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How e-newsletter theSkimm Acquired 3.5 Million Subscribers

Zach Brooke

Cultivating a unique mind meld with its readership has allowed e-newsletter theSkimm to outpace its competitors

Goal

It takes a lot of confidence to launch a news outlet these days, but in 2012 New York roommates Danielle Weisbergand Carly Zakin felt up to the challenge. The pair ditched their jobs at NBC News to team up and create theSkimm, a curated daily newsletter that summarizes the day’s most significant events in a breezy, casual tone.

It doesn’t stop with current event recaps, however. TheSkimm also uses its platform to share recipes, offer birthday shout-outs, ask for feedback and display native sponsorship from brands it believes are highly relevant to its audience. Building their newsletter from scratch, Weisberg and Zakin knew theSkimm needed to be highly relevant to future readers if they were going to lure people away from other outlets.

“We knew when we launched theSkimm we were filling a real void in the market for news that fit the routines of our target demographic—smart, busy women on the go,” Zakin says. “The initial goal was simply to get as many people to sign up as possible. It was a true grassroots effort and spread by word of mouth in the early days.”

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Zach Brooke is a former AMA staff writer turned freelance journalist. His work has been featured in Chicago magazine, Milwaukee Magazine, A.V. Club and VICE, among others. Follow him on Twitter @Zach_Brooke.