Newsletter Adventure by Christine Trac

“I found out that good writing is important, but it's not the only thing that makes emails work well. You need to make sure your emails land in the inbox so people will open and read them."

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

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Christine Trac is an e-mail marketer who provides services in copywriting, email automation, and deliverability.

Today, we focused on ensuring deliverability and how to prevent landing in the Spam folder. I asked both my and Newsletter Circle readers’ questions about this tricky subject.

Moreover, Christine is a newsletter creator as well. She has been sharing personal stories through her newsletter “Newsletter Adventure” for two years.

She approaches her newsletter like a journal. Having this sincere approach helps her create a bond with her readers and build a very engaged audience. She has 400+ subscribers but received 1,000 replies to her e-mails so far!

Let’s see how she nailed engagement and her recommendations that might save us from the Spam folder!


🛠 Tool Stack


Welcome Christine. Let’s start with getting to know you.

Hey there! I'm a strength coach turned email marketer. I'm known online for my story about how I wrote a drunk email and became a copywriter. 

For the past three years, I've written copy mainly in emails and social media, but now I'm prioritizing email marketing more. I've worked with a wide variety of niches, from creators and coaches and e-commerce.

Currently, I provide an email list management service that focuses on three primary parts: copywriting, email automation, and deliverability.

I do both freelancing and work for an agency called Email Paramedic. 

As a side project, I've been working on my newsletter called Newsletter Adventure where I share my stories and journeys from making that career shift from strength coach to email marketer. 

How did your journey in the e-mail space start and evolve?

I started out as an email copywriter for a company called “The Wizards of Wordcraft”. I landed the job by writing a drunk email. 😅

At first, I only focused on writing the words in the emails. But then, a client told me to watch a webinar about email deliverability.

That's when I learned that there's a lot more to email marketing than just writing.

There are many things to think about, like structuring a launch or welcome sequence.

“I found out that good writing is important, but it's not the only thing that makes emails work well. You need to make sure your emails land in the inbox so people will open and read them.“

This made me want to do more than write. I decided to become an email marketer.


Since I've caught an e-mail deliverability expert like yourself, let’s talk about this crucial topic for newsletter creators. Let me note that some of these questions came from Newsletter Circle readers. 

Here is a basic yet important one to start with.

What are the most critical factors that creators should pay attention to to prevent their newsletters from landing in their Spam folder? Which steps should they take?

***Before I share my answers, I want to note that people have different email deliverability strategies. Today, I’m sharing what I’ve learned and what has worked for my clients.*** 

“I strongly would recommend creators not to get too wound up with email deliverability at first.“

If your email open rates are above 20% (even 30% for creators just starting out with a smaller list), creators are making sure that they're getting sufficient opens and that they are providing value to their subscribers.  

I would say that that's all you really need to focus on right now and I guess also like proper email authentication (SPF, DKIM, and DMARC) in 2024 when that becomes a requirement.  Besides that, I wouldn't recommend focusing heavily on email deliverability.  

I find that if I provide them too much information about email deliverability, creators get really hesitant to write their emails because they're worried about emails going into, for example promotions tab. 

So the first thing that I would do is to see if the client is actually going into spam. What I would do is send emails to my test accounts to see if they land in spam, inbox, primary or don’t deliver.  I have both emails where I typically open emails, as well as some email accounts where I never open emails.  You'll notice that when you send emails to a really new email address, it's actually a lot harder for emails to land in your inbox.

I'll also conduct an inbox placement test using an app like GlockApps to see where those emails land. GlockApps also provides suggestions on potential problems with deliverability and where the spam problem might stem from. 

Let’s assume that I followed all the necessary steps to ensure deliverability but for some reason, I realized my newsletter issues started to land in the Spam folder. How can I fix this situation? 

“It's important to know that we can't stop all spam. Sometimes, even if you send lots of emails, one might end up in spam. Even a person who usually gets your emails might accidentally find one in their spam folder.”

Sometimes it's a quick fix; sometimes, it takes weeks. It depends on the situation. 

But typically, these are the steps that I do first:

  • First, I check to see if they have proper email authentications setup where their SPF, DKIM, and DMARC are passing. I found that even when I was working with one client, probably authenticating their emails helped them reduce their spam rate and see higher open rates. 

  • If the client has the budget, what I'll do is I'll use an app like NeverBounce to run their entire email list through the app to see if we can remove any invalid or bad leads in their email list and spam bots. 

  • Then, I would reduce the segment size to the most engaged. Depending on your email service provider, you may have to create your own automation to track the most engaged to least engaged.

    I would recommend starting off with the most engaged ones, for example, 7 days, 14 days, 21 days engaged subscribers and then progressing to least engaged every one to three weeks, depending on if open rates are above 20%. 

“Getting your subscribers to reply to your emails is definitely one of the best ways to help with deliverability compared to clicks and opens.“

So, if you can get your subscribers to reply to your emails I definitely recommend doing that to try and help your domain reputation improve as you get out of spam. 

What about the impact of single opt-in vs. double opt-in?

This will depend on your situation, as there is a debate between single opt-in versus double opt-in. If you do double opt-in, you may lose 20 or 30% of potential subscribers from subscribing. When I'm working with clients, I help them with email deliverability and I monitor their accounts. 

“One thing to keep in mind if you are getting leads from paid traffic, I would be more cautious with deliverability as the lead source isn’t always great.“

I would recommend reaching out to your email service provider’s support team or a deliverability expert to see if they can direct you in the right direction.

I don’t want to give a one-size-fits-all solution here. 

How important is the platform we use?

My perspective on the best platforms for deliverability has changed over the years.

I used to be biased towards some email service providers but I've come to realize that many email support service providers are using the same server for sending emails at the end of the day, so for me, what I would say is pick a platform that you're comfortable with using and pick ones that are typically more popular (like ConvertKit and Beehiiv) or are reliable for creators. 

If you’re using a less popular platform, I’d recommend doing your research. 

What are the key advantages/disadvantages of using a custom domain vs. using a platform's (such as beehiiv) within the context of deliverability?

When is the right time for switching to a custom domain in terms of list size or other factors?

I'm really glad that we're talking about this.

“I personally think that we want to use a custom domain earlier in your email journey. 

Email deliverability is kind of like a credit score. It's not something that you can achieve good deliverability from sending one email; it's a long-term process similar to your credit score.“

If you’re switching from using a platform's domain versus your own, you're going to have to start from the beginning. So why not reap the benefits now.

So when you do have a big list that you know is going to rely on better deliverability for things like sponsorships, getting more people to buy your service and products. You definitely want to have great deliverability for those situations. 

But I totally understand situations where you’re not quite sure about starting a newsletter. I'd recommend using a free platform like Substack and seeing if you like it. If you do, then I would recommend that you get your own custom domain. 

I also want to mention that you can't control the deliverability of these platforms’ domains since so many people use the same domain.

“I was helping a client get out of the promo tab while they were in Substack. It wasn't a really big list, but it was really hard to get out versus helping a client who had a 400k subscriber list.”

How does an ideal subject line look like to ensure deliverability? Can we use emojis, symbols etc?

Another question that I love. 

I've changed my perspective about this.

I used to be very cautious of some of these spam triggers of emojis and symbols.

“But after tracking thousands of emails from several clients, I've come to realize that we don't need to focus too much on these variables causing deliverability issues unless we're in spam.“

When you're in spam, then you want to consider these variables and you especially want to consider this in your welcome email.

“You want to ensure that your welcome email is landing in your inbox or that your subscribers are opening that email because that will help with deliverability and kickstart getting out of spam.”

But if you do come across a situation where your emails are landing in spam, then I would consider these emojis and symbols because those variables will have a huge impact on emails going into spam.

So make sure that you consider those in your broadcast emails as well as your welcome email.

A trick that I learned from my mentor, Troy Erickson is if you use the subject line “test”. It's done wonders for getting out of spam, especially the first email out of spam. 

If you're sending out less than 5,000 emails per day, are you exempt from the upcoming Google/Yahoo updates?

So, with the upcoming Google and Yahoo update, this does change some things with a requirement of email authentication and making sure that you have your SPF, DKIM, and DMARC authenticated in your DNS records. 

It’s going to happen in 2024. If you aren't sending 5,000 emails a day, it's hard to say right now. It really depends on the client-specific situation for right now, but as we lead up to 2024.

But in most cases, your email service provider will provide you with articles and resources to help you do that. I know Convertkit does a great job with this. So you could ask for support.

“However, it does become complicated when you're sending emails from multiple email service providers and using the same domain (I recommend having subdomains in this situation).

This does become an issue with a bigger email list.”

For example, I'm working with a creator that has 1.2 million subscribers across five email service providers and that's where this becomes very difficult and tricky. Prior to me coming on board, they didn’t have the proper authentications and subdomains set up. It’s been six months and they’re still in spam.


Why and how did you decide to start Newsletter Adventure? What is its role in your life?

I started Newsletter Adventure was because I felt alone when I was finishing up my master’s in 2021 and made a career shift from being a strength coach to an email copywriter.

In my real life, I didn't really know many people who made career changes. Many of my friends were just finishing their schooling and heading straight to the workforce of what they studied in school; meanwhile, I studied Kinesiology and I'm going into email marketing, so I felt really alone and I wanted to share my stories and newsletter adventure to help people feel less alone and maybe they're going through the same situation that I felt in 2021. 


Despite not having a huge e-mail list, you received over 1,000 replies in the last year to your newsletter. What an achievement!

What is your recipe for nailing the engagement and what would you like to recommend?

Thank you!

“I personally consider replies as my most important KPI over opens and clicks.”

Hmm, my newsletter is typically 250-350 words of personal stories or insights. Most of my stories are focused on entertainment or vulnerability. If I do include links, it will be email marketing case studies or resources that I'm enjoying.  I don't do any affiliate marketing or do a lot of direct pitching. 

I'm not 100% sure if those variables play a role but many people have commented that they enjoy how my newsletter is like a journal entry and is relatable. Since Day 1, my goal has always been to share my journey so people feel less alone. 

But tactically, I usually ask people to reply to my Welcome Email. Sometimes, instead of clicking a link to a resource, I'll ask people to reply. 


How did you gain 400 subscribers?

Many of my Twitter friends and online friends know that I'm the absolute worst when it comes to promoting my newsletter. I mainly promoted my newsletter initially on Twitter.

I also utilized a lead magnet where I created an FAQ document answering 64 frequently asked questions about email marketing.

Besides those two methods, I have a lot of organic subscribing referrals and utilize Convertkit's Creator Network.


As far as I see, you aren’t focusing on growing and monetizing your newsletter currently. What are your plans for the feature?

Yeah, you're right. I'm not focused on growing or monetizing my newsletter. However, I've been incredibly grateful for some of the Newsletter Adventure Readers who have hired me to help them with their email marketing. 

The plan for my newsletter right now is just to focus on engagement, trying to share stories and providing value to the readers and down the road.

If you’re an email marketing friend of mine, you know that my newsletter is entirely different from the strategies that I Implement for clients with email marketing. I use my newsletter as a writing playground just to have fun and share some wacky stories to maybe bring a smile to someone's face.


How did building Newsletter Adventure contribute to your life professionally and personally?

Newsletter Adventure has definitely contributed to my professional life more than I ever imagined! The intent of my newsletter wasn’t to make money. I'm not even promoting my services and I don't allow affiliate marketing in my newsletter.

Even when I just share my stories and be who I am, I've landed clients with my newsletter and my list is super tiny. It's like only 400. I think the beauty of my newsletter allows me to use it as a writing playground kind of.  I can write about things that I'm interested in and connect with people. 

For example, I have two friends, Zeng and Arya, who reply to my emails every week. I call them my pen pals and it's amazing that we've been chatting for like over a year now. They know more about me than some of my in-person friends. I think it's really cool that you can become good friends with someone you know, for example, they live across the world from me and I feel like I can connect with them more sometimes and the friends that I have in person.


Why did you choose ConvertKit? Pros and cons?

One of the reasons why I chose Convertkit was because many email marketers that I saw on Twitter were using Convertkit so I wanted to use a platform that I wanted to learn also to help other creators.

I'm a complete Tech Dino, which is ironic because I'm an email marketer but CK just makes things very simple. Like I've gotten clients who have never touched email before find that CK was very straightforward. 

In terms of cons, I wouldn't say this is a con for most creators but I would say it's a con for a really big list.

For example, I was working with a creator who initially had 1.2 million subscribers on their account. In those cases, we needed to track deliverability, and there were things like not being able to track the spam complaint for the specific email, and bounce rates were a bit tricky. I feel like if we could have those, it would be beneficial for these bigger accounts. The smaller creators don't need to focus too much on the nitty gritty with deliverability.

Besides that, I don't really have any cons to say about CK. I really enjoy their platform. 

But I do want to say that I'm not married to a specific email service provider. I have used others like AWeber, MailChimp, and MailerLite. I personally like ConvertKit more.


What would it be if you had the right to give one piece of advice to aspiring newsletter creators?

“Don't worry too much about what other people think and do it because you love it.”

Many people don't know this, but since 2015, I've been trying to start a newsletter. It wasn't until 2021 that I stopped caring about other people's thoughts, and I have never missed a day of writing! 


Thank you for the interview, Ciler! Thank you everyone for tuning in! I’ve been a long-time subscriber to Newsletter Circle, so it’s pretty cool to be part of a NC issue!

Thank you so much, Christine! Good luck with you “Newsletter Adventure”.

🔗 Where to find Christine Trac and her work

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That’s all for today. Thanks for reading and don’t be shy to hit reply if you want to reach out to me.

See you next week.


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