I’m Janel, I created Newsletter Operating System, AMA 🔥

53 replies
I'm a maker, marketer, writer and community builder, and a huge fan of the creator economy. I'm obsessed with newsletters and am addicted to creating new things & optimizing operational workflows using no-code tools. I started writing a newsletter, BrainPint last year and tumbled into a newsletter rabbit hole, which led me to create Newsletter Operating System, an all-in-one resource for newsletter writers built on Notion. It has helped more than 1,100 newsletter writers start, grow, organize and earn from their newsletters. I pivoted from corporate life to tech and am currently the Program Manager at On Deck’s No-Code Fellowship. I’m surrounded by amazing builders who play positive-sum games and am so thankful for that! I love to learn, curate, write and build things, in addition to social dancing, travel (hopefully I can get back to that!), and trivia. 👋 I'll be here on 5th August at 9AM PST / 6PM CET to answer any questions about newsletters, Notion, no-code, info products, building in public, curation, the creator economy… and even how to break into tech! Basically, ask me anything. Drop your questions below 👇


Simran Handa
What is your one piece of advice to all creators looking to monetize their work?
@simran_handa So hard to distill it into a single piece of advice! I'm going to cheat and give a few bullet points, from the lens of someone creating information products. 1. Build credibility - You don't have to be an expert but you need to be credible. People need to trust that they're going to learn something from you. How do you build credibility? By being an active member in the communities you're in, by writing stuff about the niche you're in, by generously sharing knowledge with others. 2. Don't be afraid to raise your prices - If you launch at a low price, that's ok. Don't be afraid that people are going to stop buying stuff from you if you raise your prices. Price can be a good signal for quality. I needed to remind myself about this a lot. 3. Landing pages make and break your product - Nail your copy. Get social proof on board. If you need a primer to landing pages, check out OnePageLove.com or @robhope's Landing Page Hot Tips
Kyleigh Smith
Newsletter OS was a huge success! How did you promote & market it? What were your most effective channels and growth strategies?
@kyleighsmith Thanks Kyleigh! 1. Pre-sale | I wrote a super long thread on Twitter detailing the problem, how it solves the problem, and what the contents were. I included screenshots of the unfinished product! Used laddered pricing (inspired by @stephsmith) where I started off lower and increased my prices as more people bought. 2. Launch on Twitter | Did something similar! I also got a few people who purchased it early to do beta-reads and framed their feedback on my landing page as social proof 3. Launch on Product Hunt | Did this I think one month after my pre-launch, when I already had a ton of customers who were actively using. They came to support me on my PH launch day and it gave me another huge boost. So grateful! https://www.producthunt.com/post... 4. Promoting it on relevant communities that I was already active in | I was able to share my journey on Indie Hackers, WINC, Trends.vc and Ness Labs and they were very supportive. By the way, I do not endorse joining communities just to spam them. Make sure you actually provide value to others before you start trumpeting your own product! (But of course, Kyleigh, you're the sweetest and most helpful everywhere you go, so this comment is not for you, but a general word of warning for anyone who might be reading this) 5. Doing AMAs in some communities | I don't really measure sales from this. Just happy to help others create. A byproduct of that is sometimes sales, which is cool. Most effective: - Twitter - Product Hunt - My own newsletter - Communities I was active in Least effective: - Few paid ads
@janelsgm That's a helpful exp sharing. Level up+++
María Fernanda aka Fer (she/her)
How did you begin building your community / following through Twitter? was it a conscious decision or was it more like I'm just tweeting and suddenly stumbled upon like minded individuals that would eventually become clients. Can you walk us through your process a bit when deciding to create the OS and such.
@mfgonz Hey María! Great question. I used to be a serious lurker. Read tweets and never said or did anything. I started a newsletter, started to discover no-code and eventually got in touch with @thisiskp_ who I ended up working with. He thought me everything I needed to know about Building in Public and playing positive-sum games. I decided to share what I learned with others too! How did I start? Honestly, just sharing what I learned, cool snippets from books I read, interesting finds from the Internet, thoughts and ideas. I engaged with people publicly, made friends in the DMs. All this stuff is life-changing. Highly recommend doing it if you haven't already started.
Teddy Adarsuren
How did your process & thoughts look like when you were just starting out to build a community around yourself on Twitter? I'm sure there were hard times like being consistent with your tweets and other things depend on the person. So what was the main hurdle for you? I'm just starting to engage in the No-code community as well but still, the struggles are real *sigh*
@teddy_be First of all, welcome to the no-code community. It's a wonderful, friendly place full of people who are excited and ready to help each other. Love seeing so many positive-sum people all around. 💪 Getting Through Tough Times Know your North Star, aka, your guiding "why" and stick to it. If you are clear about why you're doing something, it's harder to give up. Having a circle of close friends you can count on is so important. Find a group of others who have similar goals to you, and be accountable to each other, share tips, work through problems together. It's ok to feel writer's block. It's ok to feel that your content is going into the void, because anyone starting out will have these feelings. The important part is to look back at your North Star and work towards tiny habits and actions that help you achieve it. 🐦 Twitter Tips This thread that I wrote when I hit 500 followers still rings true: - Optimize your profile - Write valuable content - Make it easy to read - To be interesting, be interested https://twitter.com/JanelSGM/sta...
Alexey Shashkov
Hey Janel, I am excited about your success with Newsletter OS since day one. I remember it was so discussed on PH & IH. 🙌🙂 It's a big deal, you know! I would like to pick your brain if you don't mind and get a piece of your advice. I have my micro-blog about Startups in my native language. I'm thinking about starting my English-lang newsletter for Founders and Makers about Startups and Tech Products. But more questions than answers. The reasons why I want to make my newsletter are: I want to be helpful to the global founders and makers community. And want to solve their problems cause I'm a maker too. I want to write about startups and tech products cause it's so interesting for me. I read a ton of content every day about startups and products. I want to learn good and interesting content writing in English. I want to earn some money from it. Tell me, where would you recommend starting? Create a Newsletter on Substack and write one bulletin per week? And share it around the community? How to charge money? For what newsletter do people pay money? Sorry for a ton of questions, I couldn't stop) Thanks for this AMA, It's super cool!
@shashcoffe Thank you so much Alexey! Love Notion products. It's exciting that you want to start a newsletter in English and share your knowledge! 1. Start simple - write a weekly newsletter somewhere. Doesn't matter which platform. But make sure you add value. 2. I don't know if money is your main thing, but honestly, I think Don't charge first until you build out a base of loyal subscribers. You can monetize via ads, your own products or charging people for subscription.
Crypto FINI
I too fell into a rabbithole, which is how I found this space... very happy I did. Question... In your "no-code-tool" journey.. have your found anything relating to Augmented Reality?
@crypto_fini Rabbit holes are awesome! Strangely, not yet. Please tell me if you do. It's a space that's heating up!
Kunal Mishra
You've written about your workflow of curating a newsletter: where you find links and how you collect them. I'm interested in knowing what tools you use? For example, if let's say you find an interesting link right now, how'd you save it? (I'm actually working on a tool that helps curators save links more easily, I'd love to know what other problems you face while saving links :)
@kunalmishra What an interesting problem you're tackling. There are three different tools I use at the moment. A Chrome Extension by Mailbrew to save articles to my "Read Later" pile, a Chrome Extension called Save To Notion for longer-term archival of interesting tools and links that goes directly into "BrainPint OS". I also have this cool Bookmarklet thing that saves links directly to sheets. For anyone who hasn't seen my weekly curation workflow and is curious: https://janelloi.com/how-i-curat...
Claire jack
I am excited about your success.
What is your one piece of advice for all creators who want to make money out of their work?
Jade Craven
I'm really interested to learn more about how you structure and present information in Newsletter OS. - Did you do any research into other products hosted on Notion? - Were there any resources that helped you when creating the product (again, relating to Notion.) - Have you changed how you have organized the information since launching the product? I'm fascinated by how Notion and Airtable are changing how people create infoproducts and am keen to learn how people are organizing it in Notion. Unlike products created with Airtable, you often don't get to see a sample. And, thank you for being you. You do a lot for the community and have always been kind. It makes me happy when you pop up in my feed :)
@cravenjade Thank you for all your support! - Did you do any research into other products hosted on Notion? Not a whole lot! At that moment, there weren't a lot of info products like Newsletter OS that were hosted on Notion but there were a ton of creators creating interesting templates for other functions (databases, checklists, fancy formulas) that I referenced. - Were there any resources that helped you when creating the product (again, relating to Notion.) Looking at the success of other creators, studying and emulating successful launch strategies, with my own twist was what I did. If you want to learn more about Notion, @mariepoulin has amazing resources available! - Have you changed how you have organized the information since launching the product? Nope! I was very thoughtful about how I structured the product. It sucks to have to rework an entire Notion template, especially if you've already input information in it (which many of my customers have done!) so I made sure my base structure was solid before I released it. Now, updates include drag and drop sections, items and/or bookmarks that are easily imported into the base architecture.
PCK Nautical
great article keep it up
Ujjwal sukheja
Best channels for Newsletter growth that worked for you?
@ujjwal_sukheja Twitter, Cross-Promotions and being an active member in a number of communities with like-minded individuals (Indie Hackers, Ness Labs, Trends.vc)
Not necessarily a question, but more of a show of love! Jan!! It's been an absolute pleasure watching you grow from where you were to what you have achieved up until now. I still remember it clearly when you sent me a DM on Twitter when were you still around to 80-100 followers on Twitter. Keep it up, you've been a great inspiration and an awesome contributor to this amazing community!
@nicwondering Thanks so much Nic, have enjoyed growing alongside you and have learned a ton from you in the process. Proud to call you a friend and thankful for your constant encouragement and support!
Anton Viborniy
Hi, Janel Now we are building no-code community and our main feature it is battles https://apiway.ai/community/batt... here is an example Can you give me advise 1) How to push this community? 2) What you can suggest in UX/UI in battle features 3) What are the weaknesses of the rest no-code communites 4)What will you change in their communities, if you be a product owner