read + write

By Anna from Twitter

Newsletter with 'n' as in niche



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read + write
Hey newsletter friends, it’s Mark from Revue again, like every Tuesday around this time 📅 (did you know this emoji has a 17 because world emoji day is July 17?).
Last week readers sent me a lot of great feedback again. Apparently an older article about “small b blogging” struck a chord. Clearly many newsletter authors recognized the power of a deliberately small but connected audience, over page views and scale. So today I want to talk about newsletters and niche audiences.
Thanks for being part of this closely knit community. Would be great if you would forwarded this issue and invite a few of your friends over 🤗

Focus on a niche
Last week, blogger, newsletter author and media consultant Tom Critchlow re-shared an older post titled “small b blogging”. Tom’s distinction between Big B blogging and small b blogging resonated immediately in the indie maker community.
Big B blogging is the “promise of audience”:
When people think of blogging their natural reference point is to create something that looks like the mass media they’re consuming. Content designed for pageviews and scale.
Small b blogging is “writing content designed for small deliberate audiences”
By chasing audience we lose the ability to be ourselves. By writing for everyone we write for no one.
Tom’s optimistic view of the state of blogging in 2020 is that while many people think that blogging has gotten harder because so many people are doing it now, it’s actually gotten easier, because there are even more people reading.
Getting a post read by “everyone” is harder than ever but reaching hundreds or low thousands of audience has never been easier.
And while the post is about blogging, it would be just as true if we had substituted blogging by newsletter. And not surprisingly several newsletter authors have already put forth that same idea.
Casey Newton, who covers technology for The Verge and writes The Interface newsletter talked about it in a great episode of the Longform Podcast about a year ago (the relevant part starts around 30:00).
When you’re starting a blog, pick a niche. If you tell me you’re starting a newsletter about Apple, I will tell you to pick something much more specific. When you find the niche, you will find the 1000 people that are obsessed with it and you’ll have a nice little thing going.
Jacob Donnelly, who writes the A Media Operator newsletter argued similarly when making one of the newsletter predictions I wrote about two weeks ago.
Although it’s in vogue to say we’ve reached peak newsletter, I believe 2020 will see far more newsletters launch, many of which will go on to be successful brands. The not-so-secret secret to all of these new newsletters is that they will all be niche.
Tom, Casey and Jacob all very much acknowledge that there is a peak. But that peak is all about mainstream. On the other hand, there’s never been a better time to start a newsletter if you provide quality in a niche.
The niche strategy also works well for larger publishers.
Kristen Hare of Poynter wrote about theme park newsletter Park Life by local news publisher Southern California News Group.
Faced with layoffs and the necessity to drop some coverage, a renewed focus proved to be a blessing in disguise.
Her team found they were already covering theme parks, festivals, casinos, food and TV, but they needed to both narrow and deepen that coverage.
Having reporters work on a specific niche, turned out to be both more fun and more successful.
It’s not a competition with each other, it’s a competition with yourself. The goal is to grow local and returning audiences.
This is very much in line with Tom’s small b blogging. Publishers don’t need to chase everyone as long as they know what their audience wants.
So how ‘niche’ is enough? Leah Wynalek found what might be the nichest of all the niches in her article for Publishing Executive: A seasonal newsletter about venison recipes and kitchen gear recommendations called The Venison Course. And while this sounds very niche, it’s actually not that small:
Field & Stream targeted The Venison Course to subscribers in its current weekly newsletter base who have interests in hunting, fishing, or deer hunting. Of the roughly 300,000 people on the total list, about 69,000 received the new daily offering for November. As of Nov. 26, the seasonal series has more than 73,000 subscribers with an average open rate of 46.06% and a click rate of 33.76%.
So if blogging should be small b, newsletters should definitely be small n, as in niche.
The week in newsletters
So what do you think? Has this newsletter found its niche? I’m always happy to get suggestions for topics - just reply to this email with anything you would like to see included in one of the next issues.
In the meantime, here’s what I enjoyed this week 📨
Newsletter engagement series
One of the Oldest Newsletters
How tech and editorial teams can work together
How WhereBy.US does user research
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Anna from Twitter
Anna from Twitter @revue

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