If you love reading newsletter subscriptions like The Daily Skimm and are curious about how you can start a newsletter business from home, keep reading!
Being able to make a living off your words is the dream for those who love to write. Unfortunately, it can be tough to make a living as a writer. However, that may be changing thanks to the rise of the paid newsletter.
A paid newsletter is a subscription-based service in which content is regularly delivered to a subscriber’s inbox. Typically, newsletters are sent out daily, weekly, biweekly, or monthly, and often contain a mix of original, curated, and sponsored content.
Paid newsletters not only provide a steady stream of recurring income, but they also give you creative license to write about whatever you want. They’re easy and inexpensive to start, and it’s a fantastic way to build your authority in the industry of your choice.
Whether a side project or a new small business, paid newsletters have a lot of potential for monetization.
This business model is beginner-friendly, even if you’re a new writer with no audience. Just follow these steps that show you how to start a newsletter business from scratch!
1. Determine the Goals of Your Newsletter
Before you start cranking out content, it’s a good idea to set some end goals for your newsletter.
Your target audience is the first thing to consider. Who are you trying to reach with your newsletter? Once you know your target audience, you can start thinking about what kind of content they would find valuable. For example, would they appreciate articles on current events? Tips on better living? Or maybe something light and fun, like puzzles or jokes?
Next, think about how often you want to send your newsletter. Weekly? Monthly? Quarterly? There’s no right or wrong answer here; it depends on your goals and audience.
If you’re unsure how often to schedule your emails, start with a monthly newsletter and see how it goes. You can always increase the frequency later based on the feedback from your subscribers, but starting with a daily newsletter right out of the gate might be too overwhelming.
Now that you’ve decided on the goals of your newsletter, it’s time to start planning out the content.
2. Specify How Your Newsletter will Benefit the Reader
What value will your newsletter hold for subscribers? Will it provide them with special offers and discounts? Share your take on news related to the topic of your newsletter? Include links to exclusive videos or other types of content?
For example, if you’re a writer specializing in finance, you could create a paid newsletter about investing and offer actionable advice to subscribers on how to grow their money.
If you’re a self-proclaimed “neat freak,” you could create a newsletter that includes tips on staying organized and curate a list of the best products to help readers declutter their homes.
Or, if you’re an expert on home crafts, your newsletter could share crafting tutorials and links to subscriber-only videos demonstrating different crafting techniques.
3. Figure Out Your Payment Structure
Deciding how much to charge for your paid newsletter can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! Here are a few things to consider that will help you determine the perfect price point for your newsletter business.
Free vs. Paid
First, consider whether you will want every email to be paid or if you will have free ones as well.
For example, free subscribers might get 1-2 emails a month, while those subscribed to the premium newsletter could get an additional 2-3 emails per month.
Free emails give the readers a taste of what they can expect from your newsletter. This will help you build trust with your audience and get them hooked on your newsletter content. It also allows you to include a call to action at the end of each free email, encouraging people to sign up for the paid version.
There are a few factors to consider when pricing your newsletter. First is the content. For example, if your newsletter is packed with valuable insights and exclusive content, you’ll be able to charge more than if it’s mostly curation and product roundups.
Second, consider your audience. Who are they, and what is their disposable income? If your target readers are busy professionals with a high income, you might be able to charge more than if they’re stay-at-home parents on a tight budget.
Finally, take a look at the competition. What are other paid newsletters in your niche charging? You don’t want to be too high or too low – find a happy medium that will allow you to make a profit while still providing value to your readers.
Ultimately, there’s no single “right” price for a paid newsletter, but the range typically falls between $5 and $10 per month.
4. Decide on Your Platform
There are dozens of platforms you can choose to host your paid newsletter, and deciding which is best for you can quickly get overwhelming. You’ll find that most email service providers have options for creating a paid newsletter, like ConvertKit, Sendinblue, or Buttondown. But while they are more robust email marketing tools, they are not the most budget-friendly.
Whatever email marketing platform you choose, ensure that the email you send will either go out from the platform’s domain or your own custom domain. Avoid a setup where the emails are being sent from your Gmail account, as it is more likely to end up in the recipients’ spam folder.
These are my top three recommendations for starting a paid newsletter on a budget.
Substack is one of the most popular platforms for paid newsletters. It’s free to use and has a minimalist, user-friendly interface, making it appealing for those who like to keep things simple. It also integrates with Stripe for convenient payouts.
The only downside is that Substack takes a 10% cut of every paid newsletter subscription. You also don’t have a custom domain for your emails unless you upgrade for $50.
Ghost is a lot like Substack but with a lot more features. It comes with a custom email address and more design options for your website. It also supports integrations with hundreds of apps and even has its own referral program.
The biggest drawback to Ghost is that there’s no free version; its pricing starts at $9 per month.
Patreon isn’t specifically a newsletter platform per se, but it can easily be used as one. Patreon is a great platform to use if you intend on including extra content beyond a newsletter. For example, on Patreon, subscribers could also receive access to exclusive polls, links, images, videos, or live streams. Each time you publish something on your Patreon, the content is sent to your patron email list.
Patreon is free to use and takes a percentage of each subscriber’s earnings based on your plan. (The standard plan is 8%.) It also connects with PayPal, and you can request a payout at any time.
The only drawback with Patreon is that you don’t get your own domain email address unless you integrate it with an email service provider that has one.
5. Do Some Basic Branding
You don’t need to spend much time or money on your newsletter design. However, it is essential to have some basic branding in place so that your newsletter looks professional and readers can easily identify your content. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Choose a Short but Unique Name for Your Newsletter
What you call your newsletter significantly affects how readers view the content and your brand. Try to keep it short and easy to recall.
If you’re stuck for ideas, brainstorm a list of adjectives and nouns related to the topic of your newsletter, and see if you can put two together that sound good. Alliterations, rhymes, and play-on-words work very well here.
For example, some names for a newsletter about coffee could be:
- Java Jottings
- The Brews News
- Coffee Klatch
Create a Simple Logo
Your logo doesn’t need to be anything fancy. A simple text logo with your newsletter’s name in a fun font will do the trick. You can use a free logo maker like Canva to create one quickly and easily.
Customize Your Platform
Lastly, use your platform’s native design tools to customize your newsletter further – almost all of them will have options for you to upload your logo and choose your color scheme.
6. Write Your First Few Newsletters Before You Launch
If you’ve never written a newsletter before, don’t worry! It’s not as difficult as it seems. Just remember to keep your audience in mind and write on topics that will be of interest to them. Here are a few pointers for creating killer newsletters that readers love.
Use a Template
There’s no need to start from scratch every time you sit down to write your newsletter. Instead, use email templates to save time and make the process more efficient.
For example, you could create a template that includes sections for featured articles, announcements, and tips of the week. This will help you organize your thoughts and ensure that your newsletter is well-rounded and informative every time.
Use a Catchy Subject Line
The subject line is your newsletter’s headline and arguably the most crucial part of your email because it is what will make people want to open it. Be creative! Use puns or jokes to get people’s attention and add an element of curiosity to entice the click.
For example, if you’re writing a newsletter with organization hacks, you could try a subject line like:
- “How to organize your life with coat hangers (seriously, you have to try this).”
- “Coat hangers: the secret to an organized life?”
- “This household item will organize your whole life for under $5.”
Emojis are a great way to add dynamics to your newsletter and make it more fun to read. They can also help you convey complex emotions with just a few characters. Don’t be afraid to use them throughout the body of your email and in your subject lines!
Include High-Quality Images When Relevant
Make your newsletters more visually appealing by adding high-quality images. People are more likely to read (and remember) your newsletter if it includes attractive visuals.
Personalize Your Content
Write as if you’re speaking directly to a friend. This will help create a connection with your readers and make your newsletters more relatable. Use a friendly, conversational tone and avoid using industry jargon that people might not be familiar with.
7. Launch and Promote Your Newsletter
As you’re getting ready to launch your paid newsletter, it’s important to start creating some buzz around it. This will help you build an audience and get people excited about your content. Even if you have no existing audience, it’s still possible to grow an audience relatively quickly.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
If you have a blog, you can write a post or two about your newsletter or utilize pop-ups that invite sign-ups.
You can still use this medium to promote your newsletter even if you don’t have a blog. For example, you could reach out to blogs in your niche and ask to write a guest post for them. Then, at the end of your blog post, you can include a call-to-action (or CTA) encouraging readers to sign up for your newsletter.
You could also consider starting an account on Medium, a free platform with hundreds of thousands of active readers. Publish a blog post on a topic related to your newsletter to attract attention from your ideal demographic. You can include links to your sign-up page both in your article and in your profile.
Make use of your social media platforms; Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, and LinkedIn are all great places to talk about your upcoming newsletter. Don’t forget to include a link to the sign-up page!
Add a link to your paid newsletter in your email signature. This is a great way to promote your content to everyone you come in contact with and can help you reach a wider audience.
Offer an Extra Incentive
Consider offering a special bonus to new subscribers for a limited time. (Patreon makes this easy to do!) For example, you could offer the reader a free copy of your ebook, a discount code on one of your products, or access to an exclusive video tutorial when they sign up for your paid newsletter.
8. Analyze and Refine Your Process
After you’ve sent your first few newsletter emails, take some time to analyze how it’s going. Are people engaging with your content? What are the average open rates and click-through rates? How many people are unsubscribing? These are all critical factors to consider when trying to make your newsletter more successful.
Another way to get feedback is to simply ask your subscribers. Send out a survey or poll and see what people are saying. This can give a clear idea of what’s working and what isn’t.
Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment. Try new things and see what receives the most engagement from your readers. There is no magic formula for success, so keep trying different things until you find what resonates with your readers.
Now you know how to start a paid newsletter business! However, before you get started, know that it’s a process. It takes time to build up a subscriber base, and you’ll have ups and downs along the way – just like with any other business.
Email subscribers are bound to come and go, but be patient and you can build a sustainable email business that pays three or four figures per month. Eventually, it may even turn into a full-time income!