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Building a Multimillion-Dollar Newsletter Business with Sam Parr of The Hustle

Sam Parr (@TheSamParr) describes himself as a midwestern small business owner who discovered the Internet, and his journey from running a hot dog stand to building a media empire seems to prove that. His current business, The Hustle, generates 8 figures in annual revenue from newsletter advertising alone, a feat Sam attributes to great copywriting, relentless experimentation, and the massively underrated power of email. In this episode we talk about how founders can build profitable businesses by resisting the urge to make their tech businesses more complex than they need to be, why it's important to borrow lessons from businesses in other industries, and the art of getting help from others by swallowing your pride and making specific requests.

Updated on May 12

Key Smash Notes In This Episode


When they launched in 2016, his goal was to build a massive email list, monetize it through advertising, and to use the profits for building ancillary products, which they would distribute using their own email list.

Their focus was to create something world class, with great revenue, lots of users who would love it, and a product that would be fun to work on.


Email list is one of the highest ROI marketing channels for commerce companies. Email can be a huge business.

Sam was inspired by "Daily Candy," a newsletter with 2 million subscribers that sold for $125 million dollars in 2004.

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At one point while being in school in Nashville, Sam Parr started an online store, and inspired by its growth, he decided to move out to San Francisco, to the hug of online businesses.

While in SF, he started Hustle Con as a way to meet interesting people to partner with. The conference made good profit, so he did it again. It was not a lot of work, and the way he grew it was a newsletter.

That's when he realized the Hustle was his ticket to building a huge media company.


Conferences can be very lucrative businesses, but you have be good at marketing, economics and logistics.

Avoid union labor and catering, and don't spend money on things that don't matter, like name tags. Plan that it would take a year or two to get where sponsors are willing to sponsor your event.

Start small, scrappy, and hustle.


Copywriting is salesmanship on paper.

Copywriting is understanding what motivates people, it is understanding gaps in the market, the opportunities, it's understanding what people want and how to solve their problems...etc.

Once you master copywriting, it helps in every aspect of life.


Be frugal and figure out the economics of your business, and find the people who can help you, and convince them to work with you.


Start small, follow through, and make sure what you ask is extremely narrow. Don't ask them open ended questions, ask something they can respond to right away.


It's in our human nature to always want to chase more, to look up, to compare our success to someone else who has more. You will be a lot happier if you stop caring about the reward, and enjoy the journey.

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Being a manager is very different from starting something, getting users, or growing something. Being a manager is rather hard for someone used to being a maker.

If you can't be a good manager, you need to hire someone who can do it better than you. It will make you happier and make your business better.


Talk to a lot of people, knowing that most candidates are not going to be the right fit. Then be honest with your prospects, share your weaknesses and find out their strengths. Make sure you are compatible and can help each other.

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Don't make it more complicated than it has to be. Figure out a need, and find a way to solve it. Your business might not be sexy, and it's going to be hard work, but it will make money. The hard part is all emotion. Hard part is making cold calls, being rejected, putting yourself on the line.

Start simple, get your first customers, and then look for more opportunities from there on.

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