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Nick Scialli (he/him)
Nick Scialli (he/him)

Posted on • Originally published at typeofnan.dev

How I went from 0 to 1,050 Developer Blog Email Signups in 6 Months

Please give this post a πŸ’“, πŸ¦„, or πŸ”– if it gives you some ideas for your mailing list!

After starting my dev email list about 6 months ago, I have been fortunate enough to get over 1,000 signups! Here are some of the methods I have used. I hope you can use them to grow your following. If you have any additional tips, or have a mailing list that I should check out, please leave a note in the comments!

Ask For Signups on All Blog Posts

Many of use write blog posts for free about technical topics. We give this to people for nothing--so definitely don't feel guilty for adding a quick aside promoting your email list!

As a super meta example, please consider signing up for my mailing list! I write about a range of software development topics, but often focus on web dev and modern tech stacks.

Blog a Lot

"A lot" is in the eye of the beholder, but I typically add a new post to my blog weekly. In doing so, I've gotten lucky a few times and have started getting some decent Google Search traffic (i.e., 100 hits a day, which isn't bad!).

Of course, as I mentioned above, each person that views a blog post generally has one or two opportunities to sign up for my email list.

Write Quality Posts

Writing a bunch of posts doesn't mean you should write low quality posts. Try to write about something you learned that week--big or small. Usually, that will translate pretty well into what other people are trying to learn!

Blog About Stuff Even If Others Have

One of my blog posts that gets the most Google Search hits is about writing your first React project with Typescript. Anyone who has experience with React and Typescript knows this has been blogged about endlessly, but apparently my take on it is helpful to people!

Don't underestimate the power of your particular voice in teaching something that may have been taught many times before!

Crosspost to Dev.to

I generally worry about crossposting because I don't want Google to punish me for publishing the same content in multiple places. However, I found out that Dev.to offers a canonical_url param in their markdown metadata, meaning I can let the search engines know that my personal blog is the original source of the post!

I have gotten a ton of great exposure, email signups, and made some good connections by crossposting to Dev.to!

Post to Reddit... If You Dare

Reddit is an interesting beast. The amount of traffic your blog posts can get from it is incredible! Also, it's one of the most negative communities I have ever experienced. People can be downright cruel. In many cases, I'll post to reddit, the post will be upvoted pretty nicely and I'll get good traffic, but then someone tears into me based on a small typo or random issue they have with the post and the reddit hive mind will rip me to shreds.

My most recent tactic: I'll let the post do well until I get one negative comment, at which point I'll just delete the post entirely to avoid the pile-on. Oh, reddit.

Email About Once a Week

I don't know if there truly is anything special about this timing, but it's about how frequently I blog and therefore about how frequently I have new content. I don't get a lot of unsubscribers, so I assume it's not an annoying frequency of emails. I'd be interested to hear what other folks think about email frequency!

Make Video Tutorials

I started making video tutorials to complement my blog posts! One thing I noticed was that a lot of the topics I blogged about translated nicely to video tutorial format, so in a lot of cases there's a 1-to-1 mapping from my posts to short tutorials.

Of course, in the notes for each video, I place a link to sign up for my mailing list! It's been a decent source of signups: If folks like the free content you're giving them on YouTube, they seem pretty willing to give you a shot in their inbox!

Ask for Signups on Other Projects

I have put together some random side projects. The most successful of which is a 70+ question JavaScript quiz. In that project, I offer plenty of opportunity to sign up for my mailing list, follow my YouTube tutorial channel, etc!

Conclusion

Hopefully I've given you some ideas for getting folks to sign up for your mailing list! It's hard work building a following, but from my experience, putting the effort in to putting high quality content out there results in people taking a chance on you. Good luck!

Please give this post a πŸ’“, πŸ¦„, or πŸ”– if it gives you some ideas for your mailing list! Also... consider signing up for my mailing list!

Discussion (15)

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marcoslooten profile image
Marco Slooten

Thanks for sharing Nick! What would you say is the biggest driver to your mailing list? I've recently picked up blogging more and I'm starting to see just a tiny bit of Google traffic coming in. I'm hesitant to post on Reddit and don't think I'll be doing YouTube – publishing on my site and cross-posting to Dev.to are the only things I'm doing right now. But if Reddit and YouTube are big drivers, I might need to reconsider.

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nas5w profile image
Nick Scialli (he/him) Author

On Reddit: To be totally honest, Reddit has been a really large source of both traffic and also emotionally draining. I'll get thousands of hits in a day if a post does well on r/javascript, r/webdev, or r/learnjavascript. Having some popular posts on Reddit seems to have increased up my pagerank on Google, so it definitely helped and continues to help drive traffic to my site. I just continue to be saddened by how toxic Reddit is.

On YouTube: YouTube has largely been a positive experience, but it takes a lot of work to push out high quality videos. I'm more than happy to share some tips if you're looking to get started.

My take on all of this is the more places you can create, crosspost, promote content, the better. There are different people on every platform so you ultimately get more eyes by diversifying where you post things. The real issue is if you have the time and energy to go to all these different places and, in some cases, deal with the negativity.

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marcoslooten profile image
Marco Slooten

Thanks for the inside info! Yeah, I'm doing this on the side of a full-time job, so I have to be very critical in the platforms and time-investments I choose. I don't think I can make YouTube work in the short term due to the time (and gear) investment, but I am interested in it so if you want to share tips that'd be great (I'm sure other people would love some tips as well). I think the YT community is way healthier than Reddit so that's a plus.

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nas5w profile image
Nick Scialli (he/him) Author

I'll write something up!

By the way, I think we both just subscribed to each other's mailing lists... Buttondown for the win!

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marcoslooten profile image
Marco Slooten • Edited on

That's cool, thanks for subscribing!

Yeah, Buttondown is great. Justin is great with support too. I just started using them (not even on a paid plan yet) and he's been very helpful with two minor issues I had.

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robole profile image
Rob OLeary • Edited on

I admire your consistency in writing. Thats the most important thing IMO. I think that web platforms that have downvoting or similar, and use dark patterns to keep you on their website πŸ‘€πŸ€‘, have more cynical communities. If you post there, you will invariably get negative feedback.

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nas5w profile image
Nick Scialli (he/him) Author

Thanks! One of my "ah-ha" moments was essentially that you can really write about anything and post it to your blog and some people might find it interesting or insightful. I don't necessarily email every post out to my mailing list subscribers because I do feel some of the posts are more trivial than others.

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robole profile image
Rob OLeary

If you write about things that you find interesting, whatever it may be, people will tune in eventually. You can choose to look for topics that are more trendy and appeal to the zeitgest to get a bigger audience, but it just depends on your objectives. I follow some bloggers because of their tech writing, and they post recipes and random photosets and book reviews, I don't mind that, as long as there is a central focus!

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milu_franz profile image
Milu

Great post Nick! I started posting on Dev.to a few weeks ago and I've been really enjoying creating content. A mailing list is a great idea I will implement as well. Thanks for all the good advice!

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nas5w profile image
Nick Scialli (he/him) Author

Awesome! I use (and really enjoy) Buttondown (buttondown.email). You can write posts with markdown and you get the first 1000 subscribers for free.

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emma profile image
Emma Goto πŸ™ • Edited on

Do you think there's a point where paying for the mailing list will not become worth it? e.g. if you managed to hit 20k and you were paying $100 a month.

(Also the link on your DEV profile links to your old typeofnan mailing list)

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nas5w profile image
Nick Scialli (he/him) Author

Yes, there's probably a point where I'd start exploring other services if this didn't scale well. If my mailing list does get to that level of popularity, I'd probably also try to monetize somehow to offset the cost.

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galelmalah profile image
Gal Elmalah

I really don’t get people on reddit. So god damn rude πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

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trostcodes profile image
Alex Trost

Thanks, Nick! Only three weeks into my newsletter, so these tips will definitely help!

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abdulghani200 profile image
Abdul Ghani

Thanks for sharing the insights. I'll definitely try to implement this strategies.