- Newsletter Circle
- Startups.fyi by Jaisal Rathee
Startups.fyi by Jaisal Rathee
"Writing newsletters transformed my goals and allowed me to work on my own terms."
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.
Jaisal Rathee is a successful indie newsletter operator building multiple newsletters where he curates content targeting readers from the startup, business and tech world.
He knows how to grow fast and makes money out of his newsletters. Currently, he reaches an audience of over 30,000 subscribers in total.
He can also be named a serial entrepreneur & “exiter” considering that he built his first project when he was 16 years old and already had 6 successful exits, which are all no-code products, including his previous newsletter, Insanely Useful Websites. Insanely Useful Websites was sold with less than 5k subscribers after 8 months of its launch. He announced that it had been acquired within 24 hours after being listed on Microacquire in Aug’22.
Despite the fact that he knows hot to exit and runs many newsletters, today we’ll focus on how he builds his leading newsletter Startups.fyi where he shares real-life examples of money-making online businesses and side-projects.
I also had a chance to meet him in person in Istanbul a couple of months ago. He is a super kind and cool person so I’m really happy to have him as today’s guest.
Let’s leave the stage to Jaisal Rathee!
Jaisal, Leo and me in Istanbul :)
🏷 NEWSLETTER IDENTITY CARD
🛠 Tool Stack
👋 MEET THE CREATOR
Welcome Jaisal. Let’s start with getting to know you.
H! I’m Jaisal Rathee and I run a network of newsletters in the startups, business and tech niches with over 30,000 total subscribers.
I’ve been involved in startups for many years now, but only really got focused on newsletters in 2021 when I launched my newsletter - Insanely Useful Websites - just as a fun weekend side-project.
What is Startups.fyi all about?
Every week I write this email where I share real life examples of money-making online businesses and side-projects (and how much $$$ they make).
It’s now read by 12,000 startup founders, entrepreneurs, indie makers and more - we have marketers, designers, developers all reading our weekly issues.
Why and how did you decide to start Startups.fyi in the first place?
I believe inspiration and finding the right idea is key.
I found this to be hugely beneficial to me personally and was inspired to create a platform to curate all the best money-making startups and side-projects in one place.
Can you take us through the process of creating the first version of your newsletter in Jun’22? Why and how did you pivot it in Oct’22?
The first version of the website was quite different, although the design hasn’t changed significantly since.
When I first started out, Startups.fyi was a database of free-to-use tools for startup founders. This was loosely based on my experience of working on my other newsletter at the time, a collection of useful websites that targeted a much broader audience - I wanted Startups.fyi, to focus only on founders.
This worked well to start with and the newsletter had good engagement and was steadily growing, but I got bored of that content pretty quickly and didn’t feel like continuing the project. I put it on the back burner for a bit till my acquisition was completed, and that’s when I had the idea to revive it and pivot to its current version.
How did you gain your first 1000 subscribers?
It was actually pretty easy to get the first 1K subscribers, and didn’t take me more than a few days.
Which growth channels do you mainly use? Which ones are the most effective?
Twitter works well for me but I’m not super active on it.
100% of our growth is organic and free i.e. I’ve never paid for ads to grow the newsletter apart from one tiny spot in a small daily newsletter.
I’ve done many cross-promotions with other newsletters, some have worked tremendously well and some have flopped. I think this is a good starting point but not a reliable long-term strategy. Audiences also get saturated pretty quickly and it can be hard to find new newsletters with fresh audiences in your niche while keeping the quality high.
Reddit has been a fairly successful but under-utilized channel for me.
Regarding growth efforts, what would you do differently if you had a chance to start over?
I would probably spend more time on Twitter :)
What are your plans to continue growing?
I’m going to start exploring paid ad opportunities - this seems reasonable at our size.
How do you make money with your newsletter? What is your monthly revenue?
My primary source of revenue for the newsletter is through sponsorships, promoted listings and affiliate deals.
The website in total makes between $3,000-$4,000 on average per month. The best month we’ve had so far was about $7K when sponsors booked out many months in advance.
How do you find sponsors?
All in-bound requests through the newsletter.
How much did you charge for your first sponsorship? How did your pricing evolve in time?
I charged around $50 or $70 for my first placement, and kept prices low for a considerable amount of time.
📩 E-MAIL SERVICE PROVIDER
You recently switched from Substack to Beehiiv. What are the reasons?
I’ve been using Substack for a long time and think that it’s actually a great platform with some cool benefits and features. I also love the community aspect to it.
I’m still trying it out and haven’t said goodbye to Substack completely.
🧩 SYSTEM & PRODUCTIVITY
What is your content curation system?
I have a number of content streams I'm checking at all times, and also have had the opportunity to build out a database of content that I keep in my back pocket for weeks when I don't have anything to share.
I always do a quick scan before sending a newsletter to see if something new catches my eye and would be useful to my audience. The tools I use are mostly free: Tally forms for UGC, Google sheets for the database and Tweet Deck for multiple Twitter feeds.
🎢 NEWSLETTER EXPERIENCE
How did writing Startups.fyi contribute to your life professionally & personally?
Professionally: Writing newsletters and holding myself accountable to being consistent with a weekly issue has been a game changer for me.
Personally: It's transformed my goals and allowed me to work on my own terms. I work on my own schedule and can be 100% remote.
Writing newsletters has a creative aspect to it that I thoroughly enjoy.
It's also helped me meet some super cool people (like you and Leo!) and form new friendships.
What is the most challenging part of writing a newsletter and how do you handle it?
My newsletters are curation based and that can be quite challenging.
I have to keep a backlog of content ready to go to ensure I have something to share on down weeks where I struggle to find anything valuable.
What is next on your newsletter journey?
Short-term is to keep growing, I’d love for the network to reach 50,000 subscribers, that would be pretty awesome.
What would it be if you had the right to give one piece of advice to aspiring newsletter creators?
Stop overthinking and just start - you will figure it out along the way.
What are your favorite newsletters that you can’t wait for the next issue?
Thank you so much, Jaisal. I’m so happy to meet you. I’m sure you’ll reach your goals and we’ll read the news about the acquisition of your newsletters. Keep building your list!
🔗 Where to find Jaisal Rathee and his work
👉 Subscribe to Startups.fyi newsletter
That’s all for today. Thanks for reading and don’t be shy to leave your comment by clicking the below button.
See you next week.