7 profitable ways to monetize your newsletter
Part 3 of 3 on using newsletters to grow your audience and business.
In Part 1, we talked about why you should start a newsletter.
In Part 2, we explored how to plan and launch a newsletter.
In Part 3, we’ll look at how to monetize your newsletter.
If you’ve been doing everything right, you should have a highly-read newsletter with a growing target audience.
You can measure this by looking at your:
Subscriber growth rate — how many readers you add each month
Open rates and clickthrough rates — how many people open your emails and click on your links
If you’re seeing decent numbers, it’s time to consider monetizing your newsletter.
There are 7 ways to do this:
Let’s dive into each one below.
(If you haven’t already, subscribe to get weekly posts like this.)
#1 Sell physical products
If you have a physical product (or are planning to launch one), a newsletter helps you validate demand and launch to a warm audience.
Say you publish a fashion newsletter that explores the latest trends worldwide.
Launching your own line of clothes or fashion accessories will give you a ready-made audience to sell to.
Creators and retail businesses employ this tactic masterfully:
Authors (like James Clear) might entice you to buy their latest books
Woolworths or Tesco might send you daily grocery deals
H&M might send you weekly looks to shop
Each of these sellers leverages email to sell physical products.
But what if you don’t have a physical product?
#2 Sell digital products
Digital products are a high-leverage way of making a living online.
They are fantastic income earners because you create them once and sell them forever.
Say you launch a newsletter on social media marketing aimed at small business owners.
You can create templates and courses that help your readers get started on social more quickly.
This saves them money (your digital products are cheaper) and saves you time (no need for live consultations).
If you sell one template for $5 to 1,000 readers, that’s $5,000 earned for a product that took you a few hours to put together.
No need for inventory space, packaging, or shipping.
Just one upload that sends money to your bank account on autopilot.
You can do this with different types of creative services:
Illustrators can sell drawings and paintings
Photographers can sell Lightroom presets
Writers can sell writing templates
Producers can sell beat packs
Companies that sell software can also drive revenue through newsletters.
For example, if you developed a personal budgeting app, you could launch a newsletter to help people improve their relationship with money.
Each newsletter issue then links to your mobile app for download.
#3 Sell sponsored ads
With sponsored ads, you’re selling someone else’s products and services instead of yours.
As we’ve seen, brands want to access the audiences of relevant creators.
Say you launch a graphic design newsletter and grow it to 5,000 targeted readers.
You can sell sponsored ad slots to brands that sell:
Design conference tickets
This way, your readers learn about a new product or service, the brand gains new customers, and you make money.
You can also play around with different sponsored ad formats, such as:
Adding a “Sponsored by” blurb somewhere in the email
Mentioning the product somewhere as a shoutout
Doing a deep dive on the brand or product
The key to success here is relevance.
Your newsletter content has to be relevant or you won’t get signups.
Your audience has to be relevant to brands, else the ROI won’t justify paying you.
The sponsored offerings have to be relevant to your audience else they’ll unsubscribe.
Monetizing your newsletter through sponsored ads is infinitely scalable.
The larger the audience, the more you can charge.
P.S. Looking for a professional way to pitch your newsletter to brands?
Grab my customizable pitch deck template on Gumroad: 👇🏽
#4 Sell subscriptions
This means you can charge readers a monthly or annual fee to access your newsletter, and the platform handles all the admin for you.
With the newsletter subscription model, each additional subscriber lowers the cost of writing the next issue.
For example, if you charge $10/mo for a monthly newsletter to 10 paying subscribers, you make $100/mo.
But each issue costs you time to research, write, edit, publish, and promote.
Your time is probably worth more than that $100.
But as you add more subscribers, the math reverses.
At 100 paying subscribers, you’re netting $1,000/mo before platform and transaction fees.
You’re still writing the same monthly newsletter, but earning 10x more per issue.
Your goal with this model is to keep attracting new subscribers through stellar content.
Your free content has to be your best work, as this incentivizes people to pay for more.
#5 Sell services
Service businesses can use newsletters to scale up revenue.
A spa can launch a wellness newsletter and sell spa packages in-between meditation tips.
A speaker can publish a weekly newsletter on leadership and sell keynotes and training services.
A fitness trainer can share active lifestyle tips and sell personal training services.
The best part of this approach is your content informs your offerings — and vice versa.
As you serve clients, you get new content ideas for your newsletter.
And as you publish and promote that content, you gain new subscribers you can sell to.
#6 Sell event tickets
For event managers and venue owners, a newsletter can be invaluable.
One of my earliest jobs involved managing the newsletter of a local bar and theater.
I crafted and published the weekly event lineup through Mailchimp.
It was one of the top ways the venue sold tickets (the other being social media).
Any business that sells event tickets should grow its email list ASAP.
If you organize leadership training workshops, launch a newsletter aimed at corporate leaders and sell workshop tickets.
If you run a wedding expo, share tips to help industry colleagues like florists and photographers grow their business — and sell them expo tickets.
After the event, you can thank your attendees for coming and pre-sell the next event.
#7 Raise funds
Perhaps the most impactful way to monetize a newsletter is to raise funds for a cause.
For example, as a non-profit organization, you can publish monthly updates and raise funds from your donors.
If you write about startups, you can attract investors to form a venture capital fund.
(Packy McCormick of Not Boring did just that. Notice the sponsored ad at the beginning of the issue.)
Schools can publish newsletters to update parents and raise funds for security upgrades, new recreational centers, and student trips.
And universities can publish monthly newsletters to raise funds from alumni.
In each of these cases, your readers are personally invested in your organization’s success:
Parents want their kids’ schools to improve
Investors want more startups to succeed
Donors want your cause to succeed
Appeal to shared interests and raise money for good.
Start thinking of newsletter monetization
No matter which newsletter monetization path you choose, the basic mechanism doesn’t change:
Great content + Targeted audience + Relevant product = 💰💰💰
The better the content, the more people you attract
The larger the audience, the more brands you attract
The more relevant the offering, the more money you make
The more money you make, the more you can invest in better writing, offerings, and promotion.
It’s a virtuous cycle.
Whenever you’re ready, here are four ways I can help you: