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Why a 100K email list beats 1M followers on Instagram — the top 3 takeaways on owning your audience

Hey! Welcome to the Creator Economy NYC newsletter — the premier place for all things creator economy in the Big Apple.

We had an incredible event on Wednesday morning — a brunch and panel with beehiiv about what it means for creators to truly own their audience.

It was an outstanding turnout of creators, marketers, brands, and founders — many even from outside of NYC, as it was NY Tech Week! Hope they enjoyed a slice of NYC’s finest pizza — Sbarro’s.

This week, we’re diving into 3 key takeaways from our panel. Let’s get into it.

Stops along the way:

  • Upcoming events

  • Community perks

  • News bits

  • Job openings

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Why a 100K email list beats 1M followers on Instagram — the top 3 takeaways on owning your audience

Our panel on Wednesday was moderated by yours truly and featured three major players in the creator economy:

We started the panel with the question, “Would you rather wake up one morning to 1M Instagram followers or 100K newsletter subscribers?” The answers from the panelists were pretty unanimous: 100K newsletter subscribers.

Here’s why:

1. Don’t be at the whim of the algorithm

TLDR: The algorithms work in mysterious ways. Own your audience by methods like launching a newsletter and be consistent about it!

Creators are tired of being at the whim of the algorithm. They want control of their audience and to feel confident that the content they put out there will reach their followers.

What do I mean by this? Just listen to what Kaya had to say about the core three platforms:

  • Instagram recently announced that they’re changing the algorithm to prioritize emerging creators’ content. While this is great for emerging creators, this is a big detriment to big creators.

  • YouTube doesn’t know if it wants to be a platform for short-form or long-form content. YouTube’s “identity crisis” is affecting creators’ ability to get views.

  • TikTok, if it gets banned from the US then creators lose a major channel.

The panelist’s answers: Creators should pursue audience ownership methods like starting a newsletter, where they can actually own first-party data like their audiences’ email addresses.

Starting a newsletter and having an engaged subscriber base also makes it easier to launch products down the line, thus furthering monetization opportunities.

But remember, starting a newsletter requires effort! Most people who start a newsletter will falter. Consistency is key when it comes to any form of content! Find a manageable cadence that works best for you and your audience.

BTW - other methods of “audience ownership” include community platforms like Slack, Mighty Networks, or Circle and even capturing your audience's phone numbers.

2. Master the simple science of engagement

TLDR: Once you have a newsletter audience, you have to keep them! Do regular surveys and polls to understand who your subscribers are and what content they want to see.

You did the hard work of creating a newsletter, and you have an engaged audience.

Now what?

It’s not time to sit back and relax. You have to keep delivering consistent, high-quality work and keep your audience engaged. The work is only just beginning!

The best way to keep your audience routinely engaged is to ask them what they want to see. Consider doing regular polls and open-ended surveys with questions that include:

  • What type of content do you want to see?

  • What did you think of today's email on a scale from zero to five?

Make sure you also include survey questions that gather psychographic information so you can understand WHO your audience is. beehiiv tools help facilitate this!

Pro-tip: Psychographic & demographic information will help you when you want newsletter sponsors!

The next step to mastering the simple science of engagement is to look at the data the newsletter platform gives you — like beehiiv. You want to understand who is opening your emails, what links they are clicking on, and how often they are clicking on the links.

That being said…

What do you think of this newsletter so far?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

3. Strategize how to convert followers into subscribers

TLDR: The best way to get your followers (on “rented land”) to convert to newsletter subscribers (on “owned land”) is to clearly state the value they’ll get from your newsletter and routienly promote it.

Can you get users who follow you from one platform to subscribe to your newsletter?

Yes, but it’s not always easy! Even the biggest creators need a playbook to convert their IG, Twitter, TikTok followers, etc., to newsletter subscribers.

Preeya tells us that when beehiiv helps large creators launch their newsletter, they typically use this strategy:

  1. Get the newsletter entirely set up and ready to go, but don’t publish just yet

  2. Now build hype

“Hype” means having the creator include something like IG stories that link to the signup page of their newsletter or hosting an IG Live or AMA and organically plugging the newsletter to drive signups and build excitement. They’ll build this hype cycle for 4-6 weeks before even posting their first newsletter.

Jack has a different approach — he’ll use LinkedIn to repurpose his newsletter content, sometimes 3-4 weeks after publishing. At the end of these posts, he always makes sure to include a CTA that says this is from his newsletter and click here to subscribe.

Another foolproof method is to eliminate the guesswork and tell people exactly what they can expect when subscribing to your newsletter. The key is value prop alignment — the value prop of your social content needs to match the value prop of your newsletter.

Thanks to everyone who could join us. We’ll have a recording of the panel ready to go live soon, which we’ll share in a future newsletter. You can also view pictures from the event here.

Shoutout to Emmy O in our community for helping to write this piece. More to come!


Upcoming events

We have a few sponsorship slots open for the following events, so if you are interested in exploring involvement, please reach out here.

We are headed to the dark side (West Coast) at the end of June for an event at VidCon alongside our friends at Passionfruit, Teachable and Blanka.

At VidCon, we’re hosting an intimate gathering of creators, brands, and media at the JW Marriott Garden with an open bar and light bites. Expect time to connect with others and a panel!

If you’re headed to VidCon, we hope to see you there! And if not, please share with people you know attending!

P.S. you can snag VidCon tix here.

Summer Mixer & Live Podcast Recording - July 29, 6:30PM-9:30PM

We’re excited to partner with Creator Economy Live for an exclusive summer mixer and live podcast recording at the Mariott Marquis in the heart of NYC.

​The Creator Economy Live podcast brings us lively conversations about everything in the world of influencer marketing and the creator economy, hosted by the industry’s top voices, Brendan Gahan (Creator Authority) and Keith Bendes (Linqia). All brought to you by the biggest event for influencer marketers in the US, Creator Economy Live!

Drinks, food, and good people to meet. RSVP to join us!


  • Newsletter: Enjoy 20% off your first 3 months on any beehiiv paid plan. This comes after a complimentary 30-day free trial, exclusively for our community members! Snag it here.

  • Link in Bio: Get 3 months FREE on the Linktree PRO plan using the code creatoreconomynyc.

  • Travel and Lodging: Enjoy 12.5% off the best available rates for business and personal travel at any CitizenM Hotel location. Just use code CRMY1!




(Past newsletter editions)


Thanks so much for reading! Let me know what you thought by replying back to this email! Enjoy the weekend.

See you next week,


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