Daniella Pierson: “My #1 piece of advice… is to stay consistent”
Every morning, our Wake-Up Call newsletter brings you the top news and exclusive interviews — much like the one you’re reading right now! We’re so excited to highlight another daily newsletter we love (because you can’t have too much of a good thing): The Newsette, a female-founded newsletter that empowers and energizes women every morning. (Sign up for their morning digest here!) Read on for our interview with Daniella Pierson, The Newsette’s founder and CEO — for her advice on how to start a successful newsletter business of your own.
Wake-Up Call: Daniella, you started The Newsette while you were just a sophomore in college. What inspired you to start a newsletter at that time?
Daniella Pierson: I always knew I wanted to have my own business one day, but I had no idea what it would be. My freshman year I spent my free time trying to create a patent for an awful shower caddy I thought would change the world, but luckily that idea fizzled out. Once I realized being the next Lori Greiner probably wasn’t in my future, I sat down and thought about what I loved to do. I had been a huge fan of reading magazines since I was a child, and I decided that creating inspiring and empowering content was my calling. But I had zero connections to the industry or NYC — so I slowly realized scoring a life-changing internship was probably not going to happen. So instead, I decided to create my own media company.
You’ve now built The Newsette into a must-read publication that reaches hundreds of thousands of people each day. What were some of the biggest lessons you learned about building your audience?
I say a silent prayer to the media gods every day that The Newsette isn’t still just opened by the eight Facebook friends I guilted into signing up when we launched five and a half years ago. I built my audience in the beginning by hustling; I messaged every person on Facebook I had ever met about this “cool media company I was interning for” and asked them all to be ambassadors. If they said yes, they would need to refer 10 friends to sign up in order to become one. Little did they know it was…. just me (oops).
In the years since, we’ve evolved into actual buttoned-up growth strategies such as cross-promotion, a referral program, and more. One of the biggest lessons I learned while building our audience (with very limited marketing resources and a dust bunny budget) is that if you are able to get even just a few people excited about your product or service, it will spread in their friend groups like wildfire. Another key lesson is leveraging others with bigger audiences and trading resources — we grew a ton by creating a system where the talent we featured were encouraged and even excited to share that they were going to be in The Newsette, therefore amplifying us to their own, often larger, audiences.
As outlets like the Washington Post have noted, many people are now starting their own newsletters — and some are actually finding huge audiences and personal success with it. What advice would you give someone when they’re deciding whether to pursue a newsletter of their own?
I started my newsletter five and a half years ago, during a time when there were only a handful of editorial newsletters out there, solely because I thought it would be easier to make than a website. Being a team of three (me, myself, and I), I didn’t have the skills (or TBH, the talent) to create anything too technical, and Mailchimp seemed like a great place for me to start. The thought of delivering a daily gift in women’s inboxes (which can usually be full of stressful messages) lit me up inside.
That intimate, inbox-only relationship has now reemerged as a popular media platform for people eager to share their POV or expertise on certain topics (often niche), since the barrier to entry is incredibly low. My #1 piece of advice for anyone looking to start their own personal newsletter is to stay consistent. Once someone hands over their email address, they expect to be given content on a regular schedule, just like if you subscribe to a podcast or YouTube channel. Start small if you need to, maybe once a month, but never leave your audience hanging!
Likewise, with so many of us cooped up at home amid the pandemic, many people are finding themselves looking for new ways to work at home. What advice do you have for someone hoping to start a business from their own home?
My advice for anyone hoping to start a business from home is to do it! Usually these types of ventures require very little or zero startup capital — so the best thing you can do is stop stirring on your idea and get moving on it. Ask others for their opinions, learn about the industry, and put your work out there! There’s never been a better time to do research and spend hours on an idea you’re passionate about.
If you could go back in time and change anything you did in the early days of launching your business, what would it be and why? What’s something you wouldn’t change for the world?
Although I made so many errors when building my business (and spoiler alert: still do) I wouldn’t change even the most brutal blows or toughest experiences. Every scar or heartbreak I’ve had on this journey has molded me into the entrepreneur I am today, and for headstrong people like me, it often takes a big bruise to learn a big lesson. And guess what: Even when you think something is the end of the world, you’ll usually laugh about it a year later.
This interview originally appeared on Medium.