How I built a Newsletter Without Having a Newsletter

From Idea to Community: Finding my audience & sharing what I’m learning!

Rodolphe Dutel
5 min readNov 15, 2014

Laura Vanderkam wrote a thought-provoking piece on Remote Working:

I feel lucky to work remotely at Buffer, and I’m a huge believer in Remote Working and getting things done — I recently blogged about it on Medium.

Thanks to my friends and colleagues, the article did well! The article climbed up to Medium’s Top 20 on a Saturday.

Screen capture from Medium

72 hours after publication, hundreds of people had read the article.

Hundreds is quite modest on the “Internet Scale”, it still felt like a good performance to engage the specific niche I’m passionate about: Remote Workers!

At that point, I felt like I was failing to capture interest: Quite a few people were reading, recommending and sharing the article — then what?

So, I decided to add a Call to Action (CTA) to gauge people interest on the topic at the end of the article and offer to join a newsletter — just to see if there could be some interest there ☺

Screen capture from Medium

In a few minutes, I had set up a signup form in MailChimp (EDIT: Now to capture emails of those interested:

Screen caprure from MailChimp

Also, I felt like thanking those cool folks who shared and enjoyed the article in the first place, replying to people on twitter was a lot of fun, offering to provide more value through the newsletter — with just a hint of timely follow-up and friendly hustle!

“If content is king, then context is god.” — Gary Vaynerchuk

It’s great to find people that have an interest in the topic, I feel it’s even better to interact in the right context: Jumping on Twitter as quickly as possible felt like the best way to genuinely thank people:

Those nice folks recently found my article, opened it, read it and even went through the trouble to publicly share it and recommend it! Wow!

Quite quickly, some people started showing interest in getting more Remote Working tips— and the subscribing began!

Last time I started a newsletter, I did it the wrong way: I assumed that people would be interested in the value I could provide, I opted some people in and ended up with low engagement and interest — not cool of me…

This time, all subscribers joined out of their interest for Remote Working, it’s now my responsibility to engage and to provide valuable content!

Gmail is getting excited!

At this stage, it felt great to see many people interested in this topic, I still had no idea how to provide value, or what they thought might be interesting…

I sent an individual welcome email to every person that signed up to ask them how I could help

I use Gmail’s Canned Responses and Rapportive plugin, people’s email indicates what city people live in and what they do (thanks to LinkedIn), and has a gateway to their social media profiles or websites.

My own profile, as captured by Rapportive for Gmail

I tried my best to send email within 12 hours of sign-up, and to follow up on everyone’s response!

Example of manual “Welcome email”

Interestingly, 34% of subscribers took the time to email me back!

Welcoming people by individual emails helps me a lot:

  1. Meet awesome people, starting a project requires to be passionate, and results in meeting like-minded people!
  2. Build rapport, there’re plenty of information sources on the internet, I feel connecting with someone is nicer than being subscriber #297
  3. Customer Development, I don’t know subscribers expectations and wish to be transparent to gain insights and help in the best way I can.
  4. It’s not scalable and that’s OK, sending one email takes about one minute — it’s still key to create a movement

What now?

The initial article was published a week ago, it’s now time to find more sources of traction!

Medium Stats

So far, I’ve only responded to readers that recommended my article and I haven’t been proactive about finding new readers:

To fuel growth, my next ideas are blogging on LinkedIn and Medium, creating a dedicated LinkedIn Group, being pro-active on Social Media and creating a sign-up page with — all sound like exciting options!

Signup template from

To find great content, I’m lucky to be surrounded by talented bloggers and remote workers — I need to put in the work and make sure to give back value to everyone that felt like getting some information from me.

I’ve been inspired by Hiten Shah, who created a very, very insightful newsletter on SaaS and UX Leaders LinkedIn Group, those are hugely helpful for me to stay on top of the news and to get better at my job!

SaaS Weekly Newsletter, by Hiten Shah

Also, great tools such as Canva make it much easier for me to quickly create social-media friendly images to share on social networks and try to reach a wide audience — Buffer makes it super easy to share content often and well.

Creating social-media friendly images in Canva

If you have any tips on how to grow the community, or wish to get in touch about anything else, I would love to hear from you on Twitter!

Oh, one more thing… You knew it was coming, right? ☺

Interested in Remote Working?

Join our newsletter

& always happy to connect on Twitter: @rdutel



Rodolphe Dutel

Founder at @remotiveio | Prev. Director of Operations at @Buffer