Newsletter Interview with FontDiscovery

Font Discovery

Anyone who is looking to boost their design knowledge should subscribe to Font Discovery. Each week FontDiscoverty puts a new font under the microscope, and provides pieces of bite-sized content with tips for good (and bad) use of each font.

Written by @HuaTweets, it's a great resource because of its use of visual elements, which perfectly convey the design lessons contained in each newsletter.

Can you give some background on yourself, your newsletter, and how and when it came about?

I am a designer, coder, and educator based in New York City. For a long time, I worked as a designer and art director in branding and advertising. After five years, I decided that while it's fun to create exciting brand direction for big clients, something was missing -- I wasn't sharing my knowledge. At the same time, I met many folks who struggle with creating unique visual branding for their new companies.

So I started Typogram and created my newsletter Font Discovery to teach folks brand design and marketing tips by showing them a new font every week. In my newsletter, I offer a lot of visual examples to facilitate this process.

I ... created my newsletter FontDiscovery to teach folks brand design and marketing...

What is the current state of your newsletter? (How many subscribers does it have, how often do you publish it?)

I launched FontDiscovery at the end of December and started with 0 subscribers. I don’t have a big social media following or network, so I posted on reddit, a couple of facebook groups and a few online communities like indiehackers. I was able to gather about ~ 17 people to sign up before my first post. The first post went out on Jan. 4. We are now 8 weeks into FD and I have about 100 subscribers. I publish weekly.

Do you know if your subscribers have any common traits (indie hackers, designers, founders, etc…?)

Many of my subscribers own some kind of business (full time or part time). They enjoy making things themselves.

What has been the hardest part of building your subscriber base so far?

I think promoting is something I am still learning. There are so many social channels to promote, and sometimes it's so tricky keeping track of all of them. I have the most success on Twitter, Reddit, and Slack channels, but I also try to promote on Instagram since my newsletter is very visual. I am also trying on Tiktok and Pinterest. It's been a very incredible journey but definitely, not easy!

Any tips for sharing content on twitter? This seems to be one of the hardest channels to successfully promote a newsletter on?

Respond directly to threads works well for me so far. I also make a “font trading card” as an infographic for the fonts and design tips I share in my newsletter. I just started sharing this graphic to promote my newsletter every week, and so far, the analytics is a lot better than posting a thread alone. I am still experimenting : )

How do you come up with new ideas for your newsletter?

I look at current branding identity projects, research the latest trend, and share them with my readers. A lot of ideas also came from my experience as a design professor and as a designer. These are either advice I would give to my students or techniques I would use.

A lot of ideas also came from my experience as a design professor and as a designer. These are either advice I would give to my students or techniques I would use.

Do you have any advice on growing design trends for any indie hackers or designers who are building something new in the near future, and want to get in early on the next design wave? (fonts, image resources, layout, etc…)

I think it is always a good idea to keep a visual collection of things you like: products, websites, magazines, or branding. If you notice a website that you like for it’s design, bookmark it. Write down why you liked it (i.e., what are some specific visual elements in this particular thing that appealed to you? How did it make you feel?) -- having a collection of things you like will help you when designing.

Here is a list of places to help you get started.

Branding:

Underconsideration

Inspirations:

Designspiration

Behance

Dribble

Landing page:

Hoverstat

Awwwards

How much time do you put into writing each article? Are most of the time spent on writing and editing, or researching?

I spent most time writing and editing. I also spent a fair amount of time creating the visual examples and researching. Total takes about 8 ~ 12 hours per newsletter.

How have you gained your subscribers to date? Are there any tricks you have used to grow your newsletter?

I share my newsletter on Reddit, social media, and various communities I am in if it doesn't break the rules. Since my newsletter is very visual, I usually include an image as part of the post. This usually works great. DM on instagram also works. Lots of things I am doing right now aren’t scalable, but I enjoy it.

My newsletter is one of the free resources I create as part of my start-up. As of right now, I plan to keep it free. I feel delighted thinking that I could help a new person whenever I gain a new subscriber, so my primary focus is creating high-quality, helpful content for my subscribers.

I feel delighted thinking that I could help a new person whenever I gain a new subscriber...

My best article is FoW, No4: Libre Franklin, a Versatile Font for Friendly Brands. Several subscribers emailed me and told me they enjoyed the content. I think it's because it started by answering a subscriber's question, and the instructional graphics showing how to use fonts for design are very helpful. FoW, No5*: Quick Recap & EIGHT Font Resources Helping You with Your Next Project is also a great one because it summarizes all the fonts we have covered so far.

Are there any websites that you think make particularly good use of fonts in their design? If so, what makes the use of their fonts stand out?

I always use the New York Times as an example for this. New York Times is a very information-heavy site, but all the information is displayed so clearly. The fonts they use have many weights, like regular, medium, and bold, and are perfect for their complex information needs. The font and design make the information very clear and straightforward visually. As a user, I understand what section I am on and what I am reading.

Have you found any patterns in your readers preferences (style, content length, images, etc…)?

I have been pretty consistent with the length and content of my newsletter. It usually has less than 400 words and has a lot of images. However, every fifth issue is an "experimental" issue to test-drive new ideas or formats. We just hit issue no.5 last week, and for this experimental issue, I did a longer post sharing free resources, and it performed a lot better than I thought. However, shorter posts still win.

What are your future plans for your newsletter?

I plan to keep refining and pushing out high-quality content for my readers. I am also thinking about community, where my subscribers can talk to me, have access to all our free resources and talk to each other.

Another thing I want to do more is cross-promoting and include other voices in my newsletter. I am always looking for new friends and collaborators on Twitter, and if you have cool ideas for us to collaborate, I'm at @HuaTweets.

Check out some of our other blog posts

Newsletter Interview with FontDiscovery
Newsletter Interview with Signals
Newsletter Interview with Brands Mean a Lot
Newsletters are the best Influencer Marketing Platform
How To Choose A Newsletter Niche
5 Ways to Monetize a Newsletter
Tips and Tricks to grow a Newsletter