Run your newsletter like a restaurant

Build your online business with an offline mindset

Newsletter Circle is the newsletter for newsletter 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.

🔎 5 Juicy Finds for Newsletter Creators

💡 Megahit* - Find sponsors among your subscribers and double your prices with this powerful tool.

📈 100 quick tips to grow your newsletter - by the team that scales Refind to 450k subscribers

🎯 Sponsy* - Make sponsorship easy. Less hustle, more time to grow your newsletter.

*Sponsored & Affiliate links. I only recommend resources/platforms that I genuinely find helpful for you.

Are a newsletter and a restaurant really that different?

The channels and tools we use to run a business change, but the rules governing human psychology don’t.

As newsletter creators, we primarily operate in an online world. This sometimes creates the illusion that we need to reinvent the wheel to run our business.

The truth is that the online world has drawn significant inspiration from executions in the offline world.

Leo Askan, the creator of the SaaS Bootstrappers newsletter, shared a great example of how “user/reader testimonials” are applied in a local restaurant.

A restaurant and a newsletter might have completely different business models.

But, when you think about it, their different executions serve the same purposes.

Here are 5 different examples:

Newsletter

Restaurant

1. Understand Your Target Audience

The persona you write for

The persona you serve

2. Make a Positive First Impression

Landing page

Sign and design

3. Welcome Your Visitors in the Best Way Possible

Welcome e-mail & sequence

Welcome sequence with a greeting, showing a table, and presenting a menu.

4. Offer the Best Value

High-quality content

High-quality food

5. Show Proof of Satisfaction

Testimonials on the website

Photos on the wall (as shared above)

As newsletter creators, we are folks who craft content for real people.

No matter how many hours you spend alone in front of a screen, always remember that there are individuals behind other screens reading your work.

Organize offline events to meet your subscribers

Expanding on the above, there is nothing quite like meeting people in person; it remains a powerful way to foster a sense of community spirit.

Even as a newsletter, you can establish a robust and closely-knit online community by tapping into the potential of offline initiatives.

Terrell Johnson is the creator of The Half Marathoner, a newsletter about running with 42,000 subscribers.

Last year, he organized the first subscriber meet-up and ran the Richmond Half Marathon together with a dozen subscribers!

People got on planes or drove hours to come and run this half marathon with him! They had dinner together the night before the race, met at the finish line after, and had a group text going throughout the weekend.

Based on the insights from our interview, here are my takes on how he successfully built his community and organized an offline event:

1. He approaches online community building with an offline mindset.

The role model for his newsletter community is a running group he once belonged to.

As a group of friends, they were meeting every Saturday morning to train for a half marathon, catching up while training and concluding the sessions with breakfast or coffee.

“That’s the atmosphere and attitude I try to bring to The Half Marathoner, I think – I just like connecting with all the people who’ve signed up and who share their stories in the comments.

It truly is amazing what so many of them have been through and go through, and that they’re willing to share it with me makes me feel incredibly honored. There are days when I feel like this is my life’s work.“

Terrell Johnson

2. He has a “we approach” rather than a “I” approach.

He adopts an inclusive approach from the beginning and sees each subscriber as an active contributor to the community.

“I should actually say the community we’ve built, as I think the subscribers are equally co-creators of it with me.”

Terrell Johnson

3. He successfully combines online and offline efforts.

He didn’t organize an offline event directly.

He has already been building a community spirit with Open Threads on Fridays and Strava Club for paid subscribers where the subscribers not only interact with him but also with each other.

It is a smart move to organize an offline gathering afterward.

“Hearing your stories and getting to know each of you a little bit better was the highlight of the trip for me — we all laughed together when someone said, “it’s great to know there’s a real person on the other end when I write in — that you’re not a bot!”

Terrell Johnson

4. Despite being a bit nervous about whether people like him, he went for it.

It might be scary to meet your readers after being involved in an asynchronous online relationship with them for a long time.

But, this didn’t stop Terrell from getting out of his comfort zone.

“Honestly, I was a little nervous going into it; the subscribers and I who met up had really only connected through the newsletter comments, so what if they didn’t like me, you know?

But every single person who came was absolutely delightful, and I had a ball meeting them and getting to know them better.“

Terrell Johnson

💡 Food for thought: The events you organize for your subscribers could also be the source of revenue after a while with sponsors.

Offline events you can meet newsletter creators

In addition to meeting subscribers, it is crucial to connect with other creators from the space.

Luckily, we have been witnessing the emergence of exciting offline events designed to provide a platform where newsletter creators can meet in person.

📣 Content Entrepreneur Expo, organized by The Tilt, is one of the most exciting events in the space you should consider attending if you have the chance.

500+ content entrepreneurs will meet between May 5- 7, 2024, in Cleveland, Ohio, for networking and learning to grow a content-first business without relying on social media.

There are great speakers such as Justin Moore, Kate Ertmann and Justin Welsh.

I’m thrilled to be a media partner of CEX event with Newsletter Circle.

Another exciting event is Dine and Deliver, which is the private dinner series for newsletter operators co-hosted by Inbox Collective and Who Sponsors Stuff since last year.

These roundtable meet-ups for newsletter creators are great opportunities for creators who can make it in the USA.

They keep the capacity at 20 people, so hurry up!

Comments on Dine & Deliver series

I genuinely hope to see more events like these not only in the USA but also in other parts of the world.

That’s all for today.

See you on Sunday with another exciting interview.

Ciler

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