Growth June 29, 2020

At what point would it be viable to monetize a newsletter?

Nic @TheWonderingZall

So with the current growth that I’m getting on my newsletter it’s going to get to a stage where I would need to start thinking about monetizing.

Obviously right now at only 230 subscribers, my audience is not nearly big enough to even consider that, but at what size would it start be a good idea?

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    • Always be monetizing.
    • Want your audience to pay? Drop a buymeacoffee link.
    • ant sponsors? Try affiliate links or get some fellow indiehackers to sponsor for $20.

    Disclaimer: I run where we make it simpler to sponsor newsletters.

    The overall answer is always "it depends".
    It depends on you, your content, and what your audience is willing to do.

    I wrote more here about "Always be Monetizing"

    And you gotta think about the two big buckets:

    • Businesses Pay for Access to Your Audience
    • Your Audience Pays for Access to your Content

    9 Ways to Monetize a Newsletter here

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    I had to answer that question 2 years ago. We ended up starting to monetize at about 2k subscribers with 45-50% open rate, so about 1k readers, after 6-8 weeks of sending the newsletter every weekday. The newsletter in question is targeted at marketers.

    These are the questions we asked ourselves and the answers that could help you too:

    How hard are our readers to reach in other channels?

    It's not so easy to reach them in their inbox otherwise so we have done a good job there. Even if companies have our readers on their lists, those lists are not engaged so they don't actually get eyes on their message.

    What's the "goal" for pricing to make this a small business with the potential to grow?

    This is something different for everyone but I would suggest you don't try to monetize at a low price early one that is far from what you find reasonable because it's usually pretty difficult to increase pricing.

    How much is the competition charging?

    We tailored our pricing around this the most.

    Do we need the money now or is doing sales distracting from the newsletter quality?

    This is what made us wait until 2k subscribers. Anything earlier would feel like we don't have enough readers to get significant feedback when and how we monetize.

    As a side note, affiliate programs tend to underpay for what newsletters can provide for them. We decided to not include affiliate programs. We wanted an even playing field for sponsors and we know people don't sign up from links only.

    We allow tracking, of course, but even so, we've heard many times that people signed up to a product we promoted by googling it after reading about it in our newsletter and then mentioning they heard about the product from us somewhere in the signup process.

    So with affiliate programs, you tend to get underpaid for what you provide if you have an engaged audience.

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    Good question - I'm in a similar situation. I like @AndrewKamphey suggestion to 'always be monetizing'. That's something that's also often said also by people like Pieter Levels.

    With my newsletter I've signed up to a couple of services like Upstart and Pear which you may want to check out. But I must say I haven't had any responses on submitting my newsletter there. So it may be that for these kinds of services you need a bigger audience?

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    Hey, If you do decide to monetize, I just started an affiliate program for my side project The affiliate signup page here is . We pay 30% commission on every paying user every month. Obviously you need to decide if this is a good fit for your newsletter but definitely check it out.

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    I'm an affiliate marketer, so that's what I know. 250 is more than enough to include a "Sponsored by" affiliate link and you can get conversions if it's relevant to your audience.

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      Great thought! Thanks