3 solopreneur newsletters that launched w/o a niche

One of my unique advantages is my age!

Well actually, it’s the "age" in which I came into the online business the world.

I started online in 2008 right after the 4-Hour Work Week came out. Which means I’m what you’d call an "OG" of the location independent scene.

I’ve been around countless entrepreneurs trying to start online businesses right at the beginning of their careers. I was in Bangkok, Thailand working on a laptop with the first location independent people. I was in Medellin Colombia before it was cool for "digital nomads".

I’ve built, helped build, or seen my friends build, dozens of solopreneur businesses (with no teams or tiny teams) from absolute ground zero.

Not many other people can say the same.

In my experience the ones who succeeded were the ones who built newsletters. They got people on a list and started emailing them. Infrequently at first, and without a super defined topic or niche. But they stuck with it, hit publish consistently, honed their message and ultimately built what I’d call ideal freedom-enabling solopreneur businesses.

And the really interesting part to me is that there’s an opportunity available these days that didn’t exist when I was coming up. That opportunity is general consumer-wide desire to join "newsletters".

Back in my day you had to bribe someone with a PDF or guide to join your newsletter.

Now with companies like Morning Brew and The Skimm paving the way, people will just join a newsletter to join a newsletter. No coaxing necessary (if you set it up correctly).

You can just say: "Subscribe with your email address here."

Now, yesterday I said I’d share some examples of newsletters that started as general interest before honing in on a defined topic (which is exactly what I recommend you do).

I picked 3 simple ones and they are all newsletters that are now high 6 and 7 figure businesses (run by solopreneurs or very tiny teams).

I figured the best way to do this was to show you a friend’s newsletter before and after. A friend of a friend’s newsletter. And then a "infamous" CopyHour member’s newsletter business.

Let’s dive in:

Example 1: Location Rebel



As you can see, my good buddy Sean Ogle (who I met for the first time in person in Bangkok) started his newsletter offering a tool kit for "working from anywhere". That’s pretty broad. Now, Location Rebel a decade later has narrowed into "freelance writing."

Sean has 40k subscribers who love him and as a solopreneur he has a next-level lifestyle. (Plus, this isn’t even Sean’s main business anymore – he now runs a golf website, Breaking Eighty, that is crushing it.)

**The Details

Starting Newsletter Topic:– Work from anywhere

Current Narrowed Newsletter Topic:– Freelance writing

Monetization:– Courses

Business type:– Solopreneur**

Example 2: Fluent in 3 Months



When Benny Lewis started "Fluent in 3 months" it was basically a travel blog: "Travelling the world to learn languages to fluency and beyond!".

Now his topic has narrowed to just "learning languages fast". Even if it seems obvious now, in the past it wasn’t clear to everyone that the main thing people wanted to learn more about was language learning. Traveling the world seemed like the hotter topic.

The lesson: your focus often only becomes clear AFTER you’ve started.

The Details

Starting Newsletter Topic:– Learn to speak languages while you travel

Current Narrowed Newsletter Topic:– How to learn languages fast

Monetization:– Courses

Business type:– Started solopreneur – now small team**

Example 3: The Hustle



Long before my most infamous CopyHour student, Sam Parr, ripped off CopyHour to start a similar course called Copy That… he started the Hustle.

I don’t even know what he was doing in the beginning – it looks like a habit tracking app.

Eventually, he narrowed down his focus and created one of the biggest and most popular business newsletters ever. Later, he sold to Hubspot for north of $20mm.

The Details

Starting Newsletter Topic:– Meet your goals by tracking daily activities

Current Narrowed Newsletter Topic:– 5-minute business & tech news

Monetization:– Sponsors, events

Business type:– Started solopreneur, then small team, then 8-figure exit.**

Wrapping up:
Again, what I’m really saying is counterintuitive to most of the advice you’ll find out there: Solopreneurs and freelancers should start a newsletter because it’s really the only model where it’s okay if you don’t "pick a niche" to start.

With newsletters you can pick a general market you’d like to target. And if you want to go slightly deeper… you can pick a general market where people buy stuff.

As a solopreneur you’ll never quite be certain of anything until you get people on a newsletter and start sending them two things: 1) content and 2) offers.

Your newsletter topic could shift and morph from year to year, month to month or even week to week in the beginning. It’s better and easier this way and when things finally gel and come together, there’s nothing quite like it.

If you need proof… just look at the examples above. They’re all 6, 7, & 8-figure solopreneur businesses started without a super defined topic. Honestly, this is the best way to start because it removes almost all of the stress people feel when starting their solopreneur business.

Look! You don’t have to get it right to start something. And you don’t have to spend much money or really much time at all to get something up and running in the real world (more on this later).

So now that you’ve seen it’s possible, let’s talk about my exact step-by-step process for coming up with that starting idea.

I call it the "Reverse Market Process" and it will help you confidently narrow down the best market (not "niche") to cover in your newsletter.

We’ll go into detail tomorrow so stay tuned!

  • Derek

P.S. On the surface it might seem pretty simple: just start a newsletter. But settling on a market and confidently launching your newsletter still caries a lot of stress for most people.

That’s why if you really want more intense guidance on how to launch a newsletter (and launch it fast), I recommend you invest in the Weekend Launch Party video course. This is the exact process I’ve used to launch several 6 & 7 figure solopreneur businesses in just one weekend. The cart is open this week and you can get all the details by clicking here.