- First Class Founders ✈️
- ✈️ Road to 10K Newsletter Subscribers Blueprint
✈️ Road to 10K Newsletter Subscribers Blueprint
Inside: 5 Growth Levers to Boost Your Newsletter
Welcome to First Class Founders, your favorite destination to learn the best growth tactics for founders & creators one week at a time.
Here's what we've got for you on today's flight:
💲 Paid Advertising
🎛 5 Levers of Growth
🔁 Growth Funnel → Loop
🧭 Road to 10K Newsletter Subs
📝 Recommendations vs. Cross Promos
Get ready — we're taking off!
✈️ Flight Itinerary
Today is all about newsletters. More specifically, it's about newsletter growth.
PLEASE do me a favor (for your own sake).
Listen to today's podcast episode along with our Growth Snack of the Week listed below in today's newsletter.
They go hand-in-hand. And if you do consume both of these...
You'll be a newsletter growth expert by the end.
Or, at the very least, you'll be far ahead of other newsletter operators.
I promise. OK, ready?
Let's dive in...
In today's episode, you'll learn:
How to Bring Over an Existing Audience (3:14)
How to Tease Out Your Content Regularly (4:59)
Using Lead Magnets (9:27)
Use Referrals to Boost Subscribers (10:11)
How to Set Up a Proper Referral Program (10:48)
How to Grow with Other People's Audiences (12:52)
Paid Advertising (13:22)
Cross Promotions (14:10)
What to Look For in Cross Promo Partners (19:14)
Use Single Opt-In (19:58)
Ask Me Anything (21:53)
🥨 Growth Snack of the Week:
In-flight service time! Here, I share bite-sized growth snacks (read: hacks) building my audience for First Class Founders.
Snacks are meant to be tried and shared. If you do try them, please tag me on Twitter and let me know what you think!
Road to 10K Newsletter Subscribers Blueprint:
I've identified 5 main growth levers to grow an audience, a product, a membership, anything.
5 Growth Levers:
I'll do a deep dive on these 5 Growth Levers in a future post.
For today, we'll apply this model to my blueprint for reaching 10K newsletter subscribers. I'll explain how I am currently using and plan on using each growth lever into my grand plan of reaching 10K subscribers.
Let's get started...
Before we begin, I find it helpful to internalize where we'll be at the end, almost like a map.
Here is what the final blueprint looks like:
I will dive into each one, explaining in detail how each piece fits in.
Performance Marketing is a fancy term for paid advertising.
Right now, I'm running "Follower" campaigns on Twitter to get more followers. Gasp.
You're buying followers?!
Oh stop it. I'm tired of hearing this negativity against Performance Marketing. It's a tool, just like anything else. Sure, don't rely on it 100%. But don't hate on it either. As long as your campaigns are targeted for who you're trying to reach, you're fine.
In fact, I have insider knowledge that Elon is incentivizing big brands right now to use their ad platform. He's matching their spend up to $250k per quarter. That means, if you're a brand, you can spend $250k this quarter, and Twitter will match your $250k, for a total of $500k ad spend. Kind of like a 401k company match, but for Twitter ads.
This is insane. If you read between the lines, Twitter is desperate for advertisers. What does this mean for you?
Low cost of acquisition.
But, Yong-Soo, isn't your engagement going to suffer?
I haven't seen my engagement going down much, if at all. Like I said, target the right people, and you'll be fine. Remember, these are real people. You're not buying fake followers or bots, which you DEFINITELY shouldn't do.
By the way, if you're serious about learning how I run Twitter ads, I can introduce you to the best Twitter Ad agency I know. Just hit reply and let me know. Serious inquiries only please!
Let's get back to our funnel.
So I use Twitter ads to gain new followers:
Now, before we move onto the next piece of the puzzle, I do use an auto-DM strategy to convert some of these new followers into newsletter subscribers.
I outlined this strategy extensively last week, so go have a look if you missed it.
Just to give you an idea, I'm getting new followers for around $0.10. With my auto-DM campaign, I convert roughly 10% of new followers into newsletter subscribers. That's right, I'm getting newsletter subscribers for $1.
So I'm getting new followers AND growing my newsletter.
But, not all new followers will become subscribers. So how do we convince the rest of these new followers into subscribers?
Organic content, which is one of the growth levers I mentioned earlier.
Sadly, organic content reach is suffering on Twitter right now, so it's not the best growth lever at the moment. I've noticed this and others have noticed this also. But this doesn't mean you sit on the sidelines.
As content creators on Twitter, we still need to take our shots to improve.
So, the next piece to this blueprint is posting organic content. Your new followers will hopefully see your content, enjoy it, and subscribe to your newsletter.
I use Typefully to schedule all my Tweets, which auto-plugs in my newsletter automatically after reaching roughly 30-35 likes on a post. What does this look like?
You've probably seen this if you're already following me:
This gets added automatically to my Tweets later if my Tweets have high engagement. This will get new subscribers.
In the future, I plan to offer a lead magnet here to increase conversions... I'll be adding this soon!
One more thing thing. I find publishing a newsletter preview Tweet to be effective for drumming up curiosity.
RIP Twitter engagement.
Anyone else see their engagement go down?
Yet, I still get 50+ newsletter subscribers per day.
Last week, I experimented with auto-DMs.
If you don't do it right, you can come off as too sales-y.
For this to work, remember this one golden rule:
— Yong-Soo Chung ✈️ (@YongSooChung)
Mar 13, 2023
I still consider this part of my "organic content" strategy similar to the auto-plugs I mentioned above.
Let's add this into our blueprint:
Now, we're rolling. You should be getting a steady stream of subscribers each day.
Now, let's leverage this growth by utilizing another growth lever: Collaborations.
The reason why you need a steady stream of subscribers coming in before this step is that no one will want to partner up with you if your growth is slow.
Or if they do, they'll remove you as a recommendation eventually. The value exchange has to be similar. It's a partnership, after all.
Just to be clear, we're not talking about cross promotions inside the newsletter itself. Instead, we're talking about recommendations that pop up after a new subscriber joins a newsletter on the same network, like this, through Beehiiv:
The downside to swapping recommendations is that you can only do this within your own email network. ConvertKit has the SparkLoop network, Beehiiv has their recommendations, and Substack has their own network for recommendations.
But what if you want to partner up with a newsletter outside of your own email service provider?
That's where cross promotions come in, my friend.
What do cross promotions look like? Take a look at the '💺 Passenger of the Week' section below. This is a place I use to shout out other newsletters.
Unlike recommendation swaps, list size is important for cross promotions. Why?
Because your subs will come from the partnership newsletter's current list size, open rate, and clicks to your newsletter landing page, not through new subscribers.
Let's add Partnerships to our blueprint:
Our growth is snowballing now. Half of your subscribers are coming from you, but the other half are coming from your partnerships with other newsletters. Great.
Now, let's leverage your current subscribers to gain even more subscribers.
That's our next growth lever: Virality.
Virality, in the context of a newsletter, is referrals, or shares.
Your content should be so good that your subscribers will freely share it with their audience.
(Hopefully, you've found this newsletter to be valuable enough to share!) 😉
You want each of your subscribers to become an advocate of your newsletter. You can offer an enticing referral program to help boost your subscribers, even further.
What does a referral program look like?
Well, I just set one up for First Class Founders:
If you want additional tips on how to craft a great referral program, listen to today's podcast episode!
Let's add this to our blueprint:
Now, we get to everyone's favorite: Monetization.
This is technically not a growth lever on its own, but I added it to the blueprint because it serves an important purpose.
Once my newsletter reaches 5k-10k subscribers, I plan on getting sponsors.
But what am I going to do with the sponsorship money?
Should I go out and buy some fancy things for myself?
Nope, I'm going to put it right back into Performance Marketing. This creates a crazy growth flywheel.
If you're following, now we've created a growth loop. It looks like this:
Eventually, I do plan on hiring a Salesperson to handle direct sponsorships. This would be 'Direct Sales', rounding out all 5 growth levers. (It won't be anytime soon.)
The largest newsletters (Milk Road, Morning Brew, Hustle) are masters at this. It's a classic arbitrage play.
You bring in sponsors, use that money for Performance Marketing to get more subscribers, and the flywheel accelerates.
This is a later stage tactic that can boost your newsletter growth.
That's it - my blueprint for newsletter growth. The road to 10k newsletter subscribers!
Again, I highly recommend you listen to my latest podcast episode on newsletter growth!
This week's Growth Snack was more like a Growth Meal. I still encourage you to try this out yourself and let me know on Twitter what you think! (And don't forget to share this snack with your friends!)
Hope you enjoyed this week's Growth Snack! 😋
🎛 Metrics Dashboard
I'm building First Class Founders in public. So each week, I share my numbers exclusively through subscribers of this newsletter only. Enjoy!
90-Day Downloads: 14,936 (+802)
30-Day Downloads: 2,055 (-59)
7-Day Downloads: 452 (-21)
👍🏻 Recommendation: Thinking of starting a podcast? I recommend Buzzsprout.
Subscribers: 1,201 (+196)
Open Rate: 41.2%
Click Rate: 8%
👍🏻 Recommendation: Interested in starting a newsletter? I love using Beehiiv.
💺 Passenger of the Week
Marcin and I hit it off and even had a 1:1 video chat to share our experiences as founders.
He writes an excellent newsletter called The Gentle Nudge where he shares his journey building an e-commerce business in public. But he's no first-time entrepreneur. He sold an agency business for 8-figures. Follow along Marcin's journey!
Here's the pitch:
"The #1 newsletter for first-time entrepreneurs."
You can sign up here.
💬 Final Word
Hope you enjoyed this week's newsletter!
I pour my heart and soul into creating content like this each week.
If you enjoyed it, please help us spread the word by sharing!
You can find your unique referral code below. 😁
See you next week!
Yong-Soo Chung — Serial Entrepreneur, Podcaster
P.S. How did you like today's newsletter?