have.
Top-funnel i.e. the top of the triangle of where people find you. Usually it’s on big platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter, Medium) because of their huge reach.
Write content that resonates
It’s now 4 months since I’ve taken Twitter seriously, the link between Twitter and your newsletter subs is pretty simple:
The better your Twitter content = the more subscribers you’ll get.
Here are my key lessons from Twitter:
People love small success stories because they are relatable.
Building in public it’s a whole culture on Twitter.
Engage with people and tell your story.
Teach as you go.
In my experience, sharing the small wins works x100 better than the major milestones. So share often.
Give away incredible value
My growth has gone wild over the last few months. Why? Because I got comfortable with giving stuff away for free. My entire ethos is to give away as much value as I can in 2023.
A word of warning though, don’t do this too often. It can be overwhelming to your audience. I’ve been doing it a few times a month and am likely to reduce it down to just once a month.
Here’s a short list of the stuff I’ve given away:
Tonnes of stuff that I wouldn’t have dreamed of giving away 4 months ago.
A big lesson for me is that you build a brand by thinking of it as a long-term relationship. Put your audience first, it’ll pay back in the long run.
Give stuff away that you think will help people, do that for long enough and you’ll be blown by the response to your paid products.
Push yourself to create better
At the start of anything, quantity is the game. You need the reps to build the habit. After a while though, you need a shift. You need to refocus on quality. Ask yourself:
How can I make my argument stronger?
What quotes would make this better?
What evidence can I add?
Write out the headline 7 times instead of going with the first idea you come to. Push yourself to do better.
Make sure you link your content
Every ‘big’ tweet or thread that lands is an opportunity to showcase your newsletter. Of course, you have to be realistic, not everything is an actual opportunity but a good bunch of time there is a space to advertise what you’re doing.
Remember that your audience is evolving all the time. Some people won’t know you have a newsletter even if you’ve advertised it 8 times.
Use your opportunities to build a following.
And just like that, you’ll have 1,000 subs in no time.
It’s very simple and if you execute it right, it’ll get you to 1,000 subs in no time.
Give stuff away for free
Use big tweets as an opportunity to advertise
Part-time creator you didn’t know existed:
J.R.R Tolkien before becoming a writer, he was a Anglo-Saxon and English literature at Oxford University. He got more serious about writing and wrote "The Hobbit," which was published in 1937, was his first commercial success.
If you liked this newsletter, give it a share with the button below. 👇