Tips From 15 Newsletter Writers On How To Build Your Own

How to think about writing, promotion, and community

Newsletters continue to rise in popularity, driven by trends in cost, convenience, and control of the audience. Both amateur and professional writers are publishing independently in order to benefit from the high leverage of working in public. Writing publicly is like buying an option, with capped downside and potentially unlimited upside.

We’re a group of newsletter authors with a combined audience in the hundreds of thousands, writing about topics ranging from product management to being human. We’re sharing our tips on:

  1. What to write about

  2. How to promote your publication

  3. How to cultivate community

Hopefully we can inspire some of you to join us in the content creator journey.


1. Content tips

Do awesome work

“Above all else, it’s all about your content. If it’s valuable, people will read it and share it. Produce great content, consistently, and your audience will grow.” - Lenny Rachitsky of Lenny’s Newsletter

“Write something that is 10x better than anything else out there on this topic. If it doesn’t meet this bar, don’t publish.” - Li Jin of Li’s Newsletter

“By doing in-depth research you can capture nuances ignored by others and build credibility with your audience.” - Leon Lin of Avoid Boring People

“Clear thinking = clear writing. Before you write, ask yourself, ‘What am I trying to say?’ Then write as if you’re talking to a friend.” - Brad Wolverton of Trends.co

“The newsletter guides usually tell you how to do the easy stuff. What’s hard is to consistently write very high quality stuff. When someone subscribes to your newsletter, you enter into a contractual obligation with your readers. Your #1 job is to honor your readers’ time and write like nobody wants to read your sh*t.” - Sari Azout of Check your Pulse 

Have a differentiated opinion

“Hasan Minhaj once said that he’s ‘in the takes business.’ It’s OK to discuss a topic that everyone seems to be covering, but you need to have a fundamentally different ‘take’ if you want to stand out.” - Alex Taussig of Drinking from the firehose

“Carve out a niche for yourself: depth > reach.” - Sarah Noeckel of Femstreet

“Writing a newsletter is like writing a letter. In the age of information abundance, your niche is already covered, but your take on it isn’t. Add your spin, connect the dots between unexpected ideas and make it your own” - Sari Azout of Check your Pulse 

“Write about what no one else knows yet.” - Turner Novak of Turner’s Blog

Push personality

“Authenticity is the new norm for content. If you sound like an academic or a corporate robot, readers will tune out. Instead of hammering your personality out of the text, let it be the soul of your writing.” - Alex Taussig of Drinking from the firehose

“Newsletters inherently make people expect more personal content. Readers subscribe to hear your voice, not a typical news piece. Push the boundaries on personality.” - Leon Lin of Avoid Boring People

“Everyone has a ‘voice.’ Find yours, and build a relationship with your audience through it.” - Nikhil Basu Trivedi of next big thing

“Put that reference which only a few hardcore readers will get. Make that inside jokes. Reach out to individual readers on a whim. At the end of the day, it’s no good if you’re not having fun with it and it’s very easy to tell who is not having fun with it.” - Sid Jha of Sunday Snapshots

“One of our big selling points to readers is that we’re relatable and comprehensible. I write like I’m talking to my friends because that’s how the newsletter started. In a complex and boring industry like fintech, adding some personality, humor, and simplicity goes a long way.” - Ian Kar of Fintech Today

Create consistent content

“Create a format that works for you from a creative perspective and allows you to put out consistently good content. Consistency creates the expectation of goodness for a user, which can be a driving force to smash that subscribe button.” - Alex Taussig of Drinking from the firehose

“This also allows you to ‘world build’ and become self-referential faster [, which] helps to create a differentiated brand and voice.” - Sid Jha of Sunday Snapshots

Reward your most engaged readers

“I like leaving surprises for the diligent reader. This could be details in the footnotes that only a few will understand, an interesting link just slightly related to the main topic, or an inconspicuous reference to something else. Don’t handhold the reader too much, and keep your secrets.” - Leon Lin of Avoid Boring People

“Promoting other people’s work is the most effective form of self promotion. Thanking your biggest fans or highlighting their work creates signals of belonging which becomes a virtuous loop that drives more people to your work.” - Sari Azout of Check your Pulse 


2. Promotion tips

Take the time to think on titles

“Aka ‘newsletter #257’ with nothing else doesn’t work unless you’re Ben Evans.” - Brett Goldstein of Social Studies

“Title and subtitle and image and opening lines all have to deliver on a hook that will draw people in from Twitter.” - Nathan Baschez of Divinations

“Spend time to come up with a few alternative titles, and pick the best one from the list. Don’t default to the first title that comes to mind.” - Leon Lin of Avoid Boring People

Give away your most interesting stuff on Twitter

“Don’t expect anyone to actually spend time exploring your post. Instead, share your best nuggets openly, to get people’s attention, help them recognize you have value to share, and then follow you to get more (your newsletter, on Twitter).” - Lenny Rachitsky of Lenny’s Newsletter

“Number each tweet. Create a sense of progression. Or gap, if they drop in your thread towards the middle.”  - Dru Riley of Trends.vc

Do collaborative content

“Occasionally have guest contributors (e.g. guest posts, interview, Q&A) with well known people. You draw in some of their audience, plus your audience is impressed with the quality of people you can pull in. And it’s good for the guest contributor to get exposure.” - Lenny Rachitsky of Lenny’s Newsletter

“Collaborations can be especially helpful if you don’t have an existing brand attached to your name. Plus, it’s an amazing way to improve your own thinking as you have to work through the ideas with another person.” - Sid Jha of Sunday Snapshots

3. Community tips

Write with your audience

“Build and nurture a community around your work. And be intentional about it — don’t just hope it will grow organically. People will come for the content and stay for the community.” - Brad Wolverton of Trends.co

Involve your readers

“Include reader/community generated content: incorporate comments and quotes from your community. It’s a great way to add a human touch to the newsletter, makes everyone feel involved and drives engagement.” - Sarah Noeckel of Femstreet

Replies are a superpower to build community

“I try to respond to every comment and email that I get in response to a post. I’ve even encouraged private email responders to post public comments so that the community can see our back-and-forth.” - Nikhil Basu Trivedi of next big thing

“Replies build relationships. If your intent is to build a lasting community, always be replying.” - Leon Lin of Avoid Boring People

Enable relationships between your readers

“Community is a massive part of Fintech Today, but we focus on figuring out ways that we can connect other people in our ecosystem. Fintech is big — there are a ton of important stakeholders who don’t interact with each other enough. Focusing on that has enabled a ton of funding deals, executive level hiring, partnerships, and more importantly, a lot of friendships.” - Ian Kar of Fintech Today

Make the Welcome email special

“Our attention is our most precious resource. Over the course of writing Snapshots, I’ve realized that I’m not competing with other newsletters for it. I’m competing with your favorite influencer’s Instagram stories, your friend group’s juicy messages, and the latest fortune cookie wisdom on Twitter. Billions of dollars are spent on making these platform algorithmically perfect to maximize engagement. These are tough enemies to fight in the battle for attention. I’m grateful that you think that I’m good enough to defeat them at least once a week for a few minutes.

I absolutely love getting to know my subscribers, so I want to hear from you! Just reply to this email to send me a note. If you’re in the Washington D.C. area or are visiting soon, I would love to chat in person – coffee is on me :)” - Sid Jha of Sunday Snapshots

“I’m thrilled to be invited into your inbox —  time is scarce and content is plentiful, so I am deeply honored that you chose to read my newsletter. 

Check your Pulse is a tech and startups newsletter designed to make you feel human, stay inspired, think better, and live better. My hope is that whilst in your to-do list treadmill, you find time at the end of your week to feel great, to feel something, to check your pulse.

In the meantime... I'm curious. Why did you sign-up? Seriously, I want to know so I can deliver more interesting content for you ;)

Stay human ️🙏🏼

Sari” - Sari Azout of Check your Pulse 

“For Big Technology, I ask every new subscriber to share what sparked their interest and what they’re hoping to learn. The responses help me know [my] audience, and not write for some abstract ideal of who might be on the receiving end of my newsletter.” - Alex Kantrowitz of Big Technology


Just do it 

People don’t like to hear this, but the main method to improve in something is to do more of it. Simple, but not easy. 

What’s the best way to improve at writing?

Just write.

When’s the best time to get started?

Write now.


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