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Starting and monetising your newsletter – why companies should care

Did you know that… Vox’s newsletter readers spend an average of 110 seconds on the site, compared to just 40 seconds for Facebook visitors. Social media audiences tend to skim content absent-mindedly. To create truly engaged audiences, you need to get their full attention in an environment you control—email.

Newsletters?

Newsletters are having a moment, as businesses/marketers experiment with more creative approaches to monetise and engage their audiences. You can start monetising your newsletter by selling ad space to sponsors, offering affiliate products, and offering premium paid subscription options.

It takes a little bit of time to build a newsletter. But if you create quality content and promote it through your platforms, you’ll build an audience big enough to monetise.

In order to monetise you need to have growth strategies in place. Focus on how to attract 100 subscribers at £2-5 a month, then 1000 at the same price and so on.

In terms of what you ‘sell’ to make your newsletter profitable, you’ll need to decide on a niche. The niche you are in will determine what products you market. Most online products have an affiliate program (that allows you to take a cut on every sale you create). It is always best to market your own products, however, if you don’t have any of your own products then other people’s products will do fine. Signing up for affiliate networks such as Market Leverage and Motive Interactive have hundreds of products and offers that you can market. The better and more relevant your products are, the more money you will make.


You’ll need to be very strategic with the tools you utilise once you’ve found your niche. Every newsletter requires the five tools listed below to ensure that you’re running a business that can develop and maintain growth, as well as tools that make financial sense.

Here are the 5 key tools in a newsletter stack:

  1. The website: for posting articles to the website and building landing pages.
  2. Registration software: for adding new subscribers to your list.
  3. Payment processor: For billing subscribers or advertisers.
  4. Email Service Provider (ESP): for designing and sending your newsletter.
  5. Analytics: for monitoring your newsletter, marketing, and website performance.

Take a look at this screenshot, which depicts the world’s most popular newsletters and the technologies they employ:

It is critical to have a relatively simple technical stack in the early stages. See Petition newsletter for a simple technical stack; they use the Substack platform for all of their processes. This is due to the fact that substack is completely free to use (the only thing you will ever be charged on is for paid subscribers – pay 10 percent of every transaction). Substack is a fantastic tool that we utilise at The Creative Newsletter.

However, if you look at the rest of the newsletters, you might wonder why no one is utilising Substack.

This is due to the fact that Substack is still very new and has a number of drawbacks. The two most significant issues we’ve seen are 1-the inability to customise any design (you only have one template) and 2-the lack of clarity with analytics (you’ll only get the bare minimum data).

Despite the fact that these two concerns are fairly substantial in terms of growth prospects. Substack is evolving and adding new features virtually every day/week. In 2022, we believe Substack will be as powerful (or even more powerful) as Mailchimp or SailThru. For anyone who is starting out, Substack is definitely to go-to platform.

A key thing you should always remember… that rather than trying to pick the perfect software to suit you forever, you should expect to outgrow your tools a couple of times. This happens for various reasons.

  • You’ll experiences limited functionality (e.g. Substack/Mailchimp) that might not offer features to help you grow.
  • You’ll probably experience pricing inefficiencies. As your list grows, you may find you’re spending more money with similar software providers that aren’t built to serve larger newsletters. A lot of newsletters with increasing number of paying members often switch from Substack to Ghost, as they start losing a big chunk (10%) of every transaction to Substack – it all adds up.

Changing your newsletter stack becomes a little less intimidating if you know that it’s a normal part of the business.

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