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I Started A Substack Newsletter — 5 Months Later

  • 8 min read

Inspiration to start a healthy and growing newsletter in 2023.

Whether you have your own online writing business or you're hot on the heels of starting one, a newsletter helps you to grow your audience and email list.

At the end of October 2022, I embarked on my Substack journey.

I started hearing more about the platform via YouTube, marketing outlets, and the newsletters I read.

So I thought it’d be great to give it a try to connect with my audience on a deeper level and really add value to their lives.

I started with zero subscribers and had no idea how the whole substack game worked.

Since I’ve committed to prioritizing my email list, I’ve written 23 newsletter issues and transformed my newsletter from zero into a healthy and growing email list.

Read on and learn…

  • how I attracted readers
  • what my stats look like
  • get more comfortable with writing on Substack
  • what my plans for 2023 are
  • how I can help you grow

Here’s how it’s been going, 5months into my Substack journey.


Starting on Substack — 5 months later

It all started in autumn 2022. I was reading and hearing a lot about Substack and wanted to give it a try.

Substack is free to start and helps you to write emails with ease.

So, I decided to start my Substack newsletter called “Kristina’s Newsletter”.

This is how it went…

Free subscriptions

It was pretty easy and fast to get set up on Substack.

My newsletter is just called “Kristina’s Newsletter” in the category #Education and #Business.

I just offer free subscriptions — no paid subscriptions yet.

My free subscribers get one newsletter per week — no fluff and all action.

Free valuable content

I write about these topics:

  • Kickstarting an online business
  • Monetizing your content
  • Earning money part-time with multiple income streams
  • Smart content creation
  • Improving your writing

My goal with the Substack newsletter is to provide value and help others grow.

I want my newsletter to hit my subscribers’ inboxes and have them be excited to click to open and read it.

It’s not a salesy newsletter with the purpose of selling my products and services.

It consists of a story plus…

  • links to my 2 best-performing stories of the week
  • links to my new YouTube tutorials and TikTok shorts
  • links to my freebies in my Gumroad shop

From zero to 1,000+ subscribers

I started with zero followers.

Then it blossomed to where it’s at now.

Here’s how many subscribers I have to date…

Kristina God Substack

But let’s be real.

It isn’t the number of subscribers that matters, it’s what they represent!

Each and every person who joins your email list is a human being.

Every single human being has a unique personality, dreams, and problems.

When they join your newsletter, they believe that you might be able to help them!

That’s a wonderful feeling! Much better than people becoming your followers.

My list building game plan

I hear you!

You may wonder:

“Kristina, that’s awesome, but how did you make so many people trust and join your newsletter?”

I’ll be honest. When I started writing emails with Substack I didn’t really know what I was doing because I hadn’t figured out the whole Substack universe.

Weekly newsletter issue

My plan was to write consistently and share one newsletter issue per week.

Did I make it?

Well, as a busy working mom with a toddler who is almost every week sick, it’s not easy for me to keep the newsletter hula hoop spinning.

However, I somehow managed to pump out 23 newsletter issues.

I started to send my newsletter on Tuesday… but often life got its hands on me and I had to send it on Thursday or even on the weekend.

Most (Medium) writers send their newsletter on Friday, I wanted to do it differently.

Promotion of my Substack

To push people to join my Substack newsletter, I mention it with a link in the bottom of some relevant Medium stories.

Additionally, I put a link to my Substack in my short bio and About on my profile page.

I also share my weekly newsletter issue via Twitter.

Plus, I link from my YouTube channel to my newsletter.

Content strategy

My content strategy is pretty simple.

I provide fluff-free tips and tricks for action-takers.

Kristina God Substack

The look and feel of my homepage is clean and minimalistic.

I only have three tabs: Home, Archive, and About as recommended by default.

Engagement

To make people engage with my content, and give a heart, and comment, I have a call to action (CTA) at the bottom of every story.

In my latest newsletter issue about Medium’s new Book badge for authors, I asked:

“Have you written a book? Are you going to apply? Or are you thinking about starting your book project this year?”

plus, I say

🙏 Feel free to click the ❤️ button on this post so more people can discover it on Substack 😍 tell me what you think in the comments!

This is how my list building game plan went so far…

Open rates

My newsletter open rates are pretty good — ranging from 40% to 60% which is amazing!

Kristina God Substack

In comparison, in marketing, we say that a good email open rate is between 20–30%.

=>My Substack newsletter is way up above that, which blows my mind!

Plus, you have to keep in mind that on social media you have only 2–3% organic visibility!

=>My Substack newsletter is performing much better than most of my Medium stories.

Recommendations

I’m very thankful for all the wonderful people who helped me grow my Substack.

On Substack, it’s all about recommending others and help them grow.

Marx D. Jameson Steward Nicole Dake Jamie Northrup – Minimalist Hustler for instance helped me grow my Substack newsletter.

Starting next week, I will recommend several publications with a blurb on my homepage. Ciler Demiralp will get one of my 5 spots.

Kristina God Substack

In total, 28 publications recommended my newsletter and I got 81 subscribers.

Stats

As mentioned, I started with zero followers.

I didn’t import email subscribers from my other email lists. I grew my Substack newsletter organically.

That’s why my stats were at a very low level when I started.

The more faithful subscribers I got, the more visits my publication got.

Kristina God Substack

My last newsletter issue reached more than 800 views in one single day.

My list building game plan for 2023

I’ve grown my email list from zero to 1,000+ in 5 months.

My goal is to hit 3,000 before the end of the year!

This year in one word: COLLABORATION!

Sparkloop and Lettergrowth

I want to collaborate with other newsletter creators to grow mutually.

Jamie Northrup – Minimalist Hustler introduced me to Sparkloop where you can refer other newsletter creators.

Additionally, I met Paul from Lettergrowth. On Lettergrowth, I registered my newsletter and shared the number of subscribers, the content I’m writing about, and my target group.

Today, I already received an invite from another content creator with 700 subscribers who’d like to collaborate with me.

Cross-postings and mentions

As you might know, I love to mention the work of others.

On Substack, I mention the newsletters of others and cross-post stories that fit to my audience.

To learn more about cross-posting and mentioning others (for instance Charisse Tyson asked me recently), I created a YouTube tutorial for you.

I’ll soon share more about my plans for 2023, so you can steal my list building game plan for 2023.

But first of all, it’s time to take ACTION, new writer!

How I can help you grow

Are you already on Substack or hot on the heels of starting your newsletter this year?

Let me help you.

Share your Substack newsletter link in the comments. I’ll put you on my list and will recommend, mention, or even cross-post one newsletter issue that resonates with me.

Your turn!

Be a smart cookie and start your Substack newsletter in 2023.

The Substack team seems genuinely interested in making the platform better for writers and readers both.

They’re constantly adding features and iterating.

Substack’s business model kind of makes it ridiculous to pay for email marketing with ConvertKit, MailChimp, or Ghost.

Plus, Substack is a great extension of Medium!

You can republish your Medium stories on Medium or share news stories about things you like.

I know you can do it, and there’s no better time to start than right now.

Slow-grow is super cool and healthy.

Small email lists can make an impact too!

What do you think about Substack?


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