Why YouTubers Should Have Newsletters

This is a conversation we’ve had so many times over the past few years building Smooth—the time has come for us to finally write it down. Let us know what you think!

We believe wholeheartedly in a few core principles here at Smooth Media:

  • Brevity >>>

  • Potato skins aren't on enough menus.

  • Modern media companies, creator-driven or otherwise, need to be built on a foundation that supports BOTH discoverability and depth.

What we mean by that last one: Open platforms like TikTok and YouTube provide discoverability—they enable creators to get their content in front of a high volume of people at a clip our traditional media forebears from, like, as recently as 2009 would for sure think impossible.

These algorithmic feeds are free from the barriers of other media like podcasts, newsletters, and websites, unlocking distribution that’s earned through publishing high-quality content.

This opportunity to build using algorithmic feeds is so massive that it has unleashed an entire so-called “economy.” But as with any opportunity that offers that much promise, there comes an equivalent level of risk…

The Risk of YouTube and TikTok

You don’t own your access to your audience. You can’t export your YouTube subscribers or TikTok followers and go start anew somewhere else. As our friends in the creator space say, you're building your house on rented land. What it brings in breadth, it lacks in depth—the relationship with your audience on these platforms is more fragile.

If the algorithm changes, if the platform goes belly up (or gets banned 👀), if the service’s features change dramatically and send your viewers elsewhere—your audience may no longer see your work and you could be out of luck. Any of these possibilities are on the table and completely out of your control.

And when reaching your audience is the lifeblood of your business? You have to keep that relationship in your own hands.

How to Own Access to Your Audience? Email.

It might not surprise you that a team who met building a newsletter company is pro-email, but let us explain why.

Email is an owned channel. The list you build is yours. No single tech behemoth or unhinged CEO owns your subscriber list or the rails of your communication with those subs. You can always take your email subscribers somewhere else (so long as you acquired them legally) ((that’s a post for another time)).

Email is ubiquitous. Everyone has an email address, and some are even using their same screen name from 2003…because email has staying power.

Email is push, not pull. You (or ChatGPT) write something. You hit send. It lands in your audience’s inbox. Full stop. No algorithm decides whether or not to show the content to your audience.

Email is intimate. It’s personal. It’s human. It’s one-on-one.

Email is a fantastic advertising surface, practically made for integrating brand partnerships into well-loved content.

Email is a high-value asset. A strong email list can make a media company a valuable entity. Just see some of the strongest digital media exits of the past five years—Morning Brew, Industry Dive, The Hustle, and more.

Email is a great onramp to other products. Other depth>breadth revenue streams like memberships, communities, courses, events, etc. all benefit from having the foundation of an email list to build on.

We’re bullish on the future of email newsletters for creators. Email is an amazing piece to the audience-building puzzle. It's creators’ best bet to maintain real, consistent depth with the core of their audience. And most of all? It's fun. See here, here and here.


—Jenny, Josh, & Kinsey, cofounders of Smooth Media