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Build Your Newsletter from Scratch with Instagram

0-1,000 Subscribers in 90 Days

Can you sign up a thousand subscribers in 90 days? 

Absolutely, and we're about to tell you how.

You don’t need a full-time, professional marketing team to grow your newsletter. You don’t need to spend tens of thousands on advertising. 

What’s the secret, then? In a word, Instagram.

Little Chonk has 50,000 Instagram followers, but they’ve managed to get 80,000 subscribers for their beehiiv newsletter, Dog Juice.

0-1,000 in 90 Days on Instagram

When used strategically, Instagram will put your content in front of the exact people you want to attract as subscribers. 

As another example, when WGMI Media began leveraging Instagram for growth, they got over 24M views from one reel.

This guide is geared towards a specific audience. We wrote this for solo entrepreneurs, newsletter founders, content creators, and growth hackers. We’re going to share examples of how to target young professionals.

If that doesn't sound like you, most of the tactics in this guide will still apply to you.

Ultimately, our goal is to help you build a strong subscriber base for your newsletter, regardless of your business or the audience you want to reach.

So let’s dive in!

Table of Contents

Anyone who is interested enough to look at your Instagram profile should know you have a newsletter. And they should have an easy way to subscribe.

Instagram lets you put links in your profile without penalty. Here’s the profile of Milk Road, another successful beehiiv newsletter. 

You can see the blue link at the bottom of the profile, which takes you directly to their newsletter signup page.

0-1,000 in 90 Days on Instagram

It only takes a few minutes to add your link (and if you have other links, we’ll show you how to include those, too).

Please keep in mind that currently, you can only add links to your Instagram profile through the mobile app. This technique won’t work from a desktop.

Once you have Instagram open on your phone, all you have to do is go to your profile and click “Edit Profile.”

Next, click “Links.”

0-1,000 in 90 Days on Instagram

You’ll have the option of adding more than one link, but users will only see one right away. 

If you have two links, for example, your profile will show the first one and say “+1 more.” If a user clicks on this wording, a popup menu will show all your links, and they can select the one that leads to your signup page.

For this reason, we recommend you only include your newsletter link. The goal is to have a direct, unobstructed line to your subscription page.

If you must have other links, put your newsletter link first. You can always change this later if something else becomes a higher priority.

Step Two: Research Hashtags to Find Your Tribe

Finding the people you want to interact with on Instagram is like finding needles in a haystack.

Hashtag research is the magnet that will begin to draw these needles towards you.

0-1,000 in 90 Days on Instagram

Here’s how it works:

  1. Make a list of the hashtags that the subscribers you want to attract are likely to use in their searches. For example, young professionals may search for hashtags such as  #careeradvice and #personalgrowth. 

  1. Do searches for content under these hashtags, and explore the content you find. This will give you an idea of what resonates with your audience. Also, the content that comes up will usually include additional hashtags that you may not have thought of.

  1. Follow influencers who post frequently on your topic and get a lot of engagement (in the form of comments) on their posts.

  1. Look for “gaps” in the content that you find. What can you post that is not being said? How can you add your own unique twist to the information that’s out there?

As you start interacting with people who follow and post on the same topics as you, you'll start to identify new audience interests. 

More importantly, hashtag research is the starting point for interacting with the people who can help grow your list. 

Now that you’re doing hashtag research consistently, you’re bound to find plenty of relevant content under those hashtags. 

Now it’s time to engage with this content.

0-1,000 in 90 Days on Instagram

When we say “engage,” this doesn't mean leaving spammy links to your profile or newsletter in the comments. This makes you look thirsty, and it drives away the people who could be your future readers, clients, networking colleagues, and business partners. 

Engage the way you would if the creator were sitting across from you at a Starbucks.

Look for valuable, thoughtful content, and then leave valuable, thoughtful comments. Here are a few comment ideas to get you started:

  • Sincere praise (“I’ve been struggling with this problem, and you explained it well. You just gave me a ton of ideas. Thank you!”)

  • Continue/extend the conversation (“I love how you apply Stoicism to the fear of selling. I think this would be a useful approach for imposter syndrome, too.”)

  • A serious/provocative question (“What about using AI to trade Crypto?”)

  • An appropriate meme or gif

  • A relevant joke

Your goal is to add value for the people who read the comments and to get a response if possible. 

This steady interaction will build Goodwill with the creators of this content, as well as their readers. If you’ve chosen carefully, these are the people you're trying to attract. Some of them will begin to follow and interact with you. 

It’s a slow process, but a valuable one, and we’re not done yet!

You’ve done your homework.

You’ve found the most commonly used hashtags in your field.

0-1,000 in 90 Days on Instagram

You’ve examined and interacted with related content.

You now have a sense of what your audience finds useful and engaging, and how it relates to the content of your newsletter. You should be bursting with ideas.

What’s more, you’ve probably gotten some attention from other Instagram users who are interested in the same subject matter. 

Now it’s time to create and post lots of high-quality content with your own personal twist. You’ll start to build a loyal following that you can funnel to your newsletter. (We’ll get to that in a moment.)

Here are a few pointers to keep in mind.

Quality is Everything

Post with the same care and intention that you put into your comments. The majority of your posts should educate, entertain, or inspire your followers.

Keep Interacting

You’ll eventually reach a point where followers come to you and all you have to do is post consistently. 

In the meantime, keep following those hashtags and leaving thoughtful comments in strategic places. This will help people find you the right people find you.

In addition, watch carefully to see when people leave comments on your content. Reply to these comments as soon as possible. This will encourage people to leave more comments, which will make your content more visible.

Don’t Neglect Your Own Newsletter 

It may feel like you’re putting more energy into Instagram than into your own newsletter. 

If you're starting from scratch with a brand new newsletter, then Instagram should probably be a higher priority for a while.

However, start writing and keep writing your own newsletter, even if you only have a handful of subscribers at this point. This will get you into the habit of writing consistently, which is one of the most important things you can do. 

There’s another reason to start writing and publishing your newsletter before you have a large reader base.

Some email newsletter platforms, such as beehiiv, automatically put your newsletter content into an SEO-optimized blog. As you begin to generate organic and paid traffic to your signup page, it’s important to have some published articles for these potential readers to see. 

Start banking your content and it will pay off later.

At last, the moment of truth is here!

0-1,000 in 90 Days on Instagram

You've built up a good base of content, and a moderate number of influential Instagram users are following you. At least some of them will be interested in what you do next.

There are many paid strategies that we’ll get into in a little bit, but for now, let's assume that you don't have a budget and you're starting from zero.

Every now and then, someone will sign up for your newsletter as a result of the work you’ve put in already. But that’s a slow and unreliable process. 

We’re going to start posting things on Instagram that will explicitly drive traffic to your signup page.

Keep in mind that you want your followers to stay interested and engaged. You can't just start spamming them with a plea to subscribe to your newsletter on every post. But once in a while, you have to ask.

Every creator has a different opinion on how often you can make this request. One out of five posts seems to be a good rule of thumb. You can test and adapt this as you go.

Here are a few examples of tactical posts that drive traffic to your newsletter page:

The Featured Article

Use this post when you’ve published an exceptional article in your newsletter. Include a screenshot, a little bit of teaser copy about the article, and maybe one or two useful takeaways. 

End the post with wording such as, “If you want to see more great content like this, sign up for my newsletter (Link in Bio).” 

If your followers leave comments on this post, include a link to your signup page in your reply.

The Lead Magnet

If you can answer a common question or provide a solution to a problem that's on your reader's mind, you can create a lead magnet.

All you have to do is design a PDF, video, or other resource that answers the question or tells your reader how to solve the problem.

Common types of lead magnets include case studies, checklists, videos, and step-by-step guides.

Next, you make the lead magnet available to anyone who subscribes to your newsletter. 

Add it to your newsletter landing page,  so when a reader subscribes they’ll get a welcome email that includes a link to download the lead magnet.

Once you have your lead magnet integrated with your landing page, promote it in a post on Instagram.  Essentially, you're going to promote your lead magnet the same way you would promote a featured article as we described above.

Your lead magnet post is like an ad for the lead magnet, which could include things like a picture of the lead magnet and a compelling description of what it will do.

0-1,000 in 90 Days on Instagram

Finally, make sure you prominently display the words “Link in Bio” in your post.

The Simple Ask

Sometimes you just have to ask. Once in a while, do a post that simply reminds your followers you have a newsletter, gives them a few reasons to subscribe, and tells them that the link is in your bio. 

The Special Event 

The special event post is similar to a lead magnet, but instead of promoting a resource that followers can download, you're promoting an actual event. 

This will usually be some type of workshop or webinar which serves the same purpose as a lead magnet. It provides a solution to a specific problem or the answer to a question that your followers are already thinking about.

We recommend promoting this several weeks in advance to get a good turnout. 

Require attendees to register with their email for this event, and give them a subscription to your awesome newsletter as a “bonus” for registering.

This isn't a post per se, but it's a useful tactic whenever you're getting a lot of engagement on a post.

Instagram will penalize you if you include links in your post itself. This is why it's usually better to just say “Link in Bio.”

However, the algorithm won’t throttle you for having links in the comments. 

So whenever you have a post that's getting a lot of likes and interaction, add a comment reminding followers that they can see more content like this in your newsletter. Then, at the end of your comment, add the link to your sign-up page. 

Mix It Up!

Asking for the same thing too many times can ruin the appeal, which is why it's useful to ask for subscriptions in as many different ways as possible. 

In addition to the five we’ve given you, see how many other tactics you can think up on your own. Here's our brief guide to getting readers to sign up for your newsletter.

Why Trust Us? All beehiiv writers are carefully vetted for their knowledge and experience. Jacob Bear has been writing email campaigns for nearly a decade and was recently named a Top Copywriting Voice on LinkedIn. You’ll find his beehiiv newsletter about seeking adventure  and psychological richness here: https://thejacobbear.beehiiv.com/ 

Slowly but surely, all the steps described above will bring you subscribers. However, you can speed up the process dramatically with paid ads and other paid tactics.

We’ve created some useful calculators to help you estimate the cost of a new subscriber, the potential Return On Investment, and more.

Here's a short list of paid growth tactics for Instagram. 

Targeted Ads 

These ads target users based on interests such as personal development, entrepreneurship, and productivity. Your hashtag research should give you some good ideas for who to target in your ads.

Retargeting Campaigns 

Using technology that we won’t try to explain here, Instagram has the ability to “remember” when users engage with your content. It can then show your ads to those same people. 

This is called “retargeting” because it targets people who have already interacted with your content. Use retargeting campaigns to give those users a second chance to subscribe.

Story Ads 

You’ve probably seen most Instagram ads in your feed, where they generally look like posts. 

In contrast, story ads show up in between Instagram stories. They fill your entire screen and are thought to be more engaging. 

But are story ads more effective?

A few years ago, a social media company called Autolikes published two experiments comparing story ads to ads that show up in your feed.

In the first experiment, the story ads soundly defeated the feed ads. 

The story ads reached 44% more users than the feed ads, along with 23% more conversions. And the story ads achieved these results at a slightly lower cost than the feed ads.

The second experiment wasn’t as decisive, but the story ads ultimately generated more qualified leads. 

Now, a lot has happened since AutoLikes ran this test in 2019. We recommend you run your own experiments, but don’t neglect story ads when you do.

Instagram is constantly changing, and any kind of template you find online is likely to be outdated in a short amount of time.

We want to give you a short list of elements that should be in an Instagram ad. We've used a 30-second ad as a model, but you can stretch this out because Instagram ads can be up to 2 minutes long.

A few quick notes before we start.

A scroll stopper is something that catches attention and makes people stop scrolling. It’s typically a 3-8 second clip of something dramatic at the start of your video. 

If all you’ve got is a few seconds of your face, accompany that with some text. Address a topic of great interest to your audience, or something that's going to inspire an irresistible level of curiosity.

0-1,000 in 90 Days on Instagram

Your scroll stopper could also feature you in an exotic setting, or doing something interesting. You could be on a boat with Portofino in the background or exploring a cave in the jungle, or juggling half a dozen chainsaws.

The scroll stopper is probably the most important part of your ad, so give it some thought. It has the same job as the subject line of an email.

Your video should also have a promise. This is just a statement of how the viewer will benefit by doing what you want them to do (in this case, subscribe to your newsletter).

Finally, include something factual about you or your subject matter that will help persuade users to subscribe. 

It might be a brief account of your experience or expertise. It could also be a statement of a problem you solve for your readers. “Did you know 85% of college graduates don’t know what to say in a job interview?”

With all that in mind, here’s a sample template for an Instagram ad:

0-1,000 in 90 Days on Instagram

As you continue on your newsletter journey, content is king. Paid strategies will get you the eyeballs you need, but your content will convert and retain them.

We recommend you come up with a series of content pieces related to your topic, such as weekly tips, success stories, or personal development strategies.

Develop a content calendar to plan the best times to post your content. Then you can create it in advance. This will take some work up front, but eventually, you will have a backlog of content as well as that wonderful growth-inducing gift: Momentum!

As you grow, some of the early growth tactics we’ve given you will become less important. Others will change. 

But ultimately there are things you’ll have to keep doing.

The 4 Neverending Jobs of Organic Growth

There are four never-ending tasks that you will have to carry out continuously if you want long-term growth and success for your newsletter. 

Hashtag Research

You won’t have to do as much research as you grow, but you can never completely give up the hashtag research. New ideas and trends will emerge in your field, not to mention new terms (and new hashtags) you’ll need to add to your content.


Someday soon, you’ll spend less time commenting on other people’s content and more time interacting with the people who engage with yours. 

As you grow your newsletter and your Instagram audience base, reach out to other successful people in your space. Look for ways to collaborate.

Magic happens as you begin to partner with brands and influencers that align with your values.  

Content Creation

Do we even need to include this? 

Many times you’ll be developing five different ways to relay the same important message. Once in a while, you’ll repost an entire content piece verbatim. 

But as long as you are a creator, you can’t stop creating.

Build Your Skills

Never stop learning. The social media landscape is constantly changing, and you need to keep up.

What skills should you be building? In practice, building your skills could mean any of the following:

  • Dive deeper. Learn more about your chosen subject matter and other topics related to it.

  • Keep up with Instagram's content creation tools, and brainstorm new ways to use them. 

  • Take online courses on content marketing, visual storytelling, and similar topics.

  • Practice writing engaging captions and creating visually appealing content.

  • Stay updated on Instagram's algorithm changes and best practices. 

  • Get better at storytelling and copywriting.

  • Learn to analyze data from Instagram Insights to refine your strategy.

  • Absorb and apply everything you can about marketing, especially email marketing. Our blog is one of the best free email marketing resources available.

These four jobs are non-negotiable. They will take time, although you’ll get better results in less time as you start to build momentum. 

As you understand these four jobs better, you can delegate more, and leverage AI and other tools to get everything done faster.

This may seem like a ton of work, but there are many useful tools that will save you time and energy. As you grow your newsletter, your most important tool is your email platform.

There are several that can do the job, but beehiiv was designed specifically with creators like you in mind.  

For one thing, our pricing structure doesn’t punish you for growing. Instead, you choose a plan based on whether your newsletter is in a Launch, Growth, or Scale phase. 

Our Launch plan is free when your list contains up to 2,500 subscribers.

More importantly, you don’t have to put a lot of time into the technical side of the newsletter. Our no-code editor lets you customize every aspect of your newsletter from header to footer. 

We handle deliverability and provide intuitive analytics so you can understand your audience's behavior.

The beehiiv platform includes several paid and unpaid growth tools, including referrals, recommendations, and boosts. 

We also give you ways to monetize your newsletter without the need to write code or create additional content. Some of these monetization tools, such as brand partnerships and boosts, also add value for your subscribers.

Getting your first 1,000 subscribers is a major milestone. If you want to get there sooner, and take advantage of that growth while simultaneously helping your readers, start a beehiiv newsletter.

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