How to build a newsletter to promote your product

How to build a newsletter to promote your product

If your goal is to:
  • create your brand awareness
  • build a community around your product
  • increase your customer’s loyalty
  • prompt a purchase decision
  • improve your retention rate
  • generate demand
Then building a newsletter can help you do it.
The upsides of building your own newsletter: — You don’t even need a product to start building a newsletter, you can do it years in advance — You don’t need a professional team of content creators to build and distribute a newsletter — available tools allow you to do it hustle-free — It’s not a free marketing activity but definitely low-cost — Newsletter can be monetized outside of your core business (you can sell ads, affiliate links and features in the newsletter if you manage to grow a substantial audience) — There are thousands of newsletters on every topic. But the good news is there’s always a room for another one. — Capturing customer’s emails are much easier with newsletters, also you can freely promote your newsletter on social media, as long as it is free. If it delivers a valuable content even Reddit will probably turn a blind eye on newsletter promotion — unlike product promotion.
There are very few downsides of building your own newsletter: — It is time-consuming. When you’re just starting you’d probably spend up to 2 full work days on crafting your first issues. — As well as your product audience, your newsletter’s audience needs to be “grown”. You can’t expect just start shipping issue after issue and wait for subscribers to show up. Additional efforts needed to get new subscribers to your newsletter. — Though it’s not an expensive marketing activity, it’s not free either

Tools to build and distribute a newsletter:

Tools to build and distribute newsletters
A one-stop platform that allows 1) to create: — a newsletter landing page, — an email capture form 2) newsletter issues 3) send out broadcasts and email sequences (useful if you want to build an “email course” with dripping email sequences, for instance)
Free plan allows to send newsletters to up to 300 subscribers Paid for plans start fro $9/m
Nocode,Templates,Sell digital products
It makes sense to use this platform if you’re planning to charge subscribers for access to your content now or in future. Allows to create email capture forms, simple blog-like pages and generates unique links you can share
Publishing is free but you’ll have to pay 10% fee if you want to charge subscribers
Nocode,Templates,Accept payments
It makes sense to use this platform if you want to get paid for creating content. Medium allows writers to join their Partner’s program and receive a fee for every read of their text. You can add a Subscription form to your every article on Medium and capture emails.
Get paid for the content
A one-stop platform that allows 1) to create: — a newsletter landing page, — an email capture form 2) newsletter issues 3) send out scheduled broadcasts
Starts from $9/m
A website builder that allows to create landing pages for newsletters and capture email addresses. Allows to send out scheduled newsletters as well
Starts from $9/m
Nocode,Templates,Accept payments
A one-stop platform that allows 1) to create: — a newsletter landing page, — an email capture form 2) newsletter issues 3) send out scheduled broadcasts
Free for up to 1000 subscribers paid plans start with $10
A platform created specifically for e-commerce, allows selling directly from the broadcasts Integrates with Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce, BigCommerce and other platforms
Starts from $19/m
Nocode,Code,Templates,Accept payments,Sell products
A service for growing newsletter audience (allows to create affiliate links for other people to advertise your newsletter and get paid for that) One-click integration with all above mentioned platforms
A service takes a small cut from your referral program every time you make a payout. Pricing will depend on how many referrals you will create.
A very basic in terms of UI newsletter builder that allows active Twitter users capture subscribers right from their profile.
Nocode,Fully integrated with Twitter

Types of newsletters

There are several types of newsletters that grow faster than others right now.

Content curation

Upsides: This newsletter type is pretty popular and it’s pretty easy to put together: you don’t need to spend a lot of time to create lists like 5 best tweets of the week, Industry news of the day, 10 things you missed on marketing this months, etc. Downsides: On the other hand, these newsletter are not so easy to grow. Why? People who are on Twitter and care about tweets of the week, don’t need your curation. People who are deep in the industry are already subscribed to 2–5 industry specific newsletters, they don’t need another one. It’s a hard sell usually because the market is saturated.
Successful examples:

Tear-downs and breakdowns

Upsides: This type of newsletter is pretty easy to grow. People are very interested in finding out how other got to their success to copy strategies that work.
Downsides: this type of content requires research, and it’s time consuming
Successful examples:
  • TILT — how big brands got their first 1000 customers
A page from Corey Turner Newsletter
A page from Corey Turner Newsletter

How-to advice with examples

For instance, take on SEO concept and describe how it is used in different use cases. Or take one small process in hiring (recruiting, screening, etc.) and explain how you did it for company X,Y,Z.
Upside: this type of content helps to build your personal reputation as a field expert. Big companies almost always use this type of content to become a “go-to resource” for existing and would-be customers.
Downside: This content is time consuming and requires good copywriting skills as many topics are too boring to be delivered in an entertaining manner that actually prompt readers to open an email.
Successful examples:
  • Font Discovery — weekly design newsletter sharing actionable tips around marketing, design, fonts for makers and entrepreneurs.
notion image

“Food For Thought”

Upside: great type of content if you’re planning on selling educational courses, write a book or sell info-products.
Downside: to grow an audience for this type of newsletter you have to niche down you offer considerably. Meaning, it can’t be just “food for thought” for everyone. It should be “Early spiritual philosophy for web-developers” or “Inspirational quotes for bookkeepers”.
Successful examples:

Build-in-public style

Basically a version of a blog where founders just share what they have achieved, how did they do it, share their mistakes and lessons learned.
Upside: easy to create as it is based on your personal experience. No need for additional research. Increases an awareness about your brand and sends beta-users your way. Perfect for early-stage startups and from ideation-to-MVP stage startups.
Downside: build in public requires a certain level of readiness for this framework, as well as great storytelling skills to make your content exciting and readable (you can learn all these in the BuildInPublic section).
Successful examples:
However, if you feel that all these types of newsletter content is not something that appeals to you, there are much more options. You can get access to our unique Content Creation Matrix that will allow you to create content in minutes, not hours and choose the type of newsletter that fits your goal and product better than anything else.

Learn from other founders

Hua Shu, Font Discovery

Hua Shu has launched her newsletter Font Discovery in 2020 and in several months she managed to grow the number of subscribers to over 1000. How did she do it?

Ideation stage

Asking community. Hua started building a newsletter while she was building her startup, Typogram. Hua and her co-founder, Wenting, are creating a tool that makes branding design easier for non-designers, like founders and makers. She figured it would be much easier to sell a product to an existing community of fans than to total strangers on the Internet. However, initially, she had no idea what her newsletter would be about. Therefore, Hua decided to ask one of the users of Typogram. The user mentioned that one thing that was difficult about design is what font to use and it would be great to learn more about them — this is something most non-designers are fascinated about but have no idea where to find out more information. That’s how FontDiscovery began.

Idea validation

Hua is a very active Reddit user, therefore she decided to use this platform to validate her fonts-related newsletter idea. She put together a simple subscription page using Substack and created an even simpler post on Reddit telling everyone interested that she’s about to start this newsletter and if anyone is interested please subscribe. This brought Hua 20 first subscribers within 24 hours while she did not have a newsletter yet.

Content design

As a designer, Hua was very concerned about the content and its layout: she now knew what to write but she did not know how. Again, what helped — upfront asking the community “What exactly would you like to read about” and several customer interviews when she asked non-designer friends what did they use fonts for, how did they choose fonts and what information would be helpful for them to make better decisions. After collecting all the insights and analysing them Hua came up with the content structure that she believed was the most helpful.

Actionable advice to build and grow a newsletter from Hua:

  1. Before jumping into writing stories ask your followers on Twitter, Reddit, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. what do they want to read about (if this audience matches your customer profile).
  1. Create content templates in Google Drive, Notion, Figma or using email delivery platforms to stay consistent with the information you provide.
  1. Be consistent with your timing. If you decided to commit yourself to a weekly newsletter, you’ll have to do it weekly
  1. Use social media to showcase what you’re going to write about. Reddit is great for this because you can get access to more audience than the number of your followers. The downside of Reddit is that you have to choose very subreddits very carefully and read the rules before posting anything.
  1. Use intelligence tools like this one or this one that will show you subreddits that have similar audience that the ones you have been posting in (also you can use GummySearch for that — au).
  1. Create a schedule and set a set time for you to write a newsletter and stick to it. Block out time for you to research and write drafts of contents. Create an editorial calendar for your content, distribution, and social shares. For example, you can post an announcement of your upcoming content two days in advance, post a quick summary of content the day you sent your newsletter, and post a day afterwords with some juicy sneak peaks. Make yourself accountable - either find a buddy or via social media.
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How-tos: Here’s the best tested framework to create and and grow a newsletter: 1. Find out what your would-be customers want to read about. You can ask them if you have access to your audience on social media. Alternatively, you can run a set of customer interviews using services like . In this context a short survey will also work. 2. Build a content creation system using our Content Creation Matrix or through analysing what other creators do. Make sure you will be able to stick to it in every issue. 3. Create a broadcasting schedule: weekly, monthly, once a quarter. Be consistent with it. 4. Build a simple landing page and announce your newsletter first issue on social media — any platform you feel comfortable on or where you can get maximum reach. Consider Reddit as your platform of choice if you have very few followers on other platforms. If you go with Reddit, be very specific about subreddits — don’t post in big ones (like r/startups), choose niche and promotion-friendly. 5. Create a promo posts schedule and stick to it consistently — post on social media several days before the broadcast (announcement or ask what this issue should be about), on the broadcast day (disclose full structure and some details), on the next day after the broadcast (prove a sneak peek onto the best parts of your content). 6. Use a referral program on SparkLoop to grow your newsletter

Like what you’ve read so far in your founder guides? We’ve got more to come

Upcoming guides...

  • Content marketing distribution machine: a full guide for founders
  • Founder guides: create an affiliate program
  • A founder guide to programmatic SEO
Co-founders & Hiring
  • Founder guides on hiring your first employee
  • Outsource effectively
  • How to split up equity
  • Finding a co-founder
  • How to find relevant beta users
  • Prioritize features effectively
  • How to price your product
  • Building a roadmap
Have an idea for the next Wizen Guide or interested in contributing in the next founder guides? Give us a shout at [email protected], we’d love to hear from you.


Meet the team 👋

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Ana Bibikova - @NotechAna
Ana is an Author, Marketing Strategist and a Mentor in the Founder Institute. Ana has 18y of experience in building businesses, growing them to $4M annual revenue.
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Anthony Castrio - @AnthonyCastrio
Anthony is a Software Engineer, Fractional CTO, and the founder of Indie Worldwide, a virtual incubator and social club for bootstrapped founders.