Today I attained my first milestone for my newsletter. When I set out on this journey at the beginning of 2021, my goal was to attain 5k subscribers by end of 2021 and this is just a baby step towards that goal.
In order to thank you for supporting me on this journey, and as part of the promise that Marketing Metrics holds for its reader (that is to share everything I learn) I'll explain the highlights from the past 3 weeks and the lessons learned.
I officially launched my blog on Jan 12th, 2021 on Reddit. I received 4 subscribers on the very first day. But if I had to attain the 5k goal I had to gain around 14 subscribers each day. I knew it wasn't going to happen on the very first day or even the end of the first month.
So my aim was to learn as much as possible in the first few weeks and carry out as many experiments as possible and build a system that will work as an assembly line for content creation.
What that essentially means is, in the initial days of any blog or content channel, people throw different contents in front of the audience and test them out for acceptance.
How successful content creators are nailing it?
I have studied multiple bloggers/content creators over the years and I noticed a trend for successful content creators. Their initial contents have varying formats, subjects, and value proposition. But as the dust settles down and they start understanding the audience and distribution channels they only focus on one subject, one format, and a single value proposition and wait until they maximize the outcome from that format and then take on a different format and run it in parallel.
Usually, the subject or value proposition remains constant for years. Only the format changes. And by format, I don't mean the video, podcast or blogs. I mean the format in which content is presented to the end-user. Is it a thoroughly researched post with lots of data, is it an infographic, is it a survey and its findings or just a curated listicle with random data points.
And when we combine Focus (subject matter), Format and Value-prop of a blog or channel it gives us the FFV model. This model is at the core of any content-driven business.
Subject matter and value proposition are designed to motivate the consumers of the content. They know what to expect from a creator and trust is built. That trust is the real value of the content.
I'll come back to how this trust can be monetized in a while. But first let me explain what I mean by subject matter, and value proposition.
Content economy- what is value?
The most important reason some contents are popular than others is because of the value they have for their consumers. But that value can't be measured in isolation or from an isolated content.
Usually, people find a random link in Google search or social media, gather some information from it, hit the back button, and move on with their life. They seldom come back to it.
But what if that content had something that makes the reader to stop. They are forced to hit the homepage link or blog link and check out what other content is present in the channel/blog. That's the stopping power of the blog- that's the moment where the blog stops being a source of information and becomes a link between the audience and the creator. That is when it creates value- both for the consumer and creator.
The consumer has found someone (the creator) who can provide reliable, useful content on a topic they love.
Creator has found another member of his/her audience. It's a win-win.
How value creation takes place?
So we just saw how value is created by the content outside the information it contains. Value proposition (in terms of content) is nothing but a promise by a creator that they will deliver constant value on a certain subject matter.
And that promise demands consistency in content delivery, a chain of thoughts that connects different ideas on that subject matter and presents them in a perspective, coverage of important topics around that subject matter.
But most importantly this requires a connection between the creator and their audience. Earlier it used to be blog comments but these days it's happening more through social media and emails. For my own blog, I prefer connecting with my audience over social media DMs, email, and comments on my posts.
The last part is very essential for the creator to generate ideas, stay updated, and know the pulse of their audience.
Now I'd explain how I used the above framework to experiment and find my own subject matter, value proposition and format.
The subject matter is a broad topic or theme that connects all your posts or content pieces. For me I start with any broad area on which I can create 30 pieces of content. I usually list down as many content ideas as possible in a google sheet, classify them under sub-topics.
Then I go over all these content ideas and think if I can:
- Create quality content on each of these
- Are they catering to the problems and needs of the same or similar audience?
- Are they answering questions asked by people in forums etc.?
- What are some good books on the subject and how many can I read to write good posts on these topics?
- Most importantly, is it something that'll help me achieve my goals in a year from now? (and by goals I don't mean monetary goals. Can the subject-area help me learn something I love or help me help others or write a book?)
These pointers often help in deciding on a subject area.
How did I decide on a subject area?
After my initial few blog posts, I realized that I needed to stick to a theme for my content that is narrow enough for me to perform in-depth research while wide enough to generate at least 30 pieces of content.
After some thoughts, I went for landing page conversions as my subject matter. For any content-based business subject matter is the most crucial early stage decision. It's more like a business idea but the validation techniques are very different.
I went for these subject areas because of my expertise in already having worked on UX and analytics for a long time. I also knew (after running a SaaS business and failing to grow it) that conversion is a major hurdle faced by most businesses at an early stage and growth stage. A/B tests are not always the solution. There are lots of variables to take into account and advice in this area is very limited.
There are contents available on this topic but they are usually advanced and not easily consumable by founders and marketers who are busy with lots of other priorities and don't have time to go through hours of content on the topics. They need someone to distill the content and deliver it to them in small pieces that are relevant to them.
The blog format
The format I selected for this was to explain marketing and conversion optimization tactics using simple examples that are easily digestible (a link is at the end of this post).
I write well-researched blogs where I pick a framework from books of legendary authors on marketing and combined them with recent examples from startups and how those frameworks helped the startups with targeting and messaging in the early stages of growth. I write these posts focusing primarily on the landing pages of these startups which is my area of interest.
Meanwhile, I tested two other formats where I wrote essay type posts with tactics listed out in them to achieve a specific objective with landing pages but that didn't work too well. I also wrote about my own problems optimizing pages but that had limited success.
My value proposition
So for the 3 most important posts in my first month, I focused on examples format and kept refining it.
It has worked well with my audience in Reddit- together they received 700+ upvotes from 4 different subs combined and 9 awards. Here are the subscription growth chart.
I'm working on a product that will be useful for the audience I'm targeting with my blog and newsletter. Since I get a chance to interact with them and understand their problems with landing page conversions, it's easier for me to prioritize the features of my product.
I've already received 10 beta users for my yet to be launched product and I'm planning to launch the product by end of Feb and launch it on Product Hunt when I reach 500 subscribers.
Hope you found this post useful. I've included a link to my free newsletter where I share updates about my journey, freebies, and my findings on landing page conversions.