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

Nick Scialli June 11, 2020🚀 4 minute read

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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!


Nick Scialli

Nick Scialli is a software engineer at the U.S. Digital Service.

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