Paid Newsletters: Conversion Rates, Newsletter Bundles, Building a Six-Figure Newsletter

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๐Ÿ” Problem

Advertising alters incentives.

๐Ÿ’ก Solution

Write for your readers. Not advertisers.

๐Ÿ Players

Paid Newsletters


๐Ÿ”ฎ Predictions

  • New types of newsletters will be created. Need an example? Flow State sends you music every weekday.
  • Substack will help writers extract more value (and commissions) from their audience. Their incentives are aligned.
  • It will be hard to cancel writers. Paid newsletters make you accountable to your audience. Not sponsors or their stakeholders.
  • More writers will hold eventsSam Parr held a small meetup at his Airbnb with subscribers. Fintech Today hosts virtual events.
  • Newsletter fellowships will become common. Substack CEO, Chris Best, described the Substack Fellowship as a โ€œmini-YCโ€ for writers. 
  • Most writers will add products to their offering. Paid content is a simple way to monetize. But this leaves money on the table.
  • We will see more newsletter bundles. Bundling newsletters can lead to more revenue and lower reader acquisition costs.

โ˜๏ธ Opportunties

  • Build a community on top of your newsletter. Use your platform to connect people. Courtland Allen, Pieter Levels and Jack Butcher used this content-to-community playbook.
  • Reach 1,000 free subscribers then monetize. The founders of Substack estimate a 10% free-to-paid conversion rate if you have:
    1. At least 1,000 subscribers
    2. At least a 50% open rate
    3. Good feedback from your readers
  • Start a podcast. You’ll reach a new audience that prefers to listen. Make money from podcast memberships.
  • Build a SaaS for your audience. Jane Portman has Userlist. Paul Jarvis has Fathom Analytics. Justin Jackson has Audience-first works.
  • Use your newsletter as a funnel for books, courses, events and consulting.

๐Ÿ˜  Haters

“Reader acquisition costs is a made up term.”
Everything is made up. Stay woke.

๐Ÿ”— Links

  1. How Newsletters Make Money for Writers with Hamish McKenzie of Substack โ€” Hamish McKenzie, Co-founder of Substack, drops tactical knowledge bombs. Find out what he has learned from thousands of paid publications. And why he recommends charging general audiences $5+/mo and professional audiences $10+/mo.
  2. How to Build a Six-Figure Newsletter Without Anyone Knowing โ€” Glen Allsopp shares the stories of several six-figure newsletters. Great, in-depth writing. High signal-noise ratio.
  3. This indie newsletter generated over 10,000 paying subscribers โ€” Robert Cottrell founded The Browser. He shares what he has learned so far. And how he uses an algorithm to find some of his content.
  4. 1 Company, 1 Employee: Tearing Down Stratechery’s Pricing โ€” Patrick Campbell, founder of ProfitWell, explains why Stratechery is priced too low. With data from 1,411 current, former and prospective customers. Spoiler alert: Some would be willing to pay $18.40 per month or $201.39 per year.
  5. How My Newsletter for Developers Generates Subscription RevenueAdam Roberts shares how he went from ads to subscriptions.