The 3 Best Ways To Start Monetizing Your Newsletter

Most newsletter operators start monetizing their newsletters too late. Here's how to start strong.

Welcome to Newsletter Operator!

In today’s email:

  • The BEST ways to start monetizing your newsletter

  • The top links and resources this week

  • 7 newsletters for sale

  • And more…

Deep Dive

The 3 Best Ways To Start Monetizing Your Newsletter

Most newsletter operators start monetizing their newsletters too late.

And when they start, they have no clue how to make money.

This post will fix that.

Here’s how…

First, you need to know there are 3 ways to monetize your newsletter:

  1. Affiliate marketing - Promote someone else's product and paid when someone buys or signs up for that product

  2. Sponsorships - Promote someone else's product and get paid for that promotion

  3. Owned Products - Promote and sell your content, product, or service

All of these can be great.

But each has pros and cons!

Plus, each varies in the amount of work, financial reward, and risk involved.

Here’s what I mean:

1) Affiliate marketing

  • Low Work - Join an affiliate network or program. Then promote affiliate offers in your newsletter. Only a small audience is needed.

  • Low Reward - Only get paid when people buy or sign up. The company you're promoting gets most of the value.

  • High Risk - Affiliate terms and payouts can change. Even if you get recurring commissions, the affiliate program could shut down.

2) Sponsorships

  • Medium Work - You need to sell advertisers and get advertisers' results. A mid or large audience is required to sell sponsorships (usually 5k-10k+ subscribers).

  • Medium Reward - Get paid based on your audience size and engagement. You make money regardless if the ad works for the advertiser or not. If it works well, they’re more likely to buy ads again.

  • Medium Risk - If advertising budgets are cut, your sales will go down. If you write something advertisers don’t like they may not work with you. There are things outside of your control that can cause you to lose sponsorships.

3) Owned products

  • High Work - You need to develop, build, and sell a product. Plus keep customers happy and handle customer support.

  • High Reward - You keep all of the revenue. You also build alignment with your readers and a deeper relationship with readers who buy. Plus, people who buy one product from you are more likely to buy again and become promoters of your content.

  • Low Risk - The risk is on your execution. Not anyone else. No need to worry about the opinion of advertisers. Or changes to affiliate terms.

All of these monetization options can work if done well.

But…

  • When should you start?

  • Which should you start with?

  • How do you make them work?

When To Start Monetizing

You should start monetizing your newsletter from day 1.

If you want to build a newsletter business, you need revenue.

Don’t try and build an audience then find ways to make money later.

Sure, that works for many creators. But finding ways to profit immediately will save you time and money later.

And yes…

At first, the revenue may not be much.

But even $50-$100 payouts can offset your cost and give you the motivation to keep building!

Here’s how to get started:

Affiliate Marketing The Easiest Way To Start

The best affiliate offers for newsletters are other newsletters.

If someone joined your newsletter they’re probably interested in other newsletters too.

  • beehiiv Boosts pays ~$2-$3 per subscriber when you recommend other newsletters after people subscribe to yours. You can also get paid to recommend newsletters within your newsletter.

  • SparkLoop’s partner network has similar capabilities and is a great option for people who don’t use beehiiv

  • SwapStack has a ton of affiliate offers for other newsletters and other types of products too

With beehiiv boosts or SparkLoop, you can earn ~$1-$2 per subscriber.

So if you add 100 subscribers in a month you could make $100-$200.

The money starts to add up as you grow faster and add thousands of subscribers per month.

Now should affiliate marketing be the only way you monetize?

No!

It’s just the best way to get started and build momentum.

After your newsletter gains some traction (1k-5k subscribers) you need to think about your long-term monetization strategy.

This will likely be sponsorships and/or owned products.

Successfully selling sponsorships and owned products will take your newsletter from a “side hustle” to a “real” business”

Here’s what I mean…

As I mentioned earlier, affiliate marketing is easy to start but high risk.

  • Affiliate terms and payouts can change.

  • Affiliate programs can even shut down and stop paying you.

Tons of affiliate marketers have lost 90%+ of their revenue overnight.

When To Build and Sell Your Own Product

Start thinking about this as soon as your newsletter gains traction (1k-5k subscribers).

If you have a product from day 1, that’s even better.

You don’t need to wait until you have 10k+ subscribers to sell something.

The earlier the better.

What Type of Product Is Best?

There’s no perfect answer here.

The best answer is to build what you want to buy.

…Or the type of product you’re already buying!

Look at your credit card statements and expenses.

As it relates to your newsletter topic:

  • What are you spending money on?

  • What products have you bought and had an amazing experience with?

Here are some ideas that work for other newsletters:

The 10 Best Product Types For Newsletters

Here are the most common:

  • Job boards

  • Mastermind

  • Membership

  • Paid newsletter

  • Paid community

  • Investment fund

  • Live and online events

  • Coaching and/or consulting

  • Agency and/or productized service

  • Courses (On-demand or Cohort based)

Most of these products sell information, knowledge, access, and community.

If people love your free content, they will pay for:

  • More exclusive / beneficial / in-depth / video content

  • Access to a community of like-minded people

  • You and your team doing a service for them

  • Access and advice from you

When To Start Selling Sponsorships

Most advertisers won't sponsor newsletters until they have 5,000-10,000+ engaged subscribers.

Once you reach that threshold you should:

  • Create a simple media kit (20+ examples here)

  • Develop your inbound and outbound sales strategy.

Selling sponsorships is simple but not easy.

The 2 primary ways are:

  • Inbound sales — Sell sponsorships to your existing audience. Let people know about sponsorships in your newsletter, on your website, and on socials.

  • Outbound sales — Reach out to advertisers who are sponsoring other newsletters.

Read my deep dive on how to build a media kit and sell newsletter ads here.

The Best Links

📈 Growth

How to grow with Twitter ads in 2023 (link)

How to grow faster with recommendation networks (link)

What you need to know about the Twitter/X algorithm changes (link)

💰 Monetization

How to build a 6-figure local newsletter business (link)

How to sell 80%-100% of your ad inventory in 1-day per week (link)

📰 Newsletter News

Matthew Berry's Fantasy Life newsletter raises $2M (link)

beehiiv releases Email Boosts, a way to grow or monetize your newsletter by promoting others within your email content (link)

BEFORE YOU GO

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