Newsletter The Shift

#TS 109: How to grow your newsletter in 2023

Explode from 100-10k subscribers in 2023!

I did a masterclass in newsletter growth this week (want to get mine to 10k members this year).

An overview of the top six channels you’ll need to use from Sparkloop – their tools, of course – Upscribe recommendations and their Partner Network. Louis shared some helpful growth tips too (he’s working on newsletter growth all day, every day so knows his stuff!) You can watch it here.

Interesting to hear him say the old tools and techniques for email marketing don’t work anymore – what are these?

Masterclass #2Roadmap to 1M+ Subscribers is on Weds 25 Jan – you can register here.

Overall, a productive hour (great questions, love this community). I’m excited to try some new things this year.

My goals for ‘23 – getting to 10k subscribers (+ £10k monthly income overall) and I want to develop my paid product and promote it better – haven’t pushed it. I’ve struggled with time (client work) and differentiation. Nobody wants more of the same, so it needs to be an entirely different product, not a paid newsletter.

Names and positioning are important in terms of perceived value.

Josh Spector sent me some helpful tips, and I’ve bought his newsletter course. Questions coming over for your podcast – thanks, Josh!

So I’ve called the paid product Do One Thing – a behind-the-scenes look at how I do something specific to grow my newsletter and business. A deep dive into my creative process and my first solopreneur six-figure year.

It’s about doing one thing well and doing less – newsletters are a huge time commitment, and if you bring in something new, you need to let something go, so part of my strategy is saying no to things. Focus and consistency.

Here’s a good book on the art of subtraction and the untapped science of less.

You can sign up for Do One Thing here. I hope to build this into a helpful resource and community.

I’ll also invite you to set up a free 1-1 call with me to find out what you’re working on and how I can help. This will help shape my strategy and any products I create.

Cool tools for newsletters

Swapstack – drive growth with newsletter sponsorship at scale. Collect tips, run affiliate deals, or sell ads

The Newsletter Booster and Newsletter Tips Collection | Josh Spector

Growth groups on Facebook, ugh, but they’re really good. And everyone’s there. Bookmark them, then you don’t have to use Facebook – Newsletter Nerds (1.9k), Newsletter Creators (4.7k), Substack Writers (3.6k)

Not Another Newsletter and 30 Ideas to Improve Your Newsletter This Year | Dan Oshinsky, Inbox Collective

Substack Course – by Casey Botticello. Foundational topics, tips, and strategies to accelerate your growth on the platform

If you’re writing a newsletter, send me the link so I can check it out and share it. Substack’s new Recommendations tool is awesome – I’m getting daily subscribers.

I’d also love your recommended reads on creativity, culture and tech – making a list.

The other thing that’s really helped me is having an accountability buddy – thank you, Marianne Lehnis for reaching out. We’re at a similar stage with our businesses and she’s local so we can co-work and go for walks (Wealth Walks are something else I want to get going!)

Writing a newsletter can be a lonely venture, and our little chats have kept me sane. It’s worth reaching out to someone in a similar niche to see how you can help each other.

Keep moving!


5 Things

Why I Create Annual Themes | Trevor McKendrick on the benefits of doing brand advertising for the values you want to live. My theme for 2023 is ‘Keep moving!’ hence the sign off.

Makers + Mavericks Off Grid 2023 – a one-day event from the gods of content creation | Hiut Denim. 100 people max (it’s a small barn). Love their newsletter and it’s built their community. See the M+M 2022 list here.

33 Unusual Tips to Being a Better Writer | James Altucher on the most important writing (and communication) advice he ever got, No coffee, no creativity…👌

The Common Path to Uncommon Success: A Roadmap to Financial Freedom & Fulfillment | John Lee Dumas. Loving the energy in his daily podcast – 30-mins is the sweet spot. An inspiring read on quitting everything and six-figure podcasting.

The House of Beautiful Business – a global platform that connects over 25k members who want to get more out of business and out of life. You can now join for FREE! Next Open House is tomorrow, Mon 23 Jan – Dispatch from Davos | WEF.

Playlist of the week

Corsage the movie

Best film I’ve seen lately and very of the moment. Imagine being told you’re officially old at 40 and it’s all downhill from here.


Feedback, questions, ideas? Hit reply or email me:

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Content Freelancing future of work writing

The Independent Era 👩🏻‍💻

Happy New Year. 

I’ve been housesitting over Xmas and stayed to celebrate my mum’s 70th birthday. Leaving drinks last night in McCarrolls’s – East Midlands’ first fully licensed barbers & ladies’ hair studio. Get a trim, have a coffee while you work and stay for cocktails or their evening clinic – very entrepreneurial!

50 years ago, when his dad ran his salon, haircuts were 25p – how things have changed.

Heading home today after a week of train strikes, we have a hybrid journey with rail replacement buses to look forward to. Let’s hope we don’t turn into pumpkins.

No wonder people want to avoid commuting and prefer home working. 

Just reading Upwork’s new research: the 2022 Freelance Forward survey, a study of 3K professionals, which The Freelance Informer has analysed in more detail. 

Interesting viewpoints in this post. Many of us are undergoing a once-in-a-generation reassessment of what it means to have a fulfilling career. 

“The result: in 2022, a staggering 39% of the US workforce, or 60 million Americans, performed freelance work in the past year, an increase from the year prior.”

“In just a matter of years, the US labour market could reach a 50/50 split between salaried and freelance workers.” 

Will the US freelancing surge make its way to the UK? 

Or is too much red tape counter-productive to alternative earning power? 

It’s worth tracking US freelancer trends as they generally make their way over the pond, and so many of us are doing borderless business these days. 

I had less contract work in 2022 with companies cancelling non-critical projects and the ongoing impact of IR35 – disappointing that the repeal has now been dropped. 

My agent said it’s been quiet, so he’s been travelling to the US to meet clients. I spoke to a creative director at an independent advertising agency who said they are still adjusting to remote agency life – despite a cool beachfront location near New York, many staff still prefer to work remotely.  

Anyway, I hope so! And that the government gets its act together and simplifies IR35. It would be foolish not to – the over-50s are quitting the workforce in high numbers for various reasons. And we have the digital nomad revolution.

Put the kettle on and have a read.

Well worth joining The Freelance Informer community and newsletter if you haven’t already – they are looking for freelance contributors.

My digital publishing platform obsession rolls on! 

I’ve joined and will combine publishing on Substack with Mirror and see how it goes. Taking baby steps with web3 – I’ve set up a wallet, now checking out podcasts and doing free courses. 

Still posting on Twitter but doubling down on LinkedIn this year as my main platform. LinkedIn is benefitting hugely from the musky scent of Twitter.

I’ve also invested in Brian Clark’s excellent Personal Enterprise Accelerator, which gives you a solid framework for getting more clients, creating successful products, and building your digital business empire – 7 Figure Small is the podcast.


5 Things

Creator Economy Expo – the event for content creators, May 1-3, 2023. Learn how to scale and grow your content-first business faster and smarter – without relying on social media. An excellent investment for your business – see the 2023 agenda here.

Curious about web3 but don’t know where to start or who to trust? Introducing Web3 for Beginners: Your Guide to Getting Started with Web3, a free course by Michael Stelzner, the founder of Social Media Examiner. Learn the basics and apply them to your business.

How I got 10K Followers on LinkedIn by Being Myself. Nate Shalev, Founder of Revel Impact, found success on LinkedIn once they became more vulnerable in their posts. Game-changing tips and a success strategy for growing on the platform. 

Workload Planning for Freelance Writers – how to be a better planner and stop overbooking yourself to the point of burnout (saying no to work is hard!) Delighted to discover Marijana’s Project Planner – a simple + powerful tool to help you manage your workload, track your income, and run a balanced business.

Post News – an alternative to Twitter? Just been approved, so will have a play. “Post will be a civil place to debate ideas; learn from experts, journalists, individual creators, and each other; converse freely, and have some fun.” You can share your articles under a paywall, and it allows users to tip creators via micro-payments. 

Feedback, questions, ideas? Hit reply or email me:

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AI Personal branding writing

Merry Christmas from my sofa to yours ☃️ 🍷

How to boost your personal brand; AI writing tools; 2022 top links and word of the year | TS #107

Merry Christmas from my sofa. I’ve been ill and can’t stand the cold, so working from bed most mornings with my hot water bottle and blankie. I may stay here till March!

This is my last newsletter of the year so I wish you some well-deserved downtime. Cheers to health, happiness and prosperity in 2023!

Here’s to us all earning more and “a steady diet of more interesting, more challenging, more provocative projects.” Tom Peters – The Brand Called You.

I wrote a piece on how to raise your online profile for The Portfolio Collective this month. “Thanks, lots to unpack here”, says Pete Domican, and there is. Personal branding is a massive topic and I’ll be focusing more on this and web3 and writing in 2023, starting with post.newsSudowrite and – pushing the boundaries of writing online.

I’ve been playing with OpenAI tools ChatGPT and DALLE-E. Wow! This is a big deal – sooooo many people are talking about this, and it’s interesting how the word-based app has taken off more than the images – they take some practice. Super impressed and it’s very addictive.

So in the spirit of all the 2022 roundup posts I’ve been enjoying, here are my 12 Things of 2023 – my top links and worth a revisit 👀

Your free standout self-assessment workbook (Dorie Clark)

It takes this freelance writer just a few minutes to make her every client pitch 100% personalized (Authory)

So Good They Can’t Ignore You (Cal Newport)

Systems can set you free (Mark McGuinness)

European freelancers & where to find them (Robert Vlach)

Why we love (async) voice memos (Growmotely)

The async toolkit (Twist)

Free ebook: The Practical Magic of the 5-Hour Workday (Trevor G Blake)

Learning how to learn (Ness Labs)

A stunning second act! Meet the people who changed course in midlife – and loved it (The Guardian)

How to think for yourself (Paul Graham)

Why you might want to switch to a four-day work week (Creative Boom)

2022 word of the year

For the first time in history, Oxford Dictionaries allowed the public to vote on its ‘22 word of the year, and the winner was Goblin Mode.

A type of behaviour which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly or greedy, typically in a way that rejects societal norms or expectations.

Other contenders were ‘Metaverse’ and ‘IStandWith’, but ‘Goblin Mode’ won by a mile.

Goblin Mode speaks to the times and the zeitgeist – ongoing strikes, four-day workweek trials, the great resignation, quiet quitting, karoshi, involution and tang ping – ‘lie still’.

We don’t want to go back to normal life, the 9-5 and pushback against unrealistic social media lifestyles.

My 2023 word of the year is ‘Portable’ – web3 and writing, NFT tokens, new locations to live/work and a lighter laptop than this relic.

What’s yours?

See you on the other side!


A shoutout to Nige Cook, my first Founding Member and a long-time supporter of my work. It means a lot and is much appreciated – thank you 🙏

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AI Content future of work

Unlock your best writing 🍒

I’m writing this on a new AI-powered word processor from the Every team.

It’s called Lex, and it’s like Google Docs – except it’s got an AI baked in, and there are a few different ways you can use it, but I think my favourite is probably for when you’re stuck. Nathan Baschez

• 25K sign-ups in the first 24 hours

• 10K views of the demo video

• 1M impressions of the announcement tweet

• Included in a market map of AI tools

• Overflowing inbox and DMs

Here’s Nathan on what he’s learned from building Lex so far and the launch. “I think it will be useful for anyone building new products, thinking through positioning, and planning launches.”

I’ve been playing with it this week, and it’s easy to use: simple markdown. Dark mode. Works fast on mobile. You can add pics and links. Easy to share docs – no need for edit permissions.

The fun bit is the AI tool. If you get stuck or want inspiration, type something and hit command + enter or +++, and GTP-3 will give you a few sentences it thinks might come next. It’s not perfect, but it offers prompts and ideas to help your writing process.

Not sure it will speed up my writing, though. Been down a few rabbit holes 🕳🐇

What shall I do today?

Could keep playing with Lex…

Can you give me a shoulder massage?

I’m sorry, I can’t do that.

Julieta: I’m hungry

Could get something to eat.

Who will be the next prime minister in the UK?

I’m sorry, I can’t do that.

How can AI help writers do their best work?

I’m not sure, but Lex might be able to help with that.

How do I share this document?

To share, click the Share button in the top right corner and choose how you want to share it.

Who will ultimately benefit the most from all this new technology?

eking ahead!

The people who will ultimately benefit the most struggle with writer’s block or have difficulty getting their thoughts down on paper. This new technology will help them tap into their creative side and develop ideas they may not have had.

What dataset does GPT-3 use?

GPT-3 is a natural language processing model that uses a dataset of over a trillion words to predict the next word in a sentence.

What’s your favourite newsletter?

Mine is the Lexicon!

It also has todos! Hit command + enter, and you get some alternative suggestions…

Stuck on the header? Hit the button next to the title and it will generate 5+ title ideas.

A word processor with AI baked in. I like having it in one document I use daily rather than having to copy/paste text over to another site as I did with I mainly used that for the content improver, which had a word limit, and stopped as it was too expensive.

Here is a writing prompt to help spark ideas, not replace them. AI still has its limits – it can be factually inaccurate, and GTP-3 is only trained up to mid-2021. It can also plagiarise text, so better used for suggestions.

Lex is currently in beta, while they iron out any problems and make sure it’s stable. Free for now and there will be a paid plan at some point “as AI is expensive”.

I’ve given some feedback – it would be cool if it could recommend a quote or recently published article on a topic. Save some time on research.

See the roadmap (upcoming features) – exciting!! It’s refreshing to have something that helps writers rather than putting us out of a job.

Congratulations to the team – and thank you for a great tool.

Look forward to seeing where this goes. It could be the next big thing in word processing. We relied on Photoshop then Figma came along, disrupting the design market. Now acquired by Adobe for $20 billion.

Will Notion come knocking..?

Sign up for Lex here 👯‍♀️ (via Google for now)

More green friends. I’m slowly turning my flat into a jungle. Plants not politics.

Very healing – reduces my stress levels and anxiety and always free for a chat if you need to get things off your chest. I haven’t killed any yet.

Antiviral properties – lemon balm, lavender, rosemary, mint. I’ve been wiped out for weeks with this weird flu thing.

– Nika

Dive Deeper 🏄🏻‍♀️

Joe Rogan interviews Steve Jobs | “It’s been a long time since I’ve been on the show.” (except he never was – this is a conversation entirely generated by AI). Each week they explore a new topic in-depth, and you can suggest topics, guests, and hosts for future episodes. Fascinating to see how AI is evolving.

Revolutionise your creative process by mastering Ideaflow | Stanford – a proven strategy that anyone can use to routinely generate and commercialise innovative ideas. How to establish a daily creativity practice – free bonus chapter: How to think like Bezos and Jobs (via Eat Sleep Work Repeat).

Freelance Business Month | A fantastic lineup with a ‘future of work’ focus for the final week. “How HR & talent acquisition strategies are changing to welcome more independent profs” and opportunities for freelancers. I’ve enjoyed dipping in and out of sessions – and my Freelance Goody Bag!

Semafor | An exciting global news startup and a new way of presenting news – facts first, then opinion, analysis and perspectives. A focus on relationship-building between the journo and the audience via the website and newsletters. Reminds me of Axios, which also disrupted the market. One to keep an eye on!

The Active Voice | Podcast with Substack co-founder Hamish McKenzie about writing and the internet. How do we tell stories when social media dominates minds and attention? On making space to create and how to make a living amid the economic volatility of the 2020s. Episode #1 is out now.

Made for you with love by Firebird – an award-winning one-woman content show.

Contact me if you have something to share, a link suggestion or just want to say hi 👋