Why a newsletter can create more of a permanent community than TikTok

Carlynn Greene is a force to be reckoned with. She submitted more than 100 scholarship applications — and won 30 of them — which helped her graduate debt-free in 2021 from the University of North Texas.
Most recently, she has impressively gained 25,000 subscribers to her newsletter – in only its first four months. 

Her content career started in 2017 when Greene took to YouTube where she started uploading videos with resources on how to pay for college, and later that year expanded to Instagram. Then in January of 2021 she took to TikTok. Her videos primarily resonated with Gen Zers, who were stuck at home during the pandemic and looking for ways to afford undergraduate and graduate programs. Her audience relied on her to keep them informed of different scholarships, how to stay organised when applying to multiple opportunities at once, and application deadlines. 

Nevertheless, despite her following amassing to over 800,000 six months ago, she struggled to monetise her content on TikTok due to lowering engagement. Her solution? Greene launched a free email newsletter, and asked her audience on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok to check it out. In the past four months, she’s amassed 25,000 subscribers, who have access to her exclusive financial-aid resources.

Since its launch in September Greene has worked with brands like Amazon, DoorDash, Walmart, and CollegeBoard. In 2022, she earned $48,500 from paid sponsorships, according to documentation verified by Insider.

Even though most of her money as a full-time creator is made through brand deals, Greene said this stream of income is unreliable in the long run. Like with the college-application process, it requires her to pitch constantly, she was looking for a more passive way to earn income, hence the newsletter. 

Greene was first inspired to launch a newsletter after she connected with Teachable in May 2021. Teachable helps creators sell online courses. Since that November, she’s earned $20,750 by selling courses on how to get college scholarships.

She launched the newsletter after noticing her TikTok engagement fall in the summer of 2022. “I saw how the TikTok algorithm wasn’t promoting my content as much as it was earlier, so I realised that I couldn’t be dependent on any social-media platform to push out my work consistently,” she said. “I wanted to be in control of my audience.”

She built a free email newsletter on Convert Kit, a website for building email templates, and sent the first iteration to subscribers in September 2022. She uses a scheduling feature within the platform to automatically push out her newsletter every month.

According to Greene, the newsletter has helped increase her income by directing more of her followers to buy courses or sign up for other paid services that she offers, like essay editing and scholarship coaching. As a result, she really encourages other creators on YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram to explore newsletters because it’s helped her build what she described as a more permanent community. She said it’s easier to keep in touch with her followers through her newsletter, since she can check her inbox for messages instead of answering DMs and comments across all of her social-media platforms.

“It helps centralise the process of engaging with your community,” she said. “That in turn helps your content evolve, because you’re more on top of what your audience wants to see from you and what resources they need.”

This is very relatable to hear as Greene acknowledges how it can be tiring for creators to be told to diversify across platforms. She believes that more will start looking for central hubs to house their content. A newsletter, she said, is easier to create than a full-scale website and can be automatically sent out.

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