Communities were one of the building blocks of the early Internet, where people would meet and discuss around Usenet groups, blogs, forums or chat rooms. These groups were quite naturally small and focused on niche topics.
Today, many newsletter editors are very successful at bringing that vibe back. By focusing on engagement, they manage to bring readers together as a community, and make them come back for the next issue every week in a world with an abundance of great content.
Over the last year I’ve started paying more indie creators directly for their work — heavily biased towards podcasts and newsletters/blogs. The other night I was wondering which ones I’d likely still be subscribing to a year or two from now. The “absolutely yes” category was dominated by creators who had branched beyond their initial piece of content and created some persistent space for the community to aggregate. Most typically in Slack, Facebook, WhatsApp or Discord.
So how do you build a community around your newsletter?
A good starting point is shifting focus from list size to engagement. Instead of having as many subscribers as possible, you want to have engaged readers. People who read your issues regularly, who take the time to reply with questions and ideas, who you feel comfortable talking to.
At Revue, we have a great audience chart that shows you exactly which share of readers are engaged. We talked about it in detail in an issue about audience engagement
last summer. In the spirit of sharing and creating community, here’s what the engagement of The Week in Newsletters looks like today.