Be Confident Enough To Let Go
The refreshing nature of clearing out what no longer serves you to make space for what does
Hey, it’s Alexandra. Welcome to my weekly newsletter where I share what I’m learning to facilitate professional development & well-being.
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In this week’s newsletter, I share:
Why numbers can be misleading
How fear can make us clingy
The beauty of letting go
☕️ Read time: 2 mins (best with tea or coffee)
On Saturday, I made what probably seems like an insane decision to cut my subscriber list by 65% (roughly two-thirds) from 1,070 to 379. A bold move considering it took me over two years to crack 1,000 subscribers.
But my writing has dramatically evolved over the past 27 months—in quality and focus—and I felt a lot of people who signed up as far back as October 2021 weren’t on my wavelength anymore. This was reflected in them not opening my emails often or at all. And my collective open rate had recently sunk as low as 38-45%.
Ironically, my writing is a lot better now than it was back when my open rate was higher, so it seemed crucial to hit “refresh” and level the playing field. Plus I’m told “scrubbing” your list from time to time is best practice. It improves deliverability and increases engagement which is win-win for you and your readers.
On top of that, I read recently that it’s better to be “known well” than “well known.” And I realized I’d rather have a smaller pool of engaged readers I’m eager to go deeper and deeper with than 10x the amount who are less interested in what I have to share.
Here are three takeaways from my first attempt at scrubbing my list:
1. 🧽 It’s best to back things up
I exported my list of 1,070 in a CSV file so I have the info on who I removed if I want to try to reengage them in the future. (I doubt I’ll do this but my analytical friends insisted I preserve the data so I figured what the hell?)
2. 🧽 Use the best data available
Substack attributes 0 to 5 stars based on how much readers engage with your newsletter so I filtered for 0 to 2 star subscribers (those with minimal, if any, activity). Slightly over 691 people fell in this range but I only removed 691 as I recognized several names of people who often like or comment on my posts (who I know open my links through LinkedIn or Twitter rather than email).
I’m skeptical of how accurate Substack’s activity stats are considering some people who have read and engaged with my newsletter for over a year show as having received less than a year’s worth of posts. Not to mention, it’s unclear whether reading posts directly in the Substack app (rather than opening emails) counts as “activity.”
But regardless, the activity rankings were the best information I had to go on. So I apologize if I removed you based on incorrect data. Please resubscribe if that’s the case.
I was also initially hesitant to cut a whopping 691 subscribers after it took over two years of writing weekly to acquire 1,000 subscribers. But I realized holding onto dead weight meant moving forward out of fear, when I know my writing is better than ever now and I’m confident I can rebuild my list with more intention going forward.
3. 🧽 Keep paid subscribers no matter what
One BIG mistake I made was accidentally deleting a paid subscriber. I felt like an idiot. But they had gotten lost in the shuffle of 690 others with dismal activity status. Upon investigation, I realized they had been attributed minimal activity because they were a new subscriber (within the last month).
Adding insult to injury, it happened to be the only paid subscriber I don’t know. I reached out to them afterward to resubscribe if they’re interested but I’m not getting my hopes up. Next time I’ll be more careful.
Overall though, having “scrubbed” my list sparkling clean, I feel as light as the snowflakes sprinkling over Montreal this week. It’s been said “The reason why no two snowflakes are exactly alike is that every single snowflake that falls to earth takes a different path.” And as someone following my own path, it feels right to treat my newsletter with the same confidence I would any other pursuit—even if it looks insane.
Thanks for reading and have a wonder-full week,
P.S. Here’s another beautiful, snow-related fact:
💛 Drop a like or comment if you enjoyed this edition.
☕️ Let me know if you visit Montreal and we can grab coffee or tea.