If you want to make money from your email newsletter, I have good news — you have plenty of options.
But with each comes a set of questions:
- “Will ads upset my subscribers?”
- “Will readers actually pay for my newsletter?”
- “How much should I charge?”
Or the most common question, “how do I start?”
In this article, we cover five ways you can start earning money from your newsletter. Let’s dive in!
What is an email newsletter?
Fans and interested people sign up for newsletters about topics that they are interested in. Tech, news, sport, design, and lifestyle are popular categories. Newsletters educate, inform, or entertain their readers.
How to make money money from your newsletter
Below you will find 5 of the most profitable ways of monetizing your newsletter.
You don’t have to pick just one. Diversifying your income streams will boost your revenue and protect you from relying on a single source.
Option 1: Sell sponsorships
Sponsorships are many newsletters’ primary source of income. Newsletters with massive subscriber numbers (think in the millions) all sell sponsorships for tens of thousands of dollars. And no matter the size of your email list, you can too.
Email newsletter sponsorships come various formats.
Make money from your newsletter with native sponsorship articles that look like part of the regular content
Native sponsorships were popularized by newsletters like The Morning Brew and The Hustle. Designed to read and look like they are a part of your regular newsletter, they perform particularly well.
- Advertisers avoid ad blindness and get plenty of clicks
- Publishers don’t sacrifice their newsletter quality
- Subscribers continue to get an excellent reading experience
If you (or your copywriters) write the ad, it’s easy to keep it in the same tone as your usual content.
If the advertiser writes the ad, you save some time, and the advertiser has full creative control.
Some newsletters do a bit of both; the advertiser provides the ad and you tweak it to your newsletter style.
Native snippets or classifieds that look like part of the regular content
Snippets are one of the most cost-effective ways for a big advertiser to test a newsletter’s performance. They also allow a small advertiser to reach an audience they usually wouldn’t afford.
These mini-ads or classifieds appear near the end of the newsletter. They get a high click-through rate thanks to their quickly digestible nature.
Write in a short, snappy, and clickable style. In this case, clickbait is a good idea!
You can either do a mix of sponsored content and standard content or just sponsored content. The Interesting Times, for example, runs their snippets as a ‘classifieds’ section where all content is sponsored.
A partnership with native email ads and a logo ‘takeover’
A partnership can be anything you want it to be. But this is what the big brands like to hear most, “your logo will be front and center, your content above the fold, we’ll put your logo in the footer, and throw in a few social media shares for good measure.”
Bigger advertisers love brand awareness that comes from a takeover-style partnership.
Dedicated emails for a single sponsor
A dedicated email is sent on behalf of an advertiser with solely their advertorial content. It is sent to your entire subscriber base or a segment of your list.
To make money from your newsletter, you have to walk the thin line between being profitable and losing subscribers. Dedicated emails are one of the most potent ways to boost your revenue. But if your readers find them annoying or irrelevant, it spells bad news.
That won’t happen as long as you remember two things:
- Timing: Only send dedicated emails once or twice a month
- Relevancy: Make sure dedicated emails advertise something relevant to your subscribers.
So why put all this effort into dedicated emails? On average, you can charge 3x as much compared to regular native sponsorships.
Best practices for native email sponsorships
- Advertisers generally want performance. Native sponsorships need to be at the top (or above the fold)
- Banner images usually don’t perform. Avoid them.
- Pricing is a science. Don’t just look at your number of subscribers. Look at performance too.
- ALWAYS report the campaign results. If you don’t, advertisers won’t want to run with you again.
Option 2: Run programmatic ads
With programmatic ads, an ad placement is inserted into your newsletter via a bit of lightweight code. Advertisers can then submit ads to the network and appear on hundreds of newsletters based on their unique targeting data.
Programmatic ads on the web have a bad reputation for looking spammy, over promotional, or with content, no one wants or needs.
If you want to use programmatic ads to make money from your newsletter, you need to do something different.
- Use a service that provides native ad designs.
- Make sure that the ad placement blend with your newsletter.
- If the fonts, colors, formats, and look match, then you’re already winning.
Once the code is copy-pasted into your newsletter, it’s monetization on autopilot.
Most publishers run programmatic ads when they don’t have a native sponsorship booked for an edition. It’s a great way to quickly bump up your revenue.
Best practices for programmatic ads
- Stay away from any ads that look like banners. The performance tends to be bad
- Only include a maximum of 3 ads per newsletter
- Make sure the service you use adheres to GDPR and CCPA law (something Paved take seriously)
Option 3: Write a premium edition
Creating a premium edition of your newsletter and selling it for a small monthly fee is how many writers start making money from their newsletter.
Most publishers will ask between $1 and $5 per month as a recurring subscription. If you have 100k subscribers and just 5k of those sign up, you could be making between $5k and $25k a month.
While those numbers sound attractive at first, you have to remember that you need to find five thousand people willing to cough up the cash.
In reality, your growth will most likely be slow. Check out this writer’s 1-year journey with paid subscribers.
Most newsletters do both a paid edition that provides more detailed information and a free lite edition that give a taste of the real stuff.
Best practices for premium editions:
- It’s quick and easy to use a service like Substack.
- You will most likely need to send double the number of emails (a free and a paid version), so be prepared for the extra work.
- Always focus on giving your paid subscribers value to keep your monthly revenue stable.
Option 4: Ask for donations
Content creators have been operating on donations since it started. If enough regular folk appreciate what you’re doing and attribute enough value to your newsletter, they’ll likely send some donations your way.
To make money with donations, you have to do two things:
- Make it easy
- Make it obvious
1. Make donating it easy
You need to use a service that turns donating into a one-click affair.
There’s nothing that kills your chances faster than a lengthy sign-up and verification process.
Instead, you want a one-click system that accepts PayPal, Stripe, Facebook donations, or card payments.
Make it obvious that you accept donations
Don’t be afraid to ask. Hiding a tiny ‘donate’ link at the bottom of an email is going to get you nowhere.
Find the Best Ways to Monetize Your Newsletter
Most publishers use at least one of these methods. Some even experiment with other revenue streams such as physical products, software, and consulting. The bottom line, you have to start somewhere.
So start experimenting, posting in forums, talking to subscribers, listing in marketplaces, and finding advertisers! Check out Paved’s publisher tools to get a headstart.