Growth Goals for New Email Newsletters

It’s crazy to think that I had shared our “soft launch” here on IH just a few days ago!

Since then, we’ve gone on to destroy our original growth goals and have had to adjust them as a consequence.

Now, it goes without saying that having goals is an important practice for any serious endeavor but I’ve been told a handful of times that it can seem a bit extreme to have any goals for a brand new newsletter — I get it, I do.

But, at some point, eventually, you’ll have your subscriber goal tied to another business-centric goal, like revenue or conversions-to-trials for a product or downloads, and you’ll want to have a sophisticated relationship with your data, tying the use of your time (which is a lot for newsletters!) to a return on investment.

And, at least personally-speaking, having a goal helps me make decisions on how I use my time per issue, per newsletter (I have two). Time is in short-supply and I need to maximize as much of it as I can!

Now, how does one create growth goals for a new email newsletter? For starters, you just guess. Yes, I’m serious, because anything you write down will be a shot in the proverbial dark!

But, if you’re taking the newsletter seriously and you want to grow a loyal audience, community, and readership, I think starting at 100 subscribers in the first 30 days is as good a place as any and doubling it every month, if you can stomach it.

If you’re starting a part-time, much more experimental newsletter that’s test-driving a hypothesis or even your own personal interest in the medium, then, I still think it’s worth having a goal but instead of a growth goal it should be a threshold goal, or rather, a benchmark to let you know to either stop or continue the project and enterprise.

For instance, I’ve coached some newsletter creators to see if they could get to 100 subscribers by the end of the next quarter, writing 1-4 times per month. These folks can only do it part-time and can’t commit to any serious publication rhythm. And, if they reach 100 subscribers it’s a signal to keep going and to continue building momentum, although small at the present moment.

In the end, the quality of your newsletter is only as good as the metric upon which you govern and calculate success by and the best newsletters always have metrics that are analyzed and then synthesized into action.

[Originally published on Indie Hackers.]