Advice is cheap, so I'm giving you some reflections instead
Twitter is a social media build around journalism and fast news. The fit between Twitter and journalism content is unquestioned and valid. It would be interesting to see if a newsletter about marketing has the same (or similar) growing rate thanks LinkedIn. Not sure it will be the same even if the content and the social media "fit" in a similar way.
Your comment about social media algorithms reads true. These days, we can't get away from them, and I know that being active on social media has been an important part of my newsletter growth. But newsletters do allow you to circumvent the algorithms and it's a far more direct way of communicating with subscribers.
As a newbie to this platform (and celebrating my 48th subscriber! Yay!) I am grateful for this post and all that you share.
I always look forward to your newsletter and always read it, which says a lot because I have two small kids and try to be discerning with my time. Congrats on so much success! You put out a great product and you deserve it.
>>"One of the reasons I feel uncomfortable telling people how to grow a newsletter is because I don’t know how I grew mine. I don’t know how to say this without it sounding like a humblebrag, but I don’t know why 15,000 signed up for my newsletter. I don’t know why people read it or why it continues to grow."<<
And this is exactly why your advice is so good and why 15,000 of us read it. I'd say it's about honesty. And the power of someone working at a really high level saying "I don't have all the answers here". Which is so, so rare, I think?
It's seen as far more desirable and "good for business" to be the godlike person hurling authoritative truthbombs down from far above. But that stuff is stressful to read, and tiresome, and never feels relevant or identifiable. I like reading the folk with the integrity to say (a) "I don't know" and (b) "whoops, I was wrong there, let me explain how..." So I think that's a big part of writing a good newsletter. Any time I see (a) and (b), I'm in. They can be trusted.
On your point on not needing a big Twitter audience: absolutely yes, and that's such a great side to using it. You can have a small following, but it doesn't matter when you write something that gets shared by people with big followings - if they spot it, of course, but after that, bingo. It's pretty meritocratic. For anyone on the fence: next time you see a viral tweet, check out how many followers the person has. A lot of the time, it's just a few hundred, or a couple of thousand. Your tweet can gather a life to itself you never guessed it could have. And with the right idea plus a bit of luck, it can be made to happen. (OK, maybe a lot of luck.)
(Since mid-2021, I've been doing Twitter threads to promote my newsletters, and in November one of them went crazy-viral and ended up sending me 700 new newsletter subscribers. It may never happen again! But knowing it *can* happen is such a shot in the arm to me...)
Wonderful post, thank you for sharing so honestly 💕
What a great feature–you've done an incredible job building the newsletter that you have!
I noticed your comment about analytics and tracking where readers are coming from/who has shared your newsletter. It might be worth connecting the Substack to Google Analytics, Search Console, and Ahref.
Analytics and Search Console will help you find out more about the demographics of your audience, keywords the newsletter may be ranking for/where you may be ranking, and perhaps offer ideas on what you might want to write about in future content based on audience interests.
Ahref will help you to track any backlinks to your newsletter, which will help you to know if someone has shared it outside of social media.
Another way to keep track of what's been mentioned where could be through Google Alerts (https://www.google.com/alerts). You can ask to be notified when certain terms like your name or the Substack URL has been mentioned around the web.
Hope at least one of them is helpful for you!
I had to laugh because the first of your newsletters I read was the one about the nails (about 5 minutes ago) and I LOVED it, but couldn't even think of what to comment so simply liked it, and continued to read more of your newsletters :) I love your writing style, it feels like a funny chat with a girlfriend.
Just found your newsletter Anna and I really appreciate the refreshing honesty and realness. I just launched mine, after running online businesses and never really documenting my journey, felt it's time to start (as much to make sense of the crazy journey I've been on as sharing advice/knowledge for others)! Thanks for the inspiration!