Matt McGarry's Journey to Becoming the Newsletter Guy and his Best Tips on Growing Newsletters

Share this story

Table of contents

Matt McGarry, often referred to as the Newsletter Guy is a newsletter growth expert and the founder of the agency, called Growletter. Matt and his agency help their clients grow newsletter subscribers, acquire customers through them, monetize them, and more. 

Growletter has clients like Morning Brew, 1140, Milk Road, chartr, Wondermind, etc. They have grown newsletter(s) from ten thousand to a quarter million subscribers and have them sold for seven figures in a matter of few months. 

Growletter's Clients

How Matt McGarry discovered success with Growletter!

Early Days

Matt McGarry is quite young and has only a few years of entrepreneurial experience under his belt, but he has had quite an interesting journey. In a podcast interview, he mentioned that he’s always been into direct-response marketing. 

Experience-wise, Matt started as a freelance digital marketing consultant on UpWork. He also worked as a media buyer and a copywriter. Between 2017 and 2019, Matt served clients in the SaaS & e-commerce industry and helped sell online courses. 

He also served the ed-tech industry with companies such as ClassTag Inc. and OnlineDegree.com. After about 3-4 years of working as a marketer with various organizations, Matt joined The Hustle, a Newsletter publication, in 2020. That was the breaking point of his career, as he got into the newsletter business and started seeing its huge potential, profitable through daily emails, sponsorships, and simple yet profitable operations.

How Matt discovered the “Newsletter” business 

In just five years, The Hustle was acquired for $25-30 million by HubSpot, which became his next employer. Parallely, The Morning Brew Newsletter was acquired for $75M in 5 years, and Industry Dive was acquired for $525M in 10 years.

Now, some newsletters are successful and profitable, not just for their acquisitions, but also because of their engagement or opening rates, that is, the ratio of the people who open their newsletter. That results in good CPM for advertisers.

All these metrics lead to high-value monetization benefits! For example, there are newsletters with between 50,000 and 100,000 subscribers that make between $3,000 and $7,000 per email send. 

This evidence pointed Matt towards Newsletters as a lucrative business model. Matt credits his experience at The Hustle as the reason he started a marketing agency specializing in newsletter growth. 

While working at The Hustle and helping them grow their newsletter, Matt says that he was “fascinated” by how you can share a mail or two daily with your audience and get sponsors. 

He was also drawn to the business because of its simplicity! According to Matt, you just need a growth team and an advertising sales team to make waves in this industry!

Finally, in April 2022, Matt McGarry founded his own agency, Growletter. 

Why is Matt known as the “Newsletter” Guy?!

Matt is known as the newsletter guy because of how fast he and his agency, Growletter, grow newsletters and the clients he’s served. Many of the newsletters he’s grown got acquired! For example, one of his earliest clients, called Milk Road, was acquired for between $4-7 million in 10 months

There are also many solopreneurs and indie businesses that Matt has helped with newsletters, with subscriptions in tens of thousands, along with good monetization. Because of that, people in marketing and business circles took note of his success, and some also invited him to different podcasts to speak about what he does!

Source: How to Make Millions with Newsletters

Matt’s Best Tips on Growing Newsletters

In some of his podcasts and tweets, Matt McGarry has shared some tips on growing your newsletter. 

Identify your content-market fit!

First, he emphasized finding a niche or trending topic that resonates with the audience and making it relevant and unique. It’s important to choose a topic that highlights your expertise. 

For example, if you’re a chef, start a newsletter around recipes and different dishes. If you’re a celebrity and actor, start a newsletter about your thoughts, acting tips, or lifestyle insights.

Matt also suggests narrowing down on your niche and having an audience that businesses cannot target via Meta, Google ads, or other marketing channels. Only then will your newsletter be valuable to businesses and can monetize well through advertisements.  

Following that, he also talked about consistently delivering high-quality and engaging regularly with your audience. 

Utilize Paid Acquisition Channels

Further, McGarry emphasized leveraging paid acquisition channels like Facebook ads, TikTok ads, and referrals. These channels play a crucial role in subscriber acquisition, targeting audiences effectively while optimizing costs per email acquired. 

This tip is a big one because for Milk Road, which was acquired for seven figures, 85 percent of that subscriber growth came from paid acquisition. 

Optimize your customer Acquisition 

Matt suggests tracking and minimizing the expenses per email acquired and ensuring efficient spending for lower costs per subscriber. You can study the data, notice your audience's behavior, and tailor your strategies accordingly.  

Branding Building & Identity

Matt says that before spending any money, it is vital to establish a memorable brand. He also suggests regularly engaging with the audience through newsletters and social media. 

Acquire failed newsletters

Newsletters that are not able to sustain themselves or don’t have a good business model around them but have a decent subscriber base can be bought by businesses or merged with other more successful newsletters or email lists.

Don’t rely on co-registrations and recommendations 

While these channels are good for signing up more users on your newsletters, there’s no guarantee of how much the user will engage with your emails. These users are less likely to turn into active advertisement targets or potential customers or clients for the products/services you’re selling via your newsletter. 

Twitter and LinkedIn for the first 1000 sign-ups

Matt stresses on using LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media pages to acquire your initial set of newsletter subscribers. He also says that these sign-ups are more valuable as they have a high opening rate. 

Matt’s Twitter resulted in 4,219 subscribers with a 65% open rate and 26% Clickthrough Rate. 

Twitter for High Engagement 

McGarry shared his newsletter insights in the following tweet, where he talks about Twitter ads and referrals being the best source for the most active sign-ups. 

Learn how to utilize AI

There are various AI tools that you can use to create content, graphics, posts, analyze data, and more. Matt is big on AI and leveraging it to your advantage. 

For example, you can use Speech-to-text AI tools to have an audio recital of your content in newsletters. Similarly, you can a language conversion AI tool to translate your newsletter into another language. 

You can also make use of the various AI tools for better visual branding of your newsletter. Ben’s Bites is a newsletter that Matt recommends for catching up with the latest AI tools and news.

Have a small team and utilize overseas talents

Have you heard of the one-man business concept by Dan Koe? If not, Dan Koe is a one-man team content writer who has made $4,000,000 with no employees. Matt also has stated an entire list of 1-person or small team newsletters based in the following tweet. 

In the previous subheading, Matt also talked about utilizng overseas talents. That’s because for many skills like writing, editing, scripting, graphic designing, etc., you can find people from across the world with weaker economies who are willing to work for a lesser hourly rate. 

There are great talents from countries like Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, etc., that you can leverage for more competitive rates. 

Repurpose content 

Suppose you’re a YouTuber or a blogger! The same content you share on your dedicated platform, you can also share on your newsletters. Dan Koe is one such creator who repurposes his writings into his Newsletters, tweets, YouTube videos, podcasts, books, and more.

Keep adapting and improvising!

With the ever-growing and changing world of the internet, this tip is really important! There’s never a one-formula-fits-all rule when it comes to media.

This is why Matt emphasizes on staying adaptable and open to changes based on subscriber feedback, industry trends, and the evolving needs of your audience. 

How to Monetize Newsletters? Best Tips by Matt McGarry

Newsletter as a distribution channel for a High LTV product/service

McGarry suggests that instead of thinking of your newsletter as another panel for placing an ad, have a product or service ready that you want to sell to your subscribers eventually. There are many ways to monetize a newsletter, as he mentions in this tweet below. 

“Newsletters without business models and unique content will die” - Matt McGarry

He also suggests on having a product/service idea right from the start of the newsletter! 

Matt also suggests against depending on advertisements as the main source of revenue because it’s less likely for these platforms to offer a CPM lower than Facebook and Google. 

Hyperniche and engaging newsletters

Matt stresses that building hyperniche media business is the fastest way to build a media agency. The only way you can compete with Google and Facebook for their CPM is by building a newsletter that has a dedicated and engaging a very particular audience that people can’t reach through algorithmic ad platforms.

For example, if you’re a musician who creates Punk Rock music and wants to reach to Punk Rock listeners, it would be smarter to approach a Punk Rock-based newsletter to promote your music than Google and Facebook ads. 

Similarly, a cat food company can tap into the network of cat parents built by a newsletter that sends daily tips on nurturing and bringing up cats and kittens. That would be way more optimized and targeted than a Meta or Google algorithm. 

Get Subscribers with High Buying & Decision Power 

The idea is simple! The more the buying and decision power of your subscribers, the more you can charge for sponsorship and ads on your newsletters. So, if CEOs, though leaders, and Fortune 500 company execustives are your subscribers, then you can give a high value proposition to sponsors, as compared to if your subscribers are travelling enthusiasts.

Similarly, newsletters with Golf enthusiasts subscribers have more buying power as compared to newsletters with football fans. 

Produce more content

This one is just common sense! Let’s say you charge $500 for an ad for one email, and send one email a week to your subscribers. You can increase your revenue by simly ramping up the email sending rate to maybe three times a week and have more sponsors.  

What made Matt successful?

The Agency Model

Matt was inspired by Andrew Wilkinson (tiny.com), who talked about building a business on top of other successful businesses to get an immediate cash flow. That is the primary reason why, instead of creating and growing his own newsletter, he chose to build an agency that helps other businesses, entrepreneurs, and creators grow their newsletters. 

Source

Hiring strategy: Working with the right people

Matt also admits that he has hired people from other agencies and great newsletters and applied the tactics and strategies they learned at his agency. 

He employs some of these professionals part-time, some full-time, and some just as consultants! That is a huge business lesson! The right team can accelerate your growth way faster!

Getting mentored by the right people

Scott Nixon, his earlier manager at The Hustle, has played a pivotal role in teaching McGarry about leadership and management. Matt gives Scott the credit to inspire him to start his own thing!

The advice he received from Nixon was to double down on what you’re good at. Initially, Matt didn’t think that the industry or niche of newsletters was big enough to have a media agency. That tells us how good leaders and mentors can show us the right vision and encourage the correct course of action. 

Single-point expertise

Matt followed what he preached and went hyper-niche himself with newsletters. He built authority, reputation, and proof of concept around quite a narrow subject. He wired with the right people, followed his learned principles, and kept building his expertise!

Now, he is building not just his newsletter but his entire personal brand via X and podcasts around newsletters as being the “Newsletter Guy.”   

Conclusion: What we can learn from Matt’s journey

Right off the back, it’s clear that Matt McGarry discovered his vision and stumbled upon it through years of constant grind and experimentation. Yes, he knew his interest, which is marketing, at a very young age, but he wasn’t sure of his niche until he joined The Hustle.

Matt McGarry’s journey teaches us about the concept of establishing a niche and expertise. The man worked in the same industry for years and then kept narrowing down as he figured things out along the way.

Next, you need not always start off as an entrepreneur! Matt worked as an employee and a freelancer for years before he started his agency last year. Only after he established his authority and recognized a need for it in the market, Matt McGarry took the leap! 

This is indeed a very unconventional journey and is a great inspiration for those who want to do business but are still in the process of figuring out their “thing.” I guess it’s all about following your curiosity and stumbling upon your interest! 

How to connect with Matt McGarry?

You can reach out to Matt on his Linkedin or follow him on his X profile. You can also subscribe to his newsletter to learn more about how to grow newsletters and your email list. 

Alternatively, you can also visit the website of his agency Growletter, and click on “Get in Touch” to connect with their team. 

Share this story
Back to playbooks