Writing Tips: How I Got My First 100 Substack Email Subscriptions


Rishikesh launched a newsletter titled 10 + 1 Things on Substack in May 2021. The newsletter is growing stronger with an open rate of + 50% and an expected number of subscribers of 300+ by the end of 2021 (I extrapolated the subscriber data!). I started from scratch and didn’t spend any money on ads or promotions. All of the growth so far has been organic, thanks to some cross-promotion with other writers in the community. Here is what I learned by increasing my newsletter from 0 to 100 subscribers in 2 months.

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Profile picture of Rishikesh Hacker Noon

Rishikesh

Building something at the intersection of technology and art. I write about random stuff on my blog: rishikeshs.com

At the end of May 2021, I launched a newsletter called 10 + 1 Things on Substack. The main idea behind the newsletter was to funnel traffic to this blog and other projects I’m working on. I actually found the name 10 + 1 Things in 15 minutes and decided to start it on Substack because it was quick to start.

As of this writing, 10 + 1 Things has just crossed over 100 subscribers! From a fun little project, the newsletter became a separate project and became part of my routine. All this happened in the space of 2 months and the newsletter is getting stronger with an open rate of + 50% and an expected number of subscribers of over 300 by the end of 2021. (I extrapolated the subscriber data!). I started from scratch and didn’t spend any money on ads or promotions.

All of the growth so far has been organic, thanks to some cross-promotion with other writers in the community. Here is what I learned by increasing my newsletter from 0 to 100 subscribers in 2 months:

Just start!

I created the first logo using a random font from the Internet!

I have always had a hard time getting started. Being a person who cares a lot about design and aesthetics, I usually spend a lot of time tweaking things to launch the perfect product. When I started 10 + 1 Things, I decided I would start anyway, regardless of design or clarity.

If you check the initial few issues in the archive, you can see that the styling was different and not consistent. All I wanted was to start and write about 11 things every week. Things have changed a lot and now I have created a process to optimize the workflow. But I think the reason this newsletter has come so far is that I decided to start and forget about tweaking small things.

Impostor Syndrome

Impostor syndrome is an internal experience of believing that you are not as good as others think you are. I have always had problems with impostor syndrome and have always been afraid of not being well enough. This is one of the reasons that kept me from starting blogging or publishing a newsletter.

Even though I overcame it by publishing the first edition, I was reluctant to share it with the public. I was afraid I wasn’t good enough and would end up giving up on that by not being consistent.

It was only after I published my 2nd edition that I started sharing the newsletter with friends and with the public. A quote from Derek Siver in his book Anything you Want has helped me a lot in this matter and she says:

What is obvious to you is amazing to others.

Also, the book Show your work by Austin Kleon has helped me a lot to overcome this fear.

To anyone reading this, my advice would be to start and forget about the others.

Community affairs

When it comes to newsletters, the community matters a lot. I was fortunate to be well supported by my close friends which encouraged me to continue this journey. Plus, Substack has a great community of writers who come together every Thursday for writing hours, helping each other.

This feeling of community has benefited me a lot. In terms of numbers, I have done 3-4 cross promotions with other newsletter writers which has helped me grow the subscriber base. I also have a very close-knit group of newsletter creators who I often connect with for advice and support, and that has helped the growth of this newsletter a lot.

Develop a process

Since 10 + 1 Things is a newsletter that features curated content, it involves a lot of effort and time. Over time, I’ve created a process that helps me identify, collect, and sort through important snippets of information that I plan to present. Newsletter writing has become part of my routine and it inspires me to read and learn throughout the week.

Because of the routine, I am more concerned with consuming information and eliminating unwanted distractions. I’m on the verge of releasing the 12th edition and due to the processes and systems I’ve created I’ve reduced writing effort by at least 30% each week. If you want to know more about the process I am.

Are you a newsletter writer or would you like to start one? I would like to communicate with you and discuss further.

Also posted at https://rishikeshs.com/first-100-email-subscribers/.

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through Rishikesh @rishikesh. Building something at the intersection of technology and art. I write about random stuff on my blog: rishikeshs.comRead my stories

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