Why You Should Start a Paid Newsletter

Yes, people will pay to read your newsletters.

A growing number of subject matter experts are bringing even more value to their subscribers with paid newsletters. You should be doing the same.

What Is a Paid Newsletter?

Paid newsletters are emails people will pay you a monthly or yearly fee to read. Paid newsletters can also be an inexpensive stepping stone between your free newsletter and your higher priced products.

Free newsletters are emails usually written to build a relationship between you and a niche audience. These emails typically follow a 3-step process to nurture that audience into a sale.

  1. An online visitor subscribes to your mailing list
  2. Your autoresponder sends a sequence of emails to build trust
  3. The last email in your sequence asks for the sale

This works well for lower-cost products or services, but asking someone to take the leap from a free newsletter to spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars can be a stretch too far, losing lots of sales along the way.

We could continue to build trust by regularly sending free emails over a long period. A subscriber who isn’t ready to buy after a 6 week email sequence could purchase a $1,000 course after two years of weekly messages. That's a lot of time and a lot of emails with potentially no income. Adding a paid newsletter funds growing your free mailing list, which brings more paid subscribers and profit.

Who Should Offer a Paid Newsletter?

When I talk to clients about offering a paid newsletter, the most common response is
"Who'd pay to read my emails?"
More people than you think.

On average, 5% to 10% of an engaged free email list will sign up for a paid newsletter. Your free newsletter is an amazing way to establish you as an expert in any niche. Your paid newsletter is an inexpensive way for your audience to go to the next level of their personal or professional development.

What you do, no matter what it is, and how you do it has an audience ready to hear about it. Within that audience is another niche willing to pay for more access to what you have to say.

Paid Newsletter Examples

Paid Newsletter Categories on Substack
Paid Newsletter Categories on Substack

While I prefer a do-it-yourself approach to building a paid newsletter mailing list, there are a few done for you services out there. The biggest is Substack. A check of Substack shows a wide range of topics offered as paid newsletters.

  • Culture
  • Politics
  • Technology
  • Climate
  • Business
  • Food and Drink
  • Sports
  • Faith
  • News
  • Literary
  • Art & Illustration
  • Health

Can't People Find This Content for Free on the Internet?

The next question I get from clients when I recommend they start a paid newsletter is,"Can't people find this information for free online?"
Yes, sort of. EVERYTHING is on the internet if you're willing to invest the time and energy to find it, stitch it together from unique sources, and apply to your own circumstances.

  • Imagine you're a forty-something man who wants to get and stay fit without hours in the gym?
  • What if you're a new mum dreading the return to a job you hate and dream of creating a career with more family time that pays more
  • You want to lead a more sustainable lifestyle in an urban environment without compromising your quality of life.

A search of google on any of these topics brings back hundreds of thousands of results. Some good, some not so good, and some of them out and out dangerous.

Too often when we look online for guidance to change our lifestyle or circumstances, we get a swathe of search engine optimised websites more concerned with getting clicks than getting it right. When I search for 'best control running shoes' am I really getting an honest product recommendation or an affiliate link that generates the most profit for the website owner?

I’m subscribed to a handful of paid newsletters because they all meet the following criteria.

  • I don’t have to go searching for answers
  • The content helps progress my personal or professional development
  • It comes from a trusted source
  • I like the writing style
  • No affiliate links

How Much Could You Earn From a Paid Newsletter?

Most paid newsletters charge between $5 to $10 per month. That may not seem like a lot, especially when starting out with only a handful of paying subscribers, but consistently building your free newsletter and using it to promote your paid version will grow a highly profitable source of revenue.

One example is Heather Cox Richardson's 'Letters from an American' an extremely popular newsletter analysing the politics of the day and making comparisons with events in history. The $5 per month paid version of the newsletter has over 10,000 subscribers generating $600,000 of revenue per year.

Business newsletters, especially investment orientated newsletters, typically charge more than other subject types. The Bitcoin Forecast by Willy Woo and similar business newsletters charge $50 or more per month. Willy Woo’s 5000+ paying subscribers generate the author investor over three million dollars a year.

A good starting point for a new paid newsletter is $5 per month with a discount for annual subscriptions.

Paid Newsletter Subscription Example on Substack.
Paid Newsletter Subscription Options

What Should You Offer in Your Paid Newsletter?

There are two types of content you can offer in a paid newsletter.

  • More content
  • Different content

More Content

More content could be extra newsletters each week over and above the free version. Time sensitive topics like those below are great candidates for offering paid daily emails compared to the free, weekly option.

  • Motivational Health & Fitness
  • Analysis of Current Affairs
  • Investment Guidance
  • Step by Step Seasonal Recipes
  • Daily Jokes

Different Content

The recommendation I give to clients who want to offer something different in their paid newsletters is to use their free newsletter to share the WHAT/WHY and the paid version to give the HOW.

  • Photographers share in their free newsletter WHY natural lighting is a valuable skill to have but save HOW to do it for their paid subscription.
  • Wedding planners share WHAT cake styles future brides should consider in their weekly email but only tell readers HOW to get them for the best price in the paid newsletter.
  • A business coach recommends WHY local networking events are important to free newsletter readers but saves HOW to use them to build an effective contacts' list for the paid emails.

Will Someone Really Pay to Read My Emails?

Yes. Provided you consistently write, send, and promote your free and value added paid emails at least once a week at the same time every single week.

  1. Bring visitors to your website
  2. Convert those visitors into a free newsletter subscribers
  3. Convert free subscribers into a paid newsletter subscribers
  4. Up sell paid subscribers to your higher price products/services
  5. Go back to step 1 and repeat

It’s going to take weeks, months, or maybe even years of work to build up your free and paid newsletter mailing lists into a standalone profitable channel. This is worthwhile work as profits from your core products and services will grow alongside your additional source of paid newsletter revenue.

How to Set up a Paid Newsletter?

Ready to start your own paid newsletter but not sure how?

  • How to set up a paid newsletter with Flodesk, Thrivecart, and Zapier (coming soon)
  • How to set up a paid newsletter with Moosend, Thrivecart and Pabbly Connect (coming soon)