Noor Gupta is the Founder and CEO of Touristy, a Business Media Publication that gives you insider access to the latest stories shaping Consumer Culture. She founded Touristy after graduating from both NYU and Cass Business School in London, UK. Combining her communications chops with her business savvy, she has grown her weekly newsletter from 50 readers in mid 2020 to north of 21,000 today.
Here, Noor chats with us about the journey of writing and reinventing Touristy; and achieving her business goals, beyond writing.
How Noor Got Started
How did you start writing?
I started a travel blog during my final year at NYU. I've been fortunate enough to travel the world, so I started to pen down my experiences at luxury hotels to fine dining, culture and inspiring experiences! That's how I really got into writing. I've also always loved reading, so I think that definitely contributed to my love for writing.
What was the first version of Touristy like?
My first version is so different to what the newsletter is today! I'd use 5 different fonts, colored backgrounds and barely wrote much! It had more images with catchy headlines that would redirect the user to my website. I have no website now, just a landing page on Substack. So, a lot has changed!
How is Touristy different today? How many subscribers do you have now?
Touristy is a newsletter-first startup that covers the latest stories in Business, Big Tech, Consumer Culture & Current Affairs- but with a millennial sense of humor as my users are mostly college students!
The idea is: Education via entertainment. i.e why not deliver news in a format and tone of voice that actually makes today's generation want to read?
And, I have 21,550 subscribers as of today.
Noor's Writing Process
How do you build trust with your audience?
Well, trust is always a function of being consistent and predictable over a long period of time. So far, I’ve sent out 95 newsletters over 95 weeks. Hence, regardless of where I am and what I’m doing, on Tuesday’s at around 8 AM EST, my newsletter has to go out to my audience.
In fact, I recently got engaged and my newsletter still went out that day because I just can’t let my audience down- no matter how small it is!
I started with a list of 50 friends, and over almost 100 weeks, today, that list has grown to over 20,000 subscribers with over 40% actively engaging with us every week.
Touristy started out with multiple pieces per week, what made you switch to a weekly cadence?
It was bi-weekly but I changed it to weekly so I can choose from the information overload and selectively choose a few stories that I send out at the beginning of every week. It also proved to be a better retention strategy.
What strategies have you learned about creating clear, concise writing week after week?
To be honest, if you’re an avid reader, the words will intuitively flow better when you put pen to paper.
What is the best writing advice you've ever been given?
Keep it simple.
What strategies have you used to grow your subscriber list?
Basically doing all things that don’t scale. I’ve conversed with over a 1000 people, literally one by one - from my NYU alumni to strangers over the internet! I've been loving the building process too! I've met such cool people- albeit virtually!
You’d be surprised at how much you can do from behind a screen. This enormous effort has compounded into bringing Touristy distribution on LinkedIn and Twitter.
How do you think about monetizing your newsletter?
I have started to receive organic requests for paid collaborations with brands who are keen to promote their product/ service to my newsletter community.
Have you considered other monetization strategies?
At this stage, I’m continuing to focus on unlocking increasing degrees of product-market fit. There are a range of ways in which I believe monetization can happen, but I believe the path to those strategies is iterative.