Ryan Sneddon learning from 205 newsletters in 2020

Posted on Apr 22, 2021

Here’s what he learned:

  1. Brevity is king. Still

  2. Read great newsletters and steal what you like

  3. Make realistic but big growth targets

  4. Proofread out loud. If you trip over it, rewrite it.

  5. Ask readers to share regularly. I send 3x a week and ask for shares every other week.

  6. Brand it. Make a 5 minute logo on @canva

  7. Opens are the goal, not subscribers

  8. Hot take: don’t resend to non-openers. I hate it when people do this to me so I don’t do it to my readers.

  9. Format matters, but not much. Great content first, great format second.

  10. Know who you’re writing for. It’s easier to find subs when you know who the audience is.

  11. Just start. You can switch everything later except the start date

  12. Clipping is a bad look. Gmail yoinks anything over 102kb

  13. Write like you talk

  14. Email addresses only. Getting names adds friction and friction = bad

  15. Use hemingwayapp . com

  16. Read the newsletter after you send. Reflection significantly increases improvement speed

  17. Survey the audience on relevant topics and share results

  18. Break up your writing with:

    • Bullets
    • Headings
    • Pictures/gifs
  19. Shorter sentences. Shorter paragraphs.

  20. Consistency is not optional. Make a holiday plan and announce it in advance. But unless it’s a real emergency (being tired doesn’t count), send a damn email

  21. You won’t always love what you write. Do your best and send it. See above

  22. No weird fonts

  23. Want custom coded HTML? Hire a freelancer for $150 on Upwork. Give them a super clear example or mockup to work from

  24. Writer’s block? Take a walk. Outside

  25. Simplify that landing page

  26. Find out where your audience is on social media and hang out there too. For me it’s Instagram. I get a huge ROI from the time I spend there. I’ll write a thread on how later

  27. Save all positive feedback for social proof on landing pages/advertising decks

  28. Clean your list. If they haven’t opened the last ten emails, they aren’t going to open the next one. Send a re-engagement email then cut the cord. It gets easier. Promise

  29. Always reply to readers. People remember being ignored (try me)

  30. Shorter subject lines (40 characters or less. Phones won’t show any more)

  31. Talk to your most loyal readers. Seriously, get on the phone and turn them into friends. I run a local newsletter and I’ve had beers and gone sailing with this reader

  32. Ask for stuff. You don’t get if you don’t ask

  33. Track everything (subject line/opens, clicks, unsub reasons, replies…) Knowledge is power

  34. Grade 6 reading level and down

  35. Get organized once you’re serious. Try @JanelSGM’s Newsletter OS

  36. Back up your list once a week. Especially if you’re critical of your ESP like me (Face throwing a kiss @Mailchimp)

  37. Write at least 15 subject lines per email. Pick the best one (or two/three for testing)

  38. Talk to other newsletter writers. Meet some here

  39. Sign your name on the newsletter. Be proud of what you create

  40. Get feedback. No $ = Google forms. Some $ = oneclickfeedback . com

  41. Write a welcome email. Set expectations, ask a question, ask to move to primary, link your best content. Here’s mine

  42. You can sell ads when you have less than 1k subs. Make sure people know they can sponsor.

  43. Watch what people click. Send more of that

  44. Giveaways produce crap subscribers 90% of the time. Make the prize relevant and clean the list after

  45. Referral programs require a critical mass to get going. They’re also expensive. Wait until you have at least 500 regular openers. Here’s how I built mine

  46. Archive your old issues. Here’s mine. I’ll write a thread explaining how I built it later

  47. Get in directories

  48. Subject line rules:

    • 40 character max
    • no dates
    • no newsletter name
    • no edition numbers
    • 40 characters!
  49. Unsubs happen. It’s not personal. Think about how many emails you get each day…

  50. Use @SwapstackHQ to meet advertisers. It’s an awesome community

  51. Send an email to people 1-2 emails after they join and ask what they think. People will answer this more than a welcome email

  52. Tweet out your milestones (preferably opens, not subs)

  53. Don’t compare yourself to other newsletters. They’re not you. This is the fastest way to quit a newsletter

  54. Compress your newsletter into a bite-sized thread and include a sign up link to get subs from twitter. Love him or hate him, @JoePompliano is a master of this

  55. Don’t be afraid of paid subscriber acquisition. But know how you’re going to make the money back

  56. Deliver 95% of the value in the newsletter