6 Lessons about Consistency from Successful Creators

Why consistency matters

Newsletter Circle is the newsletter all about newsletters for indie creators.

👉 Every Sunday, you will read the unique journey of a different newsletter creator and learn more about how to start, grow and monetize your own newsletter.

Hey, all newsletter enthusiasts!

Welcome to the “Wednesday Issues” by Newsletter Circle.

In this very first edition, we’ll talk about a soft skill that has never lost its popularity among creators.

Let’s dive in!

Did you get bored to hear that “Consistency is key”?

I have some bad news if you run a newsletter, you’ll hear it even more!

I have interviewed 34 successful newsletter creators in Newsletter Circle so far and look what I’ve found:

Despite all the well-crafted strategies and growth levers they utilized, consistency appeared as by far the most essential ingredient of success. 

Moreover, when I ask these creators about the single piece of advice they would give to aspiring creators, many creators have a common answer again: consistency!

Creating the best content you can do on a consistent base is a must; we know that but what should we understand from it exactly?

Here are six lessons about how successful creators approach consistency.

Let’s dive in!

What is consistency in the newsletter business?

1. It is more than publishing regularly

To start with, it is a no-brainer that each newsletter needs to have a publishing frequency that is pre-defined and communicated to the readers.

However, being consistent is not only limited to having a regular publishing schedule.

Consistency also means putting consistent effort into improving the quality of your work.

To frame how it works:

  • Consistency starts with committing to publishing regularly.

  • A pre-defined publishing frequency disciplines you to stay consistent.

  • Communicating this frequency to your readers creates accountability.

  • The feeling of accountability helps you to remain consistent as well.

This is great. However, without putting a consistent effort to provide the highest value possible, understanding your audience and making iterations accordingly, your consistency will not help to make a difference with your newsletter.

Jeremy Caplan grew his newsletter Wonder Tools to over 31,000 subscribers in 3,5 years. As an experienced journalist teaching entrepreneurial and digital journalism, this continuous effort lies behind his success.

“I do show up every single week with the best work I can do for readers. I boil down weeks or months of experimentation and exploration into a five-minute weekly read.

People appreciate concise consumable newsletters that have actionable info. They share that type of resource with friends, colleagues and their own readers.

So the consistent effort I put into the newsletter has been a key part of its growth.”

Jeremy Caplan

Read the full interview with Jeremy Caplan about how he built Wonder Tools

2. Consistency is a long-term play

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you skip a few days or miss a few issues since you’re under the weather or having a personal issue.

Newsletter business is a marathon, not a sprint. Check out the comments in the tweet below and leave yours!

Why it matters that much for newsletter success

3. Consistency helps you build a passion

There is a tiny group of people who are aware of what they are passionate about.

However, this is not the case for most of us.

Honestly, the pressure of finding your passion is too much and doesn’t sound correct.

It will not be apparent to us with a magical eureka moment.

Pioneering psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth, known for her theory of "grit" as a predictor of success, has a mind-opening perspective about how we should approach passion:

“A passion is developed more than it is discovered.

In other words, it takes time and experience and encouragement to be able to say, one day, “I have a calling.”

If you don’t know what to write about and if this is holding you back from starting your newsletter, take her advice; just start and keep going with patience and consistency.

The more you write, the more you find what excites you.

Once you start to create content about what you’re excited about, you’ll find more power to maintain your consistency.

The more you make it consistently, the more you explore and improve your creation.

Do you see the cycle here?

In the end, what started as an interest area will potentially turn into a passion and you’ll enjoy doing something fulfilling.

“My advice to young people is to get started right now. As Goethe is often credited with saying: “Whatever it is you can do, or dream you can do, do it! Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!”

So if you think you might want to be a chef someday, go around the backdoor to a restaurant you really like and ask, as star chef Marc Vetri once did, if you can peel vegetables or wash dishes for free. If you want to be a doctor, go volunteer at the local hospital.

And have patience. As long as you’re moving in the right direction, you’re on your way.”

Dylan Redekop, the founder of Growth Currency, shared information about online businesses while curating links and resources when he first started his newsletter.

After a year of doing this, he narrowed down his focus to help newsletter creators during their creator journey. He chose a broad interest area for himself and started exploring what he was interested in. Eventually, he became a respected name in the newsletter space.

Read the full interview with Dylan Redekop about how he built Growth Currency

4. Consistency creates respect

Arvid Kahl sent the first issue of his newsletter to 23 subscribers in 2019. 

When I interviewed him in Jan’23, he had 7,600 subscribers. 

Today, he has over 20K subscribers.

Putting an effort into a work consistently will make you to be taken seriously by other people. This is what keeps attracting people.

Arvid Kahl mentions that the feeling of “Who am I to talk about this?” is a constant companion on his creator journey. Overcoming the imposter syndrome is a real challenge and if you don’t give up despite these questions, this will be noticed.

“I am at issue #183 of my newsletter/podcast/video content.

It’s a lot of work, and people understand that someone who does things for 200 weeks in a row is serious about stuff.

Start and keep going.

The number will tick up, and you will leave unmistakable traces of your ambition. People will notice eventually.”

Arvid Kahl

Read the full interview with Arvid Kahl about how he built The Bootstrapped Founder

5. Consistency brings the compound effect

The power of doing something again, again, again and again and not giving up despite the failures. What should we call a superpower if this is not?

And once you insist on keep doing what you do, noticed and respected by others, there will be a point when you’ll achieve exponential growth.

Andrew Petcash grew his newsletter Profluence Sports to over 29,000 subscribers in two years.

Consistency is the biggest challenge and critical contributor to his success formula at the same time.

He embraces it and grows with it.

“I’m a firm believer in the compound effect (everything grows slowly and then fast all at once, with exponential growth), so the newsletter tests my discipline every day and also my focus and also my ability to try and predict where the space is going."

The most challenging part for me is staying consistent.

Sometimes you’re traveling, tired, and only have half an article complete…but you need to grind it out and get something quality out the next day.

I handle it by knowing if I let one article slip, more could follow. The compound effect works in both directions.

Andrew Petcash

My belief is that a plan + consistency + thoughtful content = followers over time.

Andrew Petcash

Read the full interview with Andrew Petcash about how he built Profluence Sports

6. Consistency makes you improve your work

CJ Gustafson, the creator of Mostly Metrics, has written only for a few hundred subscribers during the first 1.5 years.

But he thought there was something wrong. After gathering some feedback, he realized that he was writing mainly for himself. Things changed after he decided to put his audience’s needs at the core and utilize a diverse set of clever tactics to distribute his content.

But, most importantly, he continued to show up and did what he loved doing every week, no matter what.

Today, he reaches over 35,000 subscribers.

“Consistency. Showing up every week is 80% of the battle. People make you a part of their information diet.

Writing good, or even great, stuff is important, but doing it over, and over, and over, and over, and over…and over again is the most important. Be relentless in content creation.”

CJ Gustafson

Read the full interview with CJ Gustafson about how he built Mostly Metrics

Creating content consistently is like building a muscle. It also helps you improve your writing skills and find your voice and format.

Jeff Matlow is an experienced leader writing a newsletter about leadership By Title Only. He is always open to experimenting and iterating his newsletter throughout his newsletter journey and has grown his list from 6K to over 11K subscribers since our interview five months ago.

The most significant AHA moment along his newsletter journey for Jeff Matlow:

“It took a couple of years but I’ve finally found my writing voice. Once I realized that, it became a huge A-HA moment and has led to how I position myself on my website, how I put together my social posts and how I’m writing the books that I’m writing.”

Jeff Matlow

Read the full interview with Jeff Matlow about how he built By Title Only

What seems easy while reading is difficult in real life. Many creators achieved newsletter success by maintaining their consistency for years.

Then, a more exciting question comes:

How can we stay consistent?

This is the topic of next Wednesday.

BONUS

A different take: “Consistency might be overrated.”

Adam Schoenfeld posted his learnings about building his newsletter Peer Signal when he reached 5,000 subscribers. 

One of them is an unpopular thought about consistency:

“Consistency might be overrated.

At the beginning, I was vigilant about publishing weekly. Same day. Same time. Consistent format. This "best practice" is based on sound logic.

But then I didn't quite hit the same time because I was blow-drying my hair or something. Then I missed a week due to some family thing. And then world events caused me to publish on a Thursday instead of a Wednesday. I looked back at all the stats -- nothing changed after missing a week or shifting the time—same open rates, click rates, etc. Nobody seems to care except me. So, I took the pressure off for now. I decided that I'll just focus on quality and figure out consistency later. Maybe I'll need that to reach 50K, but it shouldn't stop the train.”

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you agree? Leave your comments!

P.S. Today, Peer Signal reaches over 18,000 subscribers.

Stay tuned for a fantastic interview on Sunday.

See you soon.

Ciler

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