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18 Comments

Making Money From A Newsletter

Share with me your newsletter, your audience, and your subscriber count.
I'll suggest a couple of methods to make a little cash.

Honestly there two main buckets:

  1. Businesses Pay for Access to Your Audience
  2. Your Audience Pays for Access to your Content

Businesses Pay

  1. Advertisements: You include their already written ad.
  2. Sponsored Content: You write about their business.
  3. Classifieds: Small snippets, still ads.
  4. Affiliate: You write your own content, include tracked links for a percent of sales.

Your Audience Pays

  1. Paid Subscribers: Monthly memberships
  2. Info Products: PDFs, reports, studies, longer writing, books. Use Gumroad
  3. Community Access: You charge for access to a chat group, FB group or custom forum.
  4. Consulting: Your audience pays for your time. 1-on-1 call, or a service you provide.
  5. Donations: Using BuyMeACoffee or PayPal.me to elicit donations.

Disclaimer: I run HypeLetter which makes it easier for newsletter writers to sell advertisements of almost any kind, classifieds, banner ads, branded content.

This doesn't mean that everyone should sell ads. I haven't made 100% of my revenue from my newsletter from ads. Some donations, some info products, some subscribers. Yes mostly ads.

  1. 2

    Hey Andrew! I'd be curious to hear your thoughts.

    Newsletter: Blogging for Devs
    Audience: Developers who want to get better at blogging and SEO (mostly tech blogging but also other areas, too) and grow their audience.
    Subscriber count: 1.4K

    I'm considering offering a membership incl. community and "members only" content. But my newsletter isn't my main focus, so I'm a worried about how time-consuming that would be. Ads also seem time-consuming.

    Right now I just run it for fun (it's only a month old).

    1. 1

      Monica, This looks great. I'll suggest a few things that should not be time consuming, or they pair well with what you may be doing already.

      Instant Downloads:
      Since you're already writing, I'd suggest compiling 10 essays, and 10 interviews(perhaps?) into a download. Put it on gumroad for $19.

      You have a free email course. Cut it in half and sell the 2nd half for $20.

      The best part of doing the above instant downloads, is that you can let them sit if you don't want to do any promos. They don't cost you money to not sell.

      One more thing I'd suggest is to consider ads or affiliate links to software you already recommend.

      If you have a list of 50 tools, maybe even some do the same thing. Write head to head comparisons. Find if any have an affiliate link. Then clearly tell the readers there are affiliate links.

      If you do have 50 tools you'd recommend, reach out to them directly. Ask them if they'd like to advertise in your newsletter. You might be surprised at the result. And it shouldn't feel "weird" or "strange" because these are products you're already promoting, and you can honestly recommend.

      1. 1

        Cool ideas, Andrew! My email course is too short (7 days) to cut in half but i could definitely do a more intermediate "part two" that's paid, or something along those lines.

        I'm already monetizing with affiliate links and have made about $160 in the last month (half recurring annually, half recurring monthly). I only have like three tools I recommend but I am doing some videos to teach people how to use them :)

        I will definitely reach out about to the tools, that's a great idea.

        Thanks so much for this!

        1. 1

          crazy idea. could you charge for a 1 day version of the 7 day course? $10 to get all 7 emails in the next 7 hours. BuyMeACoffee has coffeelinks you might be able to use to do this.

  2. 1

    Something related I'd be keen to get your thoughts on. Let's say I create a technical course. How would you pitch sponsorship over affiliate links to companies whose tech I cover? Sponsorship is more attractive for me, but affiliate links are hard to argue with

    1. 2

      Personal experience: Affiliate links just didn't work for me. I tried. I made links to something I know my audience needed, paid for, wanted and got. Why did it fail? Because my audience wasn't the buyers. my audience was CEO's, VPs at companies that did buy what I pitched, but the person clicking my link wasn't the person using the credit card.

      IF you can make money from affiliate links, meaning that the person clicking is the last click attributed to the payment. If you want to do that, and your content aligns with purchase intent, and the audience wants to buy and the audience CAN buy, then do affiliate links. You get to control the messaging more. you can do it or not do it at your whim. I have a friend who makes 90k from affiliate links alone.

      If you have affiliate links that work, then keep making content around them. Email courses, free gumroad products, blog posts. If it works then do it 100x.

      But some audiences just can't buy. students, job seekers, entry level workers, etc. You don't want to exploit.

      And affiliate link clicks if you write it can bring higher sponsorship rates.

      Pitch that your affiliate links get more clicks than brand written content so charge higher for a branded content sponsorship slot where you write the ad.

      Split the difference. Charge half sponsorship rates and use affiliate links too or commission. This way you get some cash upfront and recurring cash later.

      Hope that helps.

  3. 1

    Newsletter: Switch Weekly (switchweekly.com) established in 2016.

    Audience: 9000+ gamers/Nintendo fans who are old enough to be cool with email 😎

    Currently have a Patreon (brings in around $70p/m)

    1. 2

      You don't want to do ads so I won't suggest doing that.

      Put up coffeelinks via buymeacoffee on your archives.

      Create a Switch Trends Report and sell it to the industry. Basically take every year's state of switch and look at the changes. Interview 50 people about the changes, trends they see and can prove. Put that together with your own data. charge $1,000 for the report.

  4. 1

    Thanks for this Andrew. I'd love any suggestions on mine, which is about 3 months old.

    Newsletter: Tiny Design Lessons
    Audience: IndieHackers, solo founders, side hustlers, no-code makers and content creators - those needing easily accessible design knowledge.
    Subscriber count: 300+
    Open rate: averaging 30-40%

    Monetisation hasn't been a big priority so far, but I'm now looking at ways to try more. Ways I've been attempting this:

    • The newsletter was borne out of an ebook I published last year, so I drop occasional offers and links to it in the newsletter.
    • I include suggested design resources in the newsletter, some of which are affiliate links.
    1. 1

      Mark, you already use Gumroad so my suggestion would be to keep using gumroad and create even more products. I saw you have a bunch listed "Extras for Carrd" and so you've probably already thought of some of these.

      • Email Course: Create a $7 email course on gumroad. 5 days, 7 emails (an intro and an outro plus 5 days of emails. Could be 7 loom videos uploaded on gumroad and use their automated emails to send each video and some text walkthrough each day. Make it really focused on one thing. at the end pitch the book.

      • Carrd Audit: Use this SEO Audit writeup as a guide. Create a 15 minute review product on gumroad. you can call it an audit or a review. I did Newsletter Reviews and Glen of SEO Audit prefers the word "Audit". Up to you to name it. Saw that you already have a 15 minute AMA call on your gumroad. I'd say just make this one async. Look, it's a personal choice but I find I can scale up Async videos a lot better than if I fill up my calendly. I can do 3 in a row of 30 minute videos better than I can do 2 half hour calls. Again a personal choice. Perhaps, ​Add the audit to the tiny design lessons bundle for $99.

      • Daily Tools: You have , what looks like, an amazing list of design tools. But I sorta cringe at these things because they end up being a very un-useful time wasted kind of list. There's so many directories and stacks and lists of resources. What you could do to cut through the noise is create a "premium newsletter" that sends every day ( yes every single day) a single tool and a video of you using that tool in a project.

      I made a quick loom video for you Mark, thought it would be more helpful than more and more text.

      1. 1

        Andrew, this is amazing insight and ideas thank you, and thanks for taking the time. Some of it's been on my mind anyway, but hearing you talk it through has given me more confidence. Some of these I need to take away and think about as you've given so much, but others I'm already implementing - I've just pivoted the Carrd 15min call into an async Audit as a start.

  5. 1

    Hey Andrew! Love your content and thanks for this post. Curious to know in what other ways I can monetize my newsletter.

    Newsletter: The Curious Bunch

    Sub count: 660+

    Audience: IndieHackers, micro-SaaS founders, Side Hustlers, Newsletter Creators, Growth Hackers/Marketers, Productivity enthusiasts

    Few ways I'm already monetizing my newsletter:

    • Sponsorships (booked till July end). Would love to know how to attract more Sponsors.

    • Classifieds (planning to drop this as I don't see many interested in this Ad type. But would like to know your thoughts on this)

    • Buy Me A Coffee ($195 earnings since Jan, which I think is HUGE).

    1. 2
      1. Do more with BuyMeACoffee. Put your newsletter archives behind a coffeelink. Create infoproducts that you put behind a $3 or $15 coffeelink. 100 Creative Tools Ranked (rank'em yourself, create your own criteria)

      2. I can't even find where you book your classifieds. Try to switch these up for "shoutouts" no link, text only ads. Make'em super cheap and easy to book. Make it easier on yourself to implement (copy/paste once) no stats needed to send, no reports. urls can exist but not linked like "bettersheets . co" makes it easier for readers too.

      3. I don't think you can "attract" more sponsors. I'd set a goal to email directly 100 people a week about sponsorships. that's not 100 companies, but 100 people. Because you might email a marketing manager, and a social media manager, and a newsletter manager, and a CEO, and a founder and a PR person at a single company. You won't know who actually buys the ads, if any.

      4. I'd add a Branded Content sponsorship type. charge $100 or $200. email 50 companies you want to use their product (maybe they are too expensive to buy yourself, ahrefs comes to mind) Ask if they would sponsor your newsletter, you'll use their product for 14 days and write a real analysis of it for your audience. Pros and Cons, how it compares to your past uses of other products in the same industry. 1 of these a month could change your life, yeah?

      1. 1

        I love these ideas! Thank you for taking time and suggesting them.

        I'm already doing point no. 3 but not at the scale you suggested. But it makes sense. I will work on this.

        I love 4th point! I actually kinda do this already but only on twitter threads. Will see how it works with Newsletter.

        Thank you once again. I will keep you posted under this thread if something works 🙌

  6. 1

    Thanks, Andrew for the post. What's your take on pricing ads, classifieds, sponsorships? When you price your ads do you keep in mind the size of the audience or open rates or both?

    1. 1

      Pricing can be complicated or you can make it super simple.

      To give you a benchmark: programmatic ads roughly can be tops $5 CPM.

      If you're selling ads yourself, you'll want to increase that rate A LOT. like 10x higher.

      First simple
      Just price it whatever you want. if it sells out, raise your prices. If you don't sell any, reach out more and lower your prices.

      Complicated
      One: You can go bottom up with CPMs.
      Do one ad, for $50 CPM. figure out your opens, (subs times open rate).

      Raise your price to $80 CPM if you have 1 ad per newsletter and if your readers are businesses or enterprise level. My readers of Influence Weekly are executives. The are the decision makers. If your audience is designers and developers, you don't have to price ads to high when the products and services are going to be a few dollars a month.

      Lower your price per ad to $30 CPM. if you have more than 1 ad per newsletter or if you have less business type readers.

      Two: You can do top down
      Examples first: Morning Brew and The Hustle average around $4 revenue per subscriber per year.

      It's ARPS (like ARPU but subscribers not users). Facebook years ago was doing $7 ARPU. so you can see that ads can make you cash!

      I was doing $3 a subscriber per year across a few monetization methods.

      If you have 5000 subscribers you could make $10,000 in a year, conservatively. (that's $2 ARPS)

      Divide $10,000 by 48 weekly editions. Because you might want to take a couple weeks off and a couple might fall on holidays that underperform.
      That's $208.

      You could set one banner ad at $120 a week, and 3 classifieds each at $50. Mark down 20% for packages. Will roughly et you $200 a week, even if you don't sell out.

      Raise or lower accordingly.

      1. 1

        Thank you so much, Andrew. Sorry. I didn't mean to take up so much of your time. :) I thought you'll have a two-sentence reply.

        1. 1

          I live this. What else would you like to know?

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