When people respond to my emails, their most common question is probably some form of question around their upcoming Amazon interview. “How do I not botch this interview?!” However, the most common follow-up question is something like “Why did you start this, and how is it going?” The first half of that question I answered awhile ago.
I thought I'd talk about the second half of that question.
I posted my first article on my newsletter on May 10th, 2021. It was close to six months ago. On that day, I can see that I had six email subscribers, and zero paid subscribers. I wonder who my first six subscribers were. I imagine a couple test email accounts, and perhaps a few family members.
Almost six months later, I have approximately 9k people reading my newsletter weekly. I write one article every week for free email subscribers. I also have a few hundred paid supporters, who additionally gain access to my one paid-only article a week. Huge thanks to all of you who support this newsletter!
I didn't expect the newsletter to grow this rapidly. Newsletters are a long-term commitment. It may take someone repeat exposure on social media to a newsletter before they subscribe. Building enough trust for a reader to become a paid subscriber can take even more time.
I know that this is a bit off-topic from my usual newsletter, but I thought it would be worthwhile to share what I have learned along the way. I love learning. Perhaps you do too!
I had a head start
A number of years ago, I wrote an extremely popular article about the Amazon leadership principles. I published it on both Medium and LinkedIn. The article continued to receive significant traffic for years.
This gave me a boost in three specific ways I've identified.
I'll talk about the value of having a start here later. But simply having one viral article gave me a continual stream of followers on LinkedIn.
Not to be discounted. A number of people messaged me to say that they subscribed to my newsletter because I was the “Amazon leadership principles article guy.” While I had credibility within Amazon, that single article handed me public credibility, which helped get the newsletter off the ground.
Google Search Ranking
After existing for a period of time, my article became ranked high on some important Amazon interviewing search terms. I was within the first 4-5 results on some pretty nice keywords.
When I started this newsletter, I carefully posted a copy of that leadership principles article on my site. I updated it in a few ways, and then did everything I could to redirect existing traffic from LinkedIn and Medium to the copy of the article on my site. Not very long later, my relatively new website took over my high ranking on some important Google Search terms.
Google vs LinkedIn traffic quality
The majority of my free subscribers have come from Google search ranking highly. It gives me a consistent number of new subscribers every single day. When I say consistent, I mean creepily consistent. When graphed, it looks like a straight line. The daily new subscriber variation is usually around 5%, and never more than 10%.
As a side note, this is both demotivating and exciting. I'll post something awesome on LinkedIn, it'll go viral, and I won't notice a single blip on my new subscribers straight line graph. Nothing. Bah. This is also exciting because it's a decent growth rate. I'll have a huge mailing list in couple years if nothing changes.
My LinkedIn traffic on the other hand is highly variable, but makes no visible difference on my free subscriber count. I can double or triple my LinkedIn traffic when I post something popular, and I won't see anything in the free count. I suspect some of that is because many of my LinkedIn followers already subscribe to the newsletter.