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Growing My Newsletter List

My Newsletter celebrated its first birthday a couple of weeks ago. It was important to me, because one year ago I had tried several times to start such an endeavour only to fail in maintaining the cadence. Let me document these four ocassions - still on the Substack platform - for posteritry if you will.

Sadly, even before that, I had many other attempts on other platforms. I wold grade all atempts with a resounding ‘F’. Heavens, I even used Mailchimp at one point to autoroute my blog out to poor unsupecting people.

  • Jun 1 2019 - saw another launch, announcing that I was starting again … again … with the subtitle :

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”

This time it stuck.

I gave myself a year to prove to myself that I could maintain the cadence, so yes once a week but also ‘yes’ on the same day every week …

What I did not set out to do was put focus into growing the list. Each newsletter had a footer asking for forwards and shares and I cross posted into Facebbok, Twitter, LinkedIN …. I just accepted whatever was the result.

I just checked the stats, since the June launch yes - absolutely people have unsubscribed and moved away. But even with that - I still have just under 20% more subscribers today than I did when I started. In that I take great pride.

And with that done and dusted, moving now into the phase 2

Today I sat in on an event that was run by Substack. It was the first of three events that they are running to help writers

  • grow their list
  • transition to a paid for subscription
  • building a community with your subscribers

For me, the jury is out on the openess of Substack. If you have read the ‘Thoughts of Chairman John’, you will have noticed that I am very kean on ‘owning your own material’. So I am being careful that I have local copies of all the newsletters that I send out, because it is unclear what happens if Substack goes away. I haven’t yet found an ‘export button’ that would allow me to creat a JSON file of all my work. Likewise they also - currently - do not support you having al of this under their own domain, so if I did move - all my material sits under johnphilpin.substack.com - not (say) newsletter.philpin.com - and so the links would break.

As a comparison, I run a microblogging site with a company suitably called Micro Blog. All the content is hosted on MicroBlog servers - but you get to it by visiting John.Philpin.Com. If I export and move the close to 4,000 posts sitting on that site to a different provider - I can do that seamlessly - and all my links would continue to work. In short I keep my IP under my domains and have full portability. That is a different story … for now.

Back to Substack the service.

Really nice. It has everything you would need to run a newsletter from top to bottom and the people that are there are not people like me … the writers that use their service include professional writers that are leaving their professional positons on the beat in places like th NYT and setting up their own shop with Substack.

Ok - enough of me going on about this - this is what Substack says - it is a great read.

All this to say … take a look … and really highlight that now I have proven to myself that I can write and keep this going - I can move this newsletter along.

So - next step is to grow the membership - and I have a range of campaigns ready to launch that will help me do just that .. build my list to a meaningful size and for it to be a list of people that make up a loyal community.

Step after that is to move the newsletter to a subscription model. The material that gets published today will continue to be free - but a second / third paid for branch of the newsletter will be made avaialble. This will also tie into the book that I have coming out in a couple of months - which is focussed on a specific subset of the overall People First discussion.

More on that to come - will likely come back to this and update it sometime in the future - but for now - this is where I am.

Today’s Highlights

  1. Be consistent and experiment from time to time
  2. Have a presence
  3. Complete your “About Page” ✅
  4. Give readers and incentive that keeps people engaged and feel involved
  5. Have high quality photos so it looks great when you share on socials
  6. Write your own story. You’re not writing what other people think will sell. Write what you believe in. Start with a small, devoted audience ✅ That I did … thankyou. No doubt some have left, but also no doubt others have joined.
  7. Encourage people to comment
  8. Stick to a number that allows you to put out quality
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