How Dr. Julie Gurner Built An Email List of Over 26k High Performers

She’s built her Twitter account to over 125k followers and has a raving fanbase of 26k high-performing founders and CEOs reading her newsletter.

And while her doctorate degree and “high-performance” niche might make her sound unrelatable, she’s actually one of the more down-to-earth creators I’ve come across.

We’re talking about Dr. Julie Gurner – and if you haven’t seen her work yet, you’re in for an absolute treat.

Dr. Gurner writes the Ultra Successful newsletter, sharing insanely useful tips she pulls from coaching sessions with top names in the business world.

While she charges $8k per month for her coaching, you don’t have to pay that to get some of the top insights from her work. She shares a new insight each week in her paid newsletter on Substack for $10/month, which is quite honestly a steal.

She’s built her business sustainably over time, trying a lot of things that didn’t quite work until she hit on a few growth levers that did work…quite well.

Let’s get some context about how her business makes money so we can dive into the growth strategies!

How Dr. Gurner Makes Money

Dr. Gurner has one of the more simple “creator” businesses I’ve seen. With 2 main revenue streams, her focus is not pulled in hundreds of different directions, and I love that.

A. Paid Newsletter

Dr. Gurner writes the Ultra Successful newsletter. She has around 26k total subscribers at this point, with a percentage of those paying each month for more in-depth insights.

From what I’ve seen in past deep dives, a 4% conversion rate is pretty standard for larger newsletters, which would be around 1,000 paid subscribers.

However, in January of 2023, only a few months after starting her newsletter, she already had more than a thousand paid subscribers.

Since then she’s doubled her total subscriber base, so we can (conservatively) estimate around 2k paid subscribers. She charges $9.99 per month or $115 per year for access to the paid side of the newsletter.

I’d estimate and say Dr. Gurner is making at least $200k from the paid newsletter at this point.

Although honestly with the way people rave about her work, I’d guess she has a much higher conversion rate than 4%, but we’ll go with it 🙂

B. Consulting

Dr. Gurner has been helping private clients since the beginning and she has no plans of stopping. She really enjoys the work and says it keeps her sharp.

If you wanted to become a private client, Dr. Gurner now charges $8,000 per month. I found a few points in the past where she was charging half that, but she since raised her prices.

And for good reason! She now has a 2-year waitlist to work with her.

Talk about finding something you’re extremely good at and building business sustainability!

This is also probably why she started the newsletter in the first place, to be able to help more people than those she could help 1 on 1.

Overall Revenue

Even if she has 3 clients at any given time (could be more, could be less), that’s an additional $250k-$300k per year. I think it’s safe to say she’s earning at least $500k per year from these two revenue streams.

Alright, so how did she get to a place where she is in such high demand that people are so excited to work with her? Let’s dig in.

The Growth Timeline

Here is a growth timeline I put together for Dr. Gurner’s journey.

While I started this timeline in January 2019, Dr. Gurner has been posting on Twitter, and other platforms for years. However, it seemed like around this time she really started coming into her own on the platform.

As you go through this deep dive, I’ll touch on some of the other ways she’s tried to build a personal brand and audience, but it won’t be a main focus so just remember that this has been a long road.

The Growth Levers

Dr. Gurner has tried a lot of ways to build an audience. But these are the ones that stuck with me as things we can replicate during this research.

👩‍🔬 1. Experiment, but stay focused. It’s actually wild how many channels she’s tried to grow an audience. But the lesson is to try your best at one and then let it go if it’s no longer the right place for you.

🐦 2. Twitter growth. She was stuck at 7k followers for years. She’s now got an audience of over 125k followers, most of which came over the last 3 years.

🏋️‍♀️ 3. Have a high bar. Raise your standards, and let that higher bar inform what type of content you create.

1. Try Multiple Platforms, But Stay Focused 👩‍🔬

One of the most obvious parts of Dr. Gurner’s growth story has been her willingness to experiment with multiple platforms, but to also stay focused long enough to see if it’s the right one.

With Writing Platforms

Back in 2016, she was going really hard on Quora – answering lots of questions, sharing insights, and more.

It earned her some “top writer” awards on the platform 3 years in a row.

Being on Quora really helped her build a name for herself in the space and showcase her experience.

It was the best place for her at the time, and seems to have taught her a lot about writing and building an audience.

But a little over a year ago she stopped posting there. This is also around the time she started her newsletter on Substack.

Focus, go hard, and pivot when necessary. But also, find a place that let’s you build an audience you can email regularly.

With Audience Building Platforms

In 2018, Dr. Gurner started doing live streams on Twitch, the streaming platform.


She was hosting weekly office hours where people could show up and get free advice on what they were struggling with.

Dr. Gurner is very good at focusing once she makes a decision. It’s not easy, especially when the results aren’t happening as soon as you’d like.

So once she made that decision, she stuck with it.

She started Twitch in August of 2018. It’s hard to tell exactly when she stopped, but she stuck with it for at least 18 months before realizing it wasn’t the best use of her time.

After she quit there, she seemingly went “all in” on Twitter.

2. Twitter Growth 🐦

I think it goes without saying that an active Twitter account with more than 100k followers can be a good funnel into newsletter subscribers.

But I mentioned before that Dr. Gurner has been posting on Twitter for years. She was sitting around 7,000 followers until 2020.

So what happened? Why did it take her so long to grow?

Well, I think it came down to 3 things that really ramped up her growth.

A. Focus

Remember all that talk above about her being willing to go hard on one platform? Well, once she stopped posting on Twitch and Quora and honed in on Twitter, it was off to the races.

She experimented, built a community, and learned what worked on the platform. Instead of just sharing platitudes and random thoughts, she became very specific about the ideas she would share.

B. Narrow Niche

Before this point, Dr. Gurner would share tweets about the news, politics, and random musings that were tangentially related to her work, but not always.

When she started focusing more on Twitter as a growth channel, she also narrowed the topics she talked about.

Now, she has 2-3 topics she focused her writing around. Focusing like this has a few benefits. First, it becomes much easier to come up with lots of content ideas (when you only can talk about certain things, you suddenly find lots of ideas).

But also keeps her following very narrow in terms of their interests. She’s only attracting people who are into self-improvement and becoming better versions of themselves.

The beauty of this is that these are also the same people who would enjoy her newsletter and ultimately her coaching.

People think niching down and narrowing your audience is limiting, when in reality it opens up so many more doors for you.

C. Inject Personality

When Dr. Gurner started out on Twitter, she wasn’t sharing a ton of personal insights or stories from her own life.

When she started to share her client results and real ideas (again, focused on around self-improvement), she saw much more consistent growth.

People resonate more with stories and insights you’ve earned in life vs regurgitated ideas from others.

Okay, so she’s been able to build a focused audience who are interested in her work, but how do you move those people to a newsletter?

Newsletter Growth via Twitter

Dr. Gurner has over 125k followers on Twitter, so naturally she uses the platform to grow her newsletter. But it’s gotten harder lately, so how is she doing that?

Since Twitter has really reduced the reach of posts with a link, Julie now gets a little creative with her promotion of the newsletter.

Instead of dropping the link, she’ll say “(in bio)” when she mentions the newsletter. I have to wonder if she noticed that even including the “Link” piece of “link in bio” dropped her reach.


Another method she’ll use now is to include a screenshot of part of the essay in her tweet.

I always like seeing how other people are using these platforms to grow so it’s insightful to see this.

3. Raise Your Bar 🏋️‍♀️

Dr. Gurner talks about this one quite a bit in her writing, but she also lives it. She says:

Without setting a bar, you will be strapped with frustration – always staying smaller than you are capable of – and life will often have more agitation.

Dr. Julie Gurner

Working Hard

Be willing to do the hard work.

In terms of newsletters, social media is a big growth lever. You can opt-out for sure. But you need to accept that it will probably grow a little slower than you would have if you spent the time to get social working for you.


With Her Content

Dr. Gurner holds herself to a high bar with her content too. The content she is sharing in her newsletter comes from the fascinating conversations she has with ultra-high performers.

These are just ideas she’s pulling out of thin air. It’s almost like a behind-the-scenes of being coached by a high-performance coach each week.

But instead of spending $8,000 every month to get coached by Dr. Gurner, it only costs you $10. And she makes sure that every post has some sort of takeaway people can use in their own lives.

If it’s not providing real takeaways people can use, she won’t post it.


She doesn’t stop with just sharing what people can do, she takes it a step further.

The Weekly Challenge

At the end of every long-form post, she shares concrete steps you can take to turn that idea and concept you just learned about into a reality.


In my opinion, the content itself is valuable. But then she takes it a step further and gives you concrete actions you can take right now to bring this to life.

In talking with my friend Becky about communities lately, she said something that stuck with me: people pay for progress.

You can throw a bunch of “stuff” at them all you want, but if you’re not giving them a clear path to make that progress, they’re eventually going to leave.

And this is 100% true in Dr. Gurner’s work. She’s helping people make progress in her writing and with her coaching. Not just giving them ideas and walking away.

Weekly Free Email

In the first free email of each month she shares the “What You’ve Missed” section. In this section, she shares links to all the past articles she wrote the month prior.

Of course, many of those articles are for paid subscribers only. This keeps her audience reminded that if they are interested in a specific topic, they can sign up to join the newsletter.

I love this because it’s such a subtle way to build that FOMO of people who love her work (after all, they’re subscribed to the newsletter), but aren’t yet full members.

It also gives her something to send each week to stay top of mind with her readers.

How You Can Replicate Some of Dr. Gurner’s Success

Spend 10 years building an audience, and learn what works. 🙂 Just kidding. But I think we can learn a lot about Dr. Julie’s approach to her content and newsletter.

Focus, But Be Willing to Pivot

Dr. Gurner spent lots of time on Quora and Twitch, but you probably wouldn’t know that if you only found her recently.

And that’s okay. Those platforms may not have been the best places to build an audience, but they taught her about the process.

Not every project you work on in life is going to be a success. But each one will teach you something.

Choose your next best step, go all in and focus on making it work. But if it doesn’t, be willing to let yourself move on after 6-12 months of trying.

This also helps remove the regrets and the “what ifs” from life.

Raise Your Bar

If you’re not getting the results you wanted out of your work, raise your standards. You can’t expect everyone to still be around afterwards, but that’s the point.

Increase your bar for the quality of writing you put out. Or the types of people you surround yourself with.

Of course, make sure you’re actually shipping work and not perfecting every little thing. But I’m sure there are pieces of your work you know can be better, you just haven’t taken the time to improve them.

When it comes to the important things in life, quality will always beat quantity.

chenell basilio

Chenell Basilio

Chenell is the head writer and reverse engineer at Growth In Reverse. She spends her days researching newsletters, audience growth, and generally figuring out how to help others create better content.

She has an almost useless Bachelor's Degree in Geography, enjoys running, listening to podcasts, and eating guacamole. 🥑

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