Newsletter Glue & Lesley Sim: Her Journey into Software FTH: 085February 26, 2022 February 26, 2022 /
Thanks to Cloudways for sponsoring this episode!
Cloudways is offering an exclusive discount for The Kim Doyal Show listeners. Visit cloudways.com and use the promo code KIM20 to avail 20% OFF for 2 months on the hosting plan of your choice.
Newsletter Glue is the only WordPress plugin that allows you to publish your newsletter to your WordPress site AND your email service provider at once.
This was such a fun interview and I absolutely adore Lesley.
Her story is pretty amazing too… not a typical path into software development.
Lesley and I recorded this a while ago (I was holding onto it until the rebrand to FtheHUSTLE with Kim Doyal). Since then Newsletter Glue has launched a new website and version 2 of the plugin!
Where to connect with Lesley
Kim Doyal 0:01
Welcome to F the hustle. I’m your host, Kim Doyal. You want a life that is meaningful and exciting. In this podcast, we’re going to talk about launching and growing an online business that fits your lifestyle. After the hustle is all about doing good work, building real relationships, and most importantly, creating a business that supports how you want to live your life. You don’t have to sacrifice the quality of your life today to create something that sets your soul on fire. And yes, that includes making a lot of money. So we’ll be talking about selling, charging what you’re worth, and how earning more means helping more people. My goal is to help you find freedom and create a business on your terms. Hey, what’s going on everybody? Welcome to another episode of the podcast. I am your host, Kim Doyal. And I’m really excited today because not only is our guest amazing, but we’re going to talk about something that I have gotten really obsessed with in the last couple of years. And that is newsletters. But first, my guest today is Leslie sim, the founder of Newsletter Glue. Leslie, thanks so much for joining me today.
Lesley Sim 1:45
Thanks so much for having me, Kim. Super happy to be here.
Kim Doyal 1:48
And we’ll just let everybody know, this is fun. You are recording from you’re in Singapore.
Lesley Sim 1:54
Kim Doyal 1:55
Okay, so what time is it for you?
Lesley Sim 1:58
Is 9:34 pm
Kim Doyal 2:02
Yeah, and it’s 7:34 pm. This is why I love what we do, Leslie, it’s like we get to connect with people all over the world. It’s just, I don’t know, it makes the world seem smaller and bigger kind of at the same time.
Lesley Sim 2:13
Yeah, totally. I feel like I actually benefited from the pandemic because now nobody’s going out and meeting people. And they have to meet people like me online. So that’s yeah, that’s been like one cool and unexpected side effect. nice side effect of the pandemic.
Kim Doyal 2:31
It is, it’s nice to see those benefits. And I mean, it just, I think it forced a lot of growth and opportunity online in general. So I think it’s fantastic. Okay, so, enough about that. But I would love to know, you know, we did a live stream talking about newsletter glue, and I’ll let you explain what that is. But I don’t know much about your backstory if you wouldn’t mind sharing with listeners, kind of, you know, how you got into all this what you’re doing prior to creating and launching newsletter glue?
Lesley Sim 3:01
Yeah, how far would you like me to go back?
Kim Doyal 3:06
Maybe with your entrepreneurial journey, or you know, I mean, whatever you feel like sharing honestly.
Lesley Sim 3:12
Um, so my very first job or my very first real job after university was in the government in the airport. And it turns out that I was very bad at that because I did not like Are you familiar with the term iron rice ball? No, explains that there might be a Singaporean or Southeast Asian, but it’s just kind of like a stable steady job that you know, like working in the government is known for like the work in the government, you have a stable steady job, and that’s an iron rice ball. It’s not going to go away. Ah, okay. Yeah, and so I didn’t know it at the time. But I knew after working there for a couple of years that you know, stable, steady-type jobs were super not my thing. And I just kind of got bored and wanted to do other things. And so I left the airport in the aviation industry and went into advertising, which was as far away as an iron rifle as
Kim Doyal 4:24
Well, and not to mention talk about talking about a pivot. Do you mind me asking? What did you study in university?
Lesley Sim 4:30
I study commerce, which is kind of like a general business degree. So we did like marketing, accounting, finance, a whole bunch of stuff. Okay. So yeah, just kind of a general degree, I guess. And then so yeah, I moved into advertising. I like that so much more. I kind of think about my time or like, I think like a good description of my time there is being able to skate skateboard in the hallways. I love it. Yeah, like advertising is super fun. I think it’s like my dream job that even now like if I had to get a full-time job advertising would be one of the places that I look. I just really liked the work. Yeah, it’s fun and the people as well. Yeah. Wait, have you? Do you have? Do you have any experience in advertising?
Kim Doyal 5:21
No, no other than just 14 years. And I mean, right. Similar in terms. I mean, I’ve run ads, but I’m fascinated by copy and the fact that messages can there’s this whole psychological bent behind it. And so and then it’s how do you get creative and get it to work? I mean, it’s, it’s kind of it’s like science in and of itself, almost.
Lesley Sim 5:43
Yeah. Yeah, that’s like, that’s always been kind of my, like, I’ve been super interested in that as well. And so yeah, advertising was really interesting. And I was an account executive there. So like, not a creative. And it was, like, the part that I always liked was like, being able to pull the strings. So like, I’m managing the client, but I’m also managing, you know, internally with the copywriters and the designers and trying to get, you know, get a campaign out the door. And that was super cool, because I always kind of wanted to run my own business. And I didn’t know it at the time when I went into advertising. But once I started doing the job, I realized, like, Oh, this is, you know, this is really close to entrepreneurship, because it teaches you how to get things done. Every month, do you have a campaign that has to go out? You know, kind of paid for it? You know, there’s like a newspaper spot waiting for your ad to go in there. You have to do it. And it’s like, how do you, you know, hurt the kittens and the door? Yeah. And yeah, so it was super fun. It was a lot of hard work a lot of pressure, like, yeah, a lot of pressure, a lot of like, for em nights, a lot of figuring things out as you go, because you know, sometimes creatives will come up with crazy ideas that are on you to kind of figure out how to make happen. So yeah, I just really liked that. But the thing that I didn’t like so much was, so I joined advertising at a time when digital stuff was becoming a thing. In I think 2012, back when we were still buying Yahoo ads. And so so so like, obviously, things have changed a lot since then. And it was like kind of became obvious that traditional agencies ad agencies didn’t really know that much about the internet and like how things worked. And you know, even things like sales funnels and marketing funnels, which everyone knows now. Traditional agencies back then didn’t know anything about and it was kind of starting to show it was obvious that, you know, clients were coming to agencies to ask about, can we run a digital campaign? And agencies will obviously say yes, but then they scramble after that and try to figure things out. And I, I wanted to go to where no, people actually knew what they’re talking about. The digital internet world. So I left the agency life. And instead of I tried, I tried to get a job in the States, actually. Sorry. So like, this is the long story that you never asked.
Kim Doyal 8:44
Well, I think the journey is fascinating. And it’s I think it’s really helpful for listeners, in my opinion, to hear, it’s just not a straight line for any of us to get to where we are.
Lesley Sim 8:58
Exactly. Yeah, I like kind of like telling the story because I don’t often get a tablet. And it’s not the story that you’d expect. I think it’s about to take a sharp turn. Yeah. So I like tried to get a digital agency job in the States because I felt that’s where a lot of the cutting-edge digital marketing stuff was happening. And I just couldn’t. And so what I ended up doing was traveling the states. And as my three-month visa was expiring, I felt okay, I’m not ready to go home yet. So I decided to go to Honduras to freedive.
Kim Doyal 9:39
Oh my gosh, yeah.
Lesley Sim 9:42
And it’s so ridiculous when I think about it now but I actually bought the ticket. Like for two days out. And it was only the day before where I asked myself like, do I actually need a visa for Honduras? Like, what language do they speak there? I just kind of bought the ticket and yeah, like didn’t think about any of that. So thankfully, I didn’t need a visa, I would have been in trouble.
Kim Doyal 10:08
Can I ask were you traveling with anybody? Are you by yourself? I was by myself. Wow. It’s amazing. Go ahead.
Lesley Sim 10:15
Yeah. So I went to her daughter’s went to freediving school and ended up really, really liking it. And I ended up staying there for eight months and becoming a freediving instructor and teaching people free diving. And that was my life for almost a year. And it was great. Yeah, I’m like telling you this also, because, you know, I know that you’re in Costa Rica right now. And that’s super close to Honduras. So like, I feel like you know what I’m talking about?
Kim Doyal 10:45
Yeah, absolutely. It’s, it’s to get that experience of living in another culture that lives vastly different than what you’ve done. It’s sort of humbling and awe-inspiring at the same time.
Lesley Sim 10:58
Yes. Yeah. Super agree. It really broadens your perspective, I think, and makes you realize how much you can’t assume. Because like, people are just so different over the world.
Kim Doyal 11:14
Yeah, yeah. So I go ahead, sorry.
Lesley Sim 11:19
I did the freediving thing. And a year, a year later, I came home thinking that I was going to continue being a freediving instructor and do that across Southeast Asia and like, had this whole thing. And then my mom comes and she has this serious talk with me about my future. And she says, Oh, yeah, exactly. She was legitimately concerned that I was gonna turn into some kind of dive bomb or something, we just, you know exactly what I was becoming. So fair enough. Um, yeah. And so she had that talk. And then she successfully guilt-tripped me into staying at home in Singapore and trying to take a normal job. So I tried that very briefly. And it turns out that, I guess, like my sabbatical in Honduras had, I think I changed me fundamentally as a person, and I just like, couldn’t do a regular job anymore. And so I quit soon after and tried to do my own thing. And it’s and then there’s a quick detour into craft beer, which I won’t go into too much detail about because like, this has already gone on for way longer than
Kim Doyal 12:34
but this is so fun. I do you got a quick okay, so hold on, hold on, hold on. So quick detour and craft beer in terms of like you got into making it or you went to work for a craft brewery.
Lesley Sim 12:46
Oh, so I was a partner in a craft beer brewery. It was just like the two of us. So I was meant to do the marketing side of things. And he was doing the brewing. And we were both kind of doing sales, like, literally door to door going knocking on restaurants and asking if they wanted to buy a beer. Wow. Yeah. So and we were like, one of my favorite gifts that we made was a mandarin ale. Mandarin Orange ale.
Kim Doyal 13:15
Oh my god, I love orange in like wheat beers. It’s so good.
Lesley Sim 13:20
Yeah. And I remember we use, like, I took the resistors from my kitchen, and we were just like, sitting there testing oranges. And I think like that made that year, at least, like, to me feel tastes much nicer. Because, you know, we like to sit there for two hours. Just testing oranges. Yeah, but that didn’t work out. As it turns out, there’s a lot more too, you know, making a craft beer business successful than just a brewery and two people. Yeah. So didn’t work out. And but at the time, because we were just the two of us I had to build a website had to like figure out, how do we, you know, do the online sales have a presence and all that stuff. And so, that kind of reignited my interest in digital marketing and websites, which if you recall, was the reason why I went to the States in the first place. And I was like, Okay, so like, because of this, we’ve like, built the website. I’ve learned all this stuff that how to use WordPress for the first time and decided, okay, maybe I can double down on this. And I started my digital marketing agency from there.
Kim Doyal 14:45
Holy moly, that is such a great story, Leslie, truly, and thank you for sharing it because it is I you know, it’s crazy because when you’ve been doing this for a while, and you’ve I mean, so you really started paying attention to the digital marketing space at the ad agency. You said, which is what, like 2012 or so? Yeah. Yeah, I mean, so for almost 2022, so 10 years later, and it’s still sort of like the Wild West. And I think there’s a market sophistication that’s happened. But there are still people starting their businesses every day online. And to hear that, it’s just not a straight path. And so what brings you here? Is, I don’t know, it also gives you the strength and the backbone to keep going when you start here, because none of this is easy, either.
Lesley Sim 15:32
Yeah, exactly. Alright, so
Kim Doyal 15:35
Did you start a digital marketing agency? I’m sorry. Um, and did you? So you went about doing advertising for people? You were doing websites? What was what did you guys offer under the agency?
Lesley Sim 15:47
Yeah, just kind of, it was just me and a team of freelancers. So we’re kind of doing anything people wanted, basically. So like, we built websites, we did some content marketing, I did a bunch of videos as well. Yeah, just kind of, you know, everything that whatever we could find whatever what we could find, I guess. And then it got to 2019. And I was kind of getting burnt out. We had a really successful year, but it was, you know, I think I worked probably seven days a week for 50 out of 52 weeks. Or just, you know, just Yeah, I was just kind of done. And so what I ended up doing was scaling down. So we were kind of at, you know, when you’re working seven days a week, it’s that kind of point where you either commit and hire more people, or you let go have a bunch of clients and scale down. And I decided that I would scale down. So I let go of a bunch of clients and looked at building a plugin. Instead, I just, you know, I already tried freediving I tried advertising, I tried to like, you know, the one thing at that point I hadn’t tried it was software. And it was something that I was always interested in. And I’m not a developer. So, you know, I never thought that I’d be able to do a software business because I couldn’t build anything. Then I realized, you know, I could partner up with someone. So I looked at the indie hackers forum and looked for someone look, you know, a technical person looking for a business co-founder, and I found my co-founder admin, he had built a membership plugin, and was looking for someone to help market it. And so that’s kind of how we started working together. And I think, you know, part of the story already, the membership plugin didn’t work out. But we built a feature inside the membership plugin that would allow you to send blog posts out as new status to subscribers. And I really liked that specific feature. And so even though the membership plugin didn’t work out, we decided to pivot and build out a business around that send post to subscribers feature. And that was how newsletter glue was born. And oh, my goodness, oh, sorry.
Kim Doyal 18:22
That is I love it. Lesley, what a fantastic story. So you are certainly tenacious and be you sound fearless. But is it more that there’s this sort of drive-in you to just keep going and find that thing? I mean, a lot of people would have given up.
Lesley Sim 18:42
So I think like, my answer now, is quite different from the answer I would have given you a decade ago, Manson now is I think, like, my family, I come from, like a pretty good family background, like we have, you know, I feel like secure. And so coming from that, you know, we weren’t like, hard up for money or anything like that. And so that gave me a lot more opportunities to take risks. I think I can’t speak for everyone, obviously, but like, I know, a bunch of my friends, for example, who growing up, they always felt that they had to get a stable job and, you know, become a lawyer doctor, because they didn’t, they had like they had to scrape by when they were children. And so like, those, those friends would find it much harder to take risks and go do silly things like freediving. Whereas, I think like, I had the luxury of doing that. And as I saw, like, you know, my parents they’re, you know, they’re not like filthy rich or anything but like, just being able to come from a stable background and like, not have to worry too much that just really helped. So can Yeah, I think it’s like a huge pot.
Kim Doyal 20:06
Sorry. It’s just, I think, yeah. Yeah. I think also that it sounds like even though your mom had a sort of up here if you’ve heard the phrase like a come to Jesus moment about, yeah, getting a job right that. Okay. But I mean, you know, my parents have very traditional jobs too. And it was like, Well, I mean, they were supportive as I was getting started with this, but it was like, maybe, and I was like, Look, I’ll walk away from my house before I go back to a job again, I just knew it wasn’t ever. I wasn’t supposed to do that. But at the same time, so where you had some financial security, and I think that’s huge. And I think that’s very honest. And thanks for sharing that because it does make it a lot easier to take some risks. But it also sounds like to a certain extent, your parents, your family, supported your curiosity a little bit as well. I mean, it took you let’s say, California or the United States to Honduras to diving for your mom to finally go. Why don’t we have a little chit-chat?
Lesley Sim 21:08
Yeah. Yeah, okay, enough. Yeah, I think I think I but I’m also a middle child. So I think I like got get away with a lot of stuff that my siblings wouldn’t be able to get away with. Yeah, so I play under the radar a lot. And, yeah,
Kim Doyal 21:29
that’s totally funny. I’m a middle child, too.
Lesley Sim 21:33
There you go.
Kim Doyal 21:34
There we go. So, alright, so flutter glue. I Okay. So this was you was it 2019. When you started when you found your business partner when did newsletter Glue first hit the market? Because my friend a vendor was the one who introduced me to it. And I was like, Oh, my God, it’s so pretty. Like, I’m such a nut when it comes to how your eyes look and stuff. And I love the way it looked. But so when did you get even better? So excited. So when? When did it hit the market?
Lesley Sim 22:05
It almost a year to this day? Actually, I think we launched the paid version, like the last week of November last year. Yeah, so a year, pretty much we launched off we version. Maybe I want to say August or September. And yeah, we had a lot of good feedback. So that like me like it was enough validation for me to be like, Okay, we have something here. That’s, you know, that should make this into a business.
Kim Doyal 22:37
Wow. Okay. And so and your partner’s name is Ahmed. So that’s fantastic. What did is there something so you liked that feature? Within the plugin? Were you paying attention to the newsletter space thinking, Okay, this, we really got something here.
Lesley Sim 22:58
Yeah, so, at the time, I think, in 2019, I started my own newsletter. And so I got really into the community, you know, follow a bunch of people join a bunch of Facebook groups, but just that groups, you know, just like all in on the whole thing, I just, there was something about newsletters that felt like blogging felt, you know, in the early 2000s, just kind of that community and like people supporting each other and like, following each other in a very non SEO growth hacky kind of way. And yeah, I just, I just really like that. And we’re super intimate. So I, that was actually kind of how I stumbled upon that feature that we built in the membership plugin because substack was really growing at the time. And I wanted similar features, but for my WordPress site, because I was like, you know, why? What substack doing is actually really simple. And I, you know, surely we could build that as well. So yeah, we did. Wow,
Kim Doyal 24:07
I just, you know, it’s interesting, and we’ll talk a little bit about some platforms and stuff. But I think what I love about newsletters also is to your point like it’s the excitement again, around like when blogging first came out, and it’s, it just takes a little bit more, I don’t want to I don’t know how to say this. I don’t want to offend anybody, but practice and attention to what you’re creating. And if you’re committed to it, you know, I don’t really believe in market saturation in terms of oh, there are so many newsletters, everybody’s done it. I’m like, they’ve only been big again for a couple of years. And I think the letters are gonna write I think they’re gonna stick around the at this space, I should say, um, you know, it’s like podcasting. It’s not too late to start a podcast, a lot of people quit a year in so if you’re willing to stick with it and test and grow and evolve like, or, or really hit the ground running with it. You can explode. It depends on you, you get to grow at whatever pace that works for you. But I don’t think there’s going to be such a thing as there’s too many because I mean, there are plenty of people communicate with I apps, I subscribe to a ridiculous amount of newsletters. I love them. I like running. Alright, so So let’s talk. You know what, I don’t know if we actually, I probably should have started with this. But if you could give the listeners a sort of Cliff Notes version of what the plugin does, because it’s more than just putting a newsletter in WordPress.
Lesley Sim 25:39
Yes. So the plugin lets you build, write and send newsletters from the WordPress blog editor. So exactly the way that you would write a blog post, you can now write your newsletter. And we allow you to create Pattern templates as well, which is super easy. I hope you think so as well. Okay, yes, yeah. So you can, you can create a whole bunch of you know, whether it’s like sections, like a header section, or a footer section, or you can create for newsletter templates, I guess, like, within one or two minutes, you can create an unlimited amount of them. And that just makes it really fast. Especially if you’re, you know, a professional blogger like yourself, like a content creator, like yourself, and you have multiple newsletters that you send out each week. So this just cuts down the time it takes to create a new setup by at least an hour, a new set, I would say,
Kim Doyal 26:37
want to be able to publish I mean, it’s my you do. But just for clarification so that people understand. So you can create the newsletter and WordPress and then right now, it works with a handful, you can actually send it to your email service provider, and it gets sent to your email subscribers. Correct?
Lesley Sim 26:58
Yes, thanks, guys explaining my plugin better than I am doing?
Kim Doyal 27:02
No, I just wanted people to understand because it’s this, like having to publish it twice, right? People think, Oh, I got to go write it in this in my platform, then I have to go put it on my site, and you’ve eliminated that step. And so it’s a win-win of sort of publishing into places.
Lesley Sim 27:16
Yeah, so like, you know, if you write your blog post on your site, then you have to copy and paste that into MailChimp, or Active Campaign, or whatever. And then you have to re-embed the images and all of that it’s just a pain in the ass. And so we, like you say, eliminate that step. And we just integrate with your email service provider. So you don’t even have to migrate anything you just integrate with us. And it’s like, you know, a couple of seconds to connect. And from there on out, you can just hit publish. And you can even choose your segments, your tags, your list to send to so you can do all of that from within the block editor.
Kim Doyal 27:55
God, it’s amazing. And you are currently Who do you if you want to let the listeners know. And I’m still happily patiently waiting for ConvertKit and that’s on ConvertKit and not there. And guys. So who do you guys integrate with right now?
Lesley Sim 28:10
Can pulling up the list, so I don’t see anything wrong? Okay, so Active Campaign Campaign Monitor, Get Response Klaviyo, mailer, light, Mailjet, MailChimp, Musen SendGrid send in blue, and Sendy. So that’s 11 email service providers, and we plan on doing more next year as well.
Kim Doyal 28:34
That is, I just think it’s fantastic. And I know, so tell me, you have been going through a big site rebrand as well. So how’s that going?
Lesley Sim 28:46
Frustrating. So the site’s already built. It’s just that it’s built on a staging site. And I thought I’d be able to easily push that onto our live site. But it turns out the way we’ve set up our e-commerce Store, there’s a bunch of like, database issues. So if I push the new marketing site onto our live site, it will raise our transactions, which I obviously don’t want to do. Yeah. Yeah. So right, right now, the plan is for me to next week, manually. Copy the landing pages and add them to our live site. So it’s not how I went to this to go but it’s, it’s what you know. Yeah, that’s to me. Yes. And but it is what it is. Yeah.
Kim Doyal 29:39
Um, so do you mind me asking? So what are you guys using for the commerce side on newsletter glue?
Lesley Sim 29:46
We’re using Easy Digital Downloads.
Kim Doyal 29:49
Nice. Nice. You know, it’s just I’m asking it’s, you know, WordPress, there’s just this love and hate relationship. I love it. But at the same time, you know, like with our content creators plan It’s WooCommerce. And there are so many moving parts once you start getting into how everything has to talk to everything, and it’s just like, Oh, boy. Yeah, I totally feel for you. So any, let me ask you this, in terms of because you are new to the software, I think this is so phenomenal. Is anything you would do differently? Or what were some challenges you saw along the way in developing a software product, especially since you’re not a developer? And I didn’t, I think that’s brilliant. I don’t know that I ever would have gone to indie hackers and said, Hey, is there a developer that wants a co-founder? I think that’s awesome.
Lesley Sim 30:36
I’m saying your question is, what would I do differently now that I get the challenges?
Kim Doyal 30:41
Maybe something you would do differently?
Lesley Sim 30:46
I can’t say there’s anything specific that I would do differently just because, you know, the things that the way that you learn is from making the mistakes.
Kim Doyal 30:56
Lesley Sim 30:59
There’s Yeah, and there’s a lot of like, you know, the story unfolds as you move forward. So I don’t think there’s anything that I really would do differently. Just because, you know, then we wouldn’t be where we are. Yeah. Yeah, I mean, so like, one thing that I would, I will say, is, I struggle a lot with being promoted, or like sales driven. So, you know, you’re saying that you like software that, like, looks nice, and, you know, does a good job is easy to use and stuff like that. And I think like, and I really appreciate you saying that because that’s the part that I really care about. And I’m really interested in, like making good software. And on the other side of that, continuum, is people who are really good at selling software. So you know, we all know, big, billion-dollar companies who are famous for having bad software but are like, really good at enterprise sales, for example. Yeah. Yeah, and I, in a way, like, I wish that I was better at that stuff. Because I’m just not. And, you know, I know that as a customer, like, it’s great for you to have, like, the good UI and all that, but like, from a business perspective, like, I kind of wish that I was better at like, focusing less on like, good software, and more about getting the word out, because like, you know, the two have to work hand in hand. You know, you have to have the good software in order to get the customers, but then you also have to get the customers in order to have the money to, you know, continue making the software better. And so that’s something that I’ve been thinking about a lot, and trying to get better at. And I like, and that kind of my for fun benchmark is a really like, looking at software companies with bad websites, because that, you know, that are like doing well, like, Yeah, high revenue software companies have their websites because it’s like, okay, you know, that they’re super good at conversion rates, and they’re, like, tuned into like, their sales funnel, and all that kind of stuff. And I’m like, on the other side, I like really care that my website looks nice. And so I’d be trying to learn from those companies who are more sales, funnel driven, and more metrics-driven. And that’s kind of, it’s not that I would do it differently, because I’m not good at it. So I can’t do it differently. But it’s the thing that I’m like, trying to focus on getting better at for next year.
Kim Doyal 33:46
I think that’s brilliant. And, you know, it’s interesting, as you’re saying that, I love that because of two things. One, when a site or software looks funky, I just bounced, and I really if I, I pay attention to software a lot, you know, I send tools in my newsletter. And so I’ll look at ProductHunt every day and I check out stuff. And if I log into a free account, I’m like, this looks like it’s from like, 1995 I have no interest. Right. And it has to make sense. So that sounds silly, but I completely understand that perspective. And have you ever read expert secrets by Russell Brunson?
Lesley Sim 34:18
Yeah. So that’s, that’s the kind of thing that I’m talking about. Right. I’ve read it. I don’t resonate with it. But like, you know, the guy is a multimillionaire, right and like, lots and lots of people think that his stuff is awesome. And you know, it’s not as obvious but I want to get better at doing those things because I think that that whole thing’s a skill.
Kim Doyal 34:39
I’m telling you so many people like love or hate him and if you ever want to talk off of call us all like I’m not during the podcast interview, but I love working through that stuff. And it’s helping so I would be happy you and I could bounce ideas for newsletter glue and I would love to work through expert secrets, that kind of thing with you. It’s fascinating because people some people really They just they don’t like him they and personally I’m like, you cannot begrudge this person who started from nothing. And look what he’s built and, and the Expert Secrets, the idea of it, it’s so much about getting into the psychology of the pain of your customer and how you give them. It’s the improvement offer versus a new offer, right? It’s fascinating to me. And, you know, and it’s just when you look at this, I guess this is a totally off-script here. But I think we’re offered over a billion dollars for ClickFunnels. And they would have rebuilt it from the ground up a whole new platform coming in March. So check that out. Yeah, also knew that you know, you can’t even see it yet go to go to go to YouTube, and just search click funnels 2.0, they built the whole thing from the ground up on React, I believe. And I mean, they’ve done speed tests, and it’s got its think Shopify Plus Clickfunnels websites like so much built into it, it looks really, really nice. And which it feels very sacrilegious as the former WordPress check to say I would consider using something else. But I’m also at this, I don’t think I’d ever moved my site, you know, off of WordPress, but I think we’re hitting this place with software to where, you know, so many tools do the same thing. And it’s almost better to tell somebody like email service providers, right, we use Active Campaign for the planner, I like ConvertKit for my personal brand, and I have a friend who swears by Active Campaign and like, I hate it. And it’s funny, Active Campaign is powerful, and it does a lot of stuff. But it’s also one of those UIs that I’m like, Would you guys clean this up? It just, it’s clunky to me. I don’t know how else to say that. Yeah. Um, so Well,
Lesley Sim 36:43
It’s like 99.
Kim Doyal 36:45
Thank you. Thank you. Exactly. Excuse me totally how I feel. But so I think we’re in this place of, you know, there’s a lot of tools to use the job now. And most of them do the same thing. So which kind of brings me to circle around about newsletter platforms? If you’re ever talking about that for a sec? What are your thoughts on all the different platforms available? For newsletters?
Lesley Sim 37:08
Yeah. So I mean, I like that we like went off the rails. I really enjoyed this conversation. Me too. Yeah. So when it comes to newsletter platforms, and you mean email service providers, right? Or do you are you kind of like widening the net here to include substack? And review? And
Kim Doyal 37:30
I’m widening the net to include…Yeah, because have you seen B? B? HIV? It’s beehiv. Have you seen that? Okay.
Lesley Sim 37:40
Look like these things which have funny names.
Kim Doyal 37:44
I know what you know, it’s, it’s literally, B E. H, I V. So looks like B hiv.com. And take a look at it. This is a couple of guys behind the morning, brew who have built this. Oh, so yeah, I went.
Lesley Sim 38:02
I’ve seen this somewhere. But I haven’t looked at it. It looks like Substack.
Kim Doyal 38:08
Yeah. Well, so here. Here’s my question for you on this. Because I’ve always been this comes from this place of publishing on properties you own at the same time, where where are readers? Where are people who are already subscribing because my goal is always to build my list, build my list, build my list, create the relationship, I can get them on my list. And it’s my responsibility to create the relationship and provide value. And so you know, with advertising, you know, Facebook ads have kind of gone through the roof, price-wise, all that kind of stuff. I do think there are opportunities to publish in addition to whether it’s a new publication, or maybe it is repurposing.
Lesley Sim 38:51
Hmm. On like substack on medium or something like that. Yeah. So, subset doesn’t actually do that much in terms of helping you grow, grow. So I think a lot of people join substack thinking that it would be like medium, and it would help with discovery, like help you and your content get discovered by readers. And that’s just not how substack is built. substack is built more like a tool rather than a platform. In contrast, I think Medium was built with the intention of being a platform where people go to medium to discover new articles, new things to read. So I think that’s an important distinction. So joining substack for the express purpose of helping your writing grow is not going to work. I will say that there are people who have seen success with that strategy on medium. I’m not sure if it’s because they already invested years into their medium following before so I’m not sure how impactful that strategy would be if you started right now. Yeah, in 2021, or 2022. But yeah, I think like, if you started in 2018, or even 2015, Medium would have been a good growth strategy, like cross-posting on the medium. Yeah, I think so we’re actually doing a post right now on cross-promotion. So we’re actually writing a long blog post on cross-promotions right now. And one of the newsletter writers that I got to know on Twitter, by way of writing my own newsletter, and be interested in a community, honeys, video, and she’s, I think she’s grown her newsletter, like 50% of her subscribers, she has over 1000 subscribers and 50% of that have come from cross-promotions. So just kind of finding newsletters with overlaps, like the overlaps. And, you know, either guest writing or like sharing links between each other. I think that’s how she’s grown her newsletter. And I think that’s a really powerful strategy, especially these days if you’re just starting out. Another strategy would be buying ads. So it’s actually moderately cheap to buy ads, or newsletters right now, like, I’m not talking about you, if you’re trying to buy add on the hassle, that’s going to be expensive. There are a whole bunch of indie newsletters with 1000s, you know, four or five figures, subscribers numbers, and it’s not even that expensive to buy an ad on their newsletter, like, it’d be like 250 bucks. So if you’re growing your newsletter or something that’s really important, I would do a combination of that. So like ads and cross-posting, and then also just SEO. So one of the nice things, and this is me plugging my own plug-in. But a lot of newsletter writers kind of don’t focus so much on SEO, because, you know, their writing just gets sent to inboxes. And it’s not really easily discovered. But if you write your newsletter, where you blog, then your newsletter archive is the same as a blog archive. And that helps you get discovered by SEO. And that’s also a great way to grow. I’ve noticed big companies doing that now as well. MIT is doing that with their MIT Tech review. Vox is doing that with the new settlers. And the Atlantic just launched a whole new theater business as well. And I think that that’s going to be their plan as well. So yeah,
Kim Doyal 42:52
yeah, those excuse me, sorry, um, well, you know, it’s cuz I started putting F hustle up on medium. And I’ve had a medium account, I don’t know, for years and would just repurpose content there for the most part. And as I pay, I’m a paying subscriber for medium. And so I read a lot on medium. And, you know, a lot of people who have been writing on Medium are talking about all the algorithms changing my stuff’s not getting seen people who have 1000s of followers and have people subscribe unless you’ve subscribed to someone’s publication. And but it was interesting, you know when I started putting up the FtheHUSTLE up, and there are only a few issues up there, and I’m in intentionally trying to write like an original piece of content to like I wrote a post, why move to a country I’d never visited. And I’d put that in the publication, and that got some traction and stuff. But what’s interesting is I did get subscribers putting it on there. And but it also could be, oh, it’s a new publication. So I sort of am coming from this place to you. I don’t know if you’ve ever read or followed Tim Denning. Are you familiar with him? No, I’m not. He’s a writer, an online writer who writes a lot on Medium and he’s grown his email list over like, 50,000. And so he and a business partner put out a course on substack. And so I emailed and said, you know, what, are your thoughts on doing an additional publication? Or could I repurpose it here? And like, they still think substack is, you know, a huge opportunity at the same time. It’s really tough to know until you test some of these things, right. It’s, that’s how I look at it. It’s, it’s if the subject doesn’t really have a discoverability engine to your point, or looking at that was one of the things with the beehiv. I know it’s beehiv, but it is just for people, but looking at beehiv one I really do love the way it looks to me it looks a lot nicer than substack. But is if there is something that they’re going to do to help your newsletter get in front of potential subscribers, right and so it’s interesting. In the last thing, this is not quizzing you on if you’ve heard of all these things, by the way, Have you heard of Ship30for30? You’re big on Twitter, you’ve probably heard of that. Yeah, I’ve heard of that. Okay, so the, you know, they’re talking about I’m looking at doing their January challenge because just to up my writing game, and there’s, they’re saying, you know, publish only on Twitter. And, you know, I’m such a believer in SEO and content for the long game, I think. And they’re not saying only and again, this is I haven’t purchased the course or anything yet, but they’re saying get started, where you can get in front of their point, you know, and so I think, I just feel like we’re in this very interesting time of, you know, as a creator, as a content creator. Publish where you can get in front of people, should you own your own property 100% all the time. Yes, hands down. That’s the long game, though. And so you’re not going to get as big a win off of publishing blog posts unless you are an SEO ninja and really good with keywords. And then to your point, you’re out there really promoting your own content as well. Yeah. What are your thoughts on all that? For sure.
Lesley Sim 46:03
My thoughts that I 100% agree. I think, I think there’s like a, a first step thing, which I, which I, there’s a first step thing, which I neglected to mention earlier, and that’s, you know when you’re first starting out, you should go where people already are, because you don’t have your own audience, right. So you have to go and you know, find the watering holes, and hang out where people already are like, like-minded people, the people you’re trying to attract. And so, you know, that’s on Twitter, if that’s on Facebook, if that’s on a discord channel, you have to go to those places. Right. So that’s the first thing. And the second thing is, people are actually in a lot of places. And so, you know, step one is to go, you know, figure out where people are, which is that say, five different places. Step two is figuring out which of those places you like to be. Because, you know, maybe you like Twitter, but you hate discord. Or maybe you like Facebook, and you hate slack, or whatever the case is. So like people shouldn’t, again, like this is for when you’re starting out, like don’t feel obliged to be on five places at the same time, because you’re going to burn out. And if you’re starting out, it’s you know, you’re probably doing this as a side hustle or just for fun. Or even if you’re doing it full time, like, it’s impossible to build a following on five different channels at the same time without going crazy. So my advice, there would be exactly what you said, with the Ship30for30. Is pick one channel, like in their, in their case, they would say Twitter. But just to kind of generalize it a bit, pick a single channel that you really like, where you know, your audience hangs out. And just try to, like, hang out there every single day, contribute, get to know people make friends help out. And that’s, that’s going to be the most fun way to build an audience that you feel a deep connection with. And they also feel a deep connection with you. And I think like, that’s like the most solid foundation that you can build when you’re starting to build an audience because the first thing that you want to do is build an audience. That’s kind of fairweather friend ish with you, you know. So a good example of a fairweather friend audience would be if you just paid for Facebook ads or Twitter ads, and you just got a whole bunch of followers, like, hey, look, I have 10k followers on Twitter, I’m amazing. But you’re not really because those people aren’t going to interact with you online, they don’t really know you that well, they just kind of follow up because you offered them. I don’t know, $50, Amazon voucher, or something. And that’s not kind of the audience that you want to build. Because also, it’s, it doesn’t make you feel good, and they’re not your friends, they don’t really know you, well, they’ll be quick to leave. And if you’re hanging out there all the time with these 10k followers who don’t really care about you, you won’t really be incentivized to keep going. And a lot of, you know, the creator life is a grind. And so you need also, you know, the friends and the encouragement to keep going. If not, you’ll just give up. And it’ll be like what you said with the podcast, right? Most people quit after a year.
Kim Doyal 49:31
Right? And I think that was so spot on. Let’s see, that was fantastic. It is, first of all, don’t try to be everywhere at once. Pick the platforms you actually enjoy being on. I have a friend that does social. She has a social media company and she said to him plenty, pick two platforms that you want to spend time on. And that’s plenty. And from that perspective, I’m going to add the caveat that everything you should do you’re doing. Ultimately, you want to get those people onto an email list and I’m not saying every conversation you have is about, you know, it has to be an exchange for an email. But the point is, you know that you want to grow a list, not don’t worry about the followers, don’t worry about vanity metrics. Because otherwise, you know, I did that for years. And I was so afraid we were talking about selling, and I was very, like, oh, I felt smarmy, selling and so ended up dumping like 3000 people from a list at one point, because I had taught them that I didn’t sell and I just created content. And here’s more free content. Here’s more free content. And so there is a balance, you know, there’s a balance to doing that. But, you know, make social fun, again, by being a human being, and having conversations.
Lesley Sim 50:39
Yeah, people, people forget that, especially on Twitter, they’re everyone’s so concerned with growing their audience and like, writing viral threads. And it’s, it’s just not fun. Like, I go on Twitter and just kind of write random stuff. And it’s fun for me. And it’s fun for the large handful of people that follow me, and it’s not going to be fun for 10,000 people. And I like that. That’s right.
Kim Doyal 51:05
I totally agree. So as we’re winding down here, do you want to talk a little bit about, you know, futures of the future of newsletter glue, what’s coming? What can you share? You know, what’s coming in 2022? For you guys.
Lesley Sim 51:21
Okay, so good. If we could do this two ways, that would be awesome. So what I mean by that is, I can share some of the things that we’re doing. But I’d also because you’re a customer, you use us all the time, I’d love to hear what you want us to build. You know, because I don’t want to build stuff in a vacuum, right? Yeah. So so yeah. So like, on my end, the thing that I’m really excited about is, we’re building a whole new admin user interface, it’s going to be based on what WordPress.com is doing with Jetpack and WooCommerce. And I just kind of like the idea of more plugins across the ecosystem, having a consistent admin UI. You know, I hate it. Plugins just kind of do their own thing. And it looks completely different from everyone else. And like, looks just stands out from the inside of the WordPress admin.
Kim Doyal 52:20
So edit dashboard.
Lesley Sim 52:23
Yes, yeah. So I don’t like that. So I’m trying to, you know, do things more in line with what Jetpack is doing. And they’re using all react and Gutenberg core components, and it just kind of looks really nice. And we’re spending a lot of time doing all that. And so like, our new set, a theme designer is going to be slick. And it’s going to have like a global styles feel to it. So I’m really excited about that. And then I’m just looking through my stuff.
Kim Doyal 53:01
It’s so nice that you’re approaching really quickly. I was gonna say it’s as, as someone who’s not a developer, I think you bring a unique perspective like I wish more developers would bring a user perspective to sometimes you know, where you’re saying, let’s make this look cohesive. And, yeah, anyway, sorry about that.
Lesley Sim 53:21
Thanks. I also want to do automated new status. So this has been a feature that’s been requested quite a number of times. So you know, if you’re already writing a blog post, and you know that you want to send that out immediately, why not just automate that. So you don’t have to toggle on the thing anyway, just kind of get sent out. Likewise, you know, you could do that if every at the end of each week, you want to just automatically send the three posts that you’ve written this week out to subscribers, you don’t have to build that anymore. We just like to set it up, and then you just start sending it out every week or night. So that’s another big one that I’m excited about. Yeah, and beyond that, just integrations I have a whole bunch of other things, but I’m not going to talk about them. And I’d love to hear what you like from us.
Kim Doyal 54:12
Yeah, you know, the only thing that was such a good question, the only thing I was thinking of is, is uh, maybe I don’t know if this is something that newsletter glue would handle or how to integrate it but just a Referral Engine. You know, I have spark leaf and I, I’m, I took the the referral program out just because I was waiting, I use, you know, I sent you that loom about Brennan DUNS templates and stuff. And so I’ve just been slammed. But I do believe that Referral Engine is a big piece of newsletter growth as well. And so and what like what is the best practice is if you know if you’re using Spark loop, or could that be something natively done within newsletter blow and I don’t I have no idea. Obviously, I’m not a developer. Or maybe that becomes you know, a subscription model for you guys just a side note, but I do think anything that’s going to help support encourage growth is kind of key. So I love that. I mean, the plugin is just beautiful and it looks good. And like with our active campaign account it was so it was funny because I was like, Oh my God, these look so much better coming from the WordPress dashboard with newsletter glue, than the visual builder and I know a lot of people complain about ConvertKit not having a visual builder at the same time, I’m like, they’re clean all the emails that claim they don’t look circa 1999 like we were talking about. So something and maybe, maybe that’s, you know, something to put out to your list your community, but his I don’t know growth. I’m just I’m fascinated by and to your point where you were mentioning earlier, about, you know, collaborations with other newsletter creators. And I feel like we’ve sort of lost track of that opportunity in the online marketing space in general, once ads came out, you know, that was how people grew. They did joint venture partnerships, and I want to bring that back. It’s like guerilla marketing, find people with your audience that you can collaborate with, beyond Russell’s dream, 100, right, because this dream 100 is like, go after Tony Robbins and Amy Porterfield and all these big names. And it’s like, there are billions of people on the planet, you can find somebody with a 3000 person list of your ideal audience, you do not need to go after the big names initially, to grow a list that you can serve and connect with. So gross, I’m not sure. But that’s the only thing I can think of off the top of my head.
Lesley Sim 56:38
Yeah, we don’t have plans right now to build a referral system. I feel like that would be almost a whole other business. As you said, Yeah, we do have customers currently using Spark glue with us. So that definitely works if you want to keep going in that direction. With growth? That’s super interesting. Like, what about I mean, so So we’ve had people talk about, like, having better forms, like pop-ups and stuff like that. What do you think about that? Does that not come into go for you?
Kim Doyal 57:14
It totally does. And I think the only reason which I think there’s massive opportunity there, I do have ConvertBox. At the same time. The cost of ConvertBox, even though its lifetime is a lot for people to swallow up front. And I think there’s a ton of opportunity love or hate subscriptions, it’s a much easier way for people getting started to manage costs. And so yes, all day long, you know, I, I like convert box because it’s clean, it’s super easy to use. And I like the conditional logic that I can say, hey, if someone is already tagged don’t display this. So yes, that is absolutely included in growth, growth, I think that’s the only reason I hadn’t mentioned it. But I think it would be huge, I think it would be really, really huge. And, you know, again, people are just like, Great, I’m writing, you know, and it’s that if you build it, they will come which is not the case, the majority of success online is how well you promote.
Lesley Sim 58:10
One other thing that it’s not built into the plugin, but I feel like it’s part of this conversation. One thing that I’m really excited about for next year is doing better at connecting people with like, existing customers together, I think that would be really cool. Like we’ve talked about cross-promotions earlier, and you know, just like highlighting or showcased, showcasing our different customers and, you know, giving them the opportunity to be seen amongst our email lists, you know, that could create cross-promotion opportunities, creating, they’re also planning on creating a bunch of directories, you know, of whether it’s freelance writers, developers, and so on who are familiar with new set the glue so that they can collaborate? You know, if, for example, there is a new user looking for development help, it’s like, Oh, hey, there, here’s a developer who’s super familiar with new setter glucose, they already use it with their newsletter. You can hire them. And so I’m, like, really excited about creating a lot of like, network key interlinking kind of opportunities for next year. So that’s kind of one of our big marketing plans as well.
Kim Doyal 59:25
We should talk about that offline. Because you know, what’s funny is I was thinking about that well with my content creators Facebook group, because I’m at this point where I’m like, alright, you need to reboot this group or put some more time and energy into it. Because of the time that it takes to manage that kind of stuff, my point is that I thought there has to be and I posted a thread months ago, and I said, and it was let’s collaborate. And I asked, Would you guys be interested in doing collaborations? And so, I am fascinated by that whole idea. You know, I’ve done like a couple of cohort training called Email insiders, and it’s just 10 people, and it’s a lot of one on one with me, and we talk about email marketing, I’m so obsessed with it. It’s my only regret that I did not put more time and energy into email marketing when I first started, but you know, that’s how we learn. And so, one of the things though was, you know, I think we’re missing so many opportunities to support each other. And I was like, Okay, what does this look like? Should this be a directory? Or? Or how do I make this so that you’re actually I don’t, you don’t want it to take take a lot of time. But there has to be sort of a vetting process and, and guidelines and rules and whatnot. So I don’t know. I’m sure we should talk about that offline. But I want to take it an hour of your time. Leslie, this has been so fun. I feel like I can talk to you all.
Lesley Sim 1:00:40
Yeah, same, I really enjoy talking to you as well.
Kim Doyal 1:00:43
So thank you so much.
Lesley Sim 1:00:47
Together, we will we will
Kim Doyal 1:00:48
all come over to Singapore. Like you know travel I have whether or not I stay in Costa Rica long term or not. I have no idea. But you know, I definitely, you know, my passport needs many more stamps. So where is the best place for people to connect with you.
Lesley Sim 1:01:05
So I’m on Twitter a lot at Lesley underscore pizza @lesley_pizza. So you can find me there. And obviously, you can go to NewsletterGlue.com to check out our plugin, and we’re also @NewsletterGlue on Twitter as well if you want to check us out.
Kim Doyal 1:01:28
Awesome. And I will have all of Leslie’s links in the show notes, everybody. And then I will also link to I’ll just probably embed the live stream we did where you people can get a sneak peek, even though some of the stuff in the backend is probably updating and changing. They’ll get the whole idea and the process for that. So, Leslie, always a joy to chat with you. Thank you so much.
Lesley Sim 1:01:51
Thanks so much, Kim.