One of the best ways to be an entrepreneur is by solving a problem that bugs you. It’s not a sure shot for success, but there are plenty of cases where it has worked for budding startup founders like Lesley Sim.
Lesley is the co-founder of Newsletter Glue, an intuitive yet powerful newsletter creation and email marketing platform built specifically for WordPress. In this interview, you will learn how Newsletter Glue made it big, why you should take time to build a career, and why her website is called lesley.pizza!
Devrims: Tell our readers a little about yourself. What inspired you to dive into the world of newsletter creation and WordPress plugins?
Lesley: I love newsletters. They’re like tiny blogs. I grew up in a time where everyone had blogs (I miss that time) and newsletters seem to be similar to that. I had my own newsletter for a while and that inspired Newsletter Glue. I wanted to have a substack-style newsletter where I could write and send in WordPress and have my archive live on WordPress like a blog. That didn’t exist at the time, so I decided to build it with a co-founder.
Devrims: What problem does your plugin Newsletter Glue solve? When did you feel the need that something like Newsletter Glue was needed?
Lesley: These days, Newsletter Glue has evolved a bit from its indie newsletter roots. We focus more on medium to large digital publishers and newsrooms. For them, they write multiple weekly/daily newsletters and their teams spend a lot of time building newsletters. Specifically, they end up copying and pasting a lot of things that already exist in WordPress into their email builder.
On a daily level, it’s really hard for the writers and editors, but on a company-level, building a custom newsletter system can cost five figures or more.
That’s where we come in. Teams get all the benefits of working out of WordPress without having to migrate from their existing email service provider.
We cut newsletter publishing time in half by publishing in WordPress (where all your content already lives). We have a number of custom built newsletter blocks that allow you to build email digests and templates in seconds not minutes.
Also, with everything living in WordPress, companies can now apply all their article subscription, branding and growth strategies to their newsletters.
It took us a lot of trial and error to get here. We work closely with our customers to learn who are our best customers and who need us the most.
Devrims: How were you introduced to WordPress? You’ve been to a WordCamp. How was the experience, and how important are WordCamps for the WordPress community?
Lesley: I learnt about it in 2016 when I was trying to build a website for my business. It was the cheapest option out there and there were soooooo many helpful tutorials out there.
WordCamps are a nice way for people to meet in person. We spend so much of our time online making friends, but connecting in person just makes it extra special.
Devrims: When choosing a reliable Managed WordPress Hosting, what are the key elements that you look for?
Lesley: They mainly serve customers like me (e.g. I’m not an enterprise customer, so going to an enterprise host wouldn’t make sense for me). I think this is the most important thing because if I know they have thousands of customers like me, it’s likely they’ll have all the features I need.
Other than that, good chat support and documentation. It’s hard to say about everything else until you start using it and realise something is missing. 😅
Devrims: Let’s do some quick rapid fire questions:
|Coffee or Tea||Tea! I gave up coffee a while ago|
|Mountain or Beaches||The middle – rocky beaches!|
|Mac OS or Windows||Mac OS|
Devrims: What are your favorite plug-ins apart from Newsletter Glue that you use?
Lesley: I cannot live without the Redirection plugin. I have a bad habit of publishing first, and updating slugs later. So my life will be horrible without Redirection. I also use it to create lots of different quick links for myself.
Devrims: You have a very diverse professional background from owning a digital agency to beer brewery and teaching freediving. Where did you get the motivation to try different things and not follow a single career trajectory?
Lesley: I feel like I know a lot of people who randomly applied for jobs out of university, and whatever they got hired to do, they ended up sticking with it for the rest of their careers. This is madness to me because:
- What if there’s something that you’re world class at, but instead of hunting it down, you stuck with something you’ve just mediocre or above average at?
- We spend most of our lives working. More than sleeping, eating, or spending time with loved ones. With that in mind, it’s complete madness to do something you dislike.
When you combine those two thoughts, it becomes obvious that you should aggressively and wholeheartedly try lots of different things to find out what you enjoy, what are you great at, and why.
Of course all these things come with a big caveat that you need to have the financial flexibility to try these things. It would be irresponsible to put your family at risk while you go off travelling the world.
Devrims: Can you share with us a picture of your workspace?
Devrims: Is there a story behind “Lesley Pizza” or is it just for the love of pizza?
Lesley: I really like looking at top-line domains (TLDs). There are so many fun ones out there! I wanted to buy something for myself that’s memorable and landed on lesley.pizza. And now, I just use that for all my social media handles.
I strongly encourage others to find TLDs they like too! For example, ibtisam.coffee is available!
Devrims: During the process of creating your own plugin, what’s the most important thing that you learnt which can help beginners in their journey?
Lesley: Get the first fully usable version out as fast as possible. Whatever timeline you give yourself, cut that by 80%. For example, if you were planning to get v.1 out in 10 days, try to do it in 2 days instead. Then share it with friends, rinse and repeat at least 5 times. Then do your “big” launch.
Put in more reps than you think is necessary. For example, if you think writing 10 blog posts should be enough to get you started with SEO, aim to do 100 instead.
Aim to beat people on consistency, not hard work or quality. If you can keep going for 10 years, you will beat someone who worked hard for 1 year. You’ll also beat the person who spent 100 hours crafting the perfect product.
Devrims: Name two people that had an influence in shaping your career?
Lesley: Pete Ericson from Leaky Paywall. He has been the most generous guide and mentor anyone can ask for.
Cedric Chin from Commongcog. I met him online during Covid-19, but I now hang out with him in real life because he lives in Singapore too. Having him as a friend and fellow business journeyperson has been a real joy and an eye-opener.