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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.
Doing all that (and more) has led me here:
My newsletter will earn +$10,000 in advertising revenue and affiliate sales in 2022.
I want to introduce the 4 main buckets I consider when creating a newsletter:
This article will cover what I do in each.
You need a place to capture & save all of your newsletter info. Here’s what I use:
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.
I find my curated content 4 ways:
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.
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:
It’s a repeatable format I put together in about 60 minutes:
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?
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.
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:
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 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.
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)
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.
I used 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: (currently paused)
This worked extremely well. I've gained 450 subscribers. With time not on my side, I'm willing to pay for new subscribers.
Cross-promos work well in adjacent creator/maker industries where my content is relevant.
The challenge with cross-promotions *used to be* finding partners to cross-promote with—until my Twitter friend Paul Metcalfe recently launched LetterGrowth.com: a database with over 275 newsletters looking for cross-promoters—and it's FREE.
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.
There are 3 ways I’ve made money with my newsletter:
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.
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:
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:
I can attribute $563 ad sales through OUTBOUND Twitter DMs.
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:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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It might be tempting to rapidly grow your email list with paid subscriber acquisition. But make sure you consider these 3 things first.
My Growth Currency⚡ newsletter just added ~1000 subscribers in March. Here's how I—and many others are growing their newsletters faster than ever.