🚀Product of the Week
Newsletter Spy. I just launched a new project called Newsletter Spy. It’s a database of 20,000+ Substack newsletters and includes information like the number of subscribers, the launch date, the date of the last post, the language of the newsletter, and engagement metrics.
The database is useful, for example, if you're looking for newsletters in your niche with lots of subscribers, you can then reach out to ask about available ad slots. But you can also use it to analyze competitors or simply to find interesting newsletters to subscribe to.
Another interesting use case is that the database allows you to find newsletters that haven’t published anything, say, in the last three months and thus possibly can be acquired cheaply.
📈 Opportunity of the Week
Pay-to-win Outreach. A few days ago I watched a brilliant Cold Email Lecture by Sam Parr.
One thing he points out is that right now is an incredible time. You can reach any person - the biggest superstars, the wealthiest CEOs, the smartest thinkers - even if you’re a nobody.
And often, all it takes is a short email. This was unthinkable in the past and, Sam argues, probably will again be impossible in the future. But right now, it’s possible and you’re missing out if you’re not using it to your advantage. So I got really motivated to learn more about cold outreach and to dedicate more time to it.
But while doing cold outreach is certainly an amazing opportunity, this is really not what I want to talk. (If you're interested, I published the notes I took on Sam's lecture here. )
Instead, I want to focus on the question why in the future it'll again become impossible (or at least much harder) to reach important people. Right now it's working because only a few people are doing it. But once too many people realize how powerful cold outreach can be, the channels will be closed again.
Let's look at three glimpses of the future:
Hey (the new email provider from the Basecamp founders) already made a first step towards the future, as they describe it on their features page: "HEY puts you in complete control of who's allowed to email you. The first time someone emails you, you get to decide if you want to hear from them again." Most importantly, all emails from people you don't know end up in a separate folder.
Another glimpse of the future was what Earn.com was all about when they started. The main idea was that you were able to send a message to important people who signed up and had to pay if they actually answered. (The company was acquired by Coinbase and the focus now has shifted.)
A little known fact is just how much creators on OnlyFans make through the paid private message feature.
These observations paint a rough picture of where we're heading.
Important people will become more sheltered again
It'll become a pay-to-win game.
Whoever builds the infrastructure for this future, will become rich.
A great starting point could be, for example, a Gmail extension that mimics Hey's feature and then experiment with different ways to handle emails from strangers. A first experiment in that direction is Mailman but I don't think the winning solution has been found yet.
An alternative could be an (outsourced? productized?) service that handles emails from strangers for you. Or look at how people who "live in the future" (like Nat Eliason, for example) currently handle email and then think about how their strategies and tools could be made more widely available.
Now maybe you're still not entirely convinced. So let's talk about two further observations.
While I talked to Brian Burrous last week, we started to wonder why exactly people pay thousands of dollars for a courses like David Perell's Write of Passage even though most of the content is available for free. An important factor that's usually not advertised is when you're subscribing to a course like this, you're getting access to the course creator. And even better, he'll become invested in your success since there's no better advertisement than a successful alumnus. So in some sense, this is just another form of the pay-to-win model described earlier.
One person who's clearly realized this is Nat Eliason. A few days ago he announced a membership platform for his blog. And what do you get if you pay 10 bucks a month? Exactly, access to Nat.
Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not arguing that David's course or Nat's community are otherwise useless. But I think that the paid-access-to-influencers aspect plays an important role. And at the very least it's an interesting lens to look at these products.
💭 Thought of the Week
“Decide what you want to do. Then decide to do it. Then do it.” - William Zinsser
🤔 Prompt of the Week
Favorite Problems. Richard Feynman famously observed:
"You have to keep a dozen of your favorite problems constantly present in your mind, although by and large they will lay in a dormant state. Every time you hear or read a new trick or a new result, test it against each of your twelve problems to see whether it helps. Every once in a while there will be a hit, and people will say, ‘How did he do it? He must be a genius!”
So ask yourself, what are your favorite problems? If you need inspiration, look at this list.
👋 End Notes
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