I consider this the sleeper hit of the decade, the idea that is unheard of, brushed off or ignored because it is so simple. Simple, easy, and underestimated. I am speaking here of newsletters. That old-world idea made new again through the miracle of email has opened a whole new world for marketers and regular people alike. Mommy bloggers, SEO experts, industry insiders, everyone and anyone has the capability of building a six or seven figure email list. Don’t believe me? Check the insane article on GAPS about multiple million-dollar businesses that have been built on or exclusively by a newsletter.
There is a ridiculously low barrier to entry and yet real competition is few and far between. An under-served market exists ready for a seriously good newsletter in just about every niche. Don’t believe me? How many various places have you submitted your email? How often do they regularly email you? How do they monetize it? Do you ENJOY receiving an email from them?
Pretty much, if you can identify an opportunity or weakness in any niche in any of those questions, you have discovered the possibility for a winning newsletter. Combine this with hard work and consistent discipline and output, you WILL succeed. Why? Because so few keep it up. And that is why you will succeed. Faith in yourself is the best-placed faith of all.
Bonus Offer (Free)
Pro’s & Con’s
Theoretically no limit in terms of subscribers, monetization or content for new newsletters
You must consistently create or distribute new content, you can’t slack
The “sell” of getting a new subscriber is easy (low commitment, no cost to them etc.)
It can take time to build and scale
Relatively easy to market and has the potential to “go viral” through referrals/sharing
Might never “take off” and earn a good income
Can be expanded to a lot of other businesses or methods of monetisation
There is the risk of “over-monetising” and losing your audience through greed
Stats show email marketing still has a huge ROI
Can’t guarantee this ROI will continue
Typically, low competition, because there is “infinite” space in people’s inbox
You do still need to stand out, to get attention, write good headlines, etc.
Growing space, expect to see increasing levels of sophistication here (maybe even M&A)
The basic premise here is to have a sign-up form and to create regular emails (newsletters). The content and format are entirely up to you and depend entirely on what the market wants or needs. Plumbers could create a newsletter for other plumbers. Your local community almost definitely does not have any (good) newsletters. Local hobby groups (or global) can certainly be done better if they exist at all.
Theoretically, there is no upper limit to the number of subscribers, and thus income, that can be earned from a newsletter. In fact, the industry is seeing increasing sophistication recently. With some companies listing on public stock markets, being bought out for millions of dollars or expanding into other massive businesses.
For an idea, as old as an email newsletter, that’s pretty cool! And the best part is, it’s only getting started. That is why I consider this idea to be one of the biggest potential opportunities of the coming decade.
Social media is overrun by spam or low-quality content. Google is full of low-quality results, or low-commitment items. How often do you return to the same website? Very rarely unless it’s one of the big ones (i.e. Reddit, 4chan, certain news websites or favoured blogs). Do you know what you do check EVERY DAY? Your email.
I’ll be the first to admit that I give out my email to anyone and everyone that offers something “free” that looks half decent. Half of which I only add to my “collection” (or very, very long and ever-increasing to-do list). And what they get out of it is the ability to send me email after email for years to come. Until I unsubscribe. Let’s be honest though, I rarely do. Rather, I simply ignore 90% of what enters my inbox.
But I’ve noticed a trend in recent years. There are certain senders who I eagerly open each email from. Because they have never let me down. They produce or distribute incredible content that is relevant and engaging to me, and I am grateful to them for it. Most of which is 100% free. So, when it is time to give back, they are the first I consider. Such as when they release a new eBook or recommend an affiliate product. Because they have built up trust and provided so much value that I am HAPPY to give back. It’s the rule of reciprocity. And I reckon (though can’t prove) that in the end, they make more money than the churn and burn marketers that spam my inbox daily.
How I Would Do It
Tough to say, there are multiple methods you can take. Typically, I would focus on where my speciality is. What niche I have a deep interest in. Where is my experience and knowledge? Where do I have a lot of contacts or sources of information? What format will my email be? Loosely, you can divide the two types of email newsletters (as a business) into either free or paid.
Paid newsletters have been around for a long time, Agora is a prime example. Publishing financial newsletters used to rake in big money. People pay a lot for good research on financial markets, upcoming movements, critiques and analysis that can give them an edge. That is essentially how the Equity Research (ER) field was created. Now, a big (but arguably declining) field on Wall Street.
Paid newsletters typically have a deep niche specialisation, with knowledge and expertise that is WELL WORTH paying for. This can be in the form of an industry insider, such as AI and automation for manufacturers. Or the latest information for restauranteurs.
Whatever you are producing, ensure it is worth paying for and never slip in quality. The most important part here is likely to have recommendations and referrals from industry bodies or organisations in your niche.
This can be anything and everything. The methods of monetization are typically by affiliate products, an upsell offer, or as part of a funnel into your business.
The importance here is to create content that people are happy to open and read. It is possible to produce appropriate content daily (such as The Hustle) or to only publish less often, weekly or even monthly. Find a good middle ground that fits your readers. You’ll know when you are publishing too often or not often enough by tracking engagement and analytics. You might not even monetize it at first and simply try to get the referral cycle started (Morning Brew is doing this well).
I would start with a free newsletter and a blog
Publish to your blog regularly, but this is not the main goal, it’s only for the potential SEO rankings and as part of the funnel to the newsletter. The email sign up is the goal.
At first, I would publish a newsletter weekly, include a blurb and link to each of your top articles that week, as well as several other useful items from other websites (content distribution) to flesh it out and “give value”
Focus on one niche and only on that (i.e. business, finance, PPC, local marketing, etc.)
Once you have a small amount of material on your website (say 10 articles) it’s time to start promoting.
You will be promoting your social media, of course, building steadily each day
g. 5 Tweets
2 Facebook posts
5 Instagram posts,
depends on your niche, where your market hangs out
Paying for Influencer Marketing could be well-worth it too!
Aside from this, we will either boost winning social media or pay for ads directly back to our website. There are several ways to do this.
You could create a great sign up bonus, such as an eBook.
Or run a competition that requires referrals (such as gleam) and emails sign up then run ads to the competition. Use a mid-dollar prize (e.g. $500 or so) We will use this.
Or hope and pray for SEO rankings or other “organic traffic”
Post the link to the competition as a Facebook post on your page (e.g. dark post) and boost that to your audience, be sure to have your targeting right based on your audience
Run the competition for a month and put $10 or so per day into your ads
You should be getting a cost per lead (CPL) of less than $3.00. If yours is much higher than that, then there is a problem with:
Your landing pages
Not enough trust
So, for a cost of $800 you should have approximately 266 subscribers. Though ideally, they will be referring people for “additional entries.” This should, very realistically, end up with 500 subscribers or so.
We are not looking to make our money back at first, though you can certainly try. Really, we want to reward people for subscribing by giving them great content for a while.
We will launch a new competition in much the same way again next month, this time, our subscribers will be able to refer more people. And that is when the network effect starts taking action.
After a few months (and maybe a few competitions) we will begin monetizing.
How you monetize is up to you, but you should know what you want to do before you start.
Methods of monetization for free newsletters
Affiliate offers, it’s fair to have one affiliate offer per email. Just make sure it is useful, e.g. do a “book review” and use an affiliate link to Amazon.
Funnel subscribers into your “upsell” (not too often…)
This can take many forms, such as a course or e-book
Or a consulting business
A service business
Use your imagination
Or, if you are consistently getting good engagement and analytics, you must be producing good content. So, there is the potential to take it to a paid newsletter.
If you are earning $100 a day from your newsletter (say $5 per month subscription = 600 subscribers) then you can go full-time.
I would create a daily newsletter with TOP QUALITY content.
For an added bonus, offer a free subscription for life if someone can refer 100 people to you (serious network effect benefit and incentive!)
$100 A Day Math
If we assume that the average subscriber is worth $2 per month, then you have created about $1,000 per month in recurring revenue. Repeat the process for 2 more months and you have reached your goal of $100 a day.
If you go the paid newsletter route, as above you could charge $5 per month to get 600 subscribers, this would equal $3,000 per month or $100 a day.
And if we’re really getting serious, the high-end newsletters can charge hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month. But with that, comes other hurdles, such as employees and paying for consistent marketing, joint ventures, and top quality content.
Scalability – Can It Become A Million Dollar Business?
YES! Out of any of the ideas in our 101 Ways list, this may be the one with the highest dollar potential for the minimal effort. The easiest way? Once you know that you can get $2 for every $1 invested then you just plough more and more money into your business!
That is why it is so important to track the value per subscriber and how much it costs to acquire them.
If the lifetime value (LTV) of a subscriber is higher than the cost to acquire (CTA) a customer, then you now have a SCALABLE business!
And ALL profits should be spent on advertising. That’s a bet we’d take any day of the week.