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122 How To Create A Successful Newsletter On Substack (Or Anywhere Else)

Wednesday 22nd May 2024
LOM_Episodes-122 How to create a successful newsletter

In this episode of Lochhead on Marketing, let’s talk about newsletters. Particularly, how to create a successful newsletter.

Lately, we’ve been getting a lot of questions regarding newsletters: how to create a successful newsletter. With the success we are having on Category Pirates, I would like to share some of my thoughts on how you can create a successful newsletter yourself.

It Is Never Too Late

One of the things you’ll hear when you express the intent to create a newsletter (or podcast for that matter) is that there are already a million other newsletters and podcasts out there. If you hear this statement, stop listening, and continue on.

Just because someone is already doing well in a field you are attempting to be in, doesn’t mean you don’t do it anymore. It just means you have to take a different approach on getting to the top.

The other premise that keeps being pushed around is that people don’t want to read long newsletters. They want soundbites, or easily digestible tidbits of information. Well, we reject that premise, and sought to create a newsletter that we ourselves would want to read.

It turns out, other business leaders also love reading it.

How to Create a Successful Newsletter

That said, here are some tips on how you can write your own successful newsletter.

  1. Have a different point of view. It’s astounding how much stuff out there is just a regurgitation of the same thing. Figure out what makes you unique, make that true north, and stick to it.
  2. Bring fresh data, frameworks, and insights. Some people just tend to recycle other people’s data and call it “research”. If you want to be a successful, differentiated newsletter writer, do your own primary data research.
  3. Write with courage.
  4. Don’t write anything that is already being written. When something popular is going on, everyone wants to have a hot take on it to ride along the wave. But if everyone is already writing about the same stuff, why would you write about the same thing?
  5. Don’t “curate” recycled stupidities. If you want to include other people’s work in your newsletter, that’s fine. As long as you make sure what you’re curating is high-quality content.
  6. Write tight.
  7. Don’t write anything you’d see in tier-2 magazines. If your content consists of clickbait-y topics and other nonsense, then how are you different from the hundreds of other clickbait websites out there? You will just be another carbon copy of the same thing.
  8. Know who you’re NOT writing for. It is important to know who your audience is. Although, it’s equally important, if not more, to know who you are NOT writing for. Because the worst thing you can do is listen to the wrong crowd.
  9. Keep your eye on the ball, not the audience. Don’t obsess about subscriber counts, social media metrics, etc. If you have too little subscribers, it will just bum you out. If you suddenly have an influx of subscribers, it might affect your decision-making and quality of your content.
  10. Write every day, regardless of how often you publish. You’ll be amazed on how much ideas can come out of the blue. Don’t waste them; write it all down. Also, it will help you improve your writing skills if you put it to practice daily.
  11. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you the newsletter category is saturated and therefore you shouldn’t do it.
  12. If you want smart readers, write smart. There’s a difference on writing it so it’s understandable by a huge audience, and dumbing it down to appease the mouth breathers.
  13. Do work YOU think is legendary. Minimum viable newsletter is as dumb as it sounds. If you’re going to do something, make it legendary.

And here’s a bonus one for the road:

  1. Don’t be marketing your shit all the time. This is a big turnoff for a lot of readers, especially those who are looking for informative content. A shoutout or two once in a while is good, but don’t make a habit of it.


Christopher Lochhead is a #1 Apple podcaster and #1 Amazon bestselling co-author of books: Niche Down and Play Bigger.

He has been an advisor to over 50 venture-backed startups; a former three-time Silicon Valley public company CMO and an entrepreneur.

Furthermore, he has been called “one of the best minds in marketing” by The Marketing Journal, a “Human Exclamation Point” by Fast Company, a “quasar” by NBA legend Bill Walton and “off-putting to some” by The Economist.

In addition, he served as a chief marketing officer of software juggernaut Mercury Interactive. Hewlett-Packard acquired the company in 2006, for $4.5 billion.

He also co-founded the marketing consulting firm LOCHHEAD; the founding CMO of Internet consulting firm Scient, and served as head of marketing at the CRM software firm Vantive.

We hope you enjoyed this episode of Lochhead on Marketing™! Christopher loves hearing from his listeners. Feel free to email him, connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and subscribe on Apple Podcast! You may also subscribe to his newsletter, The Difference, for some amazing content.