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How this AI Newsletter Launched & Got Acquired in Only 7 Months

The Secrets Behind Growing & Selling His Newsletter in Less Than 1 Year

This creator spotlight has been reposted from creatorspotlight.com

On June 29, 2023, Moyo Sulyman broke the news on Twitter:

“So happy to announce that my newsletter @aiwithvibes just got acquired by Dhani @nocodeaigguy.”

The Secrets Behind Growing & Selling His Newsletter in Less Than 1 Year

A few weeks ago, this tweet took over our feeds at beehiiv. And, we’ve been hyped on it ever since for one reason:

It’s yet another incredible acquisition story built on beehiiv. But, the reason this acquisition stood out wasn’t just because it was launched and sold in less than one year. That’s an incredible feat. But, what makes it even more impressive is the fact that it was done by a 19-year-old full-time university student

In this beehiiv case study, we interviewed the founder of AI With Vibes newsletter to explore how he was able to grow his newsletter to 10,000 subscribers so quickly, why he chose beehiiv, and how he ultimately cashed out through the sale of his publication.

AI With Vibes Backstory

The Secrets Behind Growing & Selling His Newsletter in Less Than 1 Year

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the hottest topics right now. Since Chat-GPT was launched at the end of 2022, AI has spearheaded its way to the forefront of every industry. And, while many AI newsletters are run by people new to the AI game, that’s not the case for Moyo Sulyman, who’s been passionate about it since he was 15.

He shared, “My name is Moyo. I'm 19. I'm still in university, originally from Nigeria, but I'm in the UK for my studies. I study Computer Science (CS). I've been into AI since I was like 15 years old. But my PC at that time couldn't really do much. I didn't really have the pieces to actually build interesting stuff. So I had to stop and just explore other parts of tech for a while.”

Like many others in the AI space, the introduction of Chat-GPT ramped up his interest in AI.

He recalled, “So around November (2022) when Chat-GPT launched, I was like, ‘Oh, this is interesting.’ So that brought me back into AI in general. So I started to play with it. I was looking through other emails I could read daily on AI, but most of them were either way too deep into the tech and too technical or they were covering AI in the wrong way.”

The Secrets Behind Growing & Selling His Newsletter in Less Than 1 Year

His years of experience with AI isn’t the only thing that set his newsletter apart. Moyo is also an engineer and has an extensive tech background.

He shared, “I'm lucky enough that I have a unique understanding of the tech, from the backside. So I could give a very unique take on most topics. So I was like, ‘You know what, let me just build this thing out.’ I also work for Valist, which is a Web3 company. So I spoke to the founder, and was like, ‘Yo, do you have opinions on this?’”

His boss at Valist told him to go for it, so Moyo started that same night.

He recounted, “I figured everything out within like an hour. So, I got the logo and everything up within an hour using Midjourney and other tools. I shared it with the people I work with, my friends, and that’s how I basically started. That was on December 5th or 6th (2022).”

Quickly Pivoting from Substack to beehiiv

How this AI Newsletter Launched & Got Acquired in Only 7 Months

Moyo didn’t initially start on beehiiv. Like many other beehiiv users, he started his newsletter on Substack before switching over.

He shared, “I started on Substack because I didn’t know what beehiiv was at that particular time. But, Substack had, I think, a three-hour delay when it comes to the analytics, which was so annoying. Because I'd send the email, I'd come back and I'm like, ‘This is on zero, but, I just opened it right now.’”

How this AI Newsletter Launched & Got Acquired in Only 7 Months

Unlike Substack, which had long wait times for newsletter analytics to appear, beehiiv was able to offer him up-to-date data.

He shared, “With beehiiv, anytime I open it, within like two or three minutes, I see the new open right on my dashboard. So that was very annoying with Substack. So after I sent maybe two issues with Substack I was like, ‘I need a new tool.’ And that was when I found out about beehiiv on Twitter. And I was like, ‘You know what, let me try this.’ And, it was fantastic.”

Vibing With beehiiv on X

How this AI Newsletter Launched & Got Acquired in Only 7 Months

Moyo shared that he initially heard about beehiiv on X (Twitter) because of the success story of Milk Road, a major crypto newsletter built and acquired on beehiiv.

He recounted, “I found out about beehiiv through Twitter. I remember the Milk Road guys – when they sold. Matt had this whole thread on how they grew and how beehiiv was their platform of choice.

How this AI Newsletter Launched & Got Acquired in Only 7 Months
How this AI Newsletter Launched & Got Acquired in Only 7 Months

He continued, “I was like, ‘You know what? If the platform is good enough for them. It's definitely more than good enough for me.’”

Moyo shared how one of the main selling points for switching to beehiiv was the team behind the platform – how they operate, their branding, and the way they communicate with their audience.

How this AI Newsletter Launched & Got Acquired in Only 7 Months

He shared, “I think, first off, beehiiv is a fun company. From the outside looking in, it just seems like a vibe. I feel that energy transfers into the product. In my opinion, beehiiv is just the best email tool right now. If you are looking to be a newsletter, beehiiv is for you.”

He continued, ‘And beehiiv releases new features like every two weeks, which is mind-blowing because most companies [can] take two months. And, I also like the support from Tyler Denk and Daniel Berk. Daniel is super funny, by the way. It's just a fun company that really cares about users.”

Growth Tactic #1: Friends & Family

How this AI Newsletter Launched & Got Acquired in Only 7 Months

Moyo shared how Initially, the plan was just to build something cool. So, he couldn’t help but share it with his friends and family which he shared was a natural, yet crucial first stage of newsletter growth.

He shared, “I wrote every single issue myself, which, as I'm looking back, was a lot. I think it was like 150 issues or something. So that was a ton. For the first month (December 2022), I think I grew to like 100 or 200 subscribers. Most of those were my friends, my coworkers and just them sharing with their friends as well. And some random organic search on Google, which I have no idea how that came about.”

Growth Tactic #2: Reddit

How this AI Newsletter Launched & Got Acquired in Only 7 Months

The next thing Moyo did to gain subscribers was head over to Reddit to get active and engage with the community. This strategy is something he’s done before with software products, so he figured it would also work with a newsletter about AI.

He shared, “I have two products I've built off the back of Reddit before, so I kind of have the hang of how to get the first 1,000 users from Reddit. So that was where I went next…I think the first 1,000-1,500 subscribers were solely from Reddit.”

Moyo would gain subscribers by simply adding value to subreddits. He shared that while it worked for a while, and gained over 1,000 subscribers, he couldn’t rely on that tactic alone to keep growing his newsletter.

He recalled, “So I was pretty much posting the news, posting opinions, comments, and, sometimes memes as well. So I did that for a bit but that stopped working because in every other email, I’d just do the exact same thing and members of the subreddit just got tired. But, in general, that worked for a while.”

Growth Tactic #3: Twitter Threads

While Moyo continued to send out his daily AI newsletter, he started following other newsletter publishers, learning about their growth strategies and the tactics they used to build a successful newsletter.

He shared, “I think around 2000 subscribers – there was this guy, Ben from Ben’s Bites. He had this thing where he would comment on every AI-related post on Twitter. And he’d be like, ‘I'll feature this on my email and put the link.’”

He continued, “And that [post] got like 10,000 or 20,000 views. And, I was thinking if that gets 20,000 views, let's imagine a very small percentage actually clicks. That could be a thousand subscribers overnight.”

How this AI Newsletter Launched & Got Acquired in Only 7 Months

So, what did Moyo do? He simply did the same thing Ben did. And, it worked.

He recalled, “So, every single night, I took an hour, searched “AI” on Twitter and I commented on every single post I saw. Maybe one or two would actually pop off and the next morning I’d wake up to like 200 subscribers added. I kept on doing that for I think three weeks before I started to see the comments were not working anymore so I stopped.”

Enjoying this acquisition case study? It’s one of many beehiiv acquisition stories. Similar to AI With Vibes, Inverse Cramer launched and was acquired in less than a year. You can read the full case study here.

Growth Tactic #4: Mini Tools & Resources

Like the Reddit tactic, the Twitter tactic was only a short-term solution to grow his newsletter. Eventually, Moyo started thinking about the tools he’s created in the past thanks to his developer background and how he could use them to grow his subscriber count.

He shared, “I noticed most of my strategies have been things that were not repeatable. I needed something more sustainable. So I was thinking about tools. I could start an AI tool. I could post it on the two AI tool directories that get like 8,000 users per day.”

Even though AI is relatively new to the mainstream, there are plenty of tools that have been released, and several resource-type websites that showcase the top tools. Eventually, when Moyo started posting his tools to these top websites, he started racking up subscribers.

He recalled, “I think I got like 50 subscribers on the first one…and it cost me like 20 bucks. Doing the math that was like 0.5 cents per subscriber.”

Built It, Post It, Gain Subscribers, Repeat

How this AI Newsletter Launched & Got Acquired in Only 7 Months

After Moyo realized how quickly and cheaply he could acquire new subscribers through this strategy, the light bulb went on.

He shared, “I was like, ‘I think I can repeat this.’ I know how to code as well. And I had this guy on Fiverr that was pretty cheap that can also do the same thing.”

So, Moyo dove head-first into this growth tactic.

He recalled, “I just went crazy. Every two days I was launching a new tool. So I'd build one and he'd build one. I’d pay him for his service. I built one myself. So, that was how I grew most of my subscribers. So every two days we’d have at least one tool that would go out.”

Moyo shared how for every tool he’d release, not everyone who signed up for it would become a subscriber. But, it would be substantial enough to keep going.

He recounted, “So once [a tool] goes out, I’d get like 2000 tool users from that and there might be 100-200 subscribers to the email newsletter. That's 200 subscribers for like $50 or sometimes way less.”

How this AI Newsletter Launched & Got Acquired in Only 7 Months

The One That Went Viral: Prompt Vibes

How this AI Newsletter Launched & Got Acquired in Only 7 Months

Moyo kept building new tools and would continue to see growth, but it wasn’t passive enough. He still had to put in the work to create the new tools.

He shared, “The problem with that was, most of the tools were not sustainable. So finally, I launched this tool, Prompt Vibes. I don't know if it was the first, but it was probably the best at that particular time to discover AI prompts. And that one just took off and got almost 2000 new users every single day.”

He continued, “And that cost me, I think, $10 to actually build-out, which was funny because that was the cheapest because I didn't have API costs for that. So there were no running costs — I just had to buy the domain. In my head I was thinking, I’ll maybe get 100 users on it. And that's perfect for $10. But, it just kept on going —I won't say viral, but — semi-viral.”

Moyo shared how he had blog posts written about it, videos on YouTube, and TikToks which led to greater traction every day. The biggest driver overall is SEO, which he laughed about as he shared how he has “no idea how SEO works.”

How this AI Newsletter Launched & Got Acquired in Only 7 Months

While Prompt Vibes continued bringing in new subscribers till the day he sold the AI With Vibes newsletter, the growth did slow a bit over time.

He shared, “I couldn't do enough advertising for it. Ideally what I would have done was buy ad space on some other email newsletters. So after a while, the traffic started to dwindle.”

Thankfully, he would still get spurts of growth even though the overall subscriber influx had steadied a bit.

Moyo recalled, “From out of the blue, funny enough, Ben from Ben’s Bites posted it on his own email newsletter and that gave me like 200-300 new users overnight. That was awesome. I was like, ‘Cool. I'm just going to just keep on going with this.’”

He shared how despite being able to rapidly build these tools out, the costs were starting to add up over time.

Moyo recounted, “I kept on building the tools but eventually the API costs caught up with me. One thing I didn't realize was the more AI tools you have, the more people are using it and the same person can be using your tool, but on five different sites.”

He continued, “I think there was one time I was paying like 200 bucks in API costs, and that was just too much for me to afford. So I had to stop with those tools because it just became a bit too much. But, for 2-3 months (when that worked) we gained like 5,000-6,000 subscribers just off that. In total, that cost less than $300. So, that was extremely profitable.”

Cloning the Winning Tool: Productivity Vibes

Moyo was able to steadily bring in enough subscribers from his tool, Prompt Vibes, that he didn’t need to do much else at the time. But, he still wanted to boost growth a bit, so he decided to create a brand new tool based on his winner.

He shared, “At this point, Prompt Vibes was actually still working on its own. So that was still bringing in like 17 new subscribers every day, untouched. I wasn't doing anything and it just kept bringing those in. So what I did next was I built Productivity Vibes, which was basically Prompt Vibes cloned, but instead of general prompts, just productivity prompts.”

How this AI Newsletter Launched & Got Acquired in Only 7 Months

Moyo explained how this tool was essentially the same tool as Prompt Vibes, but it was simply positioned differently.

He explained, “It was a full-on rebrand that took like 5 bucks to build out. I think it took me 20 minutes to build it. I launched it on Future Tools and Futurepedia and it gained like 50-100 new subscribers for me. And I just kept on trying to redo that exact same thing for a while and it kept on working, surprisingly. And, around that time, that was when I got the acquisition offer.”

Newsletter Acquisition: The First Few Bites

How this AI Newsletter Launched & Got Acquired in Only 7 Months

It would be nice to say how easy and seamless it was for Moyo to sell his newsletter. But, the reality is that selling a newsletter is like selling a business – because it is one. There are often several weeks or months of planning, prospecting, and negotiating before the money hits the bank. The same was true for Moyo.

He shared, “Scott Oldford – anything that has to do with emails, he's buying them right now. On his Discord one night, he posted that he was looking to acquire AI email newsletters. I was like, ‘Interesting.’ I had 10,000 subscribers. I just finished my first year in school. I was like, ‘I'm kind of bored. I want to do some other tools. Let me just explore his price points.’”

Moyo and Scott got into serious talks about an acquisition, but it eventually fell through due to the price point.

He recalled, “So we talked, we had a negotiation on a price. But l I think a day or two after, the whole deal fell off. I think the reason was just basically the price. They just acquired one AI newsletter and I think they got it for a relatively cheap price. So, that was the main reason why I decided not to go through with the deal.”

Moyo was transparent about how it was a bit crushing to be so close to selling his newsletter only to have it all fall through.

He explained, “That kind of hurt, because at that point, mentally, I was disconnected. I had a list of new ideas to start. I started building stuff out. But, now I have this thing that I'm no longer interested in anymore. So then I was like, ‘What's the next thing to do?’”

Why Listen to Me? I’ve managed two email newsletters over the years including one with 100,000 subscribers and one with 30,000. I currently run a digital media business, Hockey Question, that gets over 50,000 visits per month.

Finding the Right Buyer Through Duuce

How this AI Newsletter Launched & Got Acquired in Only 7 Months

After Moyo declined the offer from Scott, he decided to hop onto a platform called Duuce to see if he could find a new buyer. Founded in 2019, Duuce was the first-ever newsletter marketplace created to help people buy and sell newsletters.

Moyo shared, “I found Duuce and said to them, ‘I hope that I get this off me within a couple of weeks.’ Cause at this point I had a full-on plan for my next projects. So I essentially just moved on – still writing the emails, still building my other ideas on the side.”

How this AI Newsletter Launched & Got Acquired in Only 7 Months

Right away, offers started coming in.

Moyo explained, “I got the first offer, which was a ridiculously low price. But, after a while, Dhani Sriram ended up buying it. He made an offer, then we started to talk via Duuce. When we were around the ballpark, I was like, ‘I'm not budging from $13,000,’ and it was at like $12,000. So we just opened the call and just agreed on that.”

AI With Vibes: Newsletter Operator to Consultant

How this AI Newsletter Launched & Got Acquired in Only 7 Months

Just like that, Moyo’s newsletter was acquired and he got his payday. But, he’s still earning from his newsletter, but this time, as an outside consultant.

He shared, “Right after [I sold the newsletter], I got a job with the dude that bought it. So I'm still working pretty closely with him. The way it works now is I'm more of a consultant for Dhani. I'm not actively writing emails. I'm not actively working on anything directly. We have calls every week to talk about where it's headed, and how he wants to monetize it.”

The agreement Moyo set up with Dhani is similar to Richard Patey’s acqui-hire agreement with Flippa.com which you can read about in this Creator Spotlight.

Moyo shared how he’s essentially there for Dhani weekly to give him advice on how to make the newsletter a success.

He recounted, “I think they added a Morning Brew advertisement last week and that didn't go well. So they were up on the call and we discussed why that bombed, how we could improve that, all that fun stuff. The open rate was going down after a while. So we had a call on how we could bring that back up. But that's kind of what I do – just give advice essentially.”

How beehiiv Helped in Getting Acquired

How this AI Newsletter Launched & Got Acquired in Only 7 Months

We asked Moyo what impact beehiiv had in his ability to get his newsletter acquired.

He shared, “beehiiv was [integral] in getting acquired. beehiiv just made it so easy to write an email and send it.”

He continued, “Now this might sound like I'm over-promoting beehiiv, but I'm just being honest. On one hand, I'm a bit scared that beehiiv has made it too easy that now anyone would just want to start an email newsletter which would just make the newsletter business more competitive. I'll say that’s the downside of something too good.”

How this AI Newsletter Launched & Got Acquired in Only 7 Months

Moyo also recalled how including ads in his newsletter was a tricky thing for him. But, beehiiv made it easy thanks to its integrated Ad Network, and the support of the beehiiv team.

He shared, “In general, I wasn't the most comfortable with sending ads. I won't lie. It was a bit weird for me. So there was beehiiv’s Ad Network. And, I think they give me Morning Brew and Brilliant. That was also very good. Just generally, I could easily text Daniel Berk or Tyler Denk. Within two hours they'd reply to my issue. So yeah, beehiiv was immense in the acquisition.”

Looking Forward: Another Newsletter & More Tools

While Moyo sold his AI newsletter, he shared how he’s not quitting the newsletter game just yet.

He explained, “I do have ideas for a very interesting email newsletter that I want to start. I have a full-on plan on how to launch it. I’m also trying to see if I should go weekly or daily just to make it a lot easier for me to balance it with university and also have a regular job as well.”

He continued, “Just finding new material every single day is going to be tough. And, the idea I have is not like news (where I could just probably summarize Chat-GPT or something). It's more of a deep-dive publication. So, it might be weekly, but we'll see.”

We asked if he regretted selling AI With Vibes since he’s planning on starting another newsletter anyways…

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