31 Comments

Great job, man.

It's been a pleasure getting to know you more, chatting, and learning from each other.

I've changed a good amount of how I do my day-to-day from what I've learned from you. Looking forward to put it into practice more next week too.

Keep up the great stuff

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It's great to hear, Jordan :)

Sometimes I doubt if what I write is useful to people or if it's just words in a paper that nobody applies.

Let's keep the posts coming!

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nice, congrats Fran.

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Thanks, Neo!

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Apr 7Liked by Fran Soto

I can confirm that connections here are the #1 driving factor right now on Substack.

I'm super happy that we connected because we always had great conversations in the comments, and you're one of the few people who recommend my newsletter and drive most of my subscribers. I think if it weren't for your recommendation, I would have 0 growth 😃

These are great tips! I was thinking along the same lines when I got consistent with my blog, and I'm using pretty much the same algorithm to approach this newsletter.

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Happy that we connected, Akos!

Starts are always slow. But I see that the power of real connections with people will bring benefits whenever I am the one starting on something new.

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Congratulations!! Keep up the good work!

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Thanks, Irina!

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Great achievement, Fran! I have a very similar story to yours before writing.

I am also committing to writing every week. And, growing on Linkedin through connections. There is no way to find readers, without connecting with others!

I am curious though about your breakthrough on growth. It seems that you were steadily growing until end of Feb, and then from then your graph went exponentially. Was there a reason for that?

(trying to learn the craft and secret of success here 😄)

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Yeah, after 3k things went much faster. I think it's just the nature of the network effect :)

A couple of things happened

1. Multiple shoutouts in a row on LinkedIn: I think Nicola put himself first in the leaderboard in just one day with a shoutout post. Other people on LinkedIn started adding me too

2. Recommendations: Multiple creators with higher audiences started recommending my newsletter

3. I got a couple of more viral posts on LinkedIn, I also have spikes of followers starting February on LinkedIn, I guess some of them converted to newsletter

For me, the key is earning the trust of readers and creators, and I do that with consistency and having a backlog of 6-months of writing.

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All great points, Fran!

Network effect really pays off.

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Mar 31Liked by Fran Soto

Reading your newsletter, I feel like right now I'm in the same position you were a few months ago. Doubts, fears, imposter syndrome, and thinking I might not have anything interesting to share. For me, there's also the challenge of writing in a language that's not my first, since I'm from Italy.

However, your story reinforces a principle I want to embrace this year: stepping into the uncomfortable zone. I'm pretty sure there's a real opportunity for personal growth when we dare to step off the usual path.

Thanks for sharing your journey, Fran

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I'm glad it served as inspiration, Luca.

I wrote the first article and didn't share it the first day. The next day I shared on LinkedIn with my 300 connections network and I was pretty afraid.

But I reframed the WHY of doing this. I said something like "I'm doing this selfishly to improve my writing, and I'll do it regardless of the number of readers".

With that mindset, it's like if you are going to the gym. You are doing your business and everyone else doing theirs. If a relationship appears, you have a gym buddy. Otherwise, you are on your own path :)

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Apr 1Liked by Fran Soto

That's an interesting take, Fran. Viewing it as a journey towards self-improvement allows you to prioritize your passion and intrinsic goals over external factors. I'll take your advice to heart when I start my own newsletter.

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Thanks for sharing, I like your writing styles. Im trying to apply it to my Vietnamese content

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Thanks for your words, Bryant. I appreciate it :)

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Good stuff. Consistency is king!

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Thanks, Nico!

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Great job Fran! Congrats.

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Thanks Milan, I appreciate it :)

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Thanks for the article, Fran. I always appreciate a look behind the curtain, since writers often struggle with similar issues.

I recently re-started writing myself and it has been a slog. Everything feels fake and wrong. Posts like these help me keep going.

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Thanks for sharing your experience, Simon.

It was hard for me to find my voice. I also had that feeling of being a fake, an impostor. But I think the only cure for that is to continue writing and get more comfortable.

Keep it up!

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Loved the tips! For me, it boils down to 3:

- just start

- a single idea per post

- define your audience

I think the last one is often missed, but I find it important for my writing.

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I also found the first 2 useful, Anton.

I'm curious about defining your audience, I certainly haven't done that.

Do you do an exercise like defining the avatar of your reader?

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Mar 31·edited Mar 31Liked by Fran Soto

I know a lot of creators won’t agree with me, so take it with the appropriate caveats :)

When I started on LinkedIn, my writing was all over the place. Everyday life insights, book recommendations, tips for team leaders, technical advice.

After 6-7 months (in July), I sat down and analyzed my content, and broke it down into pillars. I decided it’ll be better for me to focus, to be associated with a main theme.

I defined my target reader as a junior engineering manager, on their first manager’s role.

Since then, (almost) every post and article I write, is relevant to that persona. When I write ‘You’ - this is who I aim for, not engineers. This can alienate some readers, as I assume every reader is a manager, but it helps focus my writing.

I already wrote a similar post when I reached 10K, but decided to not publish it, as I feel it’ll be relevant for a very small subset of junior managers - maybe 1% of my readers. Most don’t want to write in public.

If I do write such an article, my focus will be to take lessons that can apply to the EM job - for example, asking for recommendations and not being shy. That’s an important lessons that can be applied anywhere, asking for what you want and not waiting for it to fall on you.

This focus also made me start a second newsletter - as I understood that I can’t write about books in this one if I want to stay focused.

I know that a common advice is to write whatever feels good for you, and that you should write for yourself first. I’m just adding another constraint - I write for the ‘junior manager myself’ :)

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Thanks for the detailed answer, Anton.

I think both are different styles. I see this clearly with the channels of Thomas Frank on YouTube (he has the personal brand channel and a Notion tutorial channel).

One thing is the personal-brand style where all content goes around you. Another the focused on one main topic so people go there for a particular content.

I think there's also another option: Starting on a narrow niche and expanding to a broader category

Regardless of which path to take, I think reflecting on this will be good for me too. You gave me food for thought :)

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I completely agree - it's a matter of personal preference. In the long term, people should stick to writing what they enjoy writing about, this is the only way to persist in it imo.

But if we circle back to people who want to start writing - I do think that having a clear ideal reader in mind is beneficial. This helps in generating ideas, being consistent, and getting your first 100 subscribers.

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Very authentic post and great read for new writers like me. Thanks for sharing.

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I always felt inspired when I saw these posts from bigger creators.

I'm glad I can play that role for other people too.

Thanks for your words, Akash!

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I'm going to keep doing it and improving every time like you said with the hope someday I will be the author of a similar post!

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Regardless of your results in the 6-month mark, you'll get your own learnings and those will be useful for many people

Keep it up!

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