TLDL #001 - Paid Newsletters /w Yaroslaw Bagriy on Indie Hackers Podcast

In this episode of Indie Hackers, Courtland Allen and Yaroslaw Bagriy discuss the potential of Paid Newsletters.

TLDL #001 - Paid Newsletters /w Yaroslaw Bagriy on Indie Hackers Podcast

This week I listened to: Indie Hackers Podcast - #191 - Making a Living From the Paid Newsletter Ecosystem with Yaroslaw Bagriy of Newsletter Crew

Speakers: Yaro Bagriy and Courtland Allen

Paid Newsletters

Paid newsletters are exploding in popularity. A lot of writers are making a ton of revenue writing them.

Build tools for the newsletter space

Substack vs. Ghost

  • Both support having free/paid subscribers

  • Ghost is a standalone website so you get to own your distribution channel

  • Substack can promote your publication to other readers

  • Substack takes 10% of your revenue as fees, ghost 0% #pain-point

  • Ghost can be cloud-hosted or self-hosted

  • There's room to build a better platform than Substack #idea

    • They don't have a strong moat around them

Build a product in a "saturated" market

  • There's always room for innovation, even in a "saturated" market.
  • Go niche, super specific
    • Examples:
      • Newsletter product for tech companies to send emails to their employees #idea
      • Newsletter product for churches to send emails to their congregations #idea
    • Be strongly opinionated
      • If you think emails should be < 400 words or should be written in markdown only - make that a product #idea

Be first to a new trend

  • It pays to be the first to jump on new trends. There's often less tools, less resources, open ground.

  • Your chance to learn, teach others, and charge money. #idea

  • Yaro was looking for resources on paid newsletters and found none. So he decided to start up Newsletter Crew


  • Instead of charging an annual fee, try shortening the length of commitment. $20 a month rather than $240 a year.
    • Reduces sticker shock, more feedback from churn. Otherwise you have to wait a year to figure out what to change
  • Pricing as a forcing function to build better features
    • Always be thinking about increasing the price. If you think the product doesn't deliver enough value to justify the product, figure out what will
    • Aim to build out that feature set so you can increase the price.

Build in steps

  • Very easy to get overwhelmed with what I should do: should I build a community, should I build an audience, should I build this that
  • Take small steps over and time

Curation vs. Creation

  • Curation is underrated
  • As the size of the internet grows, it gets harder and harder to find the information you need with a reasonable time and effort
  • Curation solves that and in turn creates value that people will pay for
  • Example: The Browser - Finds the 1% of 1% blogs on the internet
  • Example: This webpage - Curating the knowledge on business podcasts

Curation workflow

  • Scope down to a niche topic rather than a generic one, e.g., Casual gardening for people living in the city vs Gardening.
  • Use RSS feeds to organize data that you can then filter each item in or out easily

Build a business you can grow with

  • If there is a subject you want to be an expert on, build a product that curates and delivers the highest quality information on that topic to others
  • By putting yourself in the middle of your customer and information, you are forcing yourself to learn more. Your growth = better product = more customers and increased revenue.
  • For example, if you had a newsletter for gardeners, the quality of the newsletter will get better as you learn more about the ways of gardening

How frequently should you send email newsletters?

  • Depends on the type of message you're delivering:

    • Actionable: Can be less frequent because tons of value to implement for the reader. They need time to let everything sink in. ~ every week or longer.

    • Entertainment value: Much more frequent to stay top of mind. ~ every day.

Iteration on newsletters

  • Very low risk

  • Once you send out a newsletter, you are back to a blank page

  • Great way to try out different newsletter formats, content types and see what works the best

  • Do a 12 newsletters in 12 months challenge #idea

Provide more value with Building in Public

  • Don't just share stats, share more the behind-the-scenes

  • Shaan Puri did an extreme version where he said I will take 3 businesses to 1 M and show you exactly the steps I will take every day

  • This gives out more value to your audience

There's a ton of good content on the Internet on starting businesses. Almost too much. I sift through and pull out the gems for you in a 5-minute read.

All credit goes to the original speakers.

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