Personal Backstory: I’m sure your audience (and ours) would like to know the real Jennifer Chou. Tell us a little about your backstory. How did you grow up, and what did you want to be when you grew up? 😊

“What are you talking about…”
My boss was shocked at my answer. He asked our team if we ended up in our dream careers. I said yes.

“Jen, you wanted to be a growth marketer when you were a kid?”
I laughed at the look on his face.

“No, I wanted to be a writer.”
Now, I write every day. And it’s fun! My shy, introverted childhood self would be proud of me now. 📝

Entry into Email Marketing: How did you get into email marketing? 📧

“Ridiculous. If you want open rates, go beg in the streets.” This was a reply to an email I sent.

But let me backtrack to how it all started…

“So you know those spammy promotions you get in your inbox sometimes?”
I nodded along as my friend explained what she did for her internship.
“I basically send those emails.”
Oh…I thought. I didn’t want to do that…

So when I had to write emails for work, I wanted to make it fun. I wanted to write emails people actually enjoyed reading.

One of them actually got such amazing feedback, people posted about it on LinkedIn. It was titled:
“How I almost killed my boyfriend.”
And it was for a tech career growth newsletter. This made me want to write more, so that’s why I do it today.

Positive Energy and Authenticity: To prepare for this interview, I checked out your YouTube channel. You seem to have a really positive energy and authenticity. Do you think that is the secret recipe behind your viral success so far? In this age of AI, we crave human connection and authenticity more than ever. What are your thoughts on that? 🤔

“I loved seeing this side of you.”
“I love your authenticity.”

These are comments I’ve gotten from my social media content + newsletter. The core of any business is trust. If people see you’re a real person, and they like you, then they’ll trust you. And when they trust you, they’ll buy from you. 🤝

Choosing Beehiiv: What made you choose Beehiiv over ConvertKit or other email marketing platforms? Were there other platforms you were considering? 🐝

Ease of monetization
Ease of setup
Great support team
I’m already familiar with the platform (used it for my full-time job)

Email Style and Editing: One thing I like about your emails is they are often short and sweet without over-the-top editing. Is that intentional? I almost feel sorry for the newsletters that hire a large, full-time team to write and edit them each week. ✍️

Yes. I mean, I write a productivity newsletter. I want to respect people’s time.

AI Tools: How much do you use ChatGPT or other AI tools? Are you incorporating AI more into what you do? Where do you think AI is headed over the next few years, and is it an important part of your work? 🤖

It’s actually faster for me to write all my content myself. I spend 1 hour a month writing 4 emails. (15 minutes for writing, designing images, and scheduling.)

I’m trying to use AI more for content repurposing – setting up systems to distribute my newsletter content across all my socials.

I still have to set that up, but I’ll be sharing all learnings in my premium newsletter:

Growth and Monetization: What has been working surprisingly well for you in growing or monetizing your newsletter? What are the main email marketing secrets you’ve uncovered?

Growth: Instagram reels
Use Get Link In Chat for DM automation
Monetization: Beehiiv + Passionfroot
Including my email in bio = more inbound
Full list of tools I use and how I use them: Tools List

Referral Programs: Have you tried Beehiiv’s referral feature, where readers get incentives like a free PDF for forwarding your emails? Do you plan to use it, and what has been your experience so far?

I still need to set this up properly.

Planning to:
Set up automations to get more referrals
Include milestone-based automations (i.e. someone has subscribed for 3 months, send a reminder or gift)
Include action-based automations (i.e. someone voted they enjoyed my newsletter -> prompt to share)

Monetization Strategies: How do you currently monetize your newsletter? Besides sponsored emails, do you do affiliate marketing? Would you consider a private newsletter in the future?

All my income reports are in my premium newsletter + YouTube.
(For interviewer: you can find it all here)

Advice: What advice would you give to anyone starting out a newsletter now?

Be consistent.
Find a community (follow Matthew McGarry and Jennifer Chou on X (Twitter)

Failures or funny stories: Have you tried anything that hasn’t worked out? Or are you one of the lucky (or smart) ones where everything works out right away? How do you handle setbacks? Any funny stories about this?

Experiment a lot. Challenge the “rules.”

Ex) I posted the same video with different hooks on my social media. It helped my videos perform better when I cross-posted the winning variant to my main social platform.

Any other setbacks I can think of aren’t really setbacks. I see them as learning experiences.

Other Platforms: What platforms other than YouTube, Instagram, and Beehiiv do you use for marketing? Are you active on Reddit or Pinterest? What are your experiences with these platforms?

I schedule across all social media platforms using Metricool.

Some people find me from Instagram, others from YouTube or TikTok. But it’s the same content.

My content on Twitter is a bit different (focused on creator monetization instead of unhinged productivity).

I just use whatever platform is easiest for me to stay consistent. And right now it’s scheduling the same video on all the platforms, and tweeting random thoughts I have at the moment. (Sometimes I tweet from the toilet. 🚽)

Public Experimentation: You seem to believe in the “practice in public” concept, which is awesome. It’s part of your authentic brand. How important is experimentation and being human in the current age of AI?

Building a brand is about trust. You can use AI to be more effective, but can people trust AI?

I experiment a lot with AI tools, but I’m still the face of my brand. There are personal stories I share that AI ghostwriters can’t. And that’s why I always get replies like this:

Building Real Connections: We’ve been discussing the importance of building real human connections for content creators. Even this interview came from me reaching out on LinkedIn. How important is doing something different than others are doing? Do you think avoiding copying others has contributed to your success? My feeling is that you aren’t copying anyone. Again, it seems to be a reason for your success so far. What do you think?

Depends on your definition of copying. Many trends work because people are copying the same concept and applying it to their niche.

I can’t stay on top of trends, which is why I usually just create my own content. It’s easier for me to stay consistent that way.

I posted videos for work every day for years. We have 49k+ followers now. I posted videos on my personal account every day to practice. I have 69k+ followers now.

You’ll find your unique voice if you stay consistent.

Co-Creating a Course: As I write these questions, I thought about co-creating a course with you. We have different experiences, but I think people would benefit from our combined knowledge. We’d handle the course setup, and you’d only need to focus on your part (like the screencast videos you do on YouTube for example). We’d need to talk about it to iron out the details, but I think it could be pretty cool. What is your initial impression of this idea? We could do a shared Google doc to figure out the main content etc.

Depends on what the course is about! I specialize in short-form video + newsletter systems/analytics.

Hobbies and Interests: What are you interested in when you aren’t working? Any hobbies or interests you’d like to share?

Running, knitting, reading, traveling.

Where can people find you?: Give us a few links where we can find you.

Pinterest (lol)