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Hello! Who are you and what newsletter did you start?
I am Niklaus Gerber, a Zürich based product guy. One of my fundamental interests is how to improve human lives. I have learned many valuable lessons in my life, and I am confident that the more you sare, the more you gain. This was the starting point of Better Human. Better Human will help you become an improved version of yourself — at work, home and in life. I am exploring how you can bring your whole self to everything you do. You will gain access to real-life proven frameworks, strategies, methods and tools that support you to live a happier, healthier, more fulfilled life.
How did you launch it and what did you do to get the first 100 subscribers?
I started a newsletter called MEMO, a curated revue of the week. Over the years, I gathered user feedback, inputs and wishes from readers, and inspiration from other newsletters. The MEMO is still the free part of Better Human, but the content is now more focussed on self-development, happiness and productivity. I reached my 100 users by just reaching out to people I knew. “Hey, I have a weekly newsletter. I hope you don’t mind if I add you to the subscriber list.” A little bit later, I followed up: “Do you like my newsletter? I hope you don’t mind sharing it with some friends who might also enjoy it.” I always kept it personal and direct. Now I have an engaged group of over 300 subscribers and an average opening rate of over 35%. I am excited that so many humans find value in my content.
What’s does your process for creating the content look like?
Regarding the topics I share in the weekly MEMO, I keep a list of interesting articles I read during the week that might be valuable to my readers. I go through the list on Friday and pick the best four to five pieces. I found a reasonable quote and prepared the newsletter for Sunday afternoon. After many iterations, these were the preferred spot for my readers. For premium content articles, I mainly get triggered by my surrounding. Most of the time, someone approaches me with a question. If I need to reflect on the answer or if I see that sharing my thoughts with a broader audience makes sense, this will start the writing process. My writing process is low-key: desk research, personal experience and some storytelling. I prefer to have it out there sooner rather than making it perfect. Good enough is often more than good enough.
What tools are you using to create, send, and grow the newsletter?
I write my articles in iA writer; I use substack as my newsletter platform and FIGMA and Pixelmator for all the design work. I am a big fan of Unsplash if I need imagery. I heavily rely on Muse and Matter for research and curating my article list.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain subscribers?
Consistency and content my readers find value in. No click-baiting, now cheating. I am happy if only one person finds value in my newsletter. I hope my audience can feel that.
How are you doing today and what are your plans for the future?
As mentioned before. I am running Better Human to make more sense of my thoughts and to share what worked well for me. If I have one or a million subscribers should not impact how I curate and create my content. This also means less pressure which helps to keep Better Human going.
What’s one piece of advice you’d like to share with someone who wants to get started or is just starting out?
Write about things you care about. Be honest, be real. Share often, Share early. Don’t try to make it perfect. Ask for feedback and listen to your audience. Shoot for human connections - you will be fine.
Where can we go to learn more?
Read „Show your work“ by Austin Kleon https://austinkleon.com/show-your-work/ (or any of his books). Visit www.niklausgerber.com and http://betterhuman.xyz/.