I like to see the responses I get when I tweet things like this:

But Ara challenged me.

Wasn’t expecting that tbh. After some thought, I replied to Ara:

Great question.

From a consumption standpoint: to be informed, educated, entertained or to purchase.

From a creation standpoint: to inform, educate, entertain, or sell.


My response was sincere. But too naïve. And it inspired this article.

I’m not going to bury the lede here.

The point of your newsletter is to make money.

Exceptions be damned: the point of every newsletter is to make money.

Newsletters are marketing. And the ultimate goal of any marketing strategy is to drive revenue.

Your initial response might be, “The point of my newsletter is merely to get people onto my email list and off a rented (social) platform — not to sell them anything.”

That’s great! And that’s called content marketing. You’re creating content (your newsletter) to grow an audience to convert into customers. So your newsletter is an indirect path to monetization.

But your newsletter can make money both indirectly AND directly.

And it’s so much easier to consider HOW your newsletter is going to help you monetize as a creator from the beginning, instead of trying to shoehorn a monetization strategy into it a year down the road.

Making Money Directly with Your Newsletter

There are 3 main ways to make money directly with your newsletter.

  1. Paid Newsletters
  2. Product/DTC Campaigns
  3. Ads & Sponsorships

Let’s dig into each and figure out which one would suit you best.


Charging money access your newsletter is the most direct way to monetize it.

The newsletter is the product.

Readers pay for it or they don’t — and don’t get full access.

It’s a straight-forward strategy. I’ve written a lot more about it more here.

Who should use a Paid Newsletter strategy?

Those who are most successful here are people who:

  • have inside knowledge, experience & expertise on a subject
  • dive deep into important stories others aren’t covering
  • are teaching skills in high demand
  • write highly entertaining, informative, or unique content

Have people paid for your knowledge & expertise in the past? They still will.


The OG email monetization strategy, used by DTC companies (think eCommerce) and/or anyone selling a product or service right from their newsletter.

This can be the company’s product or service — or someone else’s (ie. affiliate sales). But the goal of this newsletter is to sell something.

The email newsletter is the direct conduit from pitch to sale. Problem is people don’t want to be pitched incessantly. If every email is a product pitch, subscribers are gonna churn, baby, churn.

So you’ll need to sprinkle in valuable content to break up the mass pleads to “buy my stuff!”

Who should use a DTC Campaign strategy?

This is an “add-on” to any regularly recurring newsletter and won’t work well as a consistent strategy.

It’s used for:

  • Consumer products (fashion, beauty, clothing, food, furniture, etc)
  • Digital products (courses, SaaS tools & software, eBooks, etc)
  • Services (coaching, teaching, consulting, etc)

Really… any product, service, product-ized service (or service-ized product?) can use this strategy.

But THE KEY is to create content around these promotions that your customers can benefit from.

For example.

If your product is health coaching services, you’re not going to publish a newsletter about your health coaching service.


You’re going to publish a newsletter that leads people down the path of seeking out your services. You’ll write about health plans, nutrition tips, workout plans, healthy habits, consequences of unhealthy living.

Then you’ll let people know you can help them at the end of your newsletter. Or maybe you’ll only mention it strategically when you launch a cohort of group coaching a few times per year.


This is the model I’m most familiar with. I’ve written a lot about newsletter ads and how I’ve monetized to regularly earn $500–1,000 per month.

And so just like with a Paid Newsletter model, your Sponsored Newsletter becomes “the product”: publish the newsletter — get paid.

Thinking about how your newsletter can leverage future sponsorships and ad deals will help you determine your niche, the type of newsletter you publish, and how often you should publish it.

Who should use an Ads & Sponsorships strategy?

First, who this strategy IS NOT for:

  • Don’t like publishing a regular, consistent newsletter? Don’t go with this strategy.
  • Don’t like dealing with advertisers and selling ad spots? Don’t go with this strategy.
  • Don’t have over 1000 subscribers? You guessed it — don’t go with this strategy.

[That said — I sold my first ad with only 650 subscribers.]

Some of the most profitable newsletters following this model are the biggest in the world — and they publish daily. They are full-fledged media businesses like:

  • The Daily Skimm
  • The Morning Briefing (by NY Times)
  • Morning Brew
  • The Hustle
  • 1440
  • The Milk Road

There’s a reason the biggest & most profitable newsletters in the world are daily newsletters delivering news & current events: they’re the digital version of the oldest media — newspapers!

No, your newsletter doesn’t have to be daily.

But…keep in mind there are only 2 ways to make more money from ads & sponsorships:

  1. Raising ad rates. This works if you’ve got the demand and don’t want to increase the supply (ie. you don’t want to publish more often)
  2. Increasing ad inventory. This works if you’ve got the demand and are willing to increase the supply (ie. publish more often)

If this monetization strategy is your end goal, it’s important to keep this in mind from the start.

What about Indirect Monetization?

We’ve talked about the ways you can directly monetize your newsletter.

But how can you do it indirectly?

Use your newsletter as a top-of-funnel or middle-of-funnel content strategy.

Yes, this lovely infographic has omitted Newsletters altogether 😂 (image via Goodfirms.co)

This is where many disregard the power of a newsletter for earning income. They use it as a casual content play. And don’t consider it as a key strategy to get someone from casual observer to “true fan”.

Once in your list, you can drive readers to your website with your products, services, and other resources that demonstrate value, create trust and increase brand affinity.

Too many creators & businesses only publish a newsletter because they see others doing it. They don’t take it seriously.

Which means there’s more opportunity for you ;)

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