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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:
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.
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.
There are 3 main ways to make money directly with your newsletter.
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.
Those who are most successful here are people who:
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!”
This is an “add-on” to any regularly recurring newsletter and won’t work well as a consistent strategy.
It’s used for:
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.
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.
First, who this strategy IS NOT for:
[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:
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:
If this monetization strategy is your end goal, it’s important to keep this in mind from the start.
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.
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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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.