8 Ways to Stay Consistent for Newsletter Creators

How successful creators do it

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.

👉 Every Wednesday, you will read articles and the list of curated resources to level up your newsletter business.

Hey, all newsletter enthusiasts!

Welcome to the “Wednesday Issues” by Newsletter Circle.

We all know consistency is one of the most critical ingredients of newsletter success.

Last week, I covered 6 Lessons about Consistency from Successful Creators. Read it first if you haven’t done yet.

Today, we’ll talk about how to stay consistent, again by looking at how successful creators did it.

Let’s dive in!

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How to succeed in consistency as a newsletter creator

Many well-known techniques may help you improve your ability to stay consistent. A few examples directly came to my mind:

All of the above can be helpful. Each journey is also highly personal when it comes to building a habit or improving a soft skill, so don’t hesitate to try.

But if you ask how successful creators do it, here are eight ways to help you stay consistent:

1. Set expectations

This is the starting point.

Don’t care the tweets flying around and dictating fast growth is the main success indicator.

You don’t have to be fast but you have to be consistent.

To be consistent:

  • You have to be resistant to distractors.

  • You have to be committed.

  • You have to be patient.

Most importantly, you need to be aware of the resources you need to put into it in terms of time, effort and money.

As all smart creators accept, building a newsletter business is simple but not easy.

Alex Brogan’s biggest advice to aspiring creators is about setting the right expectations from the beginning about this reality:

“If I told you that before committing to a newsletter, this is the price you must pay: At a minimum, a 6-month commitment of ~10-15 hours/week. 

Would you still do it? 

If not, don’t do it.

It’s critical to set the expectations of what this actually takes.

Doing so will give you the freedom to detach from the outcomes in the beginning.

“The number #1 reason why beginner newsletters fail is because they don’t fully understand the price they have to pay and commit to it.”

Alex Brogan

2. Choose an achievable consistency criteria

Deciding a publishing schedule is a helpful tool for being consistent.

However, choosing a frequency that you can stick to is more critical.

There are three points to be careful about while deciding on a frequency:

  1. Don’t overpromise either to yourself or to your readers.

    When you fail what you promise, this will harm both your self-confidence and your readers’ trust.

  2. Don’t compare yourself to others.

    Everyone has different priorities and experiences. This is your unique journey.

  3. Accelerate your pace when you feel like you can commit to it.

    Let small wins lead to bigger ones. No need to rush. 

To be more specific with an example, a daily newsletter is not for everyone.

There is nothing wrong with starting with a weekly or bi-weekly schedule.

Anthony Castrio has been running his newsletter Bot Eat Brain for one year and reaches over 20,000 subscribers every day. His biggest advice and warning about choosing the right frequency:

“Pick a cadence you can stick to and find a way to hold yourself accountable to that pace.

Understand why you’re writing this newsletter because that will vastly change your approach.

A daily newsletter business is very very different from an occasional personal newsletter or a weekly community update.”

Anthony Castrio

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t challenge yourself. If you believe you can run a daily newsletter, do it. But, referring to the first strategy, set your expectations of what it takes.

Danny Healey from Morning Blitz also runs a daily newsletter in the highly challenging sports industry and shows it’s not for everyone:

“Remember, the sports day ends at about midnight every day, and even later when big games are happening on the West Coast. So when the sports day ends, collect all the major headlines, scores, and news that fit the letter and spend from 7 p.m. to midnight crafting the letter.

Spelling and grammar edits happen later than that.

LA Lakers tip off at 10 pm ET and sometimes can’t finish the letter prior to 1am ET due to what’s needed from an epic LeBron performance. Then, it is automatically set up to send at 5:30 am ET every day.

Every day the newsletter has different info about how dynamic the sports calendar is! That’s why I am so proud of the team for not missing a letter in 4.5 years!”

Danny Healey

3. Use consistency as a tool to keep you motivated

A small twist in how you perceive consistency can create a huge difference. This is what Jamie Northrup does incredibly well.

While it was a challenge to create content on a daily basis, Jamie turned it into a routine and fun way to keep himself motivated.

He intentionally prefers not to stock content but starts the day with his routine:

“Writing my newsletter with my Tim Horton’s Iced Capp is one of the best parts of my morning routine. I typically write the following day’s newsletter each day except when something happens, then I’ll write it the same morning as it goes out.

I could schedule multiple but I rather do it each day, it helps me see where I’m at, what’s going on, and keeps me motivated.”

Jamie Northrup

As famous author Anaïs Nin said “We do not see things as they are...we see them as WE are."

It is up to you to turn the challenge of staying consistent into an opportunity and unleash our potential.

4. Build systems

Building systems is the only way to build repeatable processes that lead to scalable business. Consistency will not be an issue if you have well-defined systems working on auto-pilot.

Eric Lam from Exploding Ideas is a master when it comes to this.

I asked him about the biggest challenge of running his newsletter and here is his mind-opening approach with a solid example:

“This might be an annoying answer and somewhat philosophical, but in my opinion, businesses should not be hard; they should be repetitive. The repetitive nature should be what’s challenging. If a business is hard, it means one of the systems isn’t working properly.

I have systems built around everything. My goal is that I need to treat myself like a computer and just put myself through the processes I've designed so that they can be highly unemotional and exclusively data-driven.”

“For example, with Twitter I ran tests in the beginning to gauge engagement. Here’s how it worked:

I wrote down on a piece of paper 3 hypotheses for topics people would be interested in that could be a part of my newsletter funnel. These 3 topics were exclusively what I was allowed to tweet about and if one of the 3 topics worked after 2 weeks, then I double down on the one that worked. Over time I kept doing this; pick 3 topics and select the best performing. Then scrap the 2 underperforming and add 2 new topics to pair with the top performer. Then see if any new topics perform well and replace the one underperforming until I got 3 high-performing topics.

The topics I ended up with were:
- Newsletter
- Reddit Strategies
- Success posts

Those are the only 3 topics I'm allowed to post about. That’s it. So every Sunday, I write all my tweets through Wednesday. Then Wednesday, I write them through the rest of the week. There’s some ad hoc posting but generally speaking, it can be as automated as I decide it to be.”

Eric Lam

My whole business is built and structured this way. I have a system around everything. The Reddit strategy as well.

Over time this gets repetitive, but I've built processes around things that are working currently; therefore, they’re not hard, just repetitive. Then when a process breaks in the future, I design a new system.”

Eric Lam

5. Don’t compromise on quality just for the sake of staying consistent

Publishing frequency-based consistency doesn’t guarantee success if you don’t put consistent effort into your newsletter content.

But let’s admit it.

It’s impossible to ensure the same high-quality level for each content you create. We all have bad days or weeks. Sometimes you’re sick, sometimes too busy or sometimes it is like bad-hair days; you just can’t create a great piece despite how much you try.

However, we can ensure a certain level of quality—the quality that will not disappoint our readers.

Jay Clouse calls it “passing the regret test”. 

According to this method, you should ask yourself, “Would I enjoy this?”.

Or would you regret opening and spending time to read that issue?

Then, you should be brutely honest with yourself.

If your answer is no, you should put more time into it.

This will ensure that you have a reputation as a creator who provides value consistently.

6. Outsource and delegate

The ways to stay consistent change at different stages of a newsletter journey.

If you’re running a solo newsletter business, it is possible to experience time limitations due to operational workload at some point.

This is why Yong-Soo Chung delegates everything that doesn’t require his input, such as downloading data, inputting metrics and switching up the polls.

The time he saves helps him put effort into more critical tasks and provide value to his readers consistenly.

“The biggest piece of advice I have for newsletter operators is to delegate everything on the back-end of your newsletter operations to a Virtual Assistant.

I think most creators think too much of themselves as solopreneurs and do all the work themselves, which is not the smartest move, in my opinion.”

Yong-Soo Chung

On the other hand, if you build a hyper-local media company with over 1.3 million subscribers like 6AM City, it could be wise to outsource some services to boost consistency.

I asked 6AM city how they ensure sending a daily newsletter with high-quality content, curated and created originally:

“To ensure quality and consistency at this scale, we leverage a training platform called Trainual that helps us to coach content approach, tone, voice, etc. This means we can hire editorial staff and get them up to speed in just weeks.”

6AM City

7. Embrace your failure of consistentcy

But, what happens if you break that chain?

What should you do if you miss a few issues despite all the efforts?

It’s not a big deal in the long run!

Just be honest.

First, be honest with yourself about why you failed and which actions you can take to prevent such cases again.

Then, be honest with your readers. Communicate transparently when you can’t deliver the promise you give to your readers, as Chenell Basilio did recently:

8. Remember that you’re not alone in this

It is not a coincidence that consistency is frequently mentioned as the biggest challenge of running a newsletter by many creators I interviewed.

If you also struggle with it, don’t forget that you’re not alone in this.

Just don’t give up. It will take time, but one day, you can call publishing easy rather than challenging like Richard:

“Writing is my best skill so I find publishing easy rather than challenging, but also I’ve been sending at least one email a week for over a decade now, from before newsletter businesses were a thing and I was sending personal updates with links to blog posts I had written.

It’s a muscle and habit I’ve built up.

Richard Patey

Even if you stop your newsletter one day, the ability to stay consistent will stay with you forever and it will not only contribute to you professional but also to your personal life.

This is one of the reasons why I think everyone should start a newsletter and genuinely encourage people to do so.

I hope I achieved to pass the regret test with this article today.

Let me know :)

See you soon.

Ciler

📣 Stay tuned for the second part of Alex Brogan Interview this Sunday, where we’ll focus on monetization.

Check out Part 1 to learn how he scaled two newsletters to over 110,000 subscribers in 18 months.

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