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What’s up, crew?
This week, we’ve been cookin’ up a little something special for you. As we’ve said time and time again, the goal of this newsletter is for us to all *grow together.* We want to help you - be it with hard-won advice, or by showcasing your newsletter and getting you more views!
A couple of weeks ago, we got a comment from Roman Beylin, who runs a newsletter called The Business Inquirer that highlights business acquisition opportunities:
The rest, as they say, was history. He reached out with a post that we thought y’all would love. If you’re reading this thinking, HEY I HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY - do it. Shoot us an email at email@example.com and if it’s a good fit, we’ll consider including it in an upcoming newsletter!
So without further ado, let’s kick it over to Roman:
So, you want to start a newsletter? Alright, alright, alright. Ask yourself these questions:
Have you ever been invited to appear on The David Letterman Show?
Are you a NYT best-selling author?
Do you have an IMDB page which requires more than 3 sheets of paper to print? (Fact: Matthew McConaughey’s takes 7)
Would any of your friends classify you as any type of celebrity?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above, I’m sorry but this post isn’t for you.
On the flip side, if you’re like me and your answer is an unapologetic “nope” then you’ve come to the right place.
Some Background about me: My name is Roman and I know nothing about marketing or newsletters. I am not an “expert” in anything. I don’t have a social media following.
Yet, a few weeks ago I decided to launch a newsletter – The Business Inquirer.
With the process I’m going to detail here for you, I was able to get 87 subscribers pre-launch and grow my email list to 161 subscribers in the 20 days post-launch.
In this post, I want to demonstrate how anyone can have a successful newsletter launch simply by using Facebook and Reddit to gain subscribers.
Let’s start with honesty.
“I just really want to be heard” – Miranda Lambert
I wanted to start a newsletter because I have something I want to say and share with the world. My goal is to share my ideas, get feedback, add value, and start a conversation.
What I absolutely don’t want is to spend hours writing a free newsletter that no one is reading and I have no hope of growing or monetizing.
Sound familiar? Ask yourself exactly what you’re looking to achieve with your newsletter and if you’ll be able to achieve it without subscribers.
A newsletter is not much different than a product launch. You can build and sell. Or you can sell, then build. I suggest the former is the ideal product launch strategy. You want to have subscribers before launching.
Here are a few of my personal reasons for wanting to have an audience before launching The Business Inquirer:
Validation – is my idea for a newsletter good? Does anyone care?
Feedback – how can I make my newsletter more attractive to readers?
Motivation – writing doesn’t come naturally to me. Having an audience gives me the fuel to power through and keep doing it.
Here’s how my subscriber count looks from pre-launch (Oct 26) to launch (Nov 2) to today (Nov 22):
I want to share with you the exact method I used for gaining 87 subscribers in 4 days pre-launch and continuing to grow the newsletter to 161 subscribers 20 days post-launch – only using Facebook Groups and Reddit.
Believe me, if I can do it, anyone can.
Step 1: Know Your Audience
This may sound obvious but I’ll write it just in case – you can’t start to think about growing your audience if you don’t know who your audience is and where they spend their time online.
Here’s how I thought about this for The Business Inquirer: The Business Inquirer is a free weekly email where I highlight interesting businesses for sale along with my own commentary. Here’s a spreadsheet I made outlining my assumptions of what my audience looks like:
This is a guide, not a rule. As I started growing my audience and having conversations, I added additional points to my reader persona.
Pro Tip: Your audience is likely similar to you; so when you’re creating your user persona, think about what you would do.
Step 2: Find Your Audience
Now that you have a good outline of what your audience looks like, you can start thinking about where they spend their time online. It could be a combination of Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, TikTok, LinkedIn, Instagram, Slack, Pinterest, Facebook, etc.
I determined that my audience for The Business Inquirer mostly spends their time on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. My Twitter following leaves much to be desired at just 25 followers. This means that the chance of anyone on Twitter seeing my posts is practically zero, so Facebook and Reddit were my best distribution channels.
Reddit is a great community because anyone can post and you don’t necessarily need to have an existing following to get engagement. It also has a relatively robust “Search” function where you can narrow down the sub-reddits where your audience may hang out.
For The Business Inquirer, the most obvious reader is simply an entrepreneur. Below is a screenshot of the most relevant communities which come up for the search term “Entrepreneur” on Reddit:
Tip: Sort by “Hot” and Communities from “Past Month” to get the most relevant and impactful communities.
Join the communities that seem the most relevant to your audience. The ones most relevant for me were:
Remember: no need to go overboard here. Quality > quantity.
Facebook is similar to Reddit in that you don’t need to have a large following to get exposure. On the flip side, the difficulty with Facebook is that it has significantly more users and groups combined with a less robust search function.
My suggestion would be to combine Facebook search with a simple Google search. I searched for “best Facebook groups for entrepreneurs” and got some good results:
As with Reddit, you don’t need to go overboard and join every single group you can find. Pick 4 or 5 groups to join and be more engaged with.
Step 3: Engage Your Audience
You can’t grow your subscriber list without first engaging with your audience. This is the most critical step in this entire process, so you’ll want to do it right. Let me walk you through what that looks like for me:
In order to successfully engage with my audience, I needed good copy to ensure that my audience is picking up what I’m putting down – so to speak. To make this easier, I went back to review my original goals:
Have subscribers before I launch
Have my subscribers tell me what they want to see in my newsletter so that I add the most value to them
The obvious way to do this is to ask my audience directly by having them fill out a short questionnaire.
Google Forms is free to use and is the easiest way to collect responses. Below is the preamble to the form I created:
Questions I asked on my form:
How often would you be interested in seeing the newsletter in your inbox?
Would you rather see a few for-sale-businesses highlighted with less analysis or one for-sale business highlighted but with more analysis?
What type of business would be most interesting for you to see?
Any other suggestions for the newsletter?
Now, I needed to engage and share this form with my audience to collect responses. In order to get the most from your audience, you must have the following:
Keep it short and simple
Strong call to action
Here is an example of my post in one of the Facebook Groups I joined:
The good news is that you don’t need to re-write the post each time. Most of the time you can simply copy and paste the same text for Facebook and Reddit. The example above is illustrative of the general response that I would receive from each post. About 10-20 comments, some likes/upvotes, and some sign-ups on my Google Form.
At the same time, don’t be discouraged if you don’t get the engagement you’re looking for. Below is a post I made in a Reddit group which received some upvotes but no comments. I don’t think anyone actually signed up from this post:
Tip: Don’t spam. No more than one post per day in each group.
Gained 87 newsletter subscribers pre-launch in less than 5 days.
87 responses to my questions that helped me narrow the scope of my newsletter
Engaged audience that is looking forward to seeing my newsletter in their inbox
Fuel & a massive “Hell yeah!” that 87 strangers actually want to hear what I have to say
Step 4: Post-Launch Growth
Now that you’ve launched your newsletter and the first issue is landing in subscribers’ inbox, you need to continue to grow your list. The key to post-launch growth is momentum and the way you get there is by continuing to promote your newsletter.
Let me show you how I was able to continue to grow my newsletter from 87 initial subscribers to 161 subscribers 20 days later.
The first issue of The Business Inquirer went out to my 87 subscribers on 11/2/2020. Immediately I started sharing one or two articles on Facebook and Reddit after each post:
Between the first issue and second issue, subscriber count grew +9%. Between the second issue and third issue, subscriber count grew +34%. Between the third and fourth issue it grew +25%.
As each new issue comes out, I promote it by pasting a section of the newsletter to the relevant groups. By doing so, I am simultaneously building rapport with the members of the group, adding value by sharing direct content that I worked hard to create, and spreading the word about my newsletter so that if they like what I’m saying and want to hear more, they know what to do.
This isn’t a perfect system, but beyond subscribers, you’ll also get valuable feedback. Here’s one that I thought was pretty educational and gives me a better pulse on what members of these groups are interested in learning more about:
The Results: 161 subscribers in 20 days! A really solid start with momentum to keep on growing.
There you have it! I’ve outlined the exact 4-step process I used to gain pre-launch subscribers using nothing but Facebook, Reddit, and a Google form.
Anyone can start and grow a newsletter in a few simple steps.
Know Your Audience – create an audience person including their likes
Find Your Audience – where do they spend time online?
Engage With Your Audience – be authentic, demonstrate value, and ask for their email
Grow Post Launch – continue to add value to your audience
So what’s next for me? Simple – I’m going to comb through the Grow Getters archives and shamlessly steal all of their newsletter growth hacks. I probably won’t say thank you and I definitely will pretend that it was all my idea.
Oh, and if you do like exploring online businesses, seeing what’s for sale, & business ideation – check out my newsletter, The Business Inquirer.
Thanks for tuning in this week, y’all! Liked Roman’s guest post? Comment and let us know. Want to contribute your own? You know where to find us.
And as always - keep growing!
Codie, Ilona, & Olman