Consistency is important for growth, but it’s not always easy. It’s especially difficult to keep your motivation high when you’re not seeing any results or monetary rewards.
Anthony Castrio killed two birds with one stone. He lined up sponsors for his newsletters, selling 2 months' worth of sponsorships in less than 24 hours. As a result, he was also able to publish more consistently and experience more growth.
We sat down with Anthony to talk about how he’s grown Indie Worldwide and BotEatBrain, and how sponsors helped him along the way.
Building a community
With a background as a software engineer and hackathon organiser, Anthony always wanted to be an indie maker, but he didn’t know where to start. Instead he did what he knew best: he organised local indie maker meet ups.
Being a nomad, Anthony set up communities in each city he visited. Despite gaining a wealth of experience in community building, Anthony craved a community that would always stay with him.
With this in mind, Indie Worldwide was born.
From community to newsletter
Indie Worldwide is a community of over 100 indie founders building bootstrapped startups around the world.
Despite its success, it took Anthony a while to realise Indie Worldwide was a viable business. He said, "For the first three years of building Indie Worldwide, I really felt like it was just something on the side while I searched for my ‘real idea’". Anthony only saw its potential after members of the community encouraged him to charge them.
It wasn’t just members who saw the value in the community. "We had someone reach out to us about sponsoring our newsletter. Me, with 1000 people on my mailing list, but who’s never written a newsletter in his life".
Anthony took this as a signal to start a newsletter and consider multiple income streams.
A second newsletter
Artificial intelligence has become a trending topic across social media platforms. "Almost every task we thought only humans could do is being taken over, enhanced, or replaced by AI," explains Castrio.
Anthony decided to tap into the hype by starting a second newsletter business: Bot Eat Brain. Covering headlines in AI, it aims to help people not just survive, but thrive in a world increasingly powered by AI.
With 12,000 followers on his personal account, and 3000 more on the Indie Worldwide account, Twitter has been the biggest driver of growth for both of Anthony's newsletters.
Posting on Indie Hackers, Product Hunt, Hacker News, and Reddit has provided occasional growth spurts, and although more difficult to track, word of mouth has also been crucial.
Anthony plans to experiment with short-form content and to use new product launches to help further grow his audiences.
Overcoming challenges (and selling out of sponsor slots)
Like most creators, Anthony struggled with consistency.
"It’s hard to write a newsletter every day or even once a week. I knew I needed some external motivation, something to keep me accountable, so that I could publish more frequently", he explains.
Anthony knew the fear of letting other people down would be his powerful driving force. He realised that if every newsletter issue was sponsored, he would publish more consistently to avoid disappointing partners.
As a result, Anthony did something few creators would consider: he made his prices as cheap as possible.
Charging $5 for one sponsored newsletter or $10 for a bundle of 3 slots, Anthony sold out of all February slots just a few hours after tweeting about it.
He then increased his prices to $10 for one slot or $20 for 3 slots, and sold out for March too.
Anthony knew he was undercharging for his niche and audience size. But this strategy worked for him:
- He published more consistently and as a result, grew his newsletter faster than ever before.
- With a limited number of slots, he created scarcity. As a result, he sold out very quickly and could raise prices.
- By taking such a different approach to sponsorships, Anthony created hype and momentum. He was able to stand out in a market that was gaining popularity. "People love a good story, they love to be a part of something", he says.
Anthony’s revenue streams as a creator are his Indie Worldwide membership fees and sponsorships for both of the newsletters.
This works well because most of his sponsorships come from existing members of his community or from Twitter.
As a result, Anthony has had to do little outreach.
Anthony’s advice to other creators who want to build a business around their newsletter is to focus on audience. "Focus on building a valuable niche audience and the sponsors will start coming to you. Then, make it easy for them to buy from you".
Making sponsorships less stressful
Anthony was using Google Sheets to manage sponsorships. He emailed sponsors back and forth and found the entire process too manual. He wanted to streamline his workflow so that he could manage the number of sponsors he was working with.
That’s why he decided to use Passionfroot.
"Passionfroot makes my life a lot easier and less stressful. I can manage more sponsors at once and see what’s coming up on my calendar".Anthony Castrio
You can see how Anthony is approaching sponsorships for his newsletter businesses using his Passionfroot pages for Indie Worldwide and Bot Eat Brain.