by Jakob Klocker & Phil Hie

"I decided that establishing a Media Brand focused on AI with my Co-Founder was a more strategic approach. I can still build an AI product later, as I already have a large reader base who trusts me, and I could channel them to my product."

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.

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Jakob Klocker and Phil Hie started eight months ago and grew it to over 100,000 subscribers.

This is not their only success. They selected Instagram as their primary social media platform and mastered the art of crafting viral posts, reaching millions of viewers. Eventually, this strategy became one of the main sources of the newsletter's growth.

Jakob Klocker shared behind-the-scenes of how it all happened.

Let’s dive in!

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

Hi I’m Jakob, and thanks for inviting me to the interview today!

I’m born and raised in Vienna, the capital of Austria. I also studied Business in Vienna and, during my studies, I did the typical business internships like Investment Banking and Management Consulting. However, during these experiences, I realized that while those are interesting and impactful fields to work, I wanted something more. Something that has an actual impact on real people.

I started getting into Startups by educating myself online and knew, I wanted to do my own thing eventually. However, I didn't have a specific idea in mind, nor was I interested in starting a company just for the sake of being a Founder. I wanted to do something sustainable.

When ChatGPT came out, I saw the potential of it much earlier than many of my peers. And while a lot of people were using it, there were still so many people who weren’t educated about AI and still didn’t use it. I wanted to do something with AI and that’s when I met my Co-Founder Phil. Together, we concluded that building a Media Brand around AI is the way to go.

“Now, eight months in, we have achieved some significant milestones. We recently crossed 100k subscribers for our newsletter Adepto and have over 30k followers on Instagram.”


Why and how did you decide to start in the first place?

I recognized the hype around AI and knew I wanted to take advantage of it. But I didn’t just want to join the AI hype train. I thought and still think that AI will be the most transformational technology of the next ten years.

“With this in mind, I decided that establishing a Media Brand focused on AI with my Co-Founder was a more strategic approach.

I can still build an AI product later, as I already have a large reader base who trusts me, and I could channel them to my product.

Launching a newsletter was an obvious decision, as it offers many advantages for brand building compared to other channels.

“The biggest one is that you own your audience and aren’t dependent on the algorithm of social media platforms.”


Can you please share the top 5 acquisition sources for subscriber growth?

Our biggest acquisition sources are:

  1. Social media

  2. Organic traffic

  3. Cross-Promotions

  4. Word of mouth & Referral program

  5. Reddit

“I saw that the AI Twitter space was crowded and thought it wasn’t worth diving into X/Twitter.”

Hence, we decided to focus on other growth channels like Instagram because AI wasn’t a topic there as it was on X/Twitter.

How did you gain your first 1,000 subscribers?

Although I didn’t have an existing social media audience, I leveraged my personal network to gain the first 1,000 subscribers.

My Co-Founder and I had good connections from past internships and leveraged this to get started.

Which growth channels did you mainly use? Which ones are the most effective ones?

Cross-promotions were very effective for us. We have Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, a podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and LinkedIn.

“Instagram is currently our fastest-growing channel. Ever since I reached over 1 million views on one video, I have been able to pull it off again each week. Instagram views convert into subscribers for our newsletter.”

You started the Instagram page on June 23. This is the leading social media channel in which you have a presence, with over 34,000 followers. You have some viral Instagram posts with hundreds of views and even one with almost 3 million views.

What is your strategy to create viral posts?

Scrolling through Instagram, it's easy to think, "Going viral can't be that hard." But anyone who has spent even a little time on the platform knows that's far from the truth. After five months of consistent effort, I've finally cracked the code and want to share my step-by-step strategy:

1. Quality content
- Aim for the perfect mix of entertainment & controversy to encourage sharing and commenting.
- Ask yourself, “Are people willing to share this with their friends or do they want to comment on the post?” If not, it’s not a quality post.
- Original content is key. Both the algorithm and users favor new content over reposts from other Instagram accounts.

2. The caption

It should increase watch time/build up tension.

3. Thumbnail
The thumbnail has two goals:

  • to make your profile look more professional

  • to boost visibility on the explore tab.

If your reel goes viral, key steps must be taken to ensure you gain followers and accelerate the virality. You basically want users to return to your post and watch it again, and, in the best case, engage with other content on your page!

 4. Add “Follow INSTAGRAM CHANNEL“ to the top of your caption.
This is ESSENTIAL. You don’t want likes, comments or shares. You want people to follow you.

5. Answer as many comments as possible
6. Like every single comment
7. Thank every single story repost

Step 5,6 and 7 give users a notification. That way, some will rewatch the reel (fueling its virality) or even engage with other posts on your profile!

8. Entertain users through a story
This is an extra but gives your users another way to interact with your account.

“Remember, when starting out, quantity trumps quality. As you gain experience, shift your focus toward crafting high-quality content.”

How do you turn viewers/followers into subscribers?

It all comes down to telling them what you want. If you want them to follow your Instagram, some will follow your account. If you tell them you want them to subscribe to your newsletter, some of them will subscribe to your newsletter.

Hence, we tell them to 1. Follow our Instagram and 2. Subscribe to our newsletter. We first want them to engage with Adepto on a daily basis and win their trust. Then, funnel them towards our newsletter. This works surprisingly well.


You told me you started monetizing your newsletter six weeks ago via ad placements. How do you find sponsors?

We receive many inbound requests from advertisers and pick the most interesting ones for our audience. If we think a brand fits our newsletter, we approach them to let them know that we are open to advertising.

Anyone who wants to advertise with Adepto can reach out to me on LinkedIn.


Why did you choose Beehiiv? Pros and cons?

We started eight months ago when Beehiiv was much smaller than it is now. Beehiiv is free to start and cheap to run, and it offers a nice UX/UI. I think Beehiiv is the best email software out there for creators.


How did building contribute to your life professionally and personally?

Adepto is my first entrepreneurial venture and I think a newsletter is a great business to start as a university graduate. I learned a lot over the past eight months; the journey has been challenging and fun. I like working on the newsletter and I hope to be able to continue working on it for a long time.

What is the most challenging part of operating a newsletter?

The biggest challenge for me was the legal framework in Germany. German law is complicated to handle, and it was difficult to go through the whole bureaucratic process of setting up a company in Germany. It was a first time for me, but I learned a lot.


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

Starting is the most important step. Staying consistent is even more critical.

"Work on your newsletter, like it’s a startup. People tend to view newsletters as a hobby, not a business.”

What are your favorite newsletters that you can’t wait for the next issue?

I really enjoy Revenews by Dan Barry and the Newsletter Operator.


Reach out to me on LinkedIn. I’d love to connect with more Newsletter people and just exchange thoughts!

Thank you so much for sharing your newsletter journey, Jakob.

🔗 Where to find Jakob Klocker and his work

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