1. Customer Case Studies

The Slice – growing a SaaS-focused newsletter with Nic Getkate

The SaaS industry is booming globally. The cost of starting a SaaS company is declining. And demand for ever-more niche online solutions is increasing. Which means we’ve never had so much choice available to us.

But how do you sift through all the tools on the market? How do you keep track of the latest SaaS product, app and extension launches?

That’s a question copywriter Nic Getkate answers with The Slice, a weekly newsletter that helps busy founders keep up-to-date with emerging SaaS tools. It serves as a useful directory of resources for project growth and is enjoying growth itself.

So six months after founding the newsletter, we caught up with Nic to find out more.

Photo of Nic Getkate, founder of The Slice
Nic Getkate, founder of The Slice

Hi Nic! Tell us a bit about your background.

I’ve worked in the marketing space for close to 4 years now. But it’s only been in the last 2.5 years that I became a freelancer while I lived in Asia. I did the whole nomad thing, working for Asian-based marketing agencies, a few internet startups and clients.

At the time, home for me was Bangkok. But five months ago I moved back to my home country of South Africa due to COVID-19. I’m still doing the same thing now, just in a different country and closer to home.

Screenshot of The Slice newsletter sign up form

What motivated you to start The Slice?

I was doing some contract work with a fellow nomad in Bangkok, who I’d assisted on some projects he had going on at the time. But it was while I worked for him that I was introduced to the world of newsletters, as he ran his own newsletter that was quite big.

Fast forward about 10 or so months and it was around this time that I found the Indie Hackers forum and saw all these amazing tools that flew under the radar. So I revisited the newsletter project, and came up with the idea to curate tools, SaaS, and actionable resources for independent creators and founders that they could use in their own project/side-hustle. And that’s how The Slice came to be.

How have you grown your audience since launching the newsletter?

A lot of my early subscribers all came from Indie Hackers, and it was just a matter of me being active there. I also hung out in a lot of subreddits, but Reddit can be a bit iffy with self-promotion. And the users there tend to bring out the pitchforks, so I stay away from promoting there.

Nowadays, growth mostly comes from word of mouth, Twitter, and a lot of cross-promotion between other newsletters of a similar audience and size. I haven’t actually used any form of paid advertising yet, so I’m pretty stoked that I grew it like that. 

The EmailOctopus dashboard showing The Slice newsletter subscriber growth in the past 30 days
Nic’s newsletter subscriber growth in the past 30 days

Why did you choose EmailOctopus to host The Slice?

I chose EmailOctopus because of the simplicity and how user-friendly it is. I also wanted something that works and EmailOctopus did that. Just about anybody can open it up and they will know how to use it.

They also have a competitive free tier, which was amazing. Not to mention that the customer support staff do an absolutely phenomenal job and I’ve never had a bad experience when I’ve run into a problem. The resource section of the site is great for newbies too.

Did you consider any other platforms? And if so, how do EmailOctopus compare? 

I looked at Mailchimp, but decided against it. Price was a big factor at play and Mailchimp has actually got quite a high barrier to entry, especially for people who are new to email marketing/newsletters.

I didn’t actually enjoy the UI in Mailchimp. Once I saw EmailOctopus, I feel in love with its UI. So went straight with EmailOctopus.

I also looked at Substack but decided against it as I couldn’t use my own domain. Ideally, I wanted something I could say that I built, and something that I could call mine. With Substack, it’s not technically mine, and I’d have the “Substack” domain. 

Another reason is that I wanted to be able to customize my newsletter how I wanted it to look, whether it’s in the drag and drop editor or the HTML editor. With Substack, I’d be quite limited. And I find that aesthetically, all Substack newsletters are very bland and follow the same pattern and layout. I wanted The Slice to be unique. 

I chose EmailOctopus because of the simplicity and how user-friendly it is. And the customer support staff do an absolutely phenomenal job.

Nic Getkate, founder of The Slice

What sort of engagement do you get from your subscribers?

At the moment, I’m at 921 subscribers with an open rate of 47%. In my welcome email, I ask all new subscribers to reply to the email. I do this to get to know my subscribers on a personal level, so I’m not just some anonymous person behind the newsletter to them.

This actually also helps with my domain and IP reputation, which keeps my deliverability high and avoiding the spam folder.

What have been your biggest lessons since starting The Slice?

Writing The Slice each week has taught me to be more accountable for the things that I need to get done, especially now that I have a small audience that’s waiting for the latest issue each week.

But that’s the best part about it – the creating and curating part I find the most most fun. The Slice has also taught me how to be a good curator, and that’s being able to differentiate between signal and noise.

Example of a Google Sheet Nic uses to organise content for issues of The Slice
Example of a Google Sheet Nic uses to organise content for his newsletter The Slice

Aside from EmailOctopus, what other platforms do you use in your tech stack?

  • Google Sheets
  • Carrd for my landing page (which integrates directly with EmailOctopus)
  • Bear/Notion 
  • VSCode for when I want to make custom HTML for the newsletter

What advice would you give other creators thinking of launching their own newsletter?

Learn the technical side of deliverability – it will save you a lot of time and headache. Specifically, DMARC, DKIM and SPF. In the beginning, I really struggled with this but it’s important to understand, especially since you’re going to be using a custom domain.

Finally, what does the future hold for The Slice?

For now, I’m just focusing on growing The Slice, and enjoying the process. This newsletter has given me the opportunity to connect with many different and extraordinary people from so many different parts of the world, so I’d like to carry spreading the word.

Sign up to The Slice for your weekly update on the latest SaaS tools or follow Nic on Twitter @NicWondering.

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