#136 — How to build a sustainable newsletter growth machine

We've made a few small tweaks to the usual layout this week to make things a little more relevant. You can still get your weekly dose of the top stories about publishing, newsletters and technology below.


Hey there! We've made a few tweaks to the usual layout this week to make things a little more relevant.

Your weekly dose of the top stories about publishing, newsletters, and technology is still right here. It was a busy week for news — hope you enjoy the best bits!

💯 Top picks

Should you launch a newsletter referral program?

Find out why the Morning Brew newsletter referral program won't work for everyone, plus some ideas you can steal to build your own sustainable referral growth machine!

Newsletter referral programs explained
Plus some actionable ideas to create a sustainable growth machine for your newsletter business!

💸 Business models

How to monetize your newsletter

"Newsletters aren’t ‘get rich quick’ schemes. It takes patience and consistency to grow a newsletter."

The media bubble and the looming content demand crunch

"All of a sudden everyone is launching newsletter platforms, buying-up apps, and raising money to expand. MediaTech and FinTechs are popping up, eager to get publishers to use their solutions."

📝 Modern publishing

How to go viral: A content marketers guide

Wondering whether viral marketing is for you or how to pull it off? Here's some thoughts from the team at Animalz.

Information foraging: A theory of how people navigate on the web

"Summary: To decide whether to visit a page, people take into account how much relevant information they are likely to find on that page relative to the effort involved in extracting that info."

Lessons learned from 200+ blog posts

Derek Gleason shares lessons from writing over 200 posts for the CXL blog over more than 2 years. Useful takeaways in here for all publishers from content marketers to creators.

Interview: The Information's founder on building a business that you want to work in

Jessica Lessin left The Wall Street Journal to launch The Information in 2013 and retains full ownership of the profitable company. In this interview with NiemanLab, Jessica talks about mentoring, the best advice she got as a new founder, and what matters more than building “the fanciest website".

📬 Email newsletters

Email subject lines: Convert with the C.U.R.V.E concept

"There are two ways you can look at the practice of writing email subject lines:

  • An unforgiving onslaught of repetition under duress that drains your creativity and energy
  • An exciting and rewarding challenge that’s an opportunity to improve marketing and communication skills"

10 powerful conversion tips for a better newsletter landing page

Our friend Rob Hope wrote this awesome piece with actionable insights to improve your newsletter landing page. "The most common mistake I see in newsletter landing pages is the author not considering first-time visitors."

From zero to 100: How to launch a brand new newsletter

Find out how this IndieHackers member grew a list of 100 free email subscribers in 3 weeks using blogging and Reddit!

💻 Technology

A modern understanding of SEO

Put down your SEO cheatsheets and lists of ranking factors. SEO has changed!

Building the next creator platform: Lessons from Gumroad, Substack, and Transistor's growth

An interesting piece by Justin Chu about some of the many platforms building tools for the creator economy space. Speaking of which, with so many options out there to choose from, we believe it's really important to own your stack. Find out more over at Open Subscription Platforms.

How to get traffic from Hacker News: Use the comments

HN can be a great growth opportunity for small businesses, but you have to approach it right. Find out how this startup got a ton of traffic from simply commenting on threads.


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