About to hit 1,000 subscribers ... should I monetize?

Hi all, my name is Mark, and I'm a reporter for Business Insider who covers the media industry and the creator economy. Here is my Twitter (https://twitter.com/MarkStenberg3).

I also write a personal newsletter about media innovation, called Medialyte (https://medialyte.substack.com/), and I'm about to hit 1,000 subscribers after almost a year of writing a weekly post.

I would love to turn on my paywall and finally start making money, but I know when I do that, I'll have to start producing more content or I'll basically stop growing.

(Because I only write once weekly, if I paywall that, I would have to write another post for my free readers, or just make it such that the "free experience" is just an article every other week.)

I've considered advertising, but it seems like a lot of work to keep up with on a consistent basis. Has anyone else dealt with this issue?

What did you do? Or what do you think I should do?

  1. 3

    Congrats, that's impressive.

    Have you considered keeping the newsletter free, using it to grow an audience and promote other information products such as ebooks or courses?

    1. 2

      I would theoretically be open to that, if the ebooks or courses were aligned with my voice and subject matter! And if doing so didn't require too much effort

      1. 1

        Yes, such a strategy works if the products are aligned with the newsletter's core topics.

        A possible starting point for an ebook is a selection of content already published to the newsletter, which would make for a draft. That's what I did with my ebook, whose first draft was a collection of posts I had published to Google+.

  2. 2

    Impressive Mark !

    You could set up a premium version with contents such as interviews and deeper analysis for a specific subject, but the good way to see if it'a good time is actually to test. How many current readers are ready to pay for your newsletter (a simple email with this question to test your assumption would be a ideal)

    You should see the way Mario Gabriel monetize their newsletter The Generalist (https://www.readthegeneralist.com). He's building in public on Twitter. Hope it helps :)

  3. 1

    Congrats on the growth Mark! Have you asked your audience what exactly they like about your newsletter and what they consider to be the most valuable things they get from it?

    I've seen some newsletters that are 100% behind a paywall do a once a month do a release to free subscribes or free content.

  4. 1

    I've noticed plenty of newsletters using both revenue streams (sponsorships in the free emails + premium content for paid members). Could you try sponsorships on your free newsletter while you continue to think about your subscription strategy? Some people get long-term sponsors which might work well if you're strapped for time.

    Do you have any other growth channels? (e.g. youtube channel, podcast, big social audience)? If not & your free newsletter needs to continue to drive growth, then maybe a useful way to frame it is: What else can you offer that a percentage of that free audience would pay for? Again, if you're not wanting to create more every week, maybe look into courses, ebooks, community access etc.

    I think the value proposition has to be really clear though. Most people who subscribe for content expect... well, content!

  5. 1

    Hey Mark, interesting newsletter! I’d keep it free because you want to have some free top of the funnel content to attract new readers.

    Do you have a clear idea of who your subscribers are?

  6. 1

    I have experience with ads. You can just set up it and forget about it for a long time

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