How to Start a Paid Subscription Newsletter

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While most bloggers highlight the benefits of affiliate marketing, ad revenue, and website-based memberships, many of them have neglected the benefits of running a paid newsletter.

This consists of people signing up to a newsletter and paying you a monthly/yearly fee to receive content straight to their inbox.

Sounds exciting? Great. Let’s look at how to start a paid subscription newsletter and make your way to a profitable future.

Benefits of a Paid Newsletter

paid subscriptionsPaid newsletters provide a nice alternative to ad-ridden content on traditional websites. This means you have a straight-forward monetization option without relying on ad revenue or affiliate marketing.

More secure than search engines. Don’t get me wrong, as SEO is generally amazing when it works. But therein lies the main issue; making it work can be a hassle and many of your articles simply don’t get the spotlight they deserve.

Straight-forward content delivery. Your subscribers enjoy content that is directly delivered to them instead of having to browse through a website. A newsletter also gives your content a more “exclusive” feel which elevates your branding.

Maintain a simple, yet powerful presentation. Newsletter aesthetics are generally simpler than robust websites – so long as you keep your emails clean and visually pleasing.

Build a closer relationship with your subscribers. Think about it; every email can be addressed to each person by name and you get to be more “human” in their eyes. Again, the exclusivity factor can really help you in more ways than one.

Potential Setbacks

Maintaining a newsletter is no easy task. Most successful businesses must send out content several times per week, while others deliver them daily. In the end, however, it all depends on the niche you’re covering (more on this later).

Needless to say, your information must be unique and especially interesting. Otherwise, why would anyone sign up to your paid newsletter if they can find the content elsewhere?

Getting Started: Find Your Niche

paid newsletter serviceThe more niche or narrow your focus, the better. It’s all about providing information that truly is hard to find elsewhere or providing it easily in one place.

For example, I recently became interested in buying a stationary exercise bike, but most YouTube videos only provide a general overview that is already found on the manufacturer’s sales page.

What if there was a newsletter where you personally try out many exercise bikes over time and deliver a thorough review with plenty of pictures and videos?

Other newsletter ideas may involve interviewing niche business owners, such as small bakery shops. A thorough interview detailing “the pros and cons” of running their business would be great, for example.

Find a Newsletter Service

We have several options to choose from, and thankfully all of them do a great job.

Remember, you need a service that also handles payments and not just newsletters alone. Here are a few that seamlessly integrate with payment processors such as PayPal or Stripe:

Zapier
Substack
Revue

The above can collect subscribers for you and also provide the ability to send out newsletters — all while collecting payment from subscribers simultaneously.

You may also rely on paid membership plugins for your WordPress website, but these are mainly in charge of obtaining subscribers and managing monthly payments with PayPal or Stripe separately (without the newsletter signup option). This means you’d also have to integrate a separate newsletter service like GetResponse or AWeber.

Recommended: Contract a Virtual Assistant

If you’re already sensing that running a paid newsletter takes a lot of effort, then you are absolutely correct.

Remember that you have paying customers, so you *must* maintain a steady schedule to avoid disappointing them. This means publishing at the advertised dates without fail.

This is where a VA comes in. They can help edit your content, format your newsletter, resize images, and whatever else regarding the business.

Thankfully this doesn’t have to be expensive, as Fiverr is full of capable virtual assistants that do a variety of work for $25-$200 per month (depending on the nature of the job).

Once you have a few subscribers on board, this expense can practically pay for itself.

How to Promote Your Paid Subscription Newsletter

Ideas are a dime a dozen. The hard part is almost always obtaining those elusive paying subscribers…

Have a Complementary Website

I somewhat discredited websites at the beginning of this article, but remember that every bit of exposure helps — even if SEO traffic is unreliable.

Provide a Free Newsletter

Post the occasional article on your website as a vehicle for some traffic, and encourage them to sign up to a free newsletter. Note that it’s much easier to obtain free newsletter subscribers, so this is essential.

This newsletter serves as a watered down version of your real content that is only available to paying customers.

The point of this newsletter is to build a relationship with your audience, and then encourage them to upgrade to your paid newsletter over time.

The best customers are born from close relationships, not from cold approach.

Use Decoy Marketing

Let me explain Decoy marketing this way: Movie theaters tend to sell you a small/medium popcorn for a set price, but encourage you to get a large one for only 99 cents more.

Most people tend to just pay the extra 99 cents, because why not?

In other words, the initial price is just there as a decoy to make the bigger price seem more like a no-brainer.

This is why some restaurants may sell you six nuggets for $1, and ten nuggets for just 25 cents more.

This is where you come in: Let’s say that you offer two tiers of your paid newsletter: One package containing only text and images, and another package that also contains video explanations.

You could sell the first package for $4 per month, while selling the video-based package for $5. Which do you think most people would sign up for?

Honorable Marketing Mentions

Use FOMO, or fear of missing out. This means providing a membership at a huge discount for a limited time. Send this to your free newsletter subscribers and have it posted on your website as well.

Consider a yearly option. Perhaps you can charge $5/month or $50/year. Many subscribers hate having a monthly bill, but would gladly pay a yearly fee.

Social media is crucial. I don’t mean posting cookie-cutter article links, but rather creating entire discussions based on your service.

For example, Reddit gives you the ability to create an AMA post (Ask Me Anything). Post a discussion titled, “Hi! I am John – I created XYZ newsletter. Ask me anything!” This allows Reddit users to inquire about the service and helps you build a great relationship with them.

Conclusion

While this whole idea is pretty exciting, keep in mind that maintaining it takes some serious effort and may even require some initial monetary investment on your part.

That being said, any serious business requires an investment – the question now is, are you up for it?

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