Do The Stuff That Doesn’t Scale.

So here’s a story: It’s September 2019, and I’m flying to New Orleans for the annual Online News Association conference. It’s my first one representing my own business. I’m not Dan from BuzzFeed or Dan from The New Yorker anymore.

I’m Dan from Inbox Collective.

I want to do something to make as many connections as I can while I’m there. All year, I’ve been doing stuff that doesn’t scale — guest posting on other blogs, doing podcast interviews, sharing my content 1-to-1 with friends in the industry. My newsletter’s growing, but I know there’s more room for growth.

So I announce that Not a Newsletter is throwing a happy hour. (Naturally, I call it Not a Happy Hour.) I invite anyone to come out — drinks are on me. I hand my credit card to the bartender and hope the bill won’t be too extravagant.

50 people showed up that day. A bunch of readers brought friends, which meant that I got a few newsletter subscribers out of it — but I also landed three new clients from that night, and got asked to give a keynote talk at a conference. (The total bar bill: About $400.)

When you’re growing an audience and building a brand, do things that don’t scale. That’s where your initial growth is going to come from.

And remember to tip your bartenders well in the process, too.