Issue #151 — How to innovate your way to a profitable newsletter

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One of the most underutilized strategies for publishers is to model what works in different mediums and from alternative categories within the creator economy. In this issue, discover how traditional and new media companies are succeeding, as well as how their maneuvers might apply to your creative work.

💯 Top picks

7 ways to make money on YouTube without ads

If you're unfamiliar with how successful YouTubers fund their channels apart from AdSense, this article will introduce you to their seven monetization methods. Almost all of these can be applied directly to publishers, with a few minor modifications.

Related: How to monetize your newsletter with affiliate links

One of the members of the Ghost Community shared a list of 13 websites where writers can submit their newsletters for discovery. Free databases like these are a beginner-friendly method of getting initial eyeballs on your creation.

💸 Business models

How publishers can build sustainable businesses in the era of platforms

Stop demonizing and start collaborating. Stop looking backwards and start innovating. Stop scapegoating and start exploiting.

In this tough love call-to-action, industry professionals offer four ways publishers can not only survive their current difficulties but thrive in the new digital landscape.

  • Lobby collectively against Big Tech abuses while negotiating with them to your advantage.
  • Create innovative systems built on users' happiness.
  • Build symbiotic relationships with the Googles and Facebooks of the world.
  • If something is no longer working, stop complaining and try something else.

How to calculate your newsletter ad rates

The May edition of Not a Newsletter included an excellent explanation of how writers can accurately calculate CPMs for ad and sponsorship opportunities. As always, Dan Oshinsky includes a library of additional resources such as email deliverability tips, useful tools, and relevant growth hacks.

Related: Too many publishers are relying on "sleeper" subscribers

Quarterly report from The Generalist newsletter

The Generalist is a weekly business newsletter run by Mario Gabriele. Gabriele primarily covers investing and startup news for an audience of approximately 30,000 readers. They recently published a behind-the-scenes report of income, subscription growth, and churn rates. It's a fascinating look at how a six-figure newsletter works.

📝 Modern publishing

How local broadcaster News 12 is partnering with Google to build a younger audience

The strain on media companies’ ad businesses during the pandemic has forced publishers to get creative on how they approached everything from content offerings to who fits in their target demographics.

A local network is attempting to use technology in creative ways to reach new audiences with their content. It's worth noting that by "younger audiences", they mean viewers aged 18-34 and 35-55, not children. One tactic they're experimenting with is the use of machine learning to chop up broadcasts into shorter videos that are then automatically categorized and shared to social media.

Related: Which publishers won the pandemic?

How journalists can avoid amplifying misinformation in their stories

The team at NiemanLab released an article detailing the steps publishers can take to curb the spread of bad information online. One of the biggest culprits of misinformation is mislabeled or wrongly attributed images. By implementing a few safety measures, such as warning overlays or placing contextual information directly on the image, publishers can stop "fake news" before it spreads.

How the largest UK news publisher generated a 32% increase in page views

Occasionally, it can be helpful to learn the tactics large publishers use to grow, since they face unique challenges because of their size. Reach PLC boasts a portfolio of 70+ websites that collectively serve over 5 million subscribers. When asked what their biggest growth factor was during the past year, they answered: curated newsletters. The data they've able to collect through their audience's interaction with curated links, events, and resources has proven instrumental to "engaging readers and enhancing loyalty."

📬 Email newsletters

10 ways to improve your newsletter

Writer Josh Spector began a new series recently where they audit newsletters written by audience members and offer practical tips for improvement. A few of the tips which stand out are:

  • Your newsletter name should include a clear reference to your niche.
  • Pitch the value of the newsletter, not just what’s in it.
  • Don’t miss micro-branding opportunities.

11 email marketing tips to boost engagement & sales

This handy list of tactics aims to help you communicate with your readers in a more engaging way, which can lead to high open rates, conversions, and revenue. The tips in this article include creating re-engagement campaigns, writing interest-triggering headlines, and using curiosity to drive reader action.

The problem with platforms

This piece offers a deep dive into the changing media landscape and offers an explanation of why newsletters seem to be at the forefront of so many people's minds. In short, they see this as a symptom of the direct-to-creator phenomena in which an increasing number of creators will become platform-agnostic — meaning we'll stop thinking of, for example, Marques Brownlee as only a YouTuber and engage with their work in a more direct way, regardless of the medium. It's a conversation seen before. For example, when large creators move towards independence in order to have more creative and financial control over their content.

💻 Technology

Twitter may be working on Twitter Blue, a subscription service that would cost $2.99 per month

App researcher Jane Manchun Wong says it appears Twitter is working on a tiered subscription model, which she posits could mean a less-cluttered, premium experience for the highest-paying subscribers.

Twitter is going all-in on the creator economy surge. They've acquired two companies (Revue and Scroll), experimented with numerous features (such as native tip jars), and are now considering a premium version of their service. Although the details are still scant, this is certainly an area to watch.

Related: 5 concepts that will unlock Twitter success for you

Koji billboards offer new way for internet creators to get paid

Koji is a company that helps creators treat their profile links as digital billboards. The site uses an auction system where advertisers can rent out your profile and place an approved link for a set amount of time (typically a few hours). Right now, the service is focused on social media platforms. But the explanation of how it works makes it seem like a perfect fit for newsletters. Perhaps Koji can one day automate the sponsored link process many creators must juggle on top of all their other demands.

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