What makes readers engage with a newsletter?

A good question, after a busy week of writing, filming, and marketing.

Matthias Bohlen
6 minutes reading time

Hey friend,

Substack had an interesting thread going on in their Writer Office Hours session this week.

The question was: How are you interacting and building community with your readers?

From the discussion, I learned some interesting options for you to have your readers engage more with you. Let me paraphrase them here for you:

  • Share something personal, an experience you had that was meaningful to you. It can be personal, but not in a way that you shared something you wouldn’t be comfortable with others knowing.
  • In general, write what you wish someone wrote about. Be the writer you would like to read, not the writer that you think your audience would like to read. Your audience is there because of your unique angle on things.
  • Leave something unanswered. Share an idea that you have only just begun to think about. Something that you’re not totally sure about. Then, ask the readers to help you get to the next level of understanding, or to get to the next version of that idea.
  • Ask a direct question. As authors, we think that a reader should answer the email that they get and give us authors their spin on it. However, it may still take one more “trigger” to get them going. Ask something that you really want to know and are interested to learn.

My new podcast show

Speaking of asking a direct question. My direct question today is this:

Do you want to be on my podcast?

Some background here: I am planning to start a new podcast season (since I finished my last one in February 2022 after 28 episodes, and it was so much fun!)

The new podcast show will be called “Grow Your Newsletter”. It will feature paid newsletter authors and their growth tactics. The goal is to learn from operators who have mastered growth, as well as from those who struggle to grow their paid newsletter.

Would you like to be my guest? Or maybe you can put another newsletter operator in touch with me, so they can be my guests?

I will be excited to meet you all and make your voices heard!

Diary: Two weeks, full of marketing

As much as I love building, I struggle with marketing. But during the last two weeks, I decided to bite the bullet. I sat down and went completely down the rabbit hole of marketing. This is what I created in two weeks:

New eBook: 2 writers making money

Mockup of my new eBook

My new, free eBook covers what I’ve learned while I went deeply into the world of media, newsletters, journalism and other forms of paid writing.

When you read it (hint hint!), you will learn:

  • What a writer collective is, and why more and more authors team up 🧑🏻‍🤝‍🧑🏽 to create one
  • When it will boost your income 💰 and in which case it will fail 💣
  • How you and your buddy 🤝 create a collective and get started 🚀
  • What processes and tools 🧰 you need to run the collective
  • How you get people to see 👀 and buy your collective’s work
  • How you send your collective writing 📤 out to subscribers
  • How you care for your subscribers
  • How you collect payments 💰 and share the revenue 💸
  • How you setup an automation 🔁 so you can forget all this and get back to writing 🖊

The eBook package contains 4 different files, to make it easy for you to read it anywhere (event in your dentist’s waiting room):

  • EPUB file for eBook readers and Apple devices
  • MOBI file for Kindle
  • PDF optimized for screen
  • PDF optimized for printing

Go here to download it. And do me a favor: Please share it with other newsletter authors!. The entire world should learn how to form small, light-weight writer collectives.

Making-of: The News Bundler demo video

Recently, I got more and more questions like “How does News Bundler work, and what does it do?”. I thought: Why not create a short explainer video?

I challenged myself to keep it shorter than 140 seconds because that is what you can simply post to Twitter without extra hassle.

And here it is:

Enjoy watching it, and: Please share it with other newsletter authors as well!

Kicking Google’s butt

And I spent a few hours in Google search console, to find out why Google doesn’t index my weekly newsletter posts that I publish on the News Bundler blog. The reason I found was a subtle mistake that I made:

The website generator adds every blog post to the sitemap.xml file for the search robots. But: I had forgotten to add that file to the robots.txt file that the search crawler reads. The result? Google hadn’t indexed my blog posts since February!

Since I added the sitemap to robots.txt, Google now recognizes all new blog posts but adds them to a backlog, to gradually index them when it has capacity to do so.

So I sat down, opened Google search console and created an “indexing request” per missing blog post, manually. What a tedious work! Such a request basically asks Google to reconsider my post. Suddenly, after what felt like 3-5 requests, Google refused and said: “Too many requests, try again tomorrow”. Oh sh… !

If I only had configured everything correctly in February, I guess I wouldn’t have that problem, today. But with a little patience, it will all work out fine.

This morning on Twitter

Cosmic Taryn asked: What makes a newsletter good? Enjoy to read the answers she got this morning and get some inspiration from them:

You’re invited to join the News Bundler Discord community!

To create a place where paid newsletter authors help each other, I thought: Why not make a special Discord community for Newsletter Growth?

You can enter it right here, using my invite link: https://discord.gg/kB48P345W6

Let’s make the first steps as a community of paid newsletter authors. I’d be happy to see you on Discord, as often as you like!

Please invite other authors as well so that we have more fun and richer conversations.

Have a good weekend and a successful fresh start into next week…

Want your own small media business, together with another author you trust?

Download our FREE eBook called "2 Writers Making Money". It shows you exactly how to raise your income as a paid newsletter author by teaming up with a buddy, selling a bundle of your newsletters, and splitting the revenue.

Set this up once, then forget about it and get back to writing.


Get your income growth playbook here: