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Ness Labs: Make the most of your mind
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A Summary of

50 lessons learned from writing 50 newsletters

Anne-Laure Le Cunff
Ness Labs
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After sending out the 50th edition of Maker Mind, Anne-Laure le Cunff reports what she's learned

  1. Don’t be afraid of not knowing everything––do research on a “need to learn” basis.
  2. Choose a topic you care about.
  3. Or several topics you care about.
  4. Focus on the right goals––instead of subscribers or results, focus on your frequency of writing.
  5. Clearly set the expectation for the frequency and content of your newsletter.
  6. Be realistic with your time commitment.
  7. Make it easy to subscribe
  8. Make it easy to unsubscribe.
  9. Block out time within your schedule to work on your newsletter.
  10. It’s okay to be flexible and send the newsletter out late or skip an edition.
  11. Don’t be afraid to pivot your focus.
  12. Make friends and build relationships with your readers.
  13. Build an ecosystem by sharing and discussing other people’s work.
  14. Spread the word on channels where your audience congregates.
  15. Respect the reader-writer contract by delivering what they expect. 
  16. Think long-term and don’t trade readers’ trust for increased publicity.
  17. Be selective with sponsors.
  18. Newsletters are a sustainable way to generate revenue for the starving writer.
  19. Your newsletter doesn’t have to strictly be in the newsletter format––consider branching out.
  20. Go beyond one-way broadcasts by facilitating interaction with and among readers. 
  21. Ask for feedback.
  22. Disregard trolls.
  23. Keep it simple, from design to content.
  24. Keep it fun while respecting the reader-writer contract.
  25. Work in public––share your process, lessons, and plans.
  26. Keep it human––it’s okay to share personal experiences from time to time.
  27. Keep an ever-growing list of ideas.
  28. Manage your impostor syndrome.
  29. Celebrate your newletter’s achievements/milestones.
  30. Not all numbers are made equal, and the number of subscribers is a vanity number. 
  31. Don’t get obsessed with stats.
  32. Each subscriber is unique, and interacts with your newsletter in a unique way. You don’t need to push engagement.
  33. People are busy, so make your readers’ lives easier.
  34. Tools don’t matter that much, especially when you’re just getting started.
  35. Growing a newsletter takes time.
  36. Each new edition is an opportunity to improve: listen and adapt.
  37. Proofread.
  38. Don’t sweat it if you make a mistake.
  39. Subject lines are important––writing them is an art.
  40. Ignore the ups and downs and keep on showing up.
  41. Don’t stress over unsubscribers.
  42. Make your newsletter privacy-friendly.
  43. Ask for help from others.
  44. Don’t compare yourself to others.
  45. Use your newsletter as a self-education mechanism.
  46. Learn new skills beyond writing––marketing, communication, design.
  47. Invite your readers to participate.
  48. Make space to reflect on your goals and results.
  49. Make yourself proud.
  50. There is no magic formula.
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