I wasn’t sure I would be able grow my newsletter, The Curious Bunch, to 1000+ subscribers. However, I met that goal in just under 9 months using newsletter cross-promotion.

I don’t have a marketing background. I didn’t have any experience “growing” anything. I had no idea how to reach my target audience. Then I discovered newsletter cross-promotions – now more than half of my subscribers come from cross-promotions.

Cross-promotion should be one of your main strategies for promoting your newsletter and growing your email subscriptions.

Let’s dig into the what, how, and why.

What is newsletter cross-promotion?

A newsletter cross-promotion is when you promote other people’s newsletters to your readers in exchange for them promoting your newsletter to their readers. Essentially, you swap content in your newsletters.

Why should you do newsletter cross-promotion?

When it comes to reaching your ideal audience, there’s no better way than reaching people who are already subscribed to newsletters in your niche. This is true whether you’re just starting a newsletter or have a substantial list already.

  1. These subscribers are already into reading newsletters.
  2. Your niche interests them and they want to stay informed.
  3. They trust the author who’s promoting your newsletter.
  4. In addition, you won’t have to spend any money on acquiring these subscribers!
  5. By cross-promoting, you also provide value to other newsletter writers and help them grow.

Cross-promoting got me some of my most loyal readers yet! Below is just one recent example.🙂

A tweet from Nia (@SleepyHollowKid) to @lesley_pizza and @LearnWithVida that says: I was one of the folks who subbed to her newsletter (found it in @TechBizGurl's newsletter) and she's def a valuable asset on cross-promotions. Can't wait to read this post!

How to select writers for newsletter cross-promotion?

There are a few things you’ve got to keep in mind while cross-promoting other newsletters:

1. Similar Audience: Both you and the writer you are cross-promoting should have an audience that is interested in at least one topic your newsletters cover.

For instance, I cover topics that are relevant to creators, productivity enthusiasts, indie hackers, marketers, and small biz owners. I would approach someone who covers at least one of these topics. It makes no sense to cross-promote with someone who’s into psychology since I don’t cover that topic and don’t want to attract the wrong kind of audience.

Let’s take my example. I approached Jessica Williams from #JessPicks on Twitter because she covers topics for freelancers and side-hustlers. That’s right up my alley!

A Twitter DM from Vidya, in which she reaches out to @TechBizGirl that says: Hello Jessica! I hope you're doing good. I was wondering if you're up for a cross-promotion for your next issue? My audience is mostly creators, indie hackers, freelancers. So, I thought it's a good fit and I'm sure they would love your newsletter. Some stats: 630 subscribers, 45-50% open rate, 20-22% click rate. Let me know if you're interested. In case you're not up for this week, I can ping you next time! 

Jessica responded by saying: Hi Vidya! Thanks so much for reaching out and yes, I'd be happy to cross-promote with you! I normally do it as a classified ad (but free). I think my slots are taken up this week but I can do it in next week's issue if that works for you.

2. Similar Size: Unless you are close friends with someone who has a bigger subscriber base than you, a good rule of thumb is to approach writers who have an email list size similar to yours. It need not be in the same range and can differ by +/- 200-300 subscribers.

Using our previous example, when I approached Jessica, I had around 630+ subscribers and she had around 950+ subscribers. That’s a perfect fit for both of us!

💡 Tip: If you’re approaching writers who have a considerably bigger list than you, make sure you highlight how engaged your audience is and how much they trust your suggestions. Focus on the value YOU’RE providing THEM, not the value of what you’re ASKING.

Most writers don’t mind cross-promoting with other writers with smaller list sizes as long as it’s reasonable and there is a great deal of overlap between their audiences. So, give it your best shot and never get disappointed if someone isn’t ready to cross-promote with you!

3. Provide necessary details: This goes without saying. An effective cold DM or request should always include context upfront and all the necessary details.

🚫 Don’t do this:

Hi, I’m Vidya and I write The Curious Bunch. Do you want to cross-promote with me?

Do this:

Hello Jessica! I hope you’re doing good. 🙂

I was wondering if you’re up for a cross-promotion for your next issue?

My audience is mostly creators, indie hackers, freelancers. So, I thought it’s a good fit and I’m sure they’d love your newsletter!

Some stats:

Subscribers: 630 Open Rate: 45%-50% Click Rate: 20%-22%

Let me know if you’re interested.

In case you’re not up for this week, I can ping you next time or whenever you’re ready. 🙂

This is a template you can use and tailor it to the specific writer you are approaching:

  1. Ask them politely if they’re up for a cross-promotion.
  2. Describe the kind of audience your newsletter targets.
  3. Some helpful stats for more context like open rate, click rate, readers profile, demographics, etc.
  4. Don’t forget to give them the option to say a clear NO to the cross-promotion, and also let them choose the date on which it will run.

If things don’t work out right away, let them know you’ll get in touch when they’re ready. There could be several reasons why you or they might not be interested right away.

One of the best things that happened to me when I started doing cross-promotions was the relationships I cultivated with other newsletter writers. They could become your go-to people when it comes to newsletter growth.

Giving back to the community usually compounds over time and more often than you think.

How and where to find writers to do newsletter cross-promotion?

Now you know what cross-promotion is and the value it can bring if done correctly. But, where can we find writers who target a similar audience as you?

Here are 5 unique ways or places you can use to approach Newsletter Writers to promote and grow your newsletter for free!

1. Approach Newsletter Writers through cold DMs

Although it might seem daunting, this is one of the best and easiest strategies when done correctly.

I made a list of writers I was interested in working with and got in touch with them via cold email and Twitter DMs. My newsletter had fewer than 600 subscribers when I first started cross-promotions, and none of them said “no” to my request.

The trick is to make sure you provide all the necessary information upfront and explain WHY you are interested in cross-promoting with them and how you can provide value to THEM. It’s more about giving than simply asking them for a favour.

2. Join Groups or Communities for Newsletter Writers

Connecting with other newsletter writers is easy when you join the most active and engaging groups.

Here are a few groups I found helpful when it comes to cross-promotions:

  • Facebook Groups: Newsletter Creators, Newsletter Nerds
  • Slack Groups: Many platforms that help newsletter creators monetize their newsletters and they also have internal Slack communities for writers. For example, Swapstack and Letterhead. You can join their platforms and get free access to their communities.
  • IndieHackers: Create a post on the IndieHackers group for newsletter writers which has around 1100+ members and invite others to collaborate with you. You can take this post by Monica Lent as an inspiration.
  • Newsletter Crew: This is a paid community that you can join to connect with other writers and grow your newsletter. They offer a wide range of courses, access to their podcast, and member-only blog posts to help you with your newsletter growth. They also have a Discord group where you can connect with other writers to cross-promote with.

💡 Tip: For long-term relationships, create a small community or a group on Slack or Discord with writers you want to stay in touch with regularly. Try and keep this group small (4-6 members) so you can continue bonding and growing with them.

3. Join a Niche Community

One of the best ways to reach your ideal audience is by getting in touch with people who are already writing about your niche for their audience.

If you’re a productivity enthusiast or into the creator economy, try and find communities on Reddit, Discord, or Slack related to those topics.

Write a small post inviting newsletter writers in that community to collaborate with you. Exchange relevant information and start cross-promoting!

4. Sign-up for platforms like CrowdMagnet

I’ve used CrowdMagnet in the past and found some amazing writers to cross-promote with!

It lets you connect with other writers by filtering newsletters based on email list size, topics they cover, frequency, and demographics. You can then approach them via their internal DM and pitch other writers to collaborate with you.

5. Submit Your Newsletter on TheSample.ai

I saved the best for last!

TheSample is one of those “Newsletter Discovery” platforms which makes it easy for its users to find interesting content based on their interests without having to sign-up for different newsletters.

They also do cross-promotion with writers who submit newsletters to their platform. They do this via 2 methods:

  • Organic promotion: Every newsletter submitted to this platform will be forwarded to it at least 10-20 users at least once a week.
  • Cross-promotion: Every time you promote or suggest others to subscribe to TheSample, they cross-promote with you and increase the number of forwards for your newsletter issues.
An image from The Sample detailing cross-promotion. It shows a link and the results. Your link has been clicked 181 times and has resulted in 56 new subscribers for The Sample. In return, we've given your newsletter 3023 additional forwards so far, which have resulted in 102 1-click subscribes.

As you can see from the above image, I’ve used my referral link to promote them and it has resulted in 56 new subscribers for them. In exchange, they gave my newsletter issues 3023 additional forwards which resulted in 102 subscribers (as of 27th Nov 2021)!

One of the issues promoted: Unconventional Goal Setting Methods You Should Try! 1415 forwards, 1006 opens, 55 subscribes (3.9% conversion rate)

In the image above, you can see that one of my issues was forwarded 1415 times. Those forwards resulted in 55 new subscribers!

Statistics from The Sample's publisher console as of November 27th, 2021. In total, there were 141 new subs and a 6.3% conversion rate for organic forwards.

Here’s a view of all my statistics on TheSample‘s Publisher Console (as of 27th Nov 2021). In total, I got 141 subscribers by promoting it to my audience. I have around a 6.3% conversion rate for organic forwards and I think that’s a pretty good number for no effort on my part at all.

💡 Tip: I don’t actively promote TheSample every week. I simply add a link at the bottom of my newsletter introducing my readers to it in one single line and ask them to check it out. That’s all! You can also write a Twitter thread or a blog post suggesting others to sign-up for TheSample or give a dedicated shout-out on one of your newsletter issues if you like the results you’re seeing.

Please keep in mind that the conversion rate will vary for every newsletter.

How To Do Newsletter Cross-Promotion?

Ah, finally! So, HOW do we cross-promote other newsletters?

I’ll show that to you with two examples.

1. A Shout-Out

Step 1: Once you agree to cross-promote, ask them if they’ve got a preferred way to introduce their newsletter to your audience. Most of them have a small copy of how to pitch an audience that might have worked well in the past.

Step 2: You can use the same copy the writer gives or you can personalize it to your audience to improve engagement. Keep in mind that you want the writer to get as many subscribers as possible so you can maintain a long-term relationship with the writer.

My introduction to The Slice: A weekly email of good reads and tools at the intersection of entrepreneurship, technology, and productivity. I've been a regular reader of The Slice for almost 6 months now and I love the tools that Nic shares every week! Also, he recommends some really interesting articles that challenge my assumptions. Don't believe me? Here's a sneak peek into one of his newsletter issues. Join me and 1500+ other readers!
Nic's introduction of my newsletter: My picks of dope newsletters for this week. This week's featured newsletter is The Curious Bunch that delivers 3 interesting reads, 3 productivity tools, and 3 insights that make you more creative at what you do. Basically a lot of 3's. This newsletter is fairly small at just under 550 subscribers, but honestly it should be way more than this. It's short, to the point, and packed with tiny nuggets that's worth checking out.

This is the copy Nic, from The Slice, and I used to introduce each other to our subscribers.

A simple shout-out can be anywhere between 160-200 words. Feel free to negotiate this with the writer you’re collaborating with. Be open to accommodating their requests if they have any and if it aligns with your newsletter.

That’s it! All you have to do now is to send this to your readers.

2. Take Over a.k.a Guest Post

Go beyond just 160 words. Ask the writer to take over the introduction part of your newsletter and introduce themselves to your audience and what to expect from their newsletter.

Your readers can subscribe to that writer’s newsletter by clicking on a simple CTA at the end of the introduction.

How Trevor McKendrick introduced himself to Josh Spector's readers: Hello loyal readers of Josh! I'm Trevor McKendrick - Josh was nice enough to invite me to "take over" the intro to his news letters this week - he's doing the same for my newsletter, How It Actually Works. If you like Josh's stuff, I promise you'll enjoy my essay "Why You Should Ignore Every Founder's Story About How They Started Their Company". It got over 5,000 claps on Medium. Thanks to Josh for putting out great work week after week, and for letting me show you just a bit of mine. If you want to check out more of my work, you can go here. Now back to Josh.
How Trevor McKendrick introduced himself to Josh Spector’s readers.
How Josh Spector introduced himself to Trevor McKendrick's readers: Hey loyal Trevor readers! My name's Josh Spector and Trevor was nice enough to invite me to "take over" the introduction to his newsletter this week (he's doing the same on my For the Interested newsletter this week). Trevor and I have gotten to know each other a bit recently and discovered not only do we dig each other's newsletters, but our readers seem to dig each other's newsletters too. For example, while he tells you about one of his favorite books of the year below, I recent shared a summary of a book that's made me think twice about everything I do. Trevor's look at how OnlyFans has become a huge business pairs nicely with my breakdown of five ways to find your ideal audience. Anyways, I just want to thank Trevor for publishing a great newsletter every week and inviting me to tell you a bit about mine. If you'd like to check it out, you can get it here. Now, let's get back to the real star of the show. Here's Trevor...
How Josh Spector introduced himself to Trevor McKendrick’s readers.

This works when you both have a good rapport, a highly engaged audience, and when you already shared one of their articles in your newsletter that gave them good results.

Newsletter Cross-promotion Results

This is the optional part where you share the results you got from your newsletter cross-promotion.

Many writers I collaborated with do not share the results because, well, it depends on many factors and it doesn’t guarantee you the results. You will know if your cross-promotion worked based on the number of new subscribers after the issue goes live.

If you’re wondering whether all this effort is worth it or not, then let me show you instead of telling you.

A DM between Nic and Vidya in which Nic shares that Vidya's link received 79 clicks.
Nic shares cross-promotions results. It resulted in 79 clicks and 40+ subscribers.

Nic was kind enough to share the results when we cross-promoted each other’s newsletters. I got a whopping 79 clicks and 40+ subscribers through this single shout-out. That shows how engaged his audience is and how aligned they are with my newsletter topics. That is why it’s crucial to find newsletters that align with what you cover in your newsletter.

Now, imagine if you have tens of thousands of readers and you cross-promote with a similar-sized newsletter writer. 🙂

Around 50% of my subscribers have come through cross-promotions and word-of-mouth from other newsletter writers who have a similar audience.

What would I do differently next time?

I’ve temporarily paused cross-promoting with other writers even though it’s one of the most effective ways to acquire my ideal readers for free! The reason is that it takes a lot of effort when it comes to cross-promoting with other writers.

Here’s what I’d do to make it better next time:

  • Prepare a list of writers I want to collaborate with at least two months in advance.
  • Keep open slots in my calendar with set reminders to approach them with my pitch.
  • Perform A/B tests of the copy I am providing the writer to introduce my newsletter to their audience.
  • Be more open with the writers and ask what could have gone wrong if I don’t get the desired results.


To summarize this post:

  1. Have an open mindset when it comes to newsletter cross-promotion.
  2. Make sure you get the basics right when approaching writers. Find out whether their audience would be interested in your newsletter. Also consider whether your email list size is reasonable enough for the writer to collaborate.
  3. Join communities, groups, and platforms relevant to your niche. Invite others to collaborate with you. Provide value to THEM while doing so.
  4. Experiment with the copy you’re providing the writer so you maximize your cross-promotions.
  5. If you or the writer doesn’t get the desired results, try and understand what went wrong so you don’t repeat that next time then improve upon it.

What are you waiting for? Start cross-promoting with the writers you wish to work with and increase your newsletter subscribers for free!

Hope you enjoyed this article on increasing subscribers through cross-promotions for your newsletter!

If you have any questions hit me up at [email protected] or @learnwithvidya on Twitter. Subscribe to my newsletter The Curious Bunch and join 1000+ creators, marketers, indie-hackers, entrepreneurs, and productivity enthusiasts from all over the world to learn and grow!

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