A few things to share before we jump into today’s interview:
- Community Job Data Survey Results — Folks in “community” roles are making between $26,000 to over $176,000 per year! That’s quite a delta. Oh, and it’s a brand new forem (or forum?!) too.
- Not What You Read… It’s What You Ignore — Older presentation by Scott Hanselman on “scaling yourself”; a few of us may need this.
Have a great week!
To infinity & community,
Today’s community and
yenizen (citizen of the
yeniverse) spotlight and feature is with Joshua Clark, founder and writer of a small up-and-coming newsletter called “EV Shakeout” — I’ve gotten to know Josh over the past few months during our weekly community & business hangouts and it’s been fun to watch him take a small topic and content area and systematically expand it into a weekly, growing newsletter!
Josh is like many of our readers and who’s actively building a small-yet-promising side project that he’s intentionally and consistently investing in every week.
🛑 — Here, he shares lessons-learned on starting a net-new email newsletter, the things that have worked, and where he’s taking it next.
Let’s meet Josh!
So, what should we call you!
Hey! My name is Joshua… most just call me
Any links to share with the
Give us a bit more of your story and background:
My background is in the auto industry — since high school I’ve rebuilt engines and repaired vehicles. Someone eventually offered me an opportunity into the sales side of the industry, I accepted the offer, and found it much more enjoyable.
At this point, my eyes were opened to how out-dated software systems were for the auto industry and all of the resulting processes and workflows — this sparked an interest in me to learn software and app development.
I enrolled in a few web dev courses and got to work! Now I’m building a newsletter talking about the electric vehicle revolution and how it’s going to change the auto industry forever.
Tell us about why you started your newsletter?
I recently started EV Shakeout with the intent of raising awareness and informing people of how beneficial it is to switch from conventional vehicles to plug in EV’s.
Essentially, I figured the best way to do this was to write a newsletter that could be read in less than 5-minutes weekly as a recap to the latest important industry news.
The motivation behind it was to write about an industry I have experience in and build a broader network and community on this topic.
What’s been working and what hasn’t been so far? Did you start with any goals in mind? How does this impact your thinking around “career”?
What worked really well for me was doing a
pre-launch where I had several people read, review, and then share it publicly.
These retweets and reshares via networks like Twitter helped drive a growing audience to it — it’s not a complicated nor complex system, but, one that works when done consistently.
At the moment one of the challenges that I face is something that all new email newsletter writers and creators are struggling with: Subscriber growth.
To optimize I’ve started to experiment with different networks and tools, beyond just sharing on Twitter. For instance, I’m currently learning learning how to participate in Reddit communities and how to best answer questions on sites like Quora. Then, I go the extra step to find people that need answers to the topics that I’m writing about and even subscribing to some of those threads for real-time updates.
Outside of this, I want my newsletter to help build more opportunities for myself in the greater auto industry; a springboard to more inroads to create value for myself and my readers.
A few specific areas that I’ve been exploring are:
- Collecting information on challenges service centers are facing
- Figuring out what the larger adoption challenges are to EV
- Studying what the transportation industry is like today and “backcasting” a bit to get a handle on what the next few years will be like.
The end goal is to take this information and develop a tool that will help modernize the way we use autos and auto services in the near future.
If this all goes according to the loosely described “plan” then I’ll continue grow in my experience in the technology-side of the auto industry and as a web developer and eventually (inevitably?) the newsletter will merge with my existing career track.
My hope is to eventually spend much more of my time here, working in an industry that I like and on a project that I own, end-to-end.
If you were to coach a noobie newsletter creator, what advice would you give them after having done it yourself?
4 quick tips as I’ve learned them:
- I would highly recommend you start writing about a topic that you are familiar with and have an interest in, this will eliminate having to decide what you want to write about.
- Start small! I really like how Substack is free and manages sign up, email list, and offers basic analytics.
- Get to know your audience: Don’t hesitate to ask what their thoughts were, do this repeatedly and you will identify a pattern of interest, write about what they are interested in.
- Finally, check out what other people are building and copy the patterns and strategies that are obviously working — they can inspire you to do even better with your own newsletter!
How has community been a part of your strategy? What have you done (or thought of doing) specifically to build community around a newsletter?
A few things that have really resonated with my readers:
- Featuring my readers who already write / share on EV topics (and related markets) has really worked for me, keeping readers involved and interested in the next issue.
- An idea I’m considering is hosting a scheduled video chat for Q/A or discussion of specific industry topics and hosting it on a platform like Discord; this idea has been suggested by a few of my readers.
Who has inspired you the most? Who needs more attention that doesn’t get it?
My biggest inspiration is John, founder of YEN.FM ( 🤗 ) — he’s the one that inspired me to begin writing! He’s been writing publicly for 20+ years!