How focusing on 6 subscribers a day turned into 64,000 with @abouelatta_ali
Maker of Habit #34
Welcome to the 3 new subscribers who have joined since the last issue 🙌
Far from Ali’s goal of “six a day”, but hey, celebrate the small wins, right, Ali?
Let’s get into it!
Maker of Habit #34
Ali Abouelatta (@abouelatta_ali)
Why he’s featured
Writes First 1000 newsletter, where he writes about how top companies like BeReal, Airbnb, or Morning Brew got their first 1000 users. I’ve been reading it since Day 1 and it now has over 64k subscribers 😱
Product Manager at Duolingo, one of the top B2C learning platforms in the world which has been crushing it lately with 60 million MAU, 7.8% which are paid subscribers.
Has over 16.2K followers on Twitter where he shares super high quality case studies and learnings from his experiments at Duolingo, like this one that went viral a few weeks ago
3 Strategies that Ali leverages in his work:
📣 Sharing high-quality case studies from his day job
Most of Ali’s top tweets are case studies about the experiments he is running at Duolingo and what he learns from them.
And what’s great about his case studies is that they also include the things his team tried that didn’t work, for example, this excerpt from his recent case study he published on Lenny’s Newsletter.
So often case studies just focus on the win, and it leaves out all the doubt, back and forth and headache that comes before.
Ali’s case studies are also very well crafted, using detailed screenshots, annotated graphs and diagrams to give the reader a full understanding of what the team was thinking at the time. It almost feels like you’re a member of his team at Duolingo.
It’s not clear if Ali gets explicit approval from Duolingo to post each case study, or if they let him share whatever he wants(since they obviously benefit from the attention they get).
Either way, it’s a win-win for him and the company.
🕵🏻♂️ Conducting primary research
For Maker of Habit, I wanted to make the process of getting featured as easy as possible for the guest. So to limit the information I’m asking for from the guest, I mostly rely on information already available about the guest on the internet. The only information I ask them for 3 habits and a few bullet points.
Ali took almost exact opposite approach with his First 1000 newsletter. He got on the phone with the founders of the companies he was writing about, and got deep. He didn’t just ask “how did you get your initial customers” and take “we focused on SEO” or “it’s been all organic!” as an answer. He asked the necessary questions to get the nitty gritty details, like how they defined their target audience, the pricing iterations the team went through, or how a founder lived in their car.
👋 Guest Posting on relevant newsletters
Ali could have sent his most recent Duolingo case study write up to his own 64k subscribers. Instead, he wrote it as a guest post on Lenny’s newsletter which has 364,000 subscribers and a focused audience of product managers.
I’d bet it was a good move.
3 Habits that Changed Ali’s trajectory in his own words:
🪜 Small achievable goals
When I started my newsletter, I set a goal of 1,000 subscribers in 6 months.
That came down to 6 new subscribers a day. I woke up every day with 1 thing on my mind: how can I get 6 subscribers today?!
Hitting that goal day in and day out was a huge motivator factor to keep going in the early days when barely anyone read my stuff. Two & a half years in, I still operate in the same way. Only now the goalpost has moved quite a bit and the cadence changed from daily to weekly!
📊 Track everything
Goals are meaningless if you don’t act and learn from them. This is why the second big thing that helped me grow as a creator was keeping track of everything I tried to grow.
It was as simple as writing down 1 to 2 sentences about what I did that day and how it panned out.
Soon enough, I had a repo of learnings, themes, and trends that compounded every day. It gave me a much better understanding of my audience, the value of my content and how the effectiveness of different growth tactics. I can’t state enough how powerful the act of compounding knowledge can be.
(Psst: if you need help with tracking, check out Harold.)
🥇 Celebrate the wins
Sometimes, it is good to take a step back and reflect on the journey. I keep a running log of all the small (& big) “wins”. I would take note of something as simple as an impromptu friend reaching out saying a piece I wrote was helpful in their day to day job.
When times get tough, or when I start to feel burned out, I go back & revisit this log. Sometimes all I need to pick myself back up is a good reminder of why I do this!
That’s a wrap!
Thanks for sharing your habits with us, Ali!
You’ve reinvigorated my motivation to track habits and small steps that will compound towards my goals.
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Stay up to date with Ali:
First 1000 Newsletter: https://www.first1000.co
Oh, and one last thing! Stay updated on all the cool work of our past makers with the Maker of Habit Twitter list. It’s an awesome way to feel more connected to the maker community.
What maker do you want to see featured next? Reply to this email and let me know.
SPONSORED BY: MY OTHER PROJECTS
Track your small achievable goals with Harold
You heard Ali! The key to reaching your goals is tracking small, achievable goals.
Well if you’re like me and struggle to consistently track or journal, Harold can help. Harold is the first-ever SMS habit tracker powered by GPT-3.
That means you don’t have to remember to journal or track anything, you just have to respond to a text.
You’ll be surprised at what just one text message a day can do for your self-awareness and personal growth. 🚀
The Honest Guide to Indie Making
I spent 2 months writing 50k words about my journey going full-time on my side project. The Honest Guide to Indie Making is a thorough documentation of everything I learned about validating my idea, getting my first 100 signups, SEO, running a beta, etc.
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