Social Dilemma + How I Got My First 10,000+ Subscribers in 30 Days

Special Segment on Growth: Lessons while still in the trenches.

I just watched Social Dilemma and now I want to throw my phone in the ocean.

And maybe Zuckerberg w/ it… anyone else having this response?

As we sat watching the documentary on our Sunday movie night, I was fixated on the unveiling of the thing we all already knew, but didn’t know how to say it… social media is a drug. And we’ve all become addicts.

If I have to sum it up in one sentence it would go like this… you are a cow. ;)

A dairy cow to be precise. But instead of being hooked up to a system siphoning milk from you, you are hooked up to a machine giving data. (Nice visual for ya).

Animal Cruelty - Dairy

Just like a cow they will take from you as you breathe until they eventually chop you up for parts; cheese, butter, cream, meat, leather. In our modern day dairy farm we’re just a bunch of moo moo’s. They’re scrapping all digital parts of you, and selling it to the highest bidder. They’re taking your data, manipulating your newsfeed, polarizing you, selling you products you don’t need. With one single goal… that you spend as much of your time in their virtual world, instead of ours.

Quotes that stuck with me:

  • If you’re not paying for the product you are the product.

  • Nothing vast enters the life of mortals without a curse. - Sophocles 

  • In Silicon Valley we used to sell products, now we sell users. 

The question seems to be; How much of our life can they get from us?

This resonated with me particularly because the rest of this newsletter is about how we got so many of you here on this newsletter and how to bring others along with you. That mission hasn’t changed. TO QUESTION EVERYTHING. I believe email is one of the few areas we have where algorithms and platforms can’t control what you see, you can. So if you have a message worth spreading, then the rest of this is for you.


In the meantime I fall prey to the social media time suck just like the rest of us, but if you haven’t done any of the below —> I got some homework for ya.

  • silenced ALL your notifications

  • set timers and limits for social media use

  • mandated no phones at dinner

  • My dude deletes instagram during the week, catches up on weekends

  • I limit my use to 20 min a day. I keep to it.

  • Other addiction breaking hacks: here.

I promise I’ve done it for years, haven’t missed anything important yet, have amassed hundreds of thousands of followers, and only bought cheap instagram clothes from china (that are always terrible and unreturnable) a few 7, 8, 10 times. We’re all human.


This part is a Special Growth Edition, Play by Play Guide.

You have asked how we grew our newsletter to 40k+ as a bunch of internet neanderthals (aka finance nerds), and where you should start.

The answer is this email and a newsletter by my friends Olman and Ilona called Grow Getters! It’ll detail week by week, subscriber by subscriber how they go from an audience of 0 to thousands, in real time.

No theory, no b*llshit, just what works and doesn’t in the race to 100k+ humans to listen to us instead of the Fox or the Peacock. Getting started? Sign up here for how they got their first 1k subscribers in 1 week. Going forward all growth stuff will be at Grow Getters, all income stacking, investing and rants will be here at Contrarian Thinking. You pick your adventure.

Ok, Why Grow Your Email/Newsletter?


Platforms like Tik Tok can get shut down overnight, become obsolete like Myspace (creepy), Snapshot (also kinda weird origins), and Facebook (just try to find gen-x'ers on there). Or algorithms on all these platforms + google, amazon, netflix, can and do change on a dime. In 2020 turns out the government can even shut down your brick and mortar business at will, indefinitely. Yay!

So the ONLY place you have real control over is your website and your email list. It’s the kingdom no Zuckerberg, Amazon or Newsom can stage a coupe within.

That is why it’s imperative you figure out how to grow those you can email.

We don’t profess to be gurus. We do profess to be relentlessly documenting the journey to growth: Here’s status as of last month:

So across the ecosystem with those and email lists for EEC (our VC fund) we’re sitting around 200k followers. Goal = 1 million.


That Could've Been Super Funny On Facebook | Living One-HandedThat Could've  Been Super Funny On Facebook

Good news, that changed.

How I Got My First 10,000 Subscribers in 30 Days

My embarrassing (I failed and looked silly a lot) rearview mirror look into how I built my newsletter to 10,000 in 30 days.

Take, tweak and use for your own personal Media Empire.

Day One: (No One Cares ‘Cept Me)

  • Get the idea from my friends at the Dispatch who launched a paid newsletter and made $1MM in less than a year. Ears perked.

  • Spend evening looking through Evernote on things that get me fired up to talk about.

  • Get amped up from my hubs and friend Joe saying they’d read mine… first 2 subscribers (takes a bow).

  • Come up with name Contrarian Thinking by looking through my journals.

  • Draft a welcome email, about me section, and a first post (Thinking Critically & Why it Matters) here.

Day Two: 0 - 102 People Who Care

  • I create a mailchimp account (it’s basically free)

  • I use Squarespace’s free logo creator for original logo. Kinda lame but FAST AND did I say, FREE.

  • Pull a list of all my emails in gmail, phone and old mailchimp accounts (1,000+ in total) and send them an opt in email.

  • 102(ish) people do it… that tickles my little heart

  • Don’t love those first emails (and they were all in mailchimp) but here’s a sample

Day Three: 0 - 135 People Who Care

  • I send an email to my buds explaining what the newsletter is and why.

  • Send it to 50 people I think highly of and ask them to forward it.

  • Friends respond and get me even more amped up. Email list up to 135 now.

Day Four: 0 - 167 People Who Care

  • I add a pop up on my site using Squarespace templates at

  • I update the first signup box on my website to link to the newsletter signup

  • I use Unsplash images because I hate stock photos.

  • I post on LinkedIn and get good engagement. 5 newbies join.

    • I tried Reddit and failed, got my posts deleted from 3 groups. I know nothing about Reddit and feel like a boomer doing a Tik-Tok video.

    • I post in facebook groups, Masterminds I’m in w/ people who know me. (5 in total) 27 people join. Here’s an example but couldn’t find originals.

Day Five: 0 - 253

  • I’m over Mailchimp, too designed, doesn’t have paid and most importantly doesn’t have a community. Aka no comments and historical posts.

  • I Sign up for Substack and read how to get your first 100 subscribers, first 2,000 and first 5,000 subscribers.

  • I create a folder for newsletters I like in my gmail, and start creating content

  • I make a list for growth hackers on twitter to help cross-pollinate tweets.

  • The posts on LinkedIn, Facebook pick up some steam. Pass 250 sign ups.

Day Six: 0 - 300+

  • I post on twitter and on Instagram. 22 signups.

  • Instagram stories with a swipe up to subscribe link work. I’ll do them weekly.

  • I put it in my bio link on Twitter and Instagram 13 signups.

  • Brainstorm growth ideas in a google doc (now need to actually do them)

Day Six: 0 - 421+

  • I come up with a content calendar - post every week at weds at 9:15am

  • Issue goes out - 82% open rate, 46% click rate. (Because basically only my mom on there and she better f*ing click).

  • I start hosting a weekly webinar with Arcview Group - grows my LinkedIn by 4,000 so I use that to post more on LinkedIn and get a 100+ subscribers.

Day Seven: 0 - 422+ (shitty day not much growth)

  • A couple of the LinkedIn posts get zero engagement, feel a bit embarrassed

  • Lots of what I posted don’t do well and fall flat

Week 2: 0 - 1790+ (kicking into gear)

  • I want to work smarter, not harder by using my relationships with bigger followings

  • I make a list of friends who have podcasts, I get myself on a couple of them. Generate 100’s of subscribers in following days/wks (10 podcasts in 2 weeks).

  • Include buttons to share in my post those work:


  • Ask if I can email a few of the businesses I invest in’s lists (15k+ subscribers) with a giveaway and an opportunity to sign up. A few say yes.

  • Create a flywheel and a process to use all my different social sites to spin faster

Week 3: 0 - 3800+ (2x growth of previous week)

  • Podcasts start hitting and I see subscribers grow

  • Create a list of all media to hit them up when we have new ideas or content

  • Posts and flywheel start hitting

  • Twitter reposting and including links didn’t get huge engagement but 10-20 signups

  • What did work is tagging bigger accounts Flippa, it even led to me being on their blog and podcast and chatting w/ their CEO. Example here.

  • I create a lead magnet and insert on website, post it on socials (400+ signups).

  • I used Designrr to auto take blog posts and turn them into e-books

Week 4: 0 - 11,000+ (Nailed it!)

  • A few of the first podcasts (and then webinars) I did didn’t do very well, then I started adding a quick link and the giveaway - that worked well in converting subscribers to the tune of a few thousand.

  • I also started offering a discount code for one of my courses of 50% for each podcast and that led lots of people to take action

  • I REALLY have done well with LinkedIn so I added a weekly video segment, super simple filmed on my iPhone and have had some great engagement and some that ABSOLUTELY no one watched.

  • I changed my podcasts/webinars I did to be laser focused on buying businesses which drew people in

  • Used YEC’s (a mastermind I’m in) ability to guest blog post on Forbes etc and link to my newsletter.

Ooof, what a month.

Certainly was work, but our hope is you read this and see… it ain’t rocket size. It’s just hack, hack, hacking away at the big huge profitable tree.


Happy Hacking,


I’m experimenting with Twitter (@codie_sanchez) talking about Contrarian arbitrage; investing, income stacking, biz building unconventionally, so let’s connect. Or follow along about Cannabis w/ Entourage Effect Capital!