10 Lessons from 50 LinkedIn newsletter posts
An unpredictable algorithm can always be trusted to be unpredictable
Looking forward by looking back. What did I learn from fifty LinkedIn newsletter posts? Happy to share some pitfalls, mistakes, and how to toughen up.
- Failing to plan is planning to fail
- You need stock for headspace
- Pre-publish, eat, sleep, then publish
- A-synchronous posting for more reach
- Don’t look at likes
- Thick skin: unsolicited and solicited advice
- Content is for grabs
- Predictable unpredictable algorithm
- Re-use and re-purpose
- Have fun
In a nutshell, posting on LinkedIn and building an audience looks easier and more complicated than it is.
The tough get going and dare to search for the gems worth sharing. Please stay away from the obvious, don’t do what everyone else is doing.
Learn from my mistakes, pitfalls, and f*ck ups. As well as how not to take feedback personally.
1. Failing to plan is planning to fail
Dropping content like it’s hot is not going to move the needle anywhere.
As you progress over time, the more you need an overview, structure, and themes in line with your story.
You need planning. My lifesaver was using a tool like Notion to keep that overview of my posts on specific themes; that’s the only way to tell a coherent and consistent story and claim leadership.
Read more on ‘Content planning made easy’
2. You need stock for headspace
You’re an idiot if you don’t have content in stock. This frees up your mind and creates headspace.
Make sure you have about four to eight posts pixel-perfect and publish-ready. Plan those in the calendar so you don’t have to worry about what to post today, tomorrow, next week, or the week after.
Yes, the best (creative) work is always delivered under pressure. However, getting the best ideas and preparing to panic requires head space. You get head space by thinking and chewing, staring mindlessly out of a window, and going for a walk on the beach.
3. Pre-publish, eat, sleep, then publish
Your best content work always needs a night of sleep. Period.
Never publish directly after creating the content. Give it time. Sleep on it. The next morning you do your final check with a fresh and rested mind.
I guarantee it will always be better.
4. A-synchronous posting for more reach
Never fire all your guns in at once. Spread your content over the socials over the days. There’s absolutely no need to post an Instagram feed simultaneously with an Instagram story: you’ll reach the same person twice within minutes. And both your posts evaporate in the algorithm.
Better to post the Instagram feed or story the next day or even the day thereafter. You'll reach people that were not online the previous day, and you'll reach the ones that were online for a second time.
5. Don’t look at likes
Paying attention to vanity metrics sucks you into the likeability pitfall. A like says absolutely nothing about sales or, in my case, claiming leadership.
If I steer on likes, I have to make generally liked content. A.k.a., more of what others also are doing. And that doesn’t work for me and my strategy. If you want to claim leadership and make a mark, you have to be noticed. And you get noticed by speaking up and standing out, not by doing what others also do.
I look at the DMs. And I look at the subscribers for my newsletter, which slowly and steadily grow on a weekly basis. And as I link to my newsroom thinklikeapublisher.com, I look at Google Analytics for unique visitors, which also steadily grows on a weekly basis.
For me, it's not per se about reach; it's about reaching the right people.
6. Thick skin
You have to have a thick skin. You'll get feedback. If you want it or not.
Unsolicited, dropped in your DM.
Lucky me, I only had one rather innocent notice; he was getting annoyed by my, in his eyes, too frequent content. He announced he was planning to unsubscribe.
My bad, I’m still not sure what to answer him, as he’s an acquaintance and we haven’t spoken in over 15 years.
If he had started the DM with ‘Hello, how you’re doing?’ it would have been totally different. My best guess is that his DM is not about me; it’s about him venting his frustration. I don’t know, nor did I ask. And now it’s too little too late to reply.
Speaking from experience, DMs with unsolicited feedback can be much worse. Not even to mention those DMs with indecent proposals.
Solicited. I often ask friends and peers for feedback. I ask them to invest their time to help me. Then they tell me that they absolutely hate it, burn it to the ground, and destroy it.
It’s up to me to take it personally. Or not and embrace it, do something with their feedback.
7. Content is for grabs
All you need is some headspace; see lesson two. And a dirty, naughty, obnoxious, inquisitive mind.
Keep your eyes open. Click. Read. And click some more. The best posts originate from inspiration from others.
That can be a newsletter with research on ‘91% of companies hire workers with ChatGPT experience' or a remark in a post by Richard van der Blom where he mentions Notion, resulting in the blog on ‘Contentplanning made easy’
Don’t go for the obvious; already enough others do.
8. Predictable unpredictable algorithm
Despite sharing the tips on the LinkedIn algorithm, I didn’t master it yet.
For my ‘regular’ newsfeed posts, I’m doing pretty fine, with varying success. That variation is due to me; some posts are a hit, and sometimes, I just want to share something super nerdy that doesn’t resonate with the majority of my audience.
And honestly, I don’t give a f*ck. It’s about balance; not every post can or should be a hit. Sometimes posting something nerdy says more about me and my vision of the industry than hit after hit.
For my LinkedIn newsletters, I’m lost. First, in the email you receive in your inbox, the look and how much content is displayed varies weekly.
Second in the reach of the obligatory newsfeed post. This post has a super low reach of a few hundred; regular posts go into the thousands. If I grab the same message and repurpose it into a document or a regular post, it booms. Therefore, I have a gut feeling that the LinkedIn algorithm doesn’t push this type of post, despite being obligated and counting in my ‘don’t post twice within 18 hours’.
The same goes for timing. In the beginning, the content was immediately online and pushed to the feed and inbox; after a few weeks, it took up to 90 mins. And currently, it’s about 20 minutes. If you schedule, it’s pretty spot-on time.
It’s unpredictable, and an unpredictable algorithm can always be trusted to be unpredictable.
9. Re-use and re-purpose
Re-use your best content, update and publish it, again. Make it relevant and mention why you update it. I’ve done it three times already. The requirement is that there’s significant time between both and that the update still is relevant, makes sense, and adds value.
Repurpose is as simple as turning newsletter content into a document. Different form, different asset, and new audiences as the algorithm favor documents over the obligatory newsletters posts.
Not to worry about repetition, as if you know what you saw on LinkedIn yesterday or last week. Neither do I nor my audience.
10. Have fun
The last tip is maybe the most important. Have fun. Do what you love and love what you do.
People notice your enthusiasm, and that energy is sticky. And the more you do what you love, the better you’ll become.
For me, I love content. And with sharing my experiences, I hope to raise the bar for others. That is my mission and why I write.
You do you.
Find what makes you tick. And if that's just lurking, that's perfectly fine. Nobody benefits from content created out of FOMO.