How to grow your Newsletter with Hacker News
*Interview with moviewise creator L.E. Wilson
StackHacks: Submit your Newsletter to Hacker News and get Subscribers
What is Hacker News?
Why should you care?
How to post to Hacker News
Interview with L.E. Wilson, the creator of moviewise
Hacker News is a social news website about computer technology, startups, and entrepreneurship. It was started in 2007 by Paul Graham and is owned by his startup incubator Y Combinator.
Y Combinator has been used to launch more than 3,000 companies, including Stripe, Airbnb, DoorDash, Coinbase, Instacart, Dropbox, Twitch, Reddit, and more. The combined valuation of the top YC companies was more than $300 billion by January 2021
Why do You Care?
Hacker News gets 3 million views a day, with over 300,000 daily users. If that many people see your post, like it, and even comment on it, then you are bound to get some new subscribers.
Submitting your article to Hacker News is easy:
Go to https://news.ycombinator.com/news > Along the top, hit Submit > Create Account > all you need is an email and a password > Done!
Thank you so much for doing this interview. I just saw your recent success on Hacker News with increased subscribers on the weekly Substack Writer Office hours forum. Congrats! Here is the post:
Q: Can you give us a brief bio about yourself and how you found Substack and why you wanted to write about the movies?
A: “I write “moviewise: Life Lessons From Movies” because great movies contain a lot of knowledge and wisdom that has been passed down to us through the generations. My hope is that these life lessons, or guides to life, will help people have better, happier lives.
Substack has allowed me to be a writer. I used to write “moviewise” for a program Yahoo had that paid writers per page visit. I received a small but steady paycheck, which was very motivating and kept me going. But when Yahoo closed down that program, called “Yahoo Contributor Network,” I couldn’t find another place that would pay me as a writer with a small audience. I just stopped writing.
Then in June 2020 I tried the simple Substack editor and experienced the ease of publishing a webpage, which was very motivating. It reignited my long-form writing career. Now I’ve written over 30 essays—that I’m very proud of—because I have a home for them. So thank you Substack!
Q: Nice. Yes, the Substack interface is so easy. Did you have any other niches or topics before you started?
A: “moviewise" is also a searchable database of one-sentence movie summaries, movie quotes, and movie wisdom on WordPress.com. I started it in December 2012: https://moviewise.wordpress.com
Q: I just checked your WordPress site. That’s a nice body of work! What made you submit a post to HackerNews? Do you read it all the time?
A: I enjoy reading Hacker News and do so almost every day. It is an eclectic mix of interesting news and information that is more educational rather than polarizing, particularly compared to other news aggregators.
Q: I enjoy Hacker News too. Will you submit your future posts to HN? Why or why not?
A: Yes. I try to submit a variety of posts (not just ones I’ve written) that are interesting to me and that I think would be of interest to HN readers.
Q: Why do you think it got traction? Can you give us a couple of reasons?
A: I think writing about something that people love is the secret. When I write about lesser-known films the response is not as high as when I write about a well-known film with a fan base.
For Hacker News—although I think it's true for any audience—readers appreciate something in depth that was carefully written and is meaningful, that is, worth their time and has something they can learn.
Q: What advice can you give us (other writers) about your experience with Hacker News?
A: My advice is to spend some time understanding any site that you would like to join as a contributor. I’ve found HN to be pretty welcoming, consisting of people like myself who want to explore and discuss a topic in a safe and intellectually stimulating environment. You can get a sense of the audience by browsing the comments that were shared on my “Kung Fu Panda” post:
Q: Excellent! Any other comments. Favorite newsletters?
A: Thank you for inviting me! I have a few favorite Substack newsletters:
Q: Good picks! If you were going to start a new newsletter, what would the topic be about?
A: I recently started a Substack to work on my animated comic strip, “It’s ALL Good Times.” It's a mashup of "SpongeBob SquarePants" and "Phineas and Ferb” with a little “Garfield” and “Calvin and Hobbes” thrown in.
It has cute characters, in the Kawaii style, but it is not exclusively for children. It simply does not exclude children. I would love to pitch it to Disney, Nickelodeon, PBS, or anyone who would broadcast it, so if someone out there has any knowledge about how to go about this please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you kindly for any help or advice!
Excellent. Thank you for this. And again congrats on growing your following by 50% in a minute. Hope we can all do this!
So if you guys and gals enjoy the movies as I do, please subscribe to L.E. Wilson’s awesome newsletter.
Comments appreciated and encouraged. Let me know what other ways you have used to get new subscribers like L.E. did. Reddit article coming soon.
✌ Peace in Ukraine
Thank you so much Paul! I hope this interview is helpful to other writers!
In case anyone would like to write for "moviewise: Life Lessons From Movies" about a movie they've found to be meaningful, there is a Guest Writer opportunity:
Wow, that's interesting! 😲 Great interview. And congrats to moviewise for getting viral, his content is unique 👏