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Choosing the right monetization method for your newsletter

Ankit Ghosh
Ankit Ghosh

Every newsletter owner spends a ton of time every week to curate content for their audience, though most of us do this out of passion but at some point, a newsletter evolves into a much bigger thing and starts consuming too much of our valuable time. It's that when it becomes very necessary to generate some revenue from the newsletter to cover the operational costs and reward the one's efforts.

Though it sounds lucrative but deciding which option to choose is a bit tough. It's difficult because every newsletter is different so does their audience. Let's see what are the options and when should they be used to get optimum results.

Monetization Options

1. Paid Content/Memberships

Paid content or memberships is one of the most common options out there and they actually work very well but there are few key pointers to it. First and foremost it's not the best option if your newsletter is just about aggregating content. Second, this works best in developed economies.

So it's advised to only use this when you are pushing some original content that holds value for the reader and your major subscriber base resides in developed economies.

Pros:

  1. Recurring revenue
  2. Reliable solution

Cons:

  1. Hard to implement

Who's using it?

Lenny's Newsletter, Rosie.Land

2. Sponsorships

Sponsorships are yet another popular monetization method used by newsletter owners. It basically works like an advertisement where the brand pays you to get some real-estate on your newsletter. It works best when you are good at pitching and have a good amount of engaging subscriber base. Additionally, you can charge a premium if your newsletter has a niche audience.

You can use this in your free list but ensure that adding affiliate links might hurt your placement and open rates.

Pros:

  1. Reliable solution
  2. No burden on subscriber

Cons:

  1. Large to medium engaging list required

Who's using it?

IndieLetters, Newsletter Crew

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3. Donations

Donations have recently become popular due to the efforts of micro-donations platforms like Buy Me A Coffee, Patreon and others. It's basically like your readers reward you with some small token for sharing the value for free.

Though it's a nice idea but it's a very unreliable way to monetize your newsletter. Most of the times the donations sum up to a trivial amount.

Pros:

  1. Easy to implement

Cons:

  1. Unreliable solution
  2. High transaction fees on micro-donations

Who's using it?

BrainPint, Landing Letter

4. Upsells

Now what's upselling? Let's understand with an example. Assume you have a email list of 5K growth hackers and you send them newsletters every week. So as they keep interacting, they start considering you an influencer in the space. Now you can monetize this trust by selling them a course or e-book you made. This basically what we call upselling.

Upselling generates the most revenue but it has one big issue. It consumes too much time and effort to create an e-book or course plus upselling won't work in short intervals.

Pros:

  1. Most rewarding option
  2. Same product can be sold multiple times

Cons:

  1. Time consuming

Who's using it?

BrainPint

5. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing has always been popular among bloggers but it's quickly becoming popular in the newsletter industry as-well due to it being highly rewarding but it does come with its own set of drawbacks. One of the most prominent is that email clients like Gmail don't really like affiliate links and that might affect deliverability.

Pros:

  1. High rewards
  2. Works on any size of lists

Cons:

  1. Affects delivery and open rates

Who's using it?

IndieLetters

What should you use?

Now the big question is what's right for your audience. Though I can't really answer that as I don't know about your newsletter but I can help you get to the answer with few simple points.

Let's start.

  1. Use paid memberships when you are pushing unique valuable content and have most users from developed economies. Though keep in mind there can be exceptions.
  2. Use sponsorships when you have a niched down newsletter with good amount of interaction.
  3. Donations are meant to used when you know you can't paywall your content as most of your subscribers won't pay for it.
  4. You can use upsells when you have built an authority in the niche you write about and can dedicate time in content creation.
  5. Affiliate marketing can be done in any type of list but I'll suggest you to not overdo it as this might result in penalty from inboxes like Gmail.

You can also mix and match above options so you can use multiple options together to get the best possible results.

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Ankit Ghosh

Freelance content writer and organic marketing enthusiast.


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