How To Grow A Newsletter To 10,000 Subscribers

Emanuel Cinca May 23, 2024

What Size Online Business Should You Buy

Who am I and why do I know what I’m talking about?

Before diving into some deep newsletter growth tips and strategies, I thought it’s best I explain why I have a pretty good idea of what I’m talking about.

My name is Emanuel Cinca and I’m the founder of Stacked Marketer.

I started Stacked Marketer back in 2018 with zero subscribers and close to no social media following, aside from real people I’ve met in person. I just piggyback on some existing audience.

Six years later, we now reach over 100,000 inboxes across three newsletters (Stacked Marketer, Psychology of Marketing, and Tactics), and we have a paid membership called Stacked Marketer Pro.

I’m also extremely vocal that what matters is real people with real intent, so our 100,000 subscribers regularly outperform lists that are 3-5 times the size when it comes to actual traffic and conversions.

If you’re more interested in the journey, you can check out our annual reports from previous years here.

What’s the value of a newsletter and why would you even want one?

There are two ways in which newsletters can be quite valuable:

  • Revenue that you generate through sponsorships or other monetization methods.
  • Revenue when promoting your other products or services.

Have you heard of Morning Brew or The Hustle?

Morning Brew is an example for the first point that was acquired by Insider for a reported $75M. It still generates revenue through sponsorships and events.

And The Hustle was acquired by HubSpot for a reported $27M. They are an example for the second point because they now have zero sponsored placements and instead promote HubSpot’s products.

For both cases, the value comes through the connection and trust the readership has in each newsletter.

And while not everyone needs a newsletter, it can certainly serve as a tool to increase your surface of luck and keep a direct connection with an audience, without depending as much on algorithms from social media apps.

Sure, there are some algorithms for email too, but they change slower and more predictably.

What kind of newsletters are we talking about?

As mentioned before, connection and trust are what give the newsletter value. You can’t gain that trust or foster that connection with a low-quality newsletter.

It’s easier to explain which kinds of newsletters are just bad quality so you avoid them…

Link dumps: The worst of the worst, with no added value, easy to copy, and zero personality. These are the newsletters you often see companies send with their updates or bloggers with recent articles.

You can see this in more niches now but in general, they remain a low-quality kind of newsletter that has little to no value.

Spam: For some reason, this is still not obvious for some people, but spamming people with stuff they never opted in for is not a quality newsletter.

So as long as people opt in to read your newsletter, you have plenty of space for creativity.

You can curate content, you can comment on certain events or industries, you can write essays, and deep dives, you can even do a course delivered in newsletter format.

You can also have a look at this breakdown of how Empire Flippers built This Week in M&A into a weekly newsletter read by 100,000+ subscribers.

Long story, short: As long as you provide subscribers with a way to save time, make money, or save money, you’re usually on the right track for creating the kind of newsletter that has value.

But you still need to reach a certain amount of people to prove your concept and increase your newsletter’s value.

What’s a good software to build and send your newsletter?

I also want to touch on a common question here, which is about what email service provide (ESP) to use.

The truth is, you’re kind of spoiled for choice, and I will try to explain the pros and cons of some of the best platforms out there.

Campaign Monitor

It’s our ESP of choice for Stacked Marketer and we’ve been using it for over 5 years. We did think about alternatives, even tested some but in the end, this fits us best.

I chose it because of its granular user permissions, powerful templating language, and powerful integrations and API.

So, with this, we had a solid base on top of which we could build the final tools and features we were missing.

The downside for most people is the pricing is higher than average and without knowing for sure this is the best solution for your use case, it’s a higher financial risk to take.

What about the other options?


This is the option I recommend to most people who are just starting out, and who want to get a powerful but affordable out-of-the-box solution.

I tested it for a few months in 2023, and my pros and cons list comes from the needs we had at Stacked Marketer.

I consider it a quickly-improving platform, with some of the best out-of-the-box features.

I found that it’s lacking when it comes to integrations and API (both of which have improved recently).

I’ve also had bad experiences with customer support giving me wrong information, culminating with them trying to brush under the rug a rather major issue that allowed malicious users to send phishing emails using the beehiiv sender address of popular newsletters.

Since then, they’ve continuously improved their platform (including the issue mentioned above), and it’s still the quickest and most affordable way to start a newsletter while having an above-average toolset at your disposal right away.


You can probably think of ConvertKit and beehiiv as the two biggest rivals right now for newsletter creators.

I have more limited experience with ConvertKit, just private testing during their trial period, without sending real newsletters.

Some people like it, and they have made improvements since then but I had issues with their editor, templating, and lack of analytics.

They’ve worked on improving all those in 2024 but I haven’t gone back to testing them again so I can’t say how much of an improvement this was.


Well, I had to mention this one too since it’s so popular… But it’s popular because it’s free.

And you get what you pay for with Substack. It’s just not a good option if you want to have a proper newsletter business.

No analytics, no customization, very limited integrations, and pretty much building on Substack’s land rather than on your own.

So, what would I recommend for you if you are starting out?

Check out beehiiv and ConvertKit to compare how you feel about each, and weigh the pros and cons for your case.

Once you reach 10,000+ subscribers and start monetizing your newsletter, have a look at something like Campaign Monitor, and other countless ESPs out there.

You might stick with your initial choice, or you might find other options that fit your long-term plans better.

Now that we have an idea of newsletter type and tools to use, we have to get readers. So let’s dive into the practical steps, starting from zero.

Getting your first 1,000 subscribers

I think for most newsletters, the first 1,000 subscribers are a good test to see if people like your format and content, and if you have the potential to monetize.

If you have a big existing audience, this might feel like a very easy number to hit. But I will go through what you can do without a pre-existing audience.

First, I will walk you through the exact steps I took:

Step 1: I contacted industry friends one by one until I had over 10 people subscribers to a “private beta” version of the newsletter. This private beta was sent through our planned email tools so it all looked as it would when going public with the launch.

Step 2: I gathered feedback on the format for one week and implemented their suggested improvements as fast as possible.

Step 3: After a week, I asked them if they thought this was a product they’d read or recommend to other marketers.

Step 4: Once I got enough positive answers, I launched publicly on my small social media profiles, and in some marketing communities I was part of.

At the same time, I asked the biggest supporters from that private beta to recommend the newsletter as well.

This got us to about 250 subscribers pretty quickly.

These 250 subscribers were very engaged and had very positive feedback for us so we were still very much focused on growing to at least 1,000 subscribers right away.

Step 5: I did this by reaching out to acquaintances in the marketing space who were bloggers with an existing audience.

Some liked the newsletter so much that they recommended it for free, others we paid a reasonable sponsorship fee.

With 3-4 of these recommendations, we reached 1,000 subscribers within the first month since launching.

Here’s why I took those steps specifically rather than spending money on paid social:

We needed the early subscribers to be “superfans”. We needed these subscribers to want the newsletter for the newsletter itself, and we needed them to be vocal about the good and the bad about it so we could improve it.

Your first 1,000 subscribers are not about scale. They are all about figuring out the right audience fit for the newsletter, so you cannot risk getting these subscribers from low-quality sources like incentivized channels. And even paid social is not going to bring you superfans.

You want your first 1,000 subscribers to be from tight-knit communities, and from word-of-mouth recommendations.

If I had to do this again in 2024, I would follow similar steps as before. The only change is probably that I’d start quicker with cross-promotions with other similarly-sized newsletters.

Best practices to grow a healthy list before you try to scale to 10,000+ subscribers

Remember that phrase from earlier? What really matters is real people with real intent.

Well, it’s the key to a valuable newsletter, and it’s the key to guiding your growth as well.

Here’s the dirty truth: It’s never been easier to get 10,000+ people to submit their emails in a form, so you could technically get 10,000 subscribers for under $1,000 of ad spend, I’m sure.

But if you do that, you’re just lying to yourself. You need to focus on real people with real intent. And then getting to 10,000+ becomes more difficult.

Before I share my practical steps, I think it’s vital to mention some best practices to keep a healthy list so you don’t fool yourself.

Here’s how to keep a clean and engaged list.

Step 1: Create the following segments:

  • New inactives – subscribers who have not opened any of their first 5 newsletters.
  • Old inactives – subscribers who have not opened any of their most recent 40+ newsletters.
  • AMPP (Apple Mail Privacy Protection) Users – subscribers who have opened all of their most recent 50+ newsletters but have not clicked on any.

You can adjust the actual newsletter numbers but make sure you do it based on newsletters sent, and you update them for every send.

Don’t ask about “how many days, weeks, or months”, just think of “newsletters sent.”

Step 2: Try to re-engage them.

Now, for every subscriber who joins a segment, send them a re-engagement email.

If they don’t engage with it, remove them after 24 hours.

You will also want to pay attention to machine clicks generated by firewalls and spam filters
clicking links to check for malicious content.

But this is something each email service provider deals with differently.

If your email service provider doesn’t have a good way to filter out this data for you, then you have to identify the patterns yourself. Usually, it’s the following:

  • Clicking at least one link in every email within 10 minutes of sending.
  • Location is Ashburn, Boardman, or other popular data center locations.

Practical steps to grow to 10,000+ subscribers

Right, now that we have at least 1,000 subscribers, and we have a solid foundation of how to focus on real people with real intent, we can talk about going to 10,000+ subscribers.

Some of the things you’ve done before will still be very helpful:

  • Continue to work with other influencers or thought leaders in your industry to recommend your newsletter.
  • Continue sharing your newsletter in communities that allow it.
  • Cross-promote with other relevant newsletters of similar size, or even bigger ones if you can.

What you can add to your channels now:

  • Paid social: Especially Meta and possibly TikTok can be good channels depending on your industry. The engagement rate won’t be as high as the previously mentioned options but both channels are very scalable.
  • Paid recommendations: I’m mostly familiar with Upscribe from SparkLoop here. Basically, other newsletter creators recommend your newsletter and they get paid for every engaged subscriber. You define your engagement parameters so you really only pay for those people who want to read your newsletter.

As you can see, going from 1,000 to 10,000+ subscribers isn’t rocket science but it does involve spending some money on ads.

That said, if you have other skills when it comes to going viral with organic content, just do that, obviously.

We’ve seen both X and LinkedIn bring good results when people with big reach recommended any of our newsletters–it’s just not easy to get that high reach by yourself if you don’t have an existing audience.

You got to 10,000+ subscribers. Now what?

Well, unless you created this audience in a very bad niche, you have the audience to generate $100,000+/year.

You can generate revenue through sponsored posts, or by promoting other products or services.

But you should carefully consider what your longer-term goal is with this newsletter. For example, do you want to be able to sell it?

Here’s a good checklist for you to have if you want to create a sellable newsletter:

  • Create quality content that is valued by your audience.
  • Grow your audience with real people who have real intent. Don’t lie to yourself with statistics.
  • Monetize in ways that don’t depend on you providing a separate service, for example sponsorships, or direct subscriptions.

And if that is truly your goal, have a deeper look at this guide on selling your newsletter.

With that said, whether you go the selling route or not, these 10,000+ subscribers can help open many other doors for you, and it’s just the beginning of your journey as a newsletter operator.

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