How to run a five-figure newsletter business without quitting your job.

Not that it’s tempting you…but you don’t have to quit your job to make a 5-figure newsletter side hustle.

I have a full-time job. And I’m on track to earn over $10k with my newsletter in 2022.

I’ve been operating the Growth Currency⚡ newsletter “on the side” since January 2021. Counting ads, affiliates, and consulting, I just cracked the $2,000 revenue mark for the entirety of 2021.

Then things started heating up in 2022. Why?

  1. Niched down in March to focus explicitly on helping creators & solopreneurs grow, improve, and monetize their newsletters.
  2. Established key relationships with other creators & newsletter publishers through Twitter and various online communities.
  3. Raised my newsletter ad rates. As my premium ad spots kept filling up, I raised my rates.
  4. Applied for and was accepted to join the ConvertKit Sponsor Network — taking the onus of sourcing, booking, and reporting on newsletter ads off my plate. (More on that here.)

Doing all that (and more) has led me here:

My newsletter will earn +$10,000 in advertising revenue and affiliate sales in 2022.

Before we jump into the nitty gritty…

I want to introduce the 4 main buckets I consider when creating a newsletter:

  1. Organization
  2. Creation
  3. Promotion
  4. Monetization

This article will cover what I do in each.

#1: How I Organize My Newsletter Workflow

You need a place to capture & save all of your newsletter info. Here’s what I use:

  • Airtable¹: organize curated links, cross-promotions, and newsletter ads. Alternatives: Excel, Google Sheets, Trello, Notion, Clickup.
  • Otter.ai: Idea capture. Otter works beautifully as a voice memo tool to capture ideas or outline blog posts on walks or runs. Then I paste the memo into a Google Doc. That’s how this article started.
  • Google Docs: I write my articles here before publishing them in my newsletter, website, on Medium, and elsewhere.
TIP: quickly open a new Google Doc by typing docs.new in your browser.

The most important aspect of my workflow is the Airtable database. I need a resource to categorize and organize. That’s why a tool with filtering like Excel, Sheets, or Airtable is vital.

Organizing everything is heavy lifting upfront — but time-saving is critical when building a newsletter business with a full-time job.

How To Find & Quickly Save Curated Content

I find my curated content 4 ways:

  • Newsletters. I’m subscribed to a lot of newsletters. But they’re my #1 source for curated content. Use newsletter directories to find newsletters to subscribe to in your niche.
  • Twitter. Following the right people in your niche helps. I follow a lot of newsletter creators + newsletter platforms. Do the same. Create a Twitter list to stay organized and save time.
  • Refind.com. Refind is an excellent resource for quality articles on topics of choice — but their Chrome extension (Refind New Tab) is what I love the most.
  • Google. Sometimes I want to find a really specific article on a topic.

Once I find content worth saving, I use Airtable’s Web Clipper to save my links directly to Airtable — without leaving the source. It takes only a few minutes to set up and saves me HOURS.

Here’s a great demo of how to set it up and use it.

Notion also has a web clipper which you can get HERE.

#2: How I Create a Weekly Newsletter in 60 mins

Caveat: my newsletter takes me several hours each week to produce — but a most of that time is spent creating articles like this.

I spend a disproportionate amount of time creating content.

I rely on ads & sponsors for revenue (we’ll get into monetization shortly). So I need to ensure I’m publishing quality, original content readers keep coming back for.

The rest of the newsletter takes 60–90 minutes to put together.

I save time by creating a repeatable format.

My weekly newsletter format is as follows:

  • [Sponsor]
  • [Welcome]
  • [News & Announcements]
  • [Editorial]
  • [GC Links: START + GROW + IMPROVE + MONETIZE]
  • [Sign-off]

It’s a repeatable format I put together in about 60 minutes:

  1. Add sponsor copy once received (5 mins)
  2. Plug in relevant news/announcements (10–15 mins)
  3. Paste my article intro in the Editorial section (5 mins)
  4. Choose my curated GC Links for the week from the database; write ‘My Take’ on all four links (30–45 mins)
  5. Write a short sign-off (2–10 mins)

The best part about a repeatable creation process…

I can easily hand it off to a virtual assistant or freelancer if desired. It’s also why I built my Airtable database the way I did: easy to delegate.

Think of your newsletter process the same way:

If you had to hand off your newsletter creation, what would make it easier to delegate?

#3: How I Promote my Newsletter

All the organization and content creation in the world doesn’t matter if you can’t get subscribers.

You have to make noise. Promote, promote, promote! If it feels like you’re over-promoting, you might be doing *just* enough.

My Twitter Promotion Tactics

Twitter is where I get the most subscribers because it’s where I make the most noise.

But to capitalize on Twitter traffic, optimize your bio. Put the link to your newsletter sign-up page in your bio/profile. Check out mine:

I also include my 1KS Roadmap lead magnet in my bio (at time of photo).

Then share what you published!

Spamming accounts isn’t cool, but sharing their content and tagging them in a tweet seems to be. Our egos love it when people share our stuff. So we give it love ❤️ and hit RT 🔁. But be discreet with this strategy or it can backfire.

Another way to get subscribers is teasers that encourage them to sign-up:

Promotion via Republishing on Other Platforms

Promotion can come in various forms. And on multiple platforms. For social media, I almost exclusively use Twitter.

But there are other platforms to republish & repurpose newsletter content.

SUBSTACK

I switched my newsletter platform from Substack to ConvertKit in October 2021. No regrets switching. But I should have kept publishing my weekly articles on Substack to benefit from its network effects.

So from October through June there were zero Substack posts. I began reposting my articles in July.

Since then, I’ve gotten over 1,200 views and 150 new subscribers.

Pretty good for a copy/paste job.

(Yes, it helps to have friends with Substack audiences including my newsletter in their ‘Recommendations’ #NetworkEffects)

MEDIUM

Republishing on Medium.com (aff) has been another great promotion & growth strategy. I wrote about it in more detail here.

In essence, I republish the same way I do for Substack — but I always include a CTA in the footer to check out my website, lead magnet, Twitter, etc.

Another copy/paste job, for the most part.

SPARKLOOP

I recently signed up for SparkLoop’s Partner Program (aff) where I can pay others to promote my newsletter. They send verified leads my way and I pay them a set rate for each referral:

Growth Currency Partner Program - SparkLoop
Earn $2.50 for each new subscriber you refer to Growth Currency. You can earn up to $500/month for valid new…partnerprogram.page

The jury’s still out on this one. It’s brought in 12 subscribers to date, costing me $30. With time not on my side, paying to acquire new subscribers is something I’m willing to try.

CROSS-PROMOTIONS

Cross-promos have  been working well lately— especially in adjacent creator/maker industries where my content is most helpful.

The challenge with cross-promotions is finding partners to cross-promote with and setting up the cross-promo itself. It takes some back-and-forth and can be tedious.

I get new cross-promoters to fill out a Tally form with all their details. Then I have a doc I share with them with my newsletter details. This saves a lot of time on both sides.

A few other ways you can promote your newsletter:

#4: How I’ve Monetized My Newsletter in 2022

There are 3 ways I’ve made money with my newsletter:

  1. Ads & Sponsorships
  2. Affiliate sales
  3. Consulting calls

In 2021, I made most of my income consulting.

In 2022: 90% of my income with ads & sponsors. Affiliate sales have hit barely exceeded $500 for the year. Consulting has been even less.

How I Managed Ads & My Ad Revenue

From January through August, I pitched, sold, organized and reported on all my newsletter ads.

This took up a lot of my “newsletter” time.

To find advertisers, I used the following:

  • ad marketplaces
  • Twitter DMs (to warm contacts)
  • other newsletters (see who’s advertising in newsletters)

NEWSLETTER MARKETPLACES ($2,424)

I used Swapstack & Paved as primary ad marketplaces. Here’s what I earned via each:

  • Swapstack: $1,119
    Here, you can pitch brands (outbound) and brands can approach you (inbound). My pitches rarely got a response. All but one paid ad via Swapstack was the brand approaching me (inbound).
  • Paved: $1,305
    Here, you cannot pitch brands. You have to optimize your newsletter profile & hope they find you. Paved also takes a 30% cut of your ad revenue — at least they did when  I was on their platform.
  • TOTAL: $2,424

TWITTER ($1,833)

Once advertisers saw ads in my newsletter, I got more ad requests. Most of which came through Twitter.

I can attribute $1,270 ad sales through INBOUND Twitter DMs.

But I also leveraged Twitter for outbound ad sales. My “outbound” Twitter sales strategy:

  1. Follow solopreneurs and brands who could benefit from advertising to my readers.
  2. Engage with their tweets to build familiarity.
  3. Then I’d send a DM introducing my newsletter ad opportunity.
I can attribute $563 ad sales through OUTBOUND Twitter DMs.

CONVERTKIT SPONSOR NETWORK — CKSN ($7,139)
I got accepted into the CKSN this summer. It’s been a game-changer and I’m incredibly grateful. I wrote about the experience in more detail:

an article feature image for "pros & cons of joining the convertKit Sponsor network"

CKSN has exclusive rights to my newsletter ad spots. They take a 20% ad revenue rate, I get the rest. This officially began September 1st, 2022.

So two big things changed as of September:

  1. Fewer ads, more revenue. I went from three ad spots per newsletter (Premium $125, Standard $89, Footer $39; $253 total) to just one premium, top-of-newsletter ad spot that nets me ~$360.
  2. Less work, more revenue. I no longer had to pitch, sell, manage, and report on ads — CKSN does all that for me for a 20% fee.

All premium ads have been filled since September 1st — and I anticipate this will continue through the end of the year.

Anticipating my ads continue to fill through the end of 2022 puts the CKSN revenue at:

  • $5,324 earned revenue (July-today)
  • $1,815 unearned revenue (Nov 29-Dec 31)
  • TOTAL: $7,139

This has by far been the most profitable step I’ve taken for my newsletter in 2022. If you get the chance, apply to the CKSN. Other sponsor networks are popping up. Seek them out and apply. Nothing to lose.

OTHER REVENUE ($742)

Ads & sponsorships bring in the bulk of the revenue. Still, I earned over $700 with a few affiliate sales, selling a few copies of an older digital product, and a few consulting sessions.

  • Affiliates: $532
  • Products: $61
  • Consulting: $149

Being Real About All of This

This was a heavy commitment for 2022. Just ask my wife. I’ve spent a fair amount of my evenings and weekends working on the newsletter. I sneak in some time on my “lunch” breaks, too.

I don’t want anyone to think I spent one hour weekly on the newsletter and magically earned $10K. Time tracking isn’t my strong suit, so I can’t quantify the time spent.

But while I’ve formatted my newsletter to a 60-minute creation session, articles like this take hours.

Promoting and building an audience on Twitter take hours.

Managing ad marketplaces, pitching brands, and managing advertisers take hours.

You can build a profitable 5-figure newsletter with a full-time job — but not without commitment and sacrifice.

I hope this has been helpful and insightful for you. As usual, I share this information to inform and guide your newsletter journey, getting you closer to your newsletter dreams.

More Stuff from Me.

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