Corey Wilks, Psy.D.

Helping Creators Reach Their Potential

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How Writing Changed My Life (100th Newsletter Celebration)

My newsletter has grown 9,740% since I started it 2 years ago.

Today, I’m publishing the 100th issue of my newsletter and reflecting on my journey as a full-time creator over the past 2 1/2 years.

But to give this piece some structure, and be valuable for you, I’m going to map these reflections onto 5 inflection points for the newsletter.

I don’t have millions of followers and I don’t make millions of dollars (yet).

It’s easy to look at creators who are the outliers—who gained a huge following and made tons of money within their first year as a creator—and naively assume you can do the same.

Full of energy and enthusiasm, you start creating content. After a few weeks or months of screaming into the void—posting consistently, sinking tons of time into learning platforms and editing software, and facing your fears of hitting publish—you realize being a creator is 1,000X harder than you anticipated. Disheartened, you give up.

I hope my trajectory feels more relatable and achievable.

It was hard, unglamorous, and full of uncertainty.

I won’t whitewash it to make it sound more epic or easy than it was.

Throughout my time as a full-time creator, I’ve vacillated between white-knuckling my way to the next month hoping I make enough to pay bills, and bumblefucking my way through because I have no idea what I’m doing and just trying to “build the plane in the air” as I go.

But it’s also been the best path I’ve ever been on, and I’ll gladly accept the uncertainty because of the freedom being a creator allows me to have.

Let’s dive in…


Inflection Point #1: I Started Collecting Emails

As you might know, December 4th, 2020 was my last day as an employee after getting fired from a job where I had maximum job security (ironic, I know).

I came into the Creator Economy thinking it would be easy—that people would be clambering to follow since I was a psychologist.


Turns out, the world doesn’t give a shit about your credentials the way your academic advisors tell you it will. The world cares about how you can help it, not about the $200,000 piece of paper framed on your wall.

I basically started at zero.

  • No website
  • No audience
  • No business skills

So I started sharing ideas and networking with people on Twitter (shout out to Dan Koe and Nick Wignall for the early support), learned how to create a website, and started offering to coach people.

I coached anyone who’d give me money—VC-backed founders, bootstrapped entrepreneurs, creators, wantrapreneurs—whoever.

I also started writing online, but it was awful—I wrote for my critics instead of my audience, it was full of jargon, and I tried to target too broad of a group—”rebels,” whatever that means.

I was coming out of the therapy world where I worked with people in addiction recovery and angry teenagers, aka people who had an issue with authority. I was also oppositional, so I figured I’d focus on rebels, black sheep, and other people who didn’t fit the mold—because a lot of entrepreneurs are also inherently rebellious.

And I was talking about generic psychology stuff like mindset, habits, and mental wellness.

But vague content vaguely attracts a vague audience.

Which is why my content, and my offers, sucked for a long time.

I needed clarity on:

  • Who I helped
  • What I helped them achieve
  • How I helped them achieve it

After 9 months of trying to figure it out on my own and publishing into the void on my website, I decided to start sending a newsletter every week.

The first issue went out to a whopping 27 people…


Inflection Point #2: I Published the First Issue

My only goal when I started my newsletter was to optimize for consistency.

So to guarantee I’d consistently publish every week, I put constraints on it like limiting it to a curation-based newsletter where I shared 3 actionable insights on psychology.

It was a great forcing function to keep me publishing, reading new ideas for my audience, and experimenting with the content I shared.

I was also writing blog articles on my website, but I still didn’t really know how to write for an online audience. Over a decade in academia had made my writing a slog to read.

A lay audience doesn’t like academic writing. Hell, academics don’t like academic writing.

So I dove into the craft of writing—books, blogs, podcasts—whatever I could find.

They helped a ton, but I still felt isolated as a writer and wasn’t getting feedback on my writing to make it better.

Then I came across Write of Passage in September 2021.

Through Write of Passage, I gained:

  • Skills to write specifically for an online audience
  • Strategies to craft compelling writing I still use today
  • Support from an engaged community that started with specific feedback on drafts that has turned into several lifelong friendships

I can’t speak highly enough about the impact Write of Passage has had on my trajectory as a creator.

Everything I’ve built as a creator is predicated on my ability to clarify and communicate valuable ideas—and Write of Passage gave me the foundation to do that.

Over the next 6 months, I iterated and experimented with who I created for, what I helped them achieve, and how I helped them achieve it—I decided to focus on helping creators reach their potential by building fulfilling lives and thriving businesses aligned with their values.

I wrote about things like clarifying your Core Value, overcoming limiting beliefs, and other topics to help creators reach their potential.

Through writing, I was able to attract incredible opportunities like coaching Ali Abdaal, getting on the Chris Williamson Podcast, and being invited to write for Psychology Today.

Each of these coincided with newsletter growth, as you can see in the chart.

Ali even highlighted what he’d learned working with me in his newsletter: 6 Mental Models for Solving Problems.

If you want a deeper dive into how I think about creating content to attract opportunities like these, check out this article: 4 Psychological Razors to Create Content Your Audience Loves.

Through a shit-ton of consistency, iteration, and straight-up luck, my writing had evolved.

But the content I was sharing in my newsletter hadn’t evolved.

It was time for a change…


Inflection Point #3: I Evolved the Newsletter

After 70-some issues of the curation-based newsletter, I realized 3 things:

There was nothing unique, no moat, about a curation-based newsletter. Very few people build a successful curation-based newsletter, and mine was just too vague for anyone to really give a shit about. I asked myself, “If I stopped publishing this, would anyone care?” The answer was painful: No.

People never commented about the resources I shared. But the more I added my own thoughts and observations below what I shared, people consistently replied about how they liked my commentary.

I wasn’t sharing my own thoughts enough with my audience. Another way to think about building a personal brand is to substitute “brand,” for “reputation.” By sharing original content, I could build a reputation for thought-leadership—someone worth following.

Growth had flatlined for months.

So I evolved the newsletter from a moatless, curation-based one to the Creator Alchemy newsletter where I share original content around psychology, online business, and content creation to help creators reach their potential and build thriving businesses.

Finally, subscriber growth and retention broke through the plateau.

When people found the newsletter, they loved it.

But getting people to find the newsletter was still a problem…


Inflection Point #4: I Joined the Creator Network

Shortly after I evolved the newsletter to Creator Alchemy, I joined the ConvertKit Creator Network.

If you don’t know, the Creator Network basically allows newsletter creators to recommend each other to their readers.

So when a person subscribes to Newsletter X, they get a pop-up that says, “Hey, you’d probably love Corey’s newsletter, too. Here’s what it’s about. Click here to subscribe to it, too.”

Suddenly, I was getting dozens of people recommending Creator Alchemy and my subscriber growth skyrocketed.

It’s been an absolute game-changer.

ConvertKit is for creators by creators—I love being on ConvertKit and the team is incredible. They’re constantly iterating to make the platform as valuable for creators as possible.

There are other newsletter platforms out there, but I can’t recommend ConvertKit enough.

If you’re not already using ConvertKit, I highly recommend you check them out (and if you’re looking for a newsletter to recommend, I hear Creator Alchemy’s pretty dope).

Since joining the Creator Network, my newsletter has grown 174.2% in less than 6 months.

If you want to learn more about ConvertKit and the Creator Network, check it out here (aff).

Newsletters are one of the most powerful assets you can build, which is why I’ve been focused on making the Creator Alchemy newsletter as valuable as possible.

Which brings us to today and where we’re going from here…


Inflection Point #5: I’m Taking the Next Step

In the 2 years since I started publishing my newsletter, my subscriber count has increased ~98X.

But this is just the beginning of what I’ve got planned.

One of my goals is to write a book. I talked to a friend recently who has a traditional publishing deal and he recommended I have between 25K-50K newsletter subscribers before approaching agents about a traditional deal.

Most publishers want a sure bet. If you want to hit a bestsellers list, you typically need to hit 10K sales. Even at 25K subscribers, you’re banking on like a 40% conversion rate from subscribers to book buyers—which is high. 50K subscribers drops the conversion to 20%, and so on.

It’s all a numbers game.

And even if I went self-published, the numbers stay the same to hit viable revenue from book sales.

So for the foreseeable future, I’ll be focused on hitting 25K newsletter subscribers.

Social media algorithms have been atrocious for my growth lately. Outbound links (like asking people to subscribe) are penalized so hard, they’re rarely worth doing. I’ve talked with several creators with big accounts who are panicking about the huge drop in reach and engagement lately.

So I’m putting my efforts into growing on YouTube.

Why YouTube? Because the algo works for you 24/7/365.

So instead of using social media to get newsletter subscribers, I’ll put that time, energy, and attention into YouTube to get newsletter subscribers.

We’ll see how it goes.


Final Thoughts

Obviously, a lot more happened behind the scenes as the newsletter’s grown.

  • Navigating the stress of how to succeed as an entrepreneur.
  • Launching dozens of projects—some that worked, some that failed.
  • Watching countless collaborations and opportunities—some that could’ve been life-changing—fall through.

But that’s a post for another day.

On September 5, 2021, after collecting emails for 9 months, I sent a newsletter to 27 people.

Today, I’m sending my 100th newsletter issue to 2,657 incredible creators.

That’s a 98X increase in 2 years.

Through writing, I’ve been able to build a life aligned with my Core Value of freedom (click here to clarify yours), make a viable income, meet inspirational people, attract an audience of incredible creators, and put value out into the world to help creators reach their potential.

Cheers to #100, and cheers to you for coming along for the journey.

I’m forever grateful you choose to spend a small portion of your time with me every week.

I’ll never take it for granted and will always strive to make it worth your while.

So much has changed over the last couple years.

My business.

My writing.

My life.

All because I decided to fully step into being a creator.

Yes, it’s been hard.

Yes, it’s been unglamorous.

Yes, it’s been full of uncertainty, fear, and self-doubt.

But the life I used to daydream about is now my reality.

If I can do it, so can you—if you’re willing to let the world catch up.

I can’t wait to see what things look like at #200.


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