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The goal for 99% of newsletters is to make money.
And some want to make it BIG. They see 7-figure revenues from The Hustle or Morning Brew and think: “Why not me?”
But not everyone wants to build the next Morning Brew.
So what’s the best, easiest, and fastest way to monetize a newsletter?
This article will cover a few ways you can get started today on your path to newsletter monetization.
Yes. The myth is true: bigger is better.
A bigger newsletter subscriber list is better when running affiliate sales. (What did you think I was talking about…?)
I made my first newsletter dollars with affiliate sales promoting Ship 30 For 30. I loved the course and the experience. So I genuinely gushed over the course while sharing my affiliate link for the course. And I got a sale.
I only had a few hundred subscribers at the time. So while bigger might be better, it’s not the only path to cash. You won’t retire early, but you can still earn some spending money with the right offer at the right time.
There are a few ways to find affiliate deals:
Formerly called the “Plug & Play” program, Swapstack offers an impressive list of SaaS tools, newsletters, products, and memberships in their Affiliate Deal section.
Keep in mind these brands set minimum thresholds for newsletter size. But given a Swapstack account is free to create, it’s worth signing up and seeing what’s available.
Affiliate deals should be aligned with your newsletter readers and their demographics and/or pscyhographics. The right offer to the right person at the right time is what matters. Nobody wants 12 random affiliate deals in one email. Nobody.
And they’ll unsubscribe to prove it. Careful.
Promote other newsletters in your newsletter and get paid per approved conversion.
Sign up for SparkLoop’s Partner Network (affiliate) and find newsletters to recommend. Again, ensure the newsletters are going to be relevant to your readers: misalignment is misery.
SparkLoop recently launched Upscribe, a simple widget you add to your sign-up page (see image below).
Once installed, just like on Substack, your new subscribers get one more prompt to subscribe to a few more newsletters you recommend (they can simple hit “Maybe later” to bypass the offer).
You can make money auto-magically here. Set it and forget it (but maybe don’t *completely* forget it… monitor your results)
You can choose to insert newsletters paying affiliate commission for approved referrals (just like with the Partner Network) — or you can promote a friend’s newsletter for free.
Note: your friend’s newsletter would also need to be part of the SparkLoop Partner Network
Swapstack.co recently introduced Earn-Per-Click. That means you can earn a small amount for every click you send to a participating advertiser.
To take advantage, you need to have (or set up) a Swapstack account. It’s free and simple to do. Go here → swapstack.co
The challenge with Earn Per Click is advertisers have to come to YOU. At least for now. So, do all you can to make your profile as detailed and alluring as possible (without bullshitting) in the meantime.
NOTE: Despite this, I included Earn Per Click in this article as the Swapstack team plans to build it out to become much larger than it is, giving you more opportunities to monetize soon.
So sign up now and you’ll be a few steps ahead when it kicks into full gear!
You could also set something up on your own — without an intermediary like Swapstack. If an advertiser is hesitant to pay you a flat rate, offer a smaller pay-per-click fee ($0.50-$1.00 per click) and go from there. It doesn’t have to be on a platform like Swapstack.
You’ll obviously have to share reporting metrics and include a tracking UTM tag ensuring the advertiser can track performance on their end as well.
I was intimidated to pitch my newsletter to advertisers. I didn’t have a big list and wasn’t sure the value.
Then I got my first paid ad. It was the validation I needed.
Even if you only have 100 subscribers, there might be someone interested in spending a bit of money to reach them.
Reach out to acquaintances, colleagues, Twitter friends, fellow creative entrepreneurs. But start small and don’t over-promise.
Some things to keep in mind when pitching ad spots in your newsletter:
Newsletters are here to provide value to your readers. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever pitch products or services.
Especially if you have a product or service to solve one of their biggest problems.
For example, I recently started offering Newsletter Strategy calls in 30-minute or 1-hour blocks. Since doing so, I’ve booked a number of calls. And earned over $800 in a few months.
But since my newsletter is, well, about newsletters, the pitch to help you with your newsletter is effectively aligned with my readers' challenges.
Your readers may want to genuinely thank you for the newsletter you magic you create & deliver them for free every week.
Which is where the Donation strategy comes in.
Add a Tip Jar to your email and even offer some incentive for a tip! Jessica Williams of the #jesspicks newsletter shouts out her supporters every week in the footer of her email. The shoutout has gotten so large that it creates some FOMO when reading it, increasing the desire to add your name to the list (see below).
You can add a Tip Jar easily in ConvertKit under the ‘Earn’ tab:
You can also use Swapstack’s Tip Jar feature:
Or, you could use the popular Buy Me A Coffee tool (teased above in the #jesspicks example) which is easy to set up and customize.
There are even more ways to monetize your newsletter outside of these examples. But I've used 4 of these 5 strategies to successfully monetize my newsletter to over $10k in income in the past year.
I’ve done it with a full-time job and a family. So I know you can do it too!
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