Is your next big cashflow business idea hiding in your email list?

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Almost every website you visit these days asks you for your email address. This is because they want to send you a newsletter.

We all know that businesses send out newsletters, but could newsletters be your business?

What does a newsletter do for a business?

A newsletter, if done correctly, is a handy tool for your business. It allows you to communicate with your target market on a regular basis.

A well-timed newsletter delivered to their inbox reminds your market about you, and allows you to inform them of any new developments in the company.

Furthermore, newsletters can encourage interaction with your followers, for example, providing a link to something they can’t resist leading to more clicks on your website.

The tricky part is keeping people interested enough to prevent them from clicking that ‘unsubscribe’ button.

Most of us receive many emails every day, and do not want to be spammed. Therefore your content needs to be of a superior quality at all times.

Email newsletters have been shown to be a powerful marketing tool. According to a study 4.24% of visitors from email marketing will end up buying from you.

This is compared to only 2.49% visitors from search engines and 0.59% from social media.

Email is 40 times more effective at gaining customers for your business than Facebook and Twitter.

paid newsletters how to start

The business of newsletters

Paid newsletters are slightly different from newsletters as described above. Now newsletters become the business’s source of income.

These are the main differences between newsletters as we know them and paid newsletters:

Free newsletterPaid newsletter
These are sent to all your customers, and are a marketing tool.Marketing will be required in order to convince people you are offering content worthy of their money.
They are part of your business.This is the business.
You can include light-hearted content.Content needs to contribute to the subscriber’s life. They need to WANT to pay for this content.
The challenge is to maintain a high quality of work at all times, or else you will lose subscribers.
The free newsletter can be used to sell your products. You can inform the reader of new products available, specials you are running and you can provide links to your online store for easy shopping.The content of the paid newsletter is the product that is being sold.

A local example of the paid newsletter is Biznews Premium. You can go to Biznews for your business and financial news fix, but then you also have the option to sign up for Biznews Premium.

Your subscription gives you access to a number of perks, such as business and investment seminars and full transcripts of Biznews podcast interviews.

Need some help with your paid newsletter?

Perhaps you feel you have valuable content to share, but you would feel more secure with some online assistance.

Check out Substack. They provide a platform and tools for you to get going with your paid newsletter.

Publishing on Substack is free for creators. They then charge a 10% commission fee for paid subscriptions.

Things you should ask yourself before starting your paid newsletter

Sinem Günel of The Writing Cooperative identified five useful questions to ask yourself before going ahead with your newsletter.

  1. Which problem am I solving?

Your product needs to offer a solution to a problem your customer is having, whether they are aware of it or not.

For example, your newsletter might contain cake recipes that you developed yourself. The problem you are solving is the customer’s need for unique cake recipes.

  1. Do I have an existing loyal audience?

If you are starting out, it is advised that you create free content initially, in order to build your audience. You need to gain their trust, and show them what you can offer them.

The purpose of a paid newsletter is not to grow your audience, but to monetise your existing one.

  1. Is my existing audience willing to pay?

People are careful with their money, and will be understandably hesitant to start paying after getting content for free. 

Be prepared for the fact that only a small number of your existing audience will be prepared to open their wallets.

Günel further states that demographics can also play a role here. Who is your ideal reader? Where do they live and how much money do they make? Can they even afford your product?

Are you offering something so valuable that they will be willing to sacrifice something else in order to afford it?

  1. Can I offer something different, and not just more of the same?

It’s more likely that your readers will be willing to pay for something different, rather than more of what they already receive for free.

Ask yourself what you can offer that is completely different. 

Going back to the cake recipe example, you could perhaps look at something like sharing video tutorials for advanced decorating techniques with paid subscribers.

  1. Is it worth it?

As with any business, it’s vital to look ahead and plan for every detail. 

Take into consideration factors such as how often you plan to send out your newsletter – daily, weekly, monthly? This will play a role in deciding how much you can charge.

Also look at how much time you need to create your content. If it takes you a whole month to create a monthly newsletter, the income might not justify the amount of work.

10 facts about email that will surprise you

1. Over two billion emails are sent every day. That’s almost 2.7 million per second.

2. Emails have the best chance of being opened within one hour of arriving in the inbox. Once 24 hours have passed, there’s only a 1% chance that the mail will be opened.

3. Forty-three percent of people check their email while they are in the bathroom.

4. People check their email on average 15 times per day. It has been found that reducing this to three times a day can significantly lower your stress levels.

5. The most emails are being opened on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

6. The main reason why Americans unsubscribe from emails is because they feel they receive too many emails in general.

7. The first email was sent in 1971 by computer programmer Ray Tomlinson. It was sent between two machines that were standing right next to each other.

8. Most people prefer to communicate via email – a full 86%.

9. Queen Elizabeth sent her first email in 1976.

10. The first attachment was sent in 1992.

A few challenges to be aware of

Don’t be fooled into thinking that this is an easy way to make money. It’s not simply a matter of sending out emails and getting paid.

Make sure you are equipped to handle these obstacles:

  • You are going to have to sit down and create content. It depends on what you plan to do, but the work will most likely include writing.
    Are you a skilled writer? How long does it take you to put content together?
    Will you have to hire a proofreader? Even if you have exceptional language skills, it’s often hard to spot your own mistakes.
  • Marketing will be part of your job. Subscribers will not appear out of thin air.
  • Do you have the technical skills to set up all the platforms you will use, or will you have to hire someone to assist?
  • Keep in mind that there is nothing that stops subscribers from forwarding your emails to non-payers. Not the most pleasant thought.
  • You will have to deal with the fact that people will cancel their subscriptions, and perhaps quite regularly.
how to start a paid newsletter business

Starting a paid newsletter in 4 steps

Starting a paid subscription service is not much different from getting any other type of business off the ground. That means you need a business plan.

A plan that details every aspect of your business is the best tool to get you going. Follow these steps to get you out of the starting blocks:

Step 1: Identify your niche

The obvious first step is to choose the topic you will be writing about. This will be something inside your area of expertise, as well as something you are passionate about.

It is not advised that you choose something that you aren’t interested in. The lack of passion will increase your odds of failing.

Step 2: Identify your target market

You have to have a very clear understanding of who the person is that you are planning to serve.

This will help you to develop effective marketing techniques, as you will have insight into what your audience needs.

Step 3: Decide on your schedule

Will your newsletter be sent out daily, weekly, monthly, or on a different schedule? Do some careful research around this.

People will want to feel like they get value for their money, but too many emails easily makes a person feel like they are getting spammed.

This will largely depend on the nature of your content.

Step 4: Choose your pricing model

It’s a good idea to look at how much your competitors charge for their product, so that you can offer competitive pricing.

Also consider on which platforms you will be accepting payments and how you will keep track of your finances.

While these steps will send you into the right direction, a lot of work will go into every step. Key is to do research, as much as you can.

Content ideas for paid newsletters

Interviews or podcasts; case studies; learning material; personalised coaching; access to video streams; market reports; early access; member-only events; trend forecasts; time-sensitive stock market advice; fantasy sport tips; expert investment analyses.

Source: https://www.mailerlite.com/blog/paid-newsletters

Launching your paid newsletter

The time has come to create your masterpiece, and once again plenty of online help is available to you. 

Check online for newsletter templates, and create your newsletter using a few different ones. 

Now you can send samples to a group of people who fit your target audience, and get valuable feedback in terms of what is most likely to grab and hold someone’s attention. 

Offer a reward of some kind (a prize or a free subscription) to motivate your current followers to participate.

In summary

Email communication is not going anywhere anytime soon. It’s both been proven that most people prefer email communication, and that there is loads of potential to monetise this.

Do plenty of homework if this sounds like something that interests you. Going about it the right way could just open a whole new business door for you.

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Noleen Fourie
Noleen Fourie
Animal lover, avid reader, imaginative over-thinker with a weakness for fudge, Noleen resides in Johannesburg, SA. Noleen has vast experience in both the newspaper and magazine industries, and believes that knowledge is power.
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