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The first Revue Creator Highlight: Meet Matt Navarra

Anna from Revue
Anna from Revue
Hello all,
Thanks for joining me this week. I’m extremely excited to be bringing you the first Revue Creator Highlight! This is a new series where we’ll hear from brilliant authors on Revue — and have them spill the secrets of their success.
Today we’ll hear from Matt Navarra, creator of the fantastic Geekout Newsletter. Matt is not only a sensational newsletter author, he’s an influencer on all things social media. Find him online:
You can also meet Matt in person by joining our Twitter Space. We’ll make sure to talk growth, money, and you’ll be able to ask your follow-up questions. Follow me @aemelliott or my colleague @derjarjour to join the Space, or keep an eye on our official handle @revue, where we’ll Tweet the link. We’ll go live on Wednesday March 17th at 1pm ET, 6pm CET. See you there!
This interview is jam-packed with excellent tips and advice, no matter what stage of writing you are at. Let’s dive in.
How did you start writing your newsletter?
I had the initial idea for a Geekout Newsletter last April:
🟣 Matt Navarra
thinking it’s time i started a geekout newsletter

a weekly round-up of all the latest social media news and new features

+ my thoughts and opinions

would you subscribe?
When I realised how many people were interested in me producing a weekly round-up of all the latest social media platform news, I decided to dive in and see what would happen.
I knew I had carved out a geeky niche for myself on Twitter and with the Geekout Group on Facebook, so the newsletter felt like an extension of that.
What was the hardest thing about getting started, and how did you overcome it?
I had no clue about how to produce a newsletter. I gathered tips and advice from contacts and friends with newsletters of their own — but my experience working for the UK Government and The Next Web taught me that sometimes the best way to learn is to just start, and figure it out as you go along.
The newsletter was only ever meant to be a side project or side hustle. My naivety showed when days after Tweeting my plans for a newsletter 2-3 companies slid into my DMs asking for sponsorship and ad rates. I had no clue. I spent a bit of time looking at industry benchmarks and asking contacts with newsletters what they charged. Then I came up with a rate. I had to gauge whether it was too high/low by the tone of the response I got back from our first advertisers and sponsors, then tweak it.
How did you land on this formula for format, tone, and content?
I always start from a place of “what would I want from a newsletter like this”.
Geekout’s aim is to be a weekly one-stop-shop for busy social media managers wanting a comprehensive round-up of all the week’s social media platform news and updates. 
I remembered how hard it was to keep up to date on all the changes and new stuff happening on the big platforms like Facebook and Twitter. I would spend hours every week checking RSS feeds, Tweets, and blogs to make sure I was on top of things. Geekout’s goal is to do that all for you. And with a bit of personality and expert insight.
The newsletter format is shaped like a funnel. It starts very wide with a summary of the big stuff I spotted that week, plus lots of light-hearted and fun stuff to draw people in without it feeling like a heavy read. As you scroll through, the newsletter goes from talking in detail about the biggest news stories at the start, to a quick link list of all the other stuff people may want to skim or bookmark for later.
We intentionally built in sections which would appeal to advertisers, such as the ’Tool of the Week’ or the ‘Hidden Gem’ spots.
I want people to open Geekout each week and feel like it’s a fun read with a sense of personality and humor, but jam-packed with useful links and insights readers can benefit from in their professional life.
Alright, let’s talk money 🤑 How much do you make from the newsletter? And how?
Geekout was launched in June 2020 (nine months ago). It’s now on track to generate $140,000 in sponsorship and ad revenue in its first year.
We offer a range of sponsorship and advertising options which start with $350 classified ads, right up to more substantial, longer-term sponsorship packages.
I have been fortunate in that I have not had to seek sponsors (yet!). They have all approached me via email or DM’s after hearing about Geekout via word of mouth, or being a subscriber themselves.
How did you decide on that business model?
We decided before we launched that we would try to keep the newsletter free and use ads or sponsorships to support it.
We realised that would likely generate a higher income in the longer run vs. subscriptions. This is not always the case for newsletters, but for our setup it made sense.
How do you communicate with your audience?
I promote Geekout via my main social channels (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram), and I also invite people to reply to my weekly newsletter via email. I reply to every single email from subscribers.
Here are a few strategies I use to get the community involved:
  • In the newsletter, I often ask readers to tell me their thoughts and views on hot topics. I link out to my Twitter account or use to make it easy for them to engage with me.
  • We also use the Geekout Group on Facebook and my Twitter account to capture ideas or opinions on stories we discuss in the newsletter. We include links to Tweets or comments every week.
  • We host a Twitter Space mid-week to give a preview of that week’s edition of Geekout, and to do a Q&A with fans of Geekout or my followers on Twitter.
  • Every Friday I will Tweet out a topical “Question of the week” which frequently gets 100+ replies.
  • I also host a Geekout room on Clubhouse every Friday. We spend about an hour walking through that week’s edition of the newsletter with the 500-1000 people that join us. We bring up people in the Clubhouse room to chat and give us their views on the big talking points from the newsletter that week.
How do you think about your newsletter in the context of other content you produce?
The Geekout Newsletter is now the most popular element of the suite of Geekout content and resources. It neatly complements the Geekout Group on Facebook and the Geekout Podcast. I cross-promote them with each other.
Producing the newsletter is actually really helpful for me. It forces me to re-read every Tweet I posted that week, and get a refresh on all the week’s big news stories.
Newsletter audiences look very different from social media followings. How did you experience that disparity while growing your newsletter?
Yes. I noticed a much broader community of people found value in my newsletter, beyond the social-media-manager-type following I have on Twitter, for example.
The speed of growth in subscribers has been far greater than the speed at which I gained my first 10,000 followers on Twitter, which was pleasing to see happen.
What are your top subscriber-growth tips?
  • Find a niche you’re super-passionate about and can build a newsletter around. Your enthusiasm and passion will be felt by subscribers in the way you write.
  • Develop a unique style, tone of voice, and sense of personality in your newsletter. There may be a few newsletters out there covering the same topics, but your tone of voice and personality is what makes it special and different.
  • Bring subscribers on the journey with you as you grow and develop your newsletter. Give them the opportunity to help shape it.
  • Respond to as many replies or responses to your newsletter as possible. Show people you value their interest in your work.
  • Build an online tribe around your newsletter. Growing a community around your newsletter will fuel subscriber growth, nurture super-fans, and potentially become a source of ideas for future newsletter content.
What a great note to end on. Thanks, Matt, for your invaluable tips and advice!
I’d love feedback from all of you on what you thought of this Creator Highlight. Did we ask the right questions? Did you learn what you wanted to learn? How was the length? Let me know by replying to this email.
And a quick reminder that you can tune in to our Twitter Space on Wednesday March 17th at 1pm ET, 6pm CET to hear more from Matt.
I’ll see you back here next week!
The week in newsletters
Here’s what else you need to know this week.
How to grow your subscriber list without an ad budget
Tips for indie newsletter writers
The Information is launching a newsletter business
Why email is front and center in 2021
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