Osmosis Weekly #0008: First Thousand, The Office, & Satellites

• 6 min read

Hey Osmotics,

Inside today's Osmosis Weekly...

  • Featured Rabbit Hole: 1st Thousand Subs
  • Growth Hacks: The Secret to Twitter
  • Dumb Things to Share: Vegetable Vampire

I was chatting with Osmosis member, Michael Y. recently. I had shared in a private Slack that Osmosis had reached 117 subs with 11 paid inside two months. It's not something to brag about, but it is an accomplishment... and Michael wanted some advice on growing his nascent newsletter.

In this regard, I have nothing to teach you except to regurgitate what I've personally learned the past few months. Surprisingly, advice from multiple, varying sources on "audience growth" are all fairly similar.

Just take a look at...

Basically? The first 100 is a pure grind. No bones about it. You are harassing anyone and everyone you've ever known since high school. (Reminds me of that weird time in 2002 when I joined a multi-level marketing cult).

For me, I was in several private Slack servers when I launched Osmosis. That helped with the first 30 or so. I DM'd everyone I've ever talked to on LinkedIn next. I also emailed, texted, and told a bunch of folks.

I think it helps that I had a prototype product up (Deep Work), so people checking Osmosis out weren't just getting the newsletter, but also seeing solid long form content.

Now, some Osmosis members, who are my colleagues will surely ask me, why not affiliate traffic, or podcast appearances, or whatever. That's in the works. I have several friends with huge lists in the D.R. marketing world, but as of right now, I simply don't feel it makes sense to ask for favors until two things happen:

  1. I ship more product. I can't claim to be a "book summary service" if all I have is one on the website... and a free one at that. I probably need at least three, and ideally six, before I hit up affiliates.
  2. I nail down my "voice". Listen, if you're reading this, I have undying gratitude for your patience with me. I've been writing professionally for over 13 years now, but very, very rarely as myself, Colin Chung. And what I've discovered is, while stylistically I have my voice down... content-wise... I still haven't nailed down what exactly I want to be known for.

I think that's a huge challenge I'm currently facing. The easy route is to lean on my experience and expertise: copywriting, marketing, and the business of freelancing. But I worry. I worry I'll get stuck talking about something I'm not exactly, completely invested in.

What's more... if I can be honest and vulnerable here? I don't think I'm an amazing copywriter. Yes, I've had wins. Yes, they've generated tens-of-millions for my clients. Yes, I've done well. But I've never been the kind of writer who sweats over grammar, writing tricks, and cool flourishes. I've always been more strategic and high-level. I like building out argument-chains. I'm good at solving the market-product equation. But pure writing chops? I'm fairly workmanlike.

So I'm finding myself. Which is why – in the first seven issues of Osmosis Weekly, you've been subjected to my rabbit holes into NFTs, artificial intelligence, how technology affects socioeconomics, game design, and the craft of creativity.

So again, if you're reading this – THANK YOU for your patience, THANK YOU for following me down rabbit holes, THANK YOU for giving me permission to experiment by not unsubscribing. I mean, I'm assuming you're reading this thing... I had a 78% open rate last week...

If there's anything else I can share from my experiencing growing Osmosis so far... it's this one huge insight:

Consultants are annoying.

I've been doing it for a decade now. I used to think, what a genius I am for coming up with all these solutions for my clients. Look at all my smart ideas! How dare you not implement them!

Now I know.

Now that I have my own baby to take care of, I know. I don't have any fucking time to implement your hundred ideas, dude. Just give me one I can use... right now... that's relevant to me. I don't need ten ideas. I don't need a ton of advice. I just need to implement. one. thing. at. a. time.

Also? Juggling between product development, growth, and tech. The side hustle struggle is real.... even for something as simple as a paid newsletter.

Of course, I would not trade Osmosis for anything else in the world. Building my own audience has been one of the most energizing experiences I've had in a long time. I'm fully invested. I'm not growing someone else's business. It's my ship. My baby. My some-other-dumb-metaphor-for-ownership.

Thank you again for being here. Grateful for you. +

SIDE NOTE: Michael Y. is actually a hilarious cartoonist. You should definitely follow him on Twitter and Instagram. First time I saw his stuff, I immediately got New Yorker vibes.

Growth Hacks Worth Checking Out...

This week: Causing a racket, the secret to Twitter, and a comedy writing secret

What the Hell is Racket?

You may have noticed above that one of the resources for building your audience is a "racket". What's a racket? It's like Clubhouse, meets Medium, meets Twitter. WTF? Read this article if you care.

My First Maven Experience

I just completed my first Maven "cohort-based course", Audience Building, taught by Julian Shapiro and Sahil Bloom. It was a two-day course for $500. It's worth the price tag and I recommend it. For someone who's just starting out on his journey of building an audience, I got a lot of great foundational material.

The one insight to take away from this course? Treat Twitter like a public blog. Spend hours on a thread, and not seconds on a clever tweet.

"Golden Rule" of Comedy Writing

Osmosis+ member, Ian C. was really kind to forward over this article  after I mentioned last week I was taking a sketch writing class. It's an interview with Brent Forrester, the showrunner of The Office.

Fun story leading up to his best advice for comedy writers: In high school, Brent was friends with the son of Susan Harris, the creator of The Golden Girls. Susan gave Brent some advice early in his career that stuck with him...

“She said, ‘Write what is difficult for you – even painful. Trust that it will come out funny.’ It’s a crazy piece of advice, but so true. The crazy paradox about comedy writing is that the more seriously you approach it, the more likely you are to have it come out funny.”

BTW - this link might be taken down by the time you see this, but... here's the sketch show Alicja and I were in last Friday. And of course I wrote one based on D&D. +

Dumb Things to Share With Loved Ones

Because it's this or mowing the lawn...

  • Speaking of lawns, are there any Osmosis members who are fans of "abandoned porn"? (risky click?) This French photographer captures overgrown ones. And in case you think I'm talking about some weird fetish... I am. See below for a fine example of "abandoned porn".
  • Who's spying on you, right now? This website tracks the satellites  flying over your head. This website lets you spy on the entire world through surveillance cams. This app streams famous people congratulating themselves.

  • Vincent the Vegetable Vampire. Is that... Morgan Freeman??? (Thanks, Alicja)

Coming Soon(ish)...

Book summaries go through seven stages at Osmosis: Reading, Raw Notes, First Draft, Editor Review, Revisions, Gif Hunting, and Publishing. Here's a status report of what's in the queue...
  • Breakthrough Advertising (1966) by Eugene Schwartz : 70% First Draft
  • Trusted Advisor (1998) by David H. Maister : 0% Raw Notes
  • The Hard Things About Hard Things (2014) by Ben Horowitz : 50% Read

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← Osmosis Weekly #0009: Escapist Marketing, Fools, & Digital Paper
Osmosis Weekly #0007: Seinfeld, Influencers, & Animal Crossing →
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