Josh Spector has been relentlessly publishing For The Interested to 25k inboxes every Sunday for 236 weeks. We have questions. Josh has answers.
Tell me about you, Josh. Where are you? What’s your background?
I live in Los Angeles where for the past 20+ years I’ve worked in a combination of social media, marketing, journalism, newsletters and content creation within the entertainment industry as well as on my own as a consultant for the past five years.
Prior to becoming a full time consultant specializing in audience growth strategy and newsletters, I ran digital media and marketing for The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and The Oscars.
How did For The Interested come about?
In early 2016, I found myself publishing three newsletters: One about marketing for comedians called Connected Comedy, one that profiled a different interesting person each day called A Person You Should Know, and one tied to my personal blog at JoshSpector.com.
They each had a couple thousand subscribers, but I decided I was spread too thing and came up with For The Interested as a way to combine all three newsletters into a single newsletter.
I came up with the FTI format, focused on sharing ideas to help creators better produce, promote, and profit from their creations and 234 issues later, here we are!
What else are you working on?
I also publish This Is How I Do It, which is a paid newsletter and collection of resources featuring a behind-the-scenes look at exactly how I grow my audience and business.
That’s available as an annual subscription and I also make certain single editions available for individual purchase.
How many subscribers do you have, right now? What have you done to grow the audience? What worked? what didn’t?
I’ve got about 17,000 subscribers to FTI right now (I recently cleaned my list so it shrunk a bit – the more meaningful number to me is opens and about 10k people a week open my newsletter.)
I’ve shared a ton of information about how I grew my audience and compiled a lot of it on this newsletter tips page.
What’s your big goal for For The Interested? How does it fit in with your other projects?
The goal of everything I do is always to provide value.
With FTI, I’m trying to help creators get the most out of their creations and by doing so I’m able to put myself at the center of that community which creates additional opportunities for me.
My newsletter is really the engine of everything I do – it leads to monetization both directly (through classified ads in FTI and paid subscriptions to This Is How I Do It) and indirectly (most of my consulting clients discover me through my newsletter).
I’m obsessed with other peoples’ processes – how does your newsletter come together? What’s your workflow? What tools do you use? Who else is involved?
I’ve offered in-depth explanations of exactly how I do it in This Is How I Do It, but here’s a bit of it.
I use Workflowy to keep track of articles and videos I come across during the week that may be a good fit for the newsletter.
I typically write the newsletter on Saturdays and always publish it on Sunday mornings at 6 am PST.
I use Aweber as my email service provider and also published each issue on ForTheInterested.com (a WordPress site) and Medium.
I also send a follow-up email on Fridays to people who haven’t opened that week’s issue. That “Here’s What You Missed” email typically increases my open rate by 10-15% each week.
I have someone who works for me send that follow up, but other than that I do it all myself.
How are you thinking about the newsletter ecosystem in 2020?
Here are a few interviews I’ve recently done on podcasts where I talk all about newsletters:
What’s your business model for your newsletter?
I earn revenue in four ways:
– Classified ads in For The Interested (details here – every issue has sold out since I launched them in August)
– This Is How I Do It annual subscriptions ($120)
– This Is How I Do It single editions ($10 each)
– Consulting clients who find me through the newsletter
What big idea would you love to work on if you had unlimited time and money?
Newsletter discovery has room for improvement.
There are a lot of people out there who would get tremendous value from some newsletters and they have no idea those newsletters even exist.
I’m seeing a lot of newsletter directories surfacing these days in an attempt to help with discovery, but it feels like the only people paying attention to them are other newsletter creators.
There’s no equivalent to Apple’s podcast directory where they have the ability to actually drive meaningful attention to podcasts. There’s no newsletter directory that’s really attracting people on that scale.