In case you haven’t noticed, newsletters are having a moment right now. In fact, people are going wild over the tips, tools, and advice we provide through our own newsletter, Unstuck. (If you’re not a subscriber, sign up to get our weekly updates delivered straight to your inbox!)
But does publishing a newsletter make sense for community builders? Can you use it to grow your membership and drive engagement? If so, can you do it in a way that’s quick and effective?
In this episode, we ask Dylan Redekop of Growth Currency to share his expertise with us. His incredible weekly emails teach his subscribers how to start newsletters, get people to sign up, and earn an income. Dylan talks about all of that today.
For busy community managers, we uncover the easiest way to source content and reap the benefits of a weekly newsletter. We chat about finding the voice that connects with your members, leveraging multiple platforms, attracting sponsors, and monetization opportunities. We also do a deep dive into ConvertKit, Substack, and Medium — fantastic tools for bringing it all together.
Newsletters are a fascinating way to scale your business and community. Listen in on this wide-ranging discussion to learn more about the possibilities. Enjoy!
Dylan lives near Vancouver BC (Canada) with his wife and two kids where he works full-time as a marketing manager. He's been writing and creating online since 2010 when he founded a WordPress music blog, reviewing albums and concerts.
His experience with online writing, promotion, and WordPress helped land him a marketing job in the craft beer industry. He's also cut his teeth at a marketing agency, and got into a management role as marketing manager of a fast-growing grocery chain. But he quit the corporate world in 2019 to pursue entrepreneurship as a woodworker.
The business was challenging and ultimately failed, leaving Dylan with a sour taste in his mouth for entrepreneurship. But as he reentered the corporate setting after the failed venture, he felt the itch once again to write and publish online.
He started a Substack account and published the first edition of what is now the Growth Currency Newsletter. While he still works in a full-time capacity as a marketing manager, his passion is writing and publishing his newsletter to over 2,000 subscribers each week—and earning an income doing so.
While the temptation to become a full-time newsletter publisher is ever-present, Dylan isn't soon to forget the hard lessons he learned with his woodworking business.
- Subscribe to Growth Currency
In This Episode
- Owning a platform versus renting space on social networks
- Starting a newsletter from scratch
- How to get your first subscribers if you don’t have an audience
- Why niching down sparks creativity instead of constraining it
- Monetization and finding newsletter sponsors
- The easy newsletter model for busy community managers
- Finding your voice as a writer and growing your audience
- Leveraging several platforms to expand your reach
- Overcoming the initial roadblocks
- Find out more about the tools mentioned in this episode: ConvertKit [Affiliate link], Substack, Medium, beehiiv, and SparkLoop
- American Kingpin by Nick Bilton [Amazon affiliate link]
- Subscribe to Unstuck—SPI's weekly newsletter on what's working in business right now, delivered free, straight to your inbox
- Connect with @TeamSPI on Twitter
The CX 060: Leveraging Newsletters with Dylan Redekop of Growth Currency
Dylan Redekop: I was so worried about niching down because I thought like, “Oh no, I'm going to be pigeonholed and constrained to this one topic and how am I ever going to write about it?” And the funny thing is as soon as I made that conscious decision to niche down and focus on that, I just all of a sudden had this explosion of ideas.
As opposed to like, "Oh, should I talk about Twitter and how you can leverage that?" It was more like, "Nope. The focus is going to be on newsletters, but then within that I can talk about all these different things." And so it really helped me that way.
Jillian Benbow: Hello and welcome to this episode of the Community Experience Podcast. I am your hostess with the mostess, Jillian Benbow. If this is your first time here, welcome. So happy to have you. And this week I am talking to Dylan Redekop. Dylan is the man behind Growth Currency, GrowthCurrency.net or @GrowthCurrency on Twitter and the socials, and we talk about newsletters. This is what he does. He tells his story in this episode about how he went from having a substack to having a newsletter that is sponsored on ConvertKit and it's fascinating. And so Growth Currency, his newsletter, goes into a lot of what it takes. The mechanics of a reliable, high quality newsletter. And I wanted to talk to Dylan because I think this is ... One, it's just a hot topic right now. Newsletters have been around for a very long time, even before the worldwide webster.
But this idea of using newsletters to curate a list, an email list, but also how can that impact community and how can that impact community growth and vice versa, how can you use that to support your members? There's just so many opportunities. So I wanted to talk to Dylan. He is great. He really gets into how ... I hate this term, but how the sausage is made. I'd rather make something else. But anyways, we talk about just the mechanics of it. Some strategies. Especially if you're like me and the idea of producing weekly content is very overwhelming. I left this episode thinking, "You know what? I could totally do this and maybe I will. Maybe I will." So here's the episode with Dylan. I hope you enjoy.
Jillian Benbow: Okay. I am here with Dylan Redekop who is the mastermind, the brains behind Growth Currency, who I follow on all the things. I am a subscriber, also, we talk on Twitter. So Dylan, tell us about you and how Growth Currency started and just all that. What's your story?
Dylan Redekop: What's my story? Yeah. I wish it was super exciting and thrilling, but it's run of the mill. I'm a nine to five marketing professional. Been in marketing since about 2013 when I graduated from university. Yeah, I've just been doing it for a while, but I've always had this tendency to do side projects and things on the side. So in 2020 I was like, hey, things are changing rapidly in the world, thanks to what everybody knows was going on at that time. And so I thought it would be a good idea to maybe try to create more opportunity for myself. And I didn't know exactly what that opportunity would lead to or what that would look like, but I thought I'd heard all these people starting up these Substack newsletters and I was like, that sounds like a good idea. Starting an email list, building a newsletter, taking your audience off of a rented platform like social media and onto something a little bit more that you can own and that you can take with you.
So I started a Substack newsletter in September of 2021. No. Sorry. I started the account. I created the account. I didn't actually publish a newsletter for about three or four months. I just sat there and twiddled my thumbs, trying to figure out what to do, what I should write about. And it just got to the point where I was like, "I don't know if I'm going to figure this out until I start doing it." So I just started publishing in January of 2021 and yada, yada, yada, we're 19 months later and I've got 2000 subscribers. So of course there's a lot to go in there, but that's how we started and we could talk about the journey as to point A to point B or point Z where we're at.
Jillian Benbow: It's funny. Yeah. Well amazing. Let's just start there. You did the thing. 90% of us, I think have a Substack that has nothing on it. So you were the 10% or even less, frankly, that actually took the steps and did it and stuck with it and now you have proven results. And the fact that you by day do marketing I think speaks volumes. You know. You are a literal expert in how email marketing works. So being able to ... It's almost like a flex, right? It's like yeah, hold my beer. Check out what I can do. And so that's part of why I'm so excited to talk to you because I know a lot of people are interested in growing their email list. It's such a common thing we hear at SPI is just tactics. Especially when you start from zero or your mom as your first subscriber, how do you take that and find that actual audience that's a match and isn't just begging on social media? Also, sidebar, I love that you called social media a rental platform. I hope you don't mind, I'm going to say that from today until I die because perfect. Yes. That is what it is.
Dylan Redekop: Yeah, absolutely. And I wish I could take credit for coining that, but that was definitely not me. I've heard that elsewhere but it's totally what it is. Just a rental platform because they'll change the algorithm on and then you're going, "What? Nobody's responding to my tweets because they don't see them."
Jillian Benbow: Yep. SOL. Overnight my business died.
Dylan Redekop: Exactly. So to answer your question, I think getting from the zero to wherever you get to, I leveraged Twitter a lot. When I started the newsletter I had about 700 Twitter followers. So I didn't have this massive audience on there, but I wasn't starting from zero in two places, which was very helpful. I at least had a little ... I had some friends and some people I had been following on Twitter that we've talked back and forth or at least tweeted back and forth. And so I had established those relationships a bit. So those people are just like your friends in IRL who are like, "Yeah, I'll subscribe to your newsletter if that's what you want me to do. I'll support you." And so you get those pity subscribes. And it's great because at least you know that you're sending to somebody I guess.
So it sets you up for a little bit of momentum at the get go. But really you need to keep that growing. You can't just rely on your friends to be your true fans. So I leveraged Twitter mostly. That was about where 95% of my followers came from in probably the first six to nine months. So that was huge for me and just promoted my newsletter but shared what I was sharing in the newsletter so people actually knew what it was about and had an idea and actually wanted to subscribe and get it in their inbox.
Jillian Benbow: That's very smart. And I just looked at your Twitter and you have rapidly grown since you did that. You're right at 7,500, which for organic growth in the way you're doing it, that's awesome. That's how I found you too. You tweeted something clever and I was like, "Yeah, I like this guy."
Dylan Redekop: Nice. Nice.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah.
Dylan Redekop: My one clever tweet a year, you saw it.
Jillian Benbow: Converted one person. No, I'm just kidding.
Dylan Redekop: That's right.
Jillian Benbow: It's better than what I do. I'm very sporadic on Twitter. So it's interesting because your newsletter is meta, right? It's a newsletter about newsletters, which I love because I am similar in the community space. I have a community where I often talk about community. It's a community of community builders. How many times can we say community? And you teach people how to earn income with a newsletter. Was that intentional from the beginning or is that just how it evolved over time?
Dylan Redekop: No. I guess nobody can see me shaking my head. But no, that definitely did not happen that way from the get go. I started very much, like I mentioned earlier, I don't know what I want to write about. So I just started writing about things that I had been consuming and my ideas and thoughts and opinions about them as well as things that I'd found on the internet that I thought were interesting, helpful in a broader range of marketing, podcasts, personal finance. I think crypto at some point I was writing a bit about because who wasn't? And other things as well that are slipping my mind. But in that general online creator space. Audience growth and stuff like that. And eventually I morphed the newsletter to this point where it became meta. A newsletter about newsletters. And that happened about six or seven months ago, back in the spring time of 2022 where somebody was like, "I think you would grow that much better if you niched down and focused on something instead of trying to be all things to all online creators," which is what I was doing at the time.
And so he said, "When I think of your newsletter, you do talk often about your newsletter journey and it's really helpful to know the things that worked for you and the things that you tried and failed and so I think you should kind of double down on that." And so I was like, okay. I guess I'm going to be the newsletter for newsletters. And so I thought I can help people start. I can give them direction on how to start a newsletter, how to grow their newsletter. And not to say that I have hundreds of thousands of subscribers. I have a modest 2,200 subscribers so it's not like it's massive. But I spent very little money in growing it and just done it on the side as well. So I think it's seeing the success that I have, I didn't anticipate at the onset, so it's been good.
But yeah, really start, grow, improve your newsletter. So what you can do to actually improve your open rates, improve your subscribers' experience, your welcome emails and so on, and then what you can do to monetize. So start, grow, improve, and monetize. And those are the four things when you subscribe to my newsletter that you'll get a curated resource of each of those every week.
Jillian Benbow: I love it. So did you find when you niched down that was a significant explosion? There were metrics to back up like, "Aha. This is the recipe. I figured it out."
Dylan Redekop: I haven't really dug deep into those metrics, but what I did find was I was so worried about nicheing down because I thought like, oh no, I'm going to be pigeonholed and constrained to this one topic and how am I ever going to write about it? And the funny thing is as soon as I made that conscious decision to niche down and focus on that, I just all of a sudden had this explosion of ideas. It was like that old saying, constraints breed creativity or anything along those lines where once you put a fence around an idea and then you can really formulate it a little bit better because that open empty canvas is really just daunting. So once I had focused on the niche and I had that narrowed down, then all these ideas on what I should write about and where I could help people and talk about became a lot easier to come up with as opposed to like, "Oh, should I talk this week about growing an audience on YouTube, which I haven't done? I'd just have to lean on other people or should I talk about Twitter and how you can leverage that?"
It was more like, "Nope. The focus is going to be on newsletters, but then within that I can talk about all these different things." And so it really helped me that way. In terms of actually growth and metrics, I think I was around, I don't know, maybe for 1400-ish subscribers at the time when I decided to make that change. So I've earned about another I guess 800 or so subscribers since in the last six or seven months since I made the switch. So I'd have to look and see if that really is a big difference, but that's the growth trajectory it's been on.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. I'm curious too. The hot thing right now in the digital entrepreneurship is the concept of a paid newsletter. So basically selling sponsorship space. I suppose that could also mean literally you pay to get someone's newsletter. I've seen that model at play for a while too. But I feel like the actual sponsors side of things has become easier for creators. You mentioned Substack. I know ConvertKit launched a program. You mentioned another platform that I've spaced. What was the other one you said before we started?
Dylan Redekop: Beehive.
Jillian Benbow: Beehive. Thank you. Tell me what you think just about this move and how smaller creators especially can start exploring this when a year ago the concept of having a sponsor I think was out of reach for a lot of people and now it seems to be a little more accessible, which is very exciting. So tell me all your thoughts.
Dylan Redekop: All my thoughts. Okay. So yeah, you've talked about paid newsletters and sponsorships. So for me, there are two different things. You could have a paid newsletter that's behind a pay wall. You have to subscribe, pay a monthly or annual fee to get access to it. And usually those are product knowledge experts or thought leaders in a certain field that you pay for their knowledge and their expertise and getting that in your inbox. That is not something that I do but that's something that there's some people that make a lot of pretty good subscription revenue doing. And so those people, I would say ... I don't know this for sure, but I would assume that 90% of those don't have any sponsors. They just rely mostly on that subscription revenue from their readers. Whereas I didn't feel comfortable putting my content behind a paywall because imposter syndrome and all of that I just like, well I don't have anything worth paying for so I'm going to monetize in different ways. And I'm more comfortable basically selling my audience, I suppose, access to it to a sponsor who's going to be relevant to the audience. So it's not going to be something totally random that is not going to match up or be relevant to the people reading my newsletter.
So that's important to me. When I do it, it's not just anybody who's going to throw money at me that I would take on as a sponsor. Although if there is a high enough price maybe. But really I try to keep everything pretty relevant in terms of newsletter advertisers. But the thing that's helped with that is like you mentioned ... Not Substack but ConvertKit has created their sponsor network, so they're working with their own ConvertKit users who have audiences typically of about 10,000 subscribers or larger and you sign on with them and they source the newsletter sponsors and advertisers and then plug them into their pool of newsletters that they have on their ConvertKit sponsorship network.
And so that's a really cool opportunity for people who have the audience size that can get in there and they don't have to do all of the outreach and they don't have to do all of the cold calls and arranging all of the creative and ad creative and all that sort of thing. So I would highly recommend people, even if you don't maybe have 10,000 subscribers because I didn't and I applied when it was announced and I got in. So that being said, I had to sacrifice a few things. And I've written about this so you can read up on that about ConvertKit Sponsor Network.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. You did a great job of ... You built in public, which I appreciate. You have here's what happened when I did this.
Dylan Redekop: Yeah. And I did talk with the ConvertKit team to make sure I was okay to share that and they're all for it. So yeah, I didn't want to share that and them be like, "Well, we don't want people to know that you have whatever. That you got in with a lower subscriber." But they were cool with it. They thought it was awesome and they appreciated it because it just helped spread the word about their sponsorship network. And really the larger that it grows and the more newsletters they can present to sponsors, the better for everybody. So they do take a percentage of the ad fee because that's the business model. Whereas Substack for example, their business model is if you use a free Substack, if you start a free Substack account, which anybody can do, at least at this time, you can sign up, start your account and never pay Substack a dime. You can publish, publish, publish. You can run ads on your newsletter and never pay them a dime. Or just publish free content and just drive people elsewhere through your newsletter to maybe your paid products or services.
And again, never pay Substack a dime. But if you put your content behind a paywall on Substack and you're charging people for membership, Substack takes 10% of your subscription revenue from everybody you earn. So if you have $100 annual subscription fee, they'll take 10 bucks and you get to keep 90. So that's something that people need to keep in mind as they're doing that. And other platforms do similar as well.
The platforms that charge are escaping me right at this moment, but I know Convertkit with their ad network, they take a 20% if you go exclusive with ConvertKit. So that means you don't source any other ads. You give basically the ownership to ConvertKit to exclusively use your newsletter for sponsors. Then you pay 20% of their ad revenue that you bring in. So if you bring in a $1,000 ad, then you get to keep 800 and they take 200 and that's the business model that they're working with. And then Beehive has launched their own ad network and so has SparkLoop. SparkLoop is a newsletter referral software that you can pay for. So they've launched their own sponsor network as well, or partner network they're calling it. So there's a whole bunch of things going on and a lot of opportunities to make money writing a newsletter.
Jillian Benbow: It definitely seems like a very good opportunity right now. To your point with ConvertKit, if you have a newsletter, even if it's niche, if it's quality, it sounds like might as well just ask and see because there's opportunities to get in that, as this becomes a more popular thing, maybe will be harder down the road.
Dylan Redekop: Yes. Yes.
Jillian Benbow: I wanted to ask, you mentioned something about you personally in your business, Growth Currency, you help people find sponsors. Were you saying that? Do you have a part of your business where you're involved in that? Or did I just mis-hear?
Dylan Redekop: I might have miscommunicated that. My mistake. I did find my own sponsors for just about a year. So I was doing the ad outreach and some people came to me and said, "Hey, I want to advertise on your newsletter," which is the best situation you can hope for. But of course that didn't fill 100% of my ad spots.
Jillian Benbow: I gotcha.
Dylan Redekop: So I did a lot of ad outreach for myself though. Yeah.
Jillian Benbow: I gotcha. Don't mind me. I'm just hearing things. I'm like, wait, you do that too? Geez.
Dylan Redekop: I wish.
Jillian Benbow: Next chapter.
Dylan Redekop: Yeah. Exactly.
Jillian Benbow: I feel like a lot of the audience, everybody listening right now, is probably head spinning if they don't have a newsletter thinking, "What could I do?"
And because this is a community podcast, I'd love to talk about ... And you mentioned this with your own experience, just get started. But I know myself included, I get very overwhelmed with the idea of having to have that cadence of content and have something to actually talk about that is actually worth reading. And I know imposter syndrome, all the same things. But I'm curious your advice to community builders. Is there anything in particular, any advice you would give just the run of the mill community builder who is considering adding a newsletter? And we'll just for simplicity's sake just say a free, whether they're sponsors or not, but just a newsletter and what that could look like.
Dylan Redekop: Yeah. Totally.
Jillian Benbow: Sort of a random question.
Dylan Redekop: No. No. That's good though because I think newsletters should be ... They shouldn't be seen as email marketing. They should be seen as content. So the same way that YouTube is content, that social media is content, I think newsletters in this form should be seen as a content strategy and not just an email marketing tool. You can definitely incorporate email marketing into it if you need to do a product launch or feature any services you're selling at the time but really it should be seen more as a content. So if you're feeling pressured to have to create something new every week, you don't need to do that. I would highly recommend looking into a curation model if the idea of creating something new every week scares you or if you don't have a content library you can pull from. Then curate. Some of the most popular newsletters are curated newsletters.
Even if you look at The Hustle or Morning Brew, those are media businesses. News media businesses in the form of newsletters. They just pull daily news in, they throw their voice on it and throw it on every morning for everybody. So it's definitely something that doesn't have to be a creative intense process. That being said, for me, what actually worked was that constraint of I need to publish this every week and that forcing function of like, okay, it's Tuesday, I got to publish something so I need to write something. So for me that really helped. If I didn't have that personal pressure or owing my readers ... Not that anybody would probably notice if I missed a week. But if I didn't have that pressure on myself, I probably would've published a couple times and then maybe I felt like skipping the week because I didn't have time. And then the next thing you know it's been two months and I haven't published a newsletter and then I feel like, oh man, it's going to be so embarrassing if I go back.
You get yourself all out of sorts because of it. So for me, the thing that really helped push me was actually that forcing function of this is a weekly newsletter, I'm going to publish it every week for 100 weeks. That was the only goal I had with my newsletter. It wasn't about growth or monetization. My only goal was if I publish 100 editions of this newsletter, something good is going to come out of it. Some opportunity will come out of it. Maybe it'll be money, maybe it'll be a job, maybe it'll be a business of my own. I don't know. But I knew that I would be better off trying than not. So I was like that's my goal. And so knowing that and then having this forcing function of publishing every week, that was for me how I found success with it. But as a community builder, you're probably busy doing lots of things, whereas I only had a newsletter and then I did have my full-time job, but I wasn't doing a whole bunch of other things, right?
Jillian Benbow: Right.
Dylan Redekop: Yeah.
Jillian Benbow: That is a big chunk. But I get what you're saying. Yes.
Dylan Redekop: It is. Fair. So yeah, I think in terms of community, I don't think you necessarily would need to ... A community builder wouldn't need to have this regimented, this is my Monday musings newsletter or have that day of the week in the name of the newsletter to force you to publish every week unless that works for you and that seems like something that could work then by all means. But I think for a community newsletter, to me, it feels like curation is a great way. Bringing resources, tools, tips for people that would be relevant for your community would be a great place to start. And then you could always create your own content based on whatever's going on in your community. And you could always pull in some of your community members to contribute, right?
Why couldn't you say, hey, write a piece for my community. I know The Tilt, if you're familiar with The Tilt, they do this all the time. They publish a twice weekly newsletter and they have a small team and so they pull in ... They pay ... They have the ability to pay, but they pay people to write articles for their newsletter. So I think there's many different ways that you could, as a community builder, create a pretty regular newsletter that could be helpful and not a total time suck on your end. If you set up the right processes and everything, I think you could do it relatively easily.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah, I mean as you're talking about that, I'm like yeah, that seems much more doable than the onus of you need to write at least some sort of article or intelligent sounding thing that has to go out every Tuesday at nine. Especially for someone like myself who procrastinates a lot. I can just feel the Monday pressure of that without even having it exist. I'm like, nope, don't want it. I choose no. But yeah, Morning Brew is probably my favorite big newsletter. I like that they have several. They have Marketing Brew and Morning Brew and Crypto. I don't even know anymore. But I really enjoy their voice and just their spin on what things are happening in the world. The Skimm is probably a similar model. And so it's like we're just collecting things and displaying them in a faster consumable way so you can stay up to speed with the world and we'll have some funny additions here and there sprinkled about our opinions, which I love.
Dylan Redekop: And I think that's why they've got that unique voice and spin and humor in it, which is what's helped them really grow and stand out on their own. And just because they do it doesn't mean you can't either. If that's your pursuit ... I think a year ago or so I tweeted, I'm like, "I look at Morning Brew and The Hustle and I think, why not me?" And at that time my mindset was I could do this million subscriber daily newsletter thing and now I'm like, wait, whoa, no. I don't think that's what I want to do. No. But if you're dedicated you could 100% do it. It's going to be a lot of work, but it's definitely doable.
Jillian Benbow: What are your thoughts on ... So again, great examples of very strong brand voice. There's a personality behind it. It almost has its own personality and if that's on your vibe, you're into it. I'm sure other people are like, "Oh, Morning Brew, it's so immature." But what are your tips for anybody trying to do a newsletter as a business as far as figuring out that voice and not leaning so much to just, I'm just going to copy Morning Brew and be exactly like them. Be distinct and unique enough but find that if you will. What's your advice on that?
Dylan Redekop: I would use places where you can get almost immediate feedback. Really quick feedback loops. And that would be ... Social media is a great place for that. Twitter being a text based ... The last text based social media really, because nobody uses Facebook. Well, some people do. My grandma's on there all the time.
Jillian Benbow: I call it boomer book.
Dylan Redekop: Boomer book. Yeah. That's a good one. So I think Twitter is for me, where I've experimented with throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks. Because you know pretty quickly, hey, this has grabbed some people's attention and there's engagement and feedback is really fast. Whereas other things it's just like, okay, it's crickets. This didn't hit. Maybe it didn't get seen so you can retweet it again and see if it gets some more traction. But really that's how you can, I think, really quickly formulate a bit of a voice and see what resonates with people. And I think it's also, we're not all built to be these witty, clever, funny newsletter writers right?
Jillian Benbow: Totally.
Dylan Redekop: I've accepted that I would not make a good standup comedian. Not that I've ever tried. But I look at standup comedians, and I think that's the hardest goddam job in the world. I would never be able to do that. Pardon my French.
Jillian Benbow: That's pretty amazing.
Dylan Redekop: I don't know how those guys get up on the stage and do what they do. And I've always loved making people laugh, but it's never been necessarily something I've been very good at. And so I think we don't all need to also be overly humorous or witty or clever in our newsletters, as long as we're writing stuff that's thoughtful, that's maybe a little bit unique. And I think we all have our own ... We do all have our own experiences and opinions and thoughts and ideas. So I think if we write about those, not everything is going to be interesting to everybody, but there will be some things from our experience that somebody will go, "Oh my goodness, I never thought about that in that way," or, "I didn't know you could do that. That's a totally different take on this subject." So really bringing your own experience and personality I think even if it's not witty and clever, it can be thoughtful and enjoyable by a lot of people.
Jillian Benbow: Oh, for sure. Yeah. Anybody who isn't snarky on the level of Morning Brew, yeah. But that's the thing. Your brand voice could be a much more matter of fact, I don't have time to sugarcoat and add words for the sake of adding words. Here's the thing, see you next week. You could have a very straight and narrow brand.
Dylan Redekop: Totally. And I subscribe to newsletters that are that. Into my head I'm like I could never be that brief and I'm way too verbose to my own fault maybe. But I can't just like, "Yo, here's the newsletter. Done."
Jillian Benbow: See you.
Dylan Redekop: Peace. Here's the links. Enjoy. Because at the same time I'm like, well unless I'm curating really, really, really interesting links that nobody else is sharing, unless that's my unique value proposition, I need to put some personality a little bit behind it so that people still want to read.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. Absolutely. So a hangup ... I'm just going to go through all the hangups I have because I think other people have these. So say someone wants to start a newsletter, their ultimate goal besides obviously providing value, but I'm sure there's also the goal of I'm trying to grow my audience. Like I said, I see this a lot. Going this route of content. So again, it's not email marketing and the sales definition. But say you're starting, and again we're starting with mom as our subscriber. We don't have that. You mentioned you used Twitter, which clever, very clever and you're very good on Twitter so it makes a lot of sense for you. I see it. I'm curious. I'm thinking about the person who's like, I'm not on Twitter, whatever. But also just the idea of okay, I'm going to start writing this newsletter that my mom's reading and so
I'm creating all this content and putting it out every day and hopefully I'm getting people in slowly. But meanwhile the content ... And I think it's depending on the platform. I have a theory that I want to pass by you so I'm creating the context. Apology. Also very verbose if you haven't picked up on that.
Dylan Redekop: I love it.
Jillian Benbow: When I think about that, I'm like, that's a lot of work and you're creating all this stuff that no one's going to see. It's almost defeating before you get started. And I can see where a platform Substack is really valuable in this case because you can create that same content and put it on there. It has that bloggy vibe in the sense that you can go to someone's Substack and see older stuff. So do you think that's a good way? Is that where you're like, yeah, if that's your position, that's a good way to start versus jumping straight to ConvertKit? ConvertKit's one of our biggest partners. We love ConvertKit. But I'm thinking of the individual who maybe ... What do you think? Should they just go to ConvertKit and there's a way to do it or should they maybe start on a different platform and jump like you did? What do you think?
Dylan Redekop: I'll answer your question with a story, which is my experience.
Jillian Benbow: Oh, perfect. You're like, that is me.
Dylan Redekop: Yeah. Well it is. I started with Substack because I was debating a few different platforms and I'm like, Substack lets me start for free, it lets me publish a newsletter and collect email addresses for me. I don't have to have any other software for that. So it all does that in one. Plus it's got this blog type experience. So you can publish a post and not have to send it to your email list if you don't want to. So I still publish on Substack. I just don't email it. So I want to leverage Substack's ... Basically their network for discoverability so that people can find my newsletter and subscribe. And then of course I just bring them over to my ConvertKit newsletter. And in my welcome email that they receive when they subscribe, it tells them that explicitly like, "Hey, thanks for subscribing. You're going to receive my emails through ConvertKit. The experience won't be different but just letting you know.", kind of thing.
So I still publish on Substack because I think there's still a benefit to their network. And I think for somebody who's just starting out ... And I love ConvertKit and I'm an affiliate. I talk about them all the time and I sing their praises. But I think there is benefit to starting on Substack because of those reasons plus the discoverability and now their recommendations feature, which they have. And I'm sure ConvertKit and other platforms are going to do it and I've already seen Beehive has launched their recommendations platform. But really for those of you who don't know, you can add recommended newsletters on your Substack or your Beehive. So if I have friends or similar newsletters that I really like that I think my readers would like, I can add them to my recommended newsletters and then whenever you subscribe to my newsletter you'll be like, "Oh, Dylan also recommends X, Y, Z newsletters. Check them out if you want." And you can just tick a box and you're subscribed.
So if you can start on Substack, find some friends or pitch yourself to other newsletters, maybe a little bit bigger saying, "Here's what I'm writing about, here's how I can maybe serve your audience in a complimentary way, not a competitive way," then I think that would be a great way to get started and grow a lot quicker than the slogging through the mud of trying to grow on social and just hope that people find your landing page and subscribe. So I think Substack is a great place to start. And just because you start there doesn't mean you have to finish there. So I grew on Substack for about nine months until I switch to ConvertKit for a number of reasons which I've cataloged. And I actually just published yesterday my newsletter post, which is at growthcurrency.net where I explained why I switched to ConvertKit from Substack.
And so there's a number of reasons there. But I'll hand it to Substack is I think they're realizing that maybe they need to do more things to attract the person who isn't going to put their newsletter behind a paywall and just get as many users as they can so that the few that decide to, they just increase their percentage of people doing the paywall things. So I got to hand it to them because they are doing a lot of things that are revolutionary to some degree. Did that answer your question at all?
Jillian Benbow: Oh it does. So if you are comfortable talking about it, I'd love to hear ... Because you mentioned ConvertKit has that exclusive ... The 20% rate if you just ... I guess I'm curious. Is that a kosher thing? Because this popped in my head earlier and I was like, is that a Donald Trump type move or is that moral? I'll put it that way.
Dylan Redekop: It is.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. Can you publish on Substack, have the paid newsletter on ConvertKit with basically the same content and it's okay? It's doable?
Dylan Redekop: Yeah. Because you're not charging people for the content on either platform. And also I don't publish my newsletter so I guess I should have been more clear. I don't actually publish my whole newsletter on Substack. I write a weekly article every week that goes in my newsletter. At least a snippet of it goes in my newsletter because usually they're are about a thousand words. And then I lead people over to the full article on my website. But then I publish that full article on Medium and I publish that full article on Substack.
Jillian Benbow: Medium was my next question.
Dylan Redekop: So it's in three places.
Jillian Benbow: Okay.
Dylan Redekop: Yeah.
Jillian Benbow: And so it's okay to do that. Have the same copy, for lack of a better word on multiple-
Dylan Redekop: I'm not charging anybody. Yeah. I'm not charging anybody for that article. And I think people should be leveraging these platforms where the eyeballs are. Go where the attention is.
Jillian Benbow: It's like hindsight 20/20. Now that you say it's like, well yeah, no shit Jill. Of course. But before I'm like, "Oh, are you allowed to do that? Can you post something on Medium?" And I didn't know. Maybe I was thinking there was policies in place. If you use Medium as a platform, you're agreeing to only publish there, but it's your content. I don't read the terms of service so who knows whose content it is.
Dylan Redekop: Right. That's a good point actually.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah, I was like, oh.
Dylan Redekop: Somebody look into that.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah, there's a lawyer yelling right now.
Dylan Redekop: Yeah, exactly. You fools.
Jillian Benbow: Interesting.
Dylan Redekop: Yeah, Medium's great.
Jillian Benbow: What a great idea.
Dylan Redekop: I started taking Medium a little bit more seriously back in April because I tweeted about my whopping 10 cent earnings for the month of February I think it was, or eight cents or whatever. They send you a pay through Stripe or PayPal or whatever.
Jillian Benbow: Oh funny.
Dylan Redekop: I'm like, this is such a joke. It's so funny. And so I screenshot and I put it on Twitter and someone's like, "Actually you can make money on Medium." And even though it's a bit of a laughing stock of the internet to some degree, people are making lots of money on it. I'm like, oh interesting. Well I wonder what happens if I took it seriously and published the content I'm publishing anyway there. And so I started doing that and I was like, okay, I'm going to see if I can hit $20 in revenue. And I hit I think $24 the first month I tried and then I got up to 30 and then 50. So the revenue ... Again, it's not money that I can quit my job over, but it's added revenue on content I was going to publish anyway. So essentially copy and pasting and maybe tweaking slightly for the platform has been beneficial. And I'm a premium member on Medium, which is $5 a month. So I'm like, as long as I can cover that, then I'm happy. So I think I've earned close to $200 on medium in six months. So it's not peanuts, but it's definitely nothing to write home to mom about. And I've gotten more subscribers from it. So I was going to tie that in. It's a good place for a promotion more than almost anything.
Jillian Benbow: And this is all just under that work smarter, not harder. It's like you create content that's valuable. It's very similar to the concept from yesteryear or where it's like you post it on every social media platform and you just throw it out there into the internet. But this is more SEO friendly and has a better, easier archive and whatnot. So it's really freaking smart. I'm feeling a little dumb just being like, how did I not put this together already on my own? But it's pretty funny.
Dylan Redekop: It's only obvious once you see it right?
Jillian Benbow: Yep. Welcome to my world and everyone's I guess. But yeah. Just having a moment here like geeze.
Dylan Redekop: You're not alone. You're not alone.
Jillian Benbow: So you work with people. I know you have products on your website. I bought one actually about setting up a Substack. You had a deal and I was like, I want to support you because I like supporting creators.
Dylan Redekop: Oh thank you.
Jillian Benbow: Of course. And it was wonderful. Highly recommend it. And I know you work with people. You have obviously your audience and probably more closer relationships with different people. I'm curious, is there anything commonly happening with people getting into these newsletters that you could just save people some time right now and tell them. Is there a common roadblock or just issue that comes up?
Dylan Redekop: I think the impatience of most people is probably the biggest roadblock. And knowing that a newsletter is a ... At first, it'll just be a support piece probably to your content, unless you want to make it your product. And you can do that by ad sponsorships or paywalls or affiliate income if you will. There's a number of ways you can obviously do that. But I think you just need to have this long-term mindset. And I also wrote about a few months ago how everybody's like, oh you got to be consistent, you got to be consistent, you got to be consistent, be consistent. And it was like the word of the year kind of thing. I'm like, well you need to be consistent, but you also need to be resilient because the beginning is hard and you need to really overcome ... Yeah, you're consistent, but growth is still slow. Consistency does not equal success. It's a number of factors. And it's more like time plus consistency plus iteration and improvement equals success.
So my thought was more like you need to be resilient as well to overcome those times where it's like, it's been a month and I got one subscriber kind of thing. Because those periods will happen. I just went through this period where I almost lost more subscribers than I was getting. So it's just a matter of getting through those phases and seeing this as more of a long term gain. So that's why I knew that I would fail at this newsletter if I didn't put that 100 editions. That is my goal. Personal goal for the newsletter was I'm going to publish 100 editions of this. So even when I said that out, I was like, I didn't realize that's basically two years of a weekly newsletter.
Jillian Benbow: Math.
Dylan Redekop: Which is probably good that I didn't really think about it fully through.
Jillian Benbow: It's just a nice, neat number.
Dylan Redekop: Exactly. It's perfect. It's a nice round number. So I was like, okay, I'll do 100 editions and then a few months later I'm like, okay, that's two years of this, but all right. I'm going to do it. And so I'm at ... 86th edition, went out last night.
Jillian Benbow: Nice.
Dylan Redekop: And I did take a two week break after I hit my 52nd edition. I'm like, okay, a year straight every week, I'm just going to take a two week breather and so I didn't publish for two weeks. But yeah, otherwise it's been every week for 86 weeks. And I think I needed that milestone to really push through the beginning.
Jillian Benbow: That's a great idea. Having that goal that you're ticking away weekly at. It's the marathon right? All those miles.
Dylan Redekop: Yeah. And it could be a revenue milestone for you. It could be a subscriber milestone or even I want to grow my newsletter until my business itself does this, or my community grows to a certain point or whatever that might be.
Jillian Benbow: But must ask, once you hit 100, you're like, I'm out. Are you going to recalibrate new goal? What do you think you'll do? Take another couple weeks?
Dylan Redekop: I've been thinking about that because it's now less ... It's by basic Christmas time. My 100th edition falls at the very inopportune time of the year where it's between Christmas and New Year's, which sucks because it's going to be hurray and everybody's going to be like, "I'm not opening my email, it's Christmas break." So it'll be like ... No fireworks.
Jillian Benbow: I don't know. I feel like I'd be ... Now I want to look for it to make sure, oh my gosh, there it is.
Dylan Redekop: Yeah. I'll hype it up maybe. But to answer your question, I don't know. I don't what I'm going to do. I don't have any plans of stopping, which is a good sign. And I just don't know where I go from there which is a weird thing to say. But I hit my goal. So is my next goal 100 or is my next goal to really make this a full-fledged business for myself and my family? And is that realistic? I got to figure those things out and see what I want to do with it. But I wish I had a better answer for you.
Jillian Benbow: No. It's a very real answer, so I like it. And I know you'll figure it out. I have every confidence. I just wasn't sure if it was already in the books or not. Okay, well we're getting ... I could ask you a gazillion more questions, but I will save them for Twitter for the sake of time. So we're going to get into what I like to call the rapid fire round. It's very scary and difficult. There's huge consequences if you answer incorrectly. Are you ready?
Dylan Redekop: I'm ready. I'm ready.
Jillian Benbow: Just kidding. I'm going to ask you question just first thing that pops into your head. One word to one sentence, hence rapid fire. I'll try not to ask follow up questions, which I suck at following my own rules so we'll see how it goes. All right. Dylan. Dylan.
Dylan Redekop: Dylan. Yes.
Jillian Benbow: Spitting the hot fire. When you were a young child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Dylan Redekop: I never knew what I wanted to be, so I'm still figuring that out.
Jillian Benbow: Hey, I love that. How do you define community?
Dylan Redekop: People supporting one another.
Jillian Benbow: Whether or not you have a bucket list, what is something on your bucket list or just your life goals that you have done?
Dylan Redekop: Oh, that I have done. Shoot. I always wanted to run a half marathon and I did that. And so now I've got my sites on a triathlon, but in time.
Jillian Benbow: Exciting. Exciting. And then the flip side of this, what's something on that bucket list or life list that you have not done?
Dylan Redekop: Oh shoot. I just answered that.
Jillian Benbow: Besides that one.
Dylan Redekop: Besides that one? Probably travel to Europe someday.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah, I'm trying to say you should do it. Europe's amazing. So there it is.
Dylan Redekop: Yeah.
Jillian Benbow: What's a book you've recently read that you love or just an all time favorite that you wish everyone would read?
Dylan Redekop: Usually I read self-improvement type books, but I got burned out on those and my most favorite was a Sam Parr of The Hustle, My First Million Podcast who recommended American Kingpin, I think it's called. Shoot, now I'm blanking, which is about the Silk Road, if you're familiar.
Jillian Benbow: Yes. This all sounds very familiar.
Dylan Redekop: Yeah. Oh, it's so good. I went into it like, how good could this be? But it's all about how this guy started the Silk Road underground black market using Bitcoin as the currency. And it's just like people were selling stuff using something that is now ... One coin is what? 20K? $25,000? And back then it was a Bitcoin was worth, I don't know, 80 cents. And just the whole way they went about it and how he got busted. It was easily the best read I had this year. I binged the whole thing on Audible in a weekend.
Jillian Benbow: Oh, yeah. It sounds so good. As you said the name, I was like, ah, someone else has told me about this and I forgot. So I'm going to go add that to my cart when we're done here. Yeah. It looks just insane. Also, can you imagine buying Bitcoin even when it was just under a dollar? Some people made some money. Not me of course.
Dylan Redekop: Yes. And then a lot of people just sold it off for some illicit drugs and now they could have had all the drugs in the world if they just held onto it.
Jillian Benbow: Suckers. Maybe it was a good thing.
Dylan Redekop: Joke's on you. Probably.
Jillian Benbow: You're welcome. That lack of impulse control.
Dylan Redekop: The impulse purchase. Yes.
Jillian Benbow: Really saved your life probably.
Dylan Redekop: Yeah. Probably.
Jillian Benbow: Good job. All right. I am pretty sure you're in Canada based on certain keywords, general politeness. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?
Dylan Redekop: Is New Zealand like the cop out answer?
Jillian Benbow: That's my answer.
Dylan Redekop: I don't know. It looks pretty awesome and I vibe with what I've seen from the culture, but I've never visited, so I should probably do that first.
Jillian Benbow: Can I tell you-
Dylan Redekop: It all looks very cool.
Jillian Benbow: I have the exact same thing. I'm like, I have never been there, but I'm pretty sure I want to live there. It has all the things I need like mountains. It has mountains and skiing. It has the beach. As far as natural disasters and turmoil, yeah, it's got mudslides and tsunamis and things, but politically pretty stable. And also it's out in the middle of nowhere, so no one's going to think about it in World War III. It's going to be like oh yeah, there's an island over there. You know what I mean? It fits all my criteria.
Dylan Redekop: Checks all the boxes.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. All my anxieties. But this isn't about me so back to you. But yeah, I'll see you there. Okay. Final question, Dylan. How do you want to be remembered?
Dylan Redekop: I think just as a person who was kind and helpful, I think. Generous as much as I can with my time and sharing. I wish I had more money to be generous with, but don't we all? As somebody who is kind and thoughtful and generous with other people.
Jillian Benbow: I love it. Well, you passed. Good job. It was a close one, but-
Dylan Redekop: Yay.
Jillian Benbow: Just kidding. Dylan, where can everybody find you if they want to learn more?
Dylan Redekop: Sure. Yeah. Social media, Twitter is the easiest place, @GrowthCurrency and my DMs are open as the kids say so feel free to spam me with messages if you want. I try to answer all of them that are not NFT sales.
Jillian Benbow: Dammit. That was my plan.
Dylan Redekop: So send me up. Yeah. So yeah, Twitter and then growthcurrency.net is where you can subscribe to my newsletter. And if you Google me, oddly enough, Substack probably comes up before my website, but I think that just in time will correct itself.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. Well excellent. Thank you so much for being here. This was great. I feel like I learned much.
Dylan Redekop: Awesome.
Jillian Benbow: So happy to have you.
Dylan Redekop: Goal accomplished. It was great being here. Thank you Jill.
Jillian Benbow: Thanks for sticking around. That was Dylan Redekop of Growth Currency. Just so juicy. So many nuggets. I appreciate when people are willing to be just super transparent about how it works because something we all see and I can't stand is this whole like oh, six figure launch, you'll be rich if you just pay me to show you how to do this thing. Come on. And Dylan is very much not that. Very open about what it takes, the consistent work. And that's the reality of making money. I mean there are things that can be passive about it, but you have to be smart about it. So let's talk about it. I think, like I said in the intro, I'm leaving this conversation just feeling really jazzed about the possibilities here. I think the highlight reel would be looking at newsletters as a content strategy, not an email marketing tool.
Yes. Thank you. That there are different ways to deliver content and it doesn't have to be writing big articles every week because those of us who know they procrastinate also maybe don't want to put that on themselves. Lessons learned. So the curation model was brought up. Doing a roundup. That's the Morning Brew example that we were talking about. There's also ... I love the idea of having members of your community participate, whether it's actually writing content or maybe it's just highlighting stuff that they're doing in the community to your newsletter list, which can be both community members and more of an audience ... Sorry. Which can be community members and more of an audience that you're either looking to convert or would like to know what's happening in your community.
We do a newsletter every Friday. It's called The Friyay. And it's just for our pro members. So the intention of it is not audience growth, it's just, again, a highlight reel of hey, here are the big things that happen this week in community, here's some posts you might be interested in and here are the events coming up next week. And it's a great way for people who are busy to just scan and see if there's anything they want to participate in without feeling like they have to go onto the platform and search. So we bubble it up to the surface, the things we think the majority of the community would be interested in.
We have a lot of great feedback from that. We're always tweaking it and trying things to see how can we bring the best value to our members. But I really like the idea of having a newsletter that is for anyone who subscribes. A free newsletter that is light in copy, but also just consistently helpful, valuable. My head is spinning. I don't know about you. Do you have a newsletter? Are you thinking about it? I would like to know. At me. At me bro. @JillianBenbow on Twitter. And I think just that the having a public milestone. So in Dylan's case, 100 editions of his newsletter and then realizing that's over two years. But hey, he's stuck with it. And just having that thing. I love a gold sticker. I love anything that says I hit my goal. So in this case, gold sticker for every edition right? Down with that. That's how the ADHD kids get shit done.
So gold stickers. Get 100 of them. Go for it. All kidding aside, yeah, curious if you are in the newsletter biz, how it's been going, how you might use it in community. Go check out Dylan at growthcurrency.net or @GrowthCurrency on all the socials. All the socials being Twitter. That's where he hangs out and he posts a lot of great content. So I hope this was valuable to you. I obviously, because I've said it already, loved it. So I'll leave you with that. I hope you have a wonderful day and I will see you next Tuesday.
Once again, you can find Dylan at @GrowthCurrency on Twitter or growthcurrency.net on the worldwide websters.
Your lead host for The Community Experience is me, Jillian Benbow. Our executive producer is Matt Gartland. Our senior producer is David Grabowski and our editor is Paul Grigoras. Sound Editing by Duncan Brown. Theme music by David Grabowski. See you next Tuesday.