Why I Mothballed my Newsletter

I include below the text of the last issue of my Practicing Google newsletter, in which I announced I discontinued the publication and explained why. It feels at the same time sad because it's a failure, and energizing as the it frees up resources for new projects.

This is the last issue of Practicing Google.

I’m ceasing publication of the newsletter, or at least suspending it indefinitely. I might resume at some point, but not in the short term. If so, I’ll notify the readers still subscribed or announce related projects.

The Practicing Google Newsletter was discontinued
I discontinued my Practicing Google Newsletter.

I’m sorry this comes out of the blue, but it was inevitable. I’ll explain below why I took this decision I had been considering for a long time.

Thank you very much for your attention and support.

There's no interest

With billions of Google users, without research or validation I assumed at least a few hundred would subscribe to Practicing Google. Almost two years and 87 issues later, the subscriber count has been flat around 50 with no growth since the first issues in early 2020.

I didn’t get much reader engagement either.

I personally emailed a welcome note to most new subscribers, but only a couple replied. I sent out a survey, which only 3 readesr filled. I asked countless questions in many issues, but no answers came. Only a couple of readers clicked the like button at the end of the issues. Nearly no one emailed or reached out to me with feedback, positive or negative. If there ever was word of mouth or sharing of the issues, it didn’t have any impact on the subscriber count. Over the past few months, link clicks began to decrease.

Even the least successful of my blog posts or tweets get 3-5X more eyeballs than the couple dozen active readers of Practicing Google.

It’s a failure, it couldn’t be more clear.

All this silence means the newsletter didn’t reasonate and there’s no interest in it, at least in the current form. Not even among Google enthusiasts. Therefore, keeping Practicing Google alive is not worth the effort.

Growth is hard

Stating that growing an audience is hard for creators is an understatement. It’s actually damn near impossible.

When starting out, everything happens at a snail’s pace and nothing seems to move the needle. Best practices, popular growth strategies, what worked for other creators, advice from gurus, the works. Nothing makes a difference.

Until you hit a critical mass. Then, a self-sustaining chain reaction kicks in and pretty much anything you throw at the wall sticks.

It takes an audience to build an audience.

I’m no celebrity and I still don’t have a significant online footprint, which didn’t help with growing Practicing Google.

Marketing is not an option

In order to grow, creators are supposed to follow the “best practices” of marketing such as luring potential readers with freebies, pressing them with calls to action, teasing with clickbait, writing for SEO instead of humans, and otherwise poking and prodding readers as if they were lab rats.

I did the opposite.

I assumed potential readers would be adults capable of deciding whether Practicing Google was valuable to them. All I did was genuinely tell why I thought my content was interesting or helpful. Everything suggests the readers decided they don’t want to subscribe.

Fair enough, back to the drawing board.

Thank you, one last time

I wish to thank you twice. First, for sticking with the newsletter. Second, for being interested enough in this post-mortem to read this far.

If you still want to keep in touch with me online, I have a blog, a Twitter profile, and a GitHub profile.

So long, and thanks for reading.

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