Back in August last year Dan and I created and launched RandomUsefulWebsites.com to a wave of exposure and traffic. Thousands of upvotes on Reddit, hundreds on Product Hunt and hundreds of thousands of visitors within a few days. By all means it was a successful product launch for something that took us only a couple of hours to build.
A few months later we had the idea of turning it into a fully functional website with a ton of new features and an updated database of useful websites. This is when Random Useful Websites was transitioning to Discuvver. I had an awesome looking website designed however over time the project stalled and it never got properly finished.
Not to dissuade us, we started capturing user email addresses on Random Useful Website’s, signed up for a MailChimp account and watched it grow over time. Today the account has around 2,800 email subscribers.
Not too bad, we’re always looking at growing it but for now it’ll do. So a couple of months ago we decided to pivot Discuvver to simply a newsletter. We’ll keep Random Useful Websites as is (we were going to 301 it to Discuvver) and focus on growing the newsletter organically. This does work out well, not having the Discuvver website live was a lot of weight on our shoulders so putting it aside for the indefinite future will de-stress both of us and allow us to build the email list and also work on other projects. It’s something I was a fan of doing; writing is something I really enjoy & being able to slide into 3,000 people’s inboxes every week is exciting.
An issue I was running into was the tone of the emails. From the very beginning I was keeping things pretty simple, everything was quite corporate feeling & I wasn’t too pleased with the engagement levels. Emails weren’t being opened and the click rate was pretty low. So 3 months ago I decided to let loose and write freely. Clicks then have jumped from a measly 6.1% up to 10.0%. I mean, I would like that higher but apparently the industry average is only 1.4% so we’re doing something right. Although, I guess a majority of people in the “Software & Web App” industry aren’t acting as giant referrers.
Anyway, quick funny story. When I’m in the zone and writing freely, profanity creeps in. A couple of the past emails have featured a few fucks & what-not. Cue the first complaint.
Check it out below:
A fucking joke, right? My reply:
So the time comes to write the newsletter. I send this out:
No profanity, that’s fine. I then get an email the next morning after the email goes out from our friend Ed. Here it is:
He’s happy. Thing is, he musn’t have read the email that closely. Look again, Ed:
Go fuck yourself, Ed.
So yeah, maybe not the best way to grow an email list by pissing off your subscribers, but it’s a free fucking newsletter & it takes us time to curate the content so I figure I can write them out however I want. I did ask the subscribers whether or not they cared about the profanity in them & the vast majority of the replies were positive. People just want the useful websites in their inbox every Monday morning, they don’t care about the content that’s surrounding it. If you’re interested in receiving the newsletter, drop your email here.
Lastly, I’ve found writing somewhat therapeutic lately so I’m going to try and blog more. We’ve got a lot of projects ongoing & in the works that we haven’t talked about, I mean, I’ve self-published Where’s MH370 and barely ever talked about that fucking thing. Which makes sense given that nobody gives a fuck about that plane anymore. Not even someone like me who has profited from it.