How I built and launched a newsletter with virtually 0 cost

June 27, 2020 • NewslettersStartupConnect ↗

The hero image & name of iterations.design
iterations.design newsletter

I’ve been wanting to write this article for a long time now, as creating something with low monetary involvement not only gets my wallet excited, but also myself. Needless to say, I am an avid supporter of bootstrapping my own business and going the difficult route of organic vs paid growth. As a result of that mindset I have become somewhat of an infinite player, focusing on the long game with many micro-advances occurring in the finite.

This business is no exception to that rule. But let me explain more, before you start reading something else…

Why did I make iterations.design?

I am currently doing an internship in UX/UI Design and really want to maximise my learnings from my time at menonthemoon. So, rather than solely relying on what my day-job gives me, I decided to truly internalise my learnings in a newsletter, which I believe to be a publishable medium that is stronger than written blogs or articles. Especially when considering Email Marketing has an average open rate of 20,4%. On-top of that, I got so hooked on reading newsletters over the past months, I was itching to finally find a reason to start my own…

iterations.design is an effort to find the best way from point A to point B within product design & development. As product people, we are always on a journey that oftentimes includes a gruelling process, with many windings roads and insurmountable amounts of macro/micro decisions. This is especially true when considering the fact that products are always evolving and adapting, whilst leaving their iterations mostly chaotic & uncontrolled. iterations.design wants to change that by gathering tools, stories & inspirations around a community that seeks to enhance this never-ending product iteration process.

That said, I consider myself a Product Person, as developing, designing and managing anything product related has quickly become my lifeblood. But rather than saying much more, please allow Christoper Singer to sum up what makes product people who they are:

Our role is to imagine products that don’t exist and guide them to life.” — Christopher Stringer

How I made iterations.design

As the title of this article suggests, I really wanted to try making something with little to no monetary investment. So, acknowledging the fact that there are about 200 different ways of going about creating a newsletter like this, I will only touch upon the way I did it with additional reflective alternatives, so you can easily start making your own newsletter right now.

So, how did I make iterations.design then?

I always start with the brand. Mostly because branding seriously get’s me going… I truly love beginning with creating the concept with my process:

  1. Start with the colours
  2. Decide on a tertiary colour palette
  3. Play around with a logotype & fonts
  4. Create a symbol from the fonts + the look and the feel of the logotype
  5. Choose a fitting heading and body fonts
  6. Design a Hero Image
  7. Bring it all together

Once going through the first 6 steps, the seventh usually comes around to look something like this:

iterations.design brand guidelines with headings, body, symbols & colours.
iterations.design brand guidelines

The above image is something we call a brand guideline in the industry. At this point, it doesn’t have to look pretty or perfect. Rather, it simply has to work for you. It will act as a guide that will help you design and layout your landing page, newsletter and any future content you create.

You might have noticed that the Hero Image isn’t included in the above shot. And you would be right! But that is mostly because I mocked that up to look like an actual landing page with its copy. Find it on Dribbble.


The Tech Stack

But how does this come together from a technical standpoint then? Good question… Allow me to outline the different digital products & services that make this whole thing run smoothly:

  1. A design program like Sketch … which costs money
  2. A domain on a host of your choice … which also costs money
  3. Web building & web hosting … which again costs money
  4. Newsletter hosting … which yet again costs money
  5. Project management tool for content & roadmap … just stop it already!!

Leaving all comedy aside, I truly want to highlight that I did all of the aforementioned points completely for FREE in this project:

  1. Design Program: I already owned Sketch, but you can also use Figma for free and create the same quality brand guideline as I did.
  2. Domain: I got iterations.design domain for free via PorkBun and a JustCreative affiliation that was still active HERE. Which came with an entire year for the domain and free email hosting, SSL certificate etc.:. The whole 9 yards really! Such value for money 👀
  3. Website Builder: I own my web server and also had a Webflow account, which allowed me all the design freedom I could have ever asked for. But you do not need to even know your way around Webflow. You can use a simple website builder like Carrd and go live for the first 7 days to test if there is a demand for your newsletter.
  4. Newsletter hosting: Simple. Just use Substack. It’s free. And if you really want to, you can even go paid at one point!
  5. Project Management: Yet again quite simple. Notion offers a free personal plan with endless customisability for you to track and manage your content & roadmap.

And that’s literally all you need… Aside from knowing what to do in the first place of course 😉 But if you are able to create coherent copy and you love writing in general, then creating a newsletter is definitely something for you!

The costs

As you can see the costs in this case would literally be 0. But only for 7 days really! Which is why I wrote virtually in the title… But even if you go with Carrd Pro, paying $19,99 for an entire year and having the ability to launch up to 10 different landing pages with the functionality they offer, is a steal to say the least. And trust me on that. I’ve done my research.

The roadmap

That’s a big topic. But because I love the idea of transparency, I laid out all of those details on the website to show my roadmap in 4 steps:

  1. Enable submitting your own Stories, Tools & Inspos
  2. A Medium Publication for more submissions
  3. A Slack Community of like-minded iterators
  4. Open up for sponsorships & collaborations

And that’s just the beginning.

It all really starts with consistency. Which in this case can only be achieved by continuously releasing a weekly Saturday newsletter on a regular basis.


Follow along & signup!

I’d love to welcome you on this journey 👋 Please check out the homepage with even more details: iterations.design/ and signup to the newsletter with any future iterations of it.

And that’s that! Thanks so much for reading this far. I really appreciate your time. Now it’s up to you.

Simply start making.