I've run a weekly newsletter for 2.5 years.
I've run a daily newsletter for 4 months.
I've monetized newsletters in many ways.
I've talked to over 100 other newsletter writers, creators, curators.
@MRRVentures asked me what I thought about opportunities. Here's what I think:
We don't need another ESP. (Email Service Provider)
or do we?
We don't need another directory!
We need 100 more.
WTF do we need?
Find out Below
There's an incredible amount of passion and energy in the newsletter space right now. At this exact moment.
New tools come out all the time. Sparkloop, RabbitRabbit
Email platforms are accelerating growth: Substack
More of the past revived and updated: GoodBits by @MRRVentures
Old Tools are adding Newsletters: Linkedin, Ghost, Medium, all have added "newsletters" to their platforms. But are they really newsletters or just email updates? Not a topic to debate here.
Marie Dolle mapped out the Email industry as it is now. There's 84 icons on the list.
Note: Almost 300 companies are on the CreatorScape 2020
If you like geek out on the original Lumascapes:
But there's way more opportunities. The opportunities lie within what's NOT on the map. Like I said above, Lumascapes now lists thousands of companies.
If you want to create something new, as an indie hacker. You can absolutely add your product to one of the mapped out sectors. Yes You can do that.
You can also reinvent how newsletters operate.
You can also take an existing thing ppl want to do and make it 10x easier.
You can also create new sectors.
What's missing from the newsletter map? You decide.
Already I can tell you here's some companies missing:
Here are 7 Product Ideas I would pay for right now, if they existed.
And below, I tell you how much I'd pay as a user of these tools.
If you run a newsletter and have more ideas, comment below. IndieHackers are watching!
Vote your favorite in the comments too.
Let's see if anyone can build them.
Can you extract my existing archives from Mailchimp or Substack? Can you present them in a beautiful way?
Can you make them searchable by keyword or topic?
Can you get them into a blog format on my domain so I can get that sweet SEO juice?
Lots of nuance here because when I send an email I usually have other info inside it that I don't necessarily want "archived". Not in a bad way. Just thought I'd send it and 99% of ppl would read it within a week. 2 months later some info doesn't make sense. How can I edit that out of the archives?
I send curated news. That means my newsletter has sections and articles. Can Each of those sections be archived individually as well as in an edition? Can my readers search through the archives, like a library?
I do this now with a google sheet and algolia. http://influence.directory/library/
I'd gladly pay for a way to have this done for me.
I send a weekly newsletter, and each week I want to send more. Why? Because I'd rather send a few smaller emails each week than 1 big roundup. It's a faster read for my audience and maybe this could be a premium version?
But I have to cross the "mental" gap of having this weekly curated process.
IF I had a chrome extension, (like revue, or pocket, or like the bookmarklet I built) that instead of just saving the links, it sends them. And queues them. I could "queue" 7 emails in a day, and know that my newsletter is rocking and rolling without my interference for a whole week.
Yes this can be done with automation from a sheet. Nocode.Coffee does this really well with no-code automation. Not easy for a normal mortal to build. Where ever people are using lots of automation steps, there's where hackers can come in and make a fortune!
The key here is queuing. I hate that I literally can't just set a time every day to send an email and then fill a queue with them. Substack really angers me about this. Their scheduling buttons are just bonkers for someone who is sending a newsletter every day.
Queuing also helps large publications with many authors. Not sure why substack doesn't figure this out sooner rather than later. If you have multiple authors you'll all need to know who sends what when.
I want to send an email as easy as it is to send a tweet.
NPS (Net Promoter Score) measures customer experience. A simple thumbs up or thumbs down link at the bottom of each newsletter would be nice. I can do that myself. I just don' tknow where to send the "traffic" but that doesn't matter.
What I really want is NPS for each section or item of my newsletter. I want to know if someone is clicking on think because they saw it before, or because it's new to them. I want to know if my summary that they read was helpful and insightful to them. And they actually could skip reading BECAUSE of my summary. That would be nice to know.
I can do that all on my own, with links (that go.. somewhere) and in Mailchimp each week just go grab the number of clicks. But, as of now, I have to do it all manually. The links go where I tell them to go.. .but where? and I have to do this task every week. OMG.
I'd also like to "categorize" articles and newsletters to get a bigger picture view of what really drives NPS. What do my readers actually read?
One silly way to see if ppl are reading: Add two links. 1 in the middle and 1 at the end. "Made it this far? Click to let us know!" and then you'd have some basic "reading time" stats. Very good to know if you're selling ads.
This one is a little more out there. And there are plenty of options. But not single solution.
The #1 problem for newsletters is growth. How do I grow?
What do I do to grow?
I could tell you 100 ways to grow. I've done it before.
But which one actually works for me?
Which one do I do every day, or every week?
How many backlinks do I have to my main landing page?
How many people link to any of my archives?
How do I get more?
I tried to build a lab for growth (for instagrammers) last year and failed at getting customers. so I know this idea has use, but also highest chance of failure for anyone.
I think the key insight here is how you pull in information and keep it updated and keep it actionable.
There seems to be an onslaught of directories. This is not a bad thing in any way. It's happening to podcasts too.
"Podcast Search Is Broken!" they scream. And then launch a directory.
"Newsletter Search is broken!" they scream. and then launch a directory.
Create a Directory Maker.
We can all have our own LetterList
Current Solutions might be too complicated:
You can monetize these directories with featured posts, connecting sponsors to newsletters, or adsense.
We need more.
We need more directories.
Directories for everyone, for everything.
You get my point?
There's no niche too small.
Email courses are an amazing way to grow your core newsletter. But in Mailchimp they are hard to do. You may need to make another audience. You may even need to use a totally different platform.
HighBrow tried to just do email courses.
But what if you want to use an email course to advertise your newsletter?
How do you do that?
I set mine up as a whole other audience in Mailchimp. And each email with a video, ends with "subscribe to my other newsletter". That's the best I could do. Because people are signing up for the course, not the newsletter.
I'd like to be able to offer different velocities as well. All with the same material, to the same audience. And they can switch between them as they wish.
If I wanted to do that, I'd have to create 3 different email courses in mailchimp automation and make links to each one, in each one. wow, lots of work.
There's a ton of ways you can "advertise" your newsletter. But the channels all lead to the landing page.
One of the most powerful ways to grow is giving away a digital product.
You can create useful products for free, for potential subscribers.
The way I do that is create a landing page for my newsletter and highlight a download they get in the first email. But then I have to add that to my welcome email. Right now my welcome email has 2 downloads. Because I offered two different lead magnets.
I'd actually like to have the user get the lead magnet right away and the other lead magnets later. But I only have 1 welcome email.
And I don't need to host free downloads on gumroad and use zapier to get the emails to my newsletter list. That's not a real solution. That's a hack.
Wouldn't it be cool to have a landing page for 10 different lead magnets?
Can an IndieHacker help a brotha out?
Can you build a manager for my lead magnets?
Can I build a landing page on carrd and know that the user gets the download, gets on my list and we're all happy?
Can all the lead magnets be interconnected? If someone signs up for one lead magnet, I'm sure they'll like others. I'd like to be able to automatically send them a series of emails with the other lead magnets they missed.
Oh wait, but what about the subscribers I already have? They might like the lead magnet too. Can they get it on the landing page? How would that work?
So many questions. You, hackers, have the answers.
I'll go into a few ideas of how much I'd pay for each of these products, if they existed. And potential alternative revenue streams.
Better Archives: $10/month or $50 per export
I'd pay if this is helping me gain SEO. OR if I can monetize this. Ideally I'd put this behind a paywall as a newsletter creator. Can I? maybe with Memberspace. If I'm charging $5 a month for members (on substack) this library becomes a huge benefit to me. I only need 3 monthly members to offset the cost of the better archives. I'd also consider charging per single export. maybe someone wants to create their own database somewhere and doesn't want to copy/paste 50 editions. Saving someone a day of work for $50 is nice. If someone buys your service for $10 a month, and leaves after 1 day, that sucks for you. Maybe $50 a year from a customer is great LTV. or they choose to do $50 a quarter t update their library.
NPS For Emails: $9/month
This is tough to put a price on since it's an optimization. And I think this could be technically hard to do. NPS is an interesting concept I don't see much talked about. Some companies are huge around this: nielsen and ratings in TV are big parts of the industry.
For alternative revenue streams: I'd talk to @Dinkydani and @Jivings about Subscription Score.
Or talk to me and Anthony at HypeLetter. Maybe there's a good tie-in without having users pay.
Tiny Sends Queued: Free Chrome Extension or Put a Paywall.
If you make this a chrome extension that queues up emails in my substack, or in mailchimp, not sure how much I could pay. If it were an entirely new ESP, not sure how many people would convert. If I could send emails from this in addition to my normal one. So I don't actually have to move. okay maybe easier to adopt. I'd be happy to give you a percent like Substack if I can make it a premium option for my existing newsletter.
Growth Dashboard: $19/month.
If it actually works, you can charge even more. 20 to 50 bucks a month for growth is easy to spend if a newsletter has other ways to make money. This could also be free: Why? Because you should be able to use this to sell services to newsletter operators.
Directory Maker: $49/month
Sheet2Site Pricing will lead you the right way. He's got plenty of happy customers. Customers will probably only build 1 directory. And should be able to monetize it themselves with featured list and ads for $50 a month or more. 1 featured list or ad a month covers the cost of your service. Show a traffic chart next to the buy a featured spot. You'll have advertisers rolling in.
Email Courses: $14.99/month and up from there.
Mirror Mailchimp's pricing and I think you'll succeed. Yes if I do email courses and run a newsletter on mailchimp I'd pay double. But I'd also have a huge amount of power and growth levers!
Lead Magnet Manager: $39/month
I'd pay around the same I'm paying for sparkloop or referral tools. I'd also judge it along the same lines. Am I growing more subscribers than I'm paying dollars? Meaning It's worth it for me to spend about $1 per subscriber on growth. Is this tool saving me 2-5 hours a week, and also allowing me to do something I couldn't? Is my newsletter growing more than 50 subs a month from these lead magnets alone? I'd much rather get subscribers this way than through ads alone.
Newsletters are now used by so many types of people and businesses. There is bound to be someone to say "market's not big enough".
I've heard the same refrain over 50 times from people I talked to about my newest startup: HypeLetter
But in reality, the market is much much bigger than you can imagine.
Yes, I'm an IndieHacker too.
Talk is cheap.
Time is not.
I'm not giving you these ideas because I can't build them.
It's because I don't have time.
I implore you to make the market bigger.
If the market is bigger, we all win.
How do we do that?
We build it.
We make it so.
We make each part.
You don't have to trust me. Trust yourself, talk to newsletter writers. We're a chatty bunch.
Join the Newsletter Crew community on IndieHackers. 267 of us (as of July 23rd, 2020)
If you are building something and want to talk to 10 newsletter writers, drop a pitch in the group and give us a calendly link. Tag me. I'd be happy to share it in other groups:
Facebook: Newsletter Creators, Newsletter Nerds
Telegram: Newsletter Geeks
Maybe next year you'll have your logo on Marie's map