8 mins

Friday Feature: Naptown Scoop

How a local newsletter is eyeing $1M in revenue—with <20k subscribers.

Sameer Ansari

We just interviewed a newsletter operator who…

→ is targeting $350k in 2024 revenue 

→ is publishing every weekday

→ has a staff of writers & assistant 

Not too shabby, right? 

But the wild thing is he's doing it with only 17.8k subscribers. 

The operator is Ryan Sneddon and the newsletter is Naptown Scoop—a local newsletter for the town of Annapolis, Maryland (pop. ~41k).

While that success is great—there's an even bigger benefit to operating a local newsletter that Ryan was surprised to discover. 

You’ll learn what it is in this week’s Friday Feature—and two other huge takeaways we discovered when going deep into Ryan’s newsletter strategy.


Let’s dive in!

#1 - Facebook ads for hyper (local) growth

By its very nature, a local newsletter’s growth is capped by the town’s population.

But this is a feature, not a bug. It makes calculating growth super simple—especially when doing it with paid ads like Ryan did with Naptown Scoop.

The hyper-localized targeting with Facebook Ads makes them a powerful tool for local newsletter growth.

🧐 Why it’s awesome

Hyper-targeted audience acquisition

Capture attention on multiple platforms: Facebook shows your ad to similar Instagram users. So, more reach with less cost.

🙋 How Naptown Scoop does it

Initially, Ryan spent $21K out of $25K (100% of his net worth at the time) on Facebook ads to grow Naptown Scoop.

Image of Bold move, brother.

Ryan filmed 15-second video ads about why people should subscribe to his newsletter.

He also browsed the Facebook ads library to find inspiration to improve his ad visuals and copywriting.

Through trial and error, he found a few ads that consistently performed well and lowered his CPA. He kept on running those.

Ryan turned Facebook Ads on and let them run steadily for 2 years.

Once he’d established a solid base of subscribers, he turned off FB ads and never looked back.

But they were critical in scaling up Naptown Scoop quickly.

✏️Steal this for your newsletter​

If you know how to run FB ads, follow Ryan’s approach. 

But if you don’t, hire an expert to do it.

What if you don’t have the ad budget?

→ Add SparLoop’s Upscribe widget to your sign-up page to get paid to recommend newsletters to your subscribers. Use the earnings to run Facebook ads.

That’s how Colton Sakomoto and Anthony Castrio funded their ad campaigns.

→ Or you can join local Facebook/Reddit groups and share your newsletter. Here’s how Ryan recommends doing it:

#2 - The Ultimate Newsletter Leverage Play

Naptown Scoop is on track to generate >$350K in ad revenue in 2024.

But what’s more interesting is the million-dollar business opportunities coming Ryan’s way—all thanks to the newsletter.

🧐 Why it’s awesome

→ Build cash-flowing businesses: A local newsletter provides a solid foundation of community trust, a targeted audience, and a marketing channel you can leverage to spin out potential companies. 

→ Networking opportunities: Being active in the local community opens the door to strategic partnerships, mentorship from local business leaders, and access to resources that would otherwise be difficult.

🙋 How Naptown Scoop does it

Here are the huge opportunities Ryan never anticipated when he first started Naptown Scoop…

Serving the community: Ryan plans to launch a live event in 2024 with the potential to generate enough revenue to see Naptown Scoop reach $1M in annual revenue. For now, he’s keeping it a secret. He’s also organizing a candlelight concert and a pickleball tournament.

Valuable connections: Ryan’s built connections with local commercial real estate operators and other business people. They can help him source prime property or help invest/finance a cashflowing local business. For example, Ryan and a partner are scoping out a fence-building business that could do $3M in annual sales. These connections can also get him access to billionaires in the area.

Investment Opportunities: Locals have approached Ryan to invest in their business: they run the business as principal operator and Ryan helps finance and market the business via Naptown Scoop.

✏️ Steal this for your newsletter

Here are a few examples you can steal of newsletter operators using their newsletters to start other businesses: 

Leverage your expertise: Jon Elder turned his experience running a $5M Amazon store into his Amazon Insiders newsletter. Now he uses his newsletter + experience to consult and coach other Amazon sellers to do the same. 

Launch a service: Michael Houck identified his readers’ needs and built Megaphone. It’s a platform to help founders grow viral on LinkedIn, and X. Alex Brogan did the same. He interviewed his readers about their pain points and launched 3 courses. You can even start a consulting service similar to Chenell Basilio.

Partner with operators: Sahil Bloom partnered with founders to run different agencies (such as personal branding, design, and newsletter growth). His newsletter acts as a marketing funnel to attract customers. 

Write a book: Eric Partaker authored 2 books. If you don’t have the time to write a book, you can sell premium research reports (like Dan Runcie).

Brand Partnerships: The GIST is a women-founded and operated sports media company. It has official partnerships with BIG brands like Fanduel.

#3 - Hiring to maintain consistency

Running a daily local newsletter is a full-time job. And Ryan experienced this first-hand.

For the first 18 months, Ryan’s schedule looked like this:

  1. Wake up
  2. Surf sites in the morning to find relevant local content (People also used to email him about local events, so that helped)
  3. Start writing
  4. Re-surf those sites later in the day to spot any new news
  5. Finish writing the newsletter
  6. Edit it
  7. Schedule it.

Doing that 5-days a week is a LOT. Plus, it leaves little time for ad sales and newsletter growth & promotion. 

So, to scale the newsletter without dedicating every waking hour of his life to it, Ryan hired an assistant, two writers, and sales reps.

🧐 Why it’s awesome

Focus on high impact work—delegate the rest.

Increased efficiency

🙋 How Naptown Scoop does it

Here’s how Ryan’s team operates:

Task 1: The assistant researches the relevant local news. She places all the links in one document.

Task 2: Ryan chooses which stories to cover and assigns them to his writers.

Task 3: The writers write the content.

Task 4: Sometimes, there's a new, important story to cover after the writers have finished writing. Ryan adds it to the newsletter himself. He then edits the newsletter and marks it “ready.”

Task 5: The assistant does a fact-check and then schedules the newsletter.

Task 6: Ryan reads it out loud to catch any editing errors before it’s sent.

Yong-Soo Chung and Bill Kerr follow a similar process with their newsletter teams.

✏️ Steal this for your newsletter

Follow these steps to hire and delegate:

Create SOPs: Document a step-by-step process for contractors/employees detailing how to do assigned tasks.

Hire: Offer (paid) tests to pick the best candidate—ideally from your local newsletter’s city/town.

Train: Train hired staff using SOPs. Set work expectations and clarify any questions or gaps in the process.

Share regular feedback: Give your employees the freedom to make decisions and work according to their style as long as they do the work before the deadline. But provide regular feedback on what you like about their work and what you want them to improve.

Adding it up…

Ryan believes Naptown Scoop can become a $1M+/year newsletter business.

If his past is any indication, we’re confident he’ll be hitting that milestone sooner than later.

Follow along as Ryan documents his journey in his other newsletter, Life Of Scoop.

Here are 3 things to do next:

1. Check out the Naptown Scoop newsletter →​​

2. Check out our whole conversation with Ryan Sneddon…

Video →

Audio →

3. Give us your take: what newsletter is doing something different and innovative we should feature next? Maybe it's yours... EMAIL US and let me know!

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