Making Money from Newsletters
Writing and publishing a successful newsletter, and Making Money from Newsletters, is perhaps the most competitive of all the different areas of email lists, mail order and direct marketing. To be successful with a newsletter, you have to specialise. Your best bet will be with new information on a subject not already covered by an established newsletter. Making Money from Newsletters isn’t as difficult as one would expect. You just have to know what to do.
Regardless of the frustrations involved in launching your own newsletter, never forget this truth: There are people from all walks of life, in all parts of whatever country you live in, many of them with no writing ability whatsoever, who are making incredible profits with simple two-, four-, and six-page newsletters! So don’t let your lack of experience prevent you from having a go.
Learn from Others
Your first step should be to subscribe to as many different newsletters as you can afford. Analyse and study how others are doing it. Attend as many workshops and seminars on your subject as possible. Learn from the pros. Learn how the successful newsletter publishers are doing it, and why they are making money. Adapt their success methods to your own newsletter, but be determined to recognise where they are weak, and to make yours better in every way.
Plan your newsletter before launching it. Know the basic premise for its being, your editorial position, the layout, art work, type style, subscription price, distribution methods, and every other detail necessary to make it look, sound and feel like the end result you have envisioned.
Lay out your start-up needs; detail the length of time it’s going to take to become established, and what will be involved in becoming established. Set a date as a milestone of accomplishment for each phase of your development: A date for breaking even, a date for attaining a certain paid subscription figure and a monetary goal for each of your first five years in business. And all this must be done before publishing your first issue, or before releasing it to your email list.
Most newsletter publishers do all the work themselves, and are impatient to get that first issue into print or out to their email list. As a result, they neglect to devote the proper amount of time to market research and distribution. Don’t start your newsletter without first having accomplished this task!
Research Your Market
Market research is simply determining who the people are who will be interested in buying and reading your newsletter, and the kind of information these people want to see in your newsletter as a reason for continuing to buy it. You have to determine what it is they want from your newsletter. Your market research must give you unbiased answers about your newsletter’s capabilities of fulfilling your prospective buyer’s need for information; how much he’s willing to pay for it, and an overall profile of their status in life. The questions of why they need your information and how they’ll use it should be answered. Make sure you have the answers to these questions, publish your newsletter as a vehicle of fulfillment to these needs, and you’re on your way!
Presentation is Everything
You’re going to be in trouble unless your newsletter has a real point of difference that can be easily perceived by your prospective buyer. The design and graphics of your newsletter, plus what you say and how you say it, will help in giving your newsletter this vital difference. Be sure your newsletter works with the personality you’re trying to build for it. Make sure it reflects the wants of your subscribers. Include your advertising promise within the heading, on the title page, and in the same words your advertising uses. And above all else, don’t skimp on design or graphics!
Have a Catchy Name
The name of your newsletter should also help to set it apart from similar newsletters, and spell out its advertising promise. A good name reinforces your advertising. Choose a name that defines the direction and scope of your newsletter. Try to make your newsletter’s name memorable – one that flows automatically. Don’t pick a name that’s so vague it could apply to almost anything. The name should identify your newsletter and its subject quickly and positively.
Pricing your newsletter – even if you send it out on the internet – should be consistent with the image you’re trying to build. If you’re starting a ‘Me-too’ newsletter, never price it above the competition. In most cases, the consumer associates higher prices with quality, so if you give your readers better quality information in an expensive looking package, don’t hesitate to ask for a premium price. However, if your information is gathered from most of the other newsletters on the subject, you will do well to keep your prices in line with theirs.
Involve Your Audience
One of the best selling points of such a newsletter is in the degree of audience involvement – for instance, how much it talks about (and uses the names of) its readers. People like to see things written about them. They resort to all kinds of things to get their names in print, and they pay big money to read what’s been written about them. You should understand this facet of human nature, and decide if and how you want to capitalise upon it – then plan your newsletter accordingly.
The equivalent of this today is running a Facebook page and including your audience in the things you do on your page. It’s amazing what lengths some people will go to just to get a mention. You can work that to your advantage if you have the patience and tolerance to do so.
Post a Picture of your Client
Almost as important as names in your newsletter and your Facebook page are pictures. The readers will generally accept a newsletter or posts on Facebook faster if the publisher’s picture is presented or included as a part of the newsletter. Whether you use pictures of the people, events, locations or products you write about is a policy decision; but the use of pictures will set your publication apart from the others and give it an individual image, which is precisely what you want.
Should Your Newsletter or Website Carry Paid Advertising?
The decision as to whether to carry paid advertising, and if so, how much, is another policy decision that should be made while your newsletter is still in the planning stages. Some purists feel that advertising corrupts the image of the newsletter and may influence editorial policy. Most people accept advertising as a part of everyday life, and don’t care one way or the other.
Many newsletter publishers that are faced with rising production costs view advertising as a means of offsetting those costs and welcome paid advertising. Generally the advertisers see the newsletter as a vehicle to a captive audience, and well worth the cost.
Promoting, Prospecting, Pitching and Converting
The only problem with accepting advertising in your newsletter would appear to be that as your circulation grows, so will your numbers of advertisers, until you’ll have to increase the size of your newsletter to accommodate the advertisers. At this point, the basic premise or philosophy of the newsletter often changes from news and practical information to one of an advertiser’s showcase.
Promoting your newsletter, finding prospective buyers and converting these prospects into loyal subscribers, will be the most difficult task of your entire undertaking. It takes detailed planning, persistence and patience.
You’ll need a sales letter. Check the sales letters you receive in the mail; analyse how these are written and pattern yours along the same lines. You’ll find that all of them – all those that are worthy of being called sales letters – follow the same formula: Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action on the part of the reader – AIDA.
Jump right in at the beginning and tell the reader how they’re going to benefit from your newsletter, and then keep emphasising right on through your ‘PS’, the many and different benefits they’ll gain by subscribing to your newsletter. Elaborate on your listing of benefits with examples of what you have, or you intend to include, in your newsletter.
Follow these examples with endorsements or testimonials from reviewers and satisfied subscribers. Make the recipient of your sales letter feel that you’re offering them the answer to all their problems on the subject of your newsletter.
You have to make your prospect fee that ‘this is the insider’s secret’ to the success they want. Present it to them as his own personal key to success, and tell them how far behind his contemporaries they are going to be if they don’t act upon your offer immediately.
PS. Act NOW!!!
Always include a ‘PS’ in your sales letter. This should quickly restate to the reader that they can start enjoying the benefits of your newsletter by acting immediately, and very subtly suggesting that they may not get another chance to get the kind of ‘success help’ you’re offering them with this sales letter.
Don’t worry about the length of your sales letter – most are four pages or more; however, it must flow logically and smoothly. Use short sentences, short paragraphs, indented paragraphs, and lots of sub-heads for the people who will be ‘scanning through’ your sales letter.
Give Your Clients the Means to Reply to Your Letter
In addition to the sales letter, your promotion package should include a return reply order card, coupon or email address. This can be either a self-addressed business reply postcard, or a separate coupon, in which case you’ll have to include a self-addressed return reply envelope. In every mailing piece you send out, always include one or the other: either a self-addressed business reply postcard or a self-addressed return reply envelope for the recipient to use to send your order form and their remittance back to you.
Your best response will come from a business reply postcard on which you allow your prospects to charge the subscription to their credit card, request that you bill them, or send their payment with the subscription start order.
For makeup of this subscription order card or coupon, simply start saving all the order cards and coupons you receive during the next month or so. Choose the one you like best, modify according to your needs, and have it typeset, pasted up and border fit.
Next you’ll need a Subscription Order Acknowledgement card or letter. This is simply a short note thanking your new subscriber for their order, and promising to keep them up-to-date with everything relating to the subject of your newsletter.
An acknowledgement letter, in an envelope, will cost more postage to mail than a simple postcard; however when you send the letter you have the opportunity to enclose additional material. A circular listing other items available through you will produce additional orders.
Get the Printing Done
Thus far, you’ve prepared the layout and copy for your newsletter. If sending them out via post, go ahead and have a hundred copies printed, undated. You’ve written a sales letter and prepared a return reply subscription order card or coupon; go ahead and have a hundred of these printed, also undated, of course. You’ll need letterhead mailing envelopes, and don’t forget the return reply envelopes if you choose to use the coupons instead of the business reply postcard.
Go ahead and have a thousand coupons instead of the business reply postcard. Go ahead and have a thousand mailing envelopes printed. You also need subscription order acknowledgement cards or notes; have a hundred of these printed, and of course, don’t forget the imprinted reply envelopes if you’re going along with the idea of using a note instead of a postcard. This will be a basic supply for ‘testing’ your materials so far.
Now you’re ready for the big move…………
The Advertising Campaign
Start by placing a small classified ad in one of your local newspapers. You should place your ad in a weekend or Sunday paper that will reach as many people as possible. However, do not skimp on your advertising budget. To be successful – to make as much money as possible with your idea – you’ll have to reach as many people as you can afford, and as often as you can.
It is best to run new ads for a minimum of three issues and keep close tabs on the returns. If the returns keep coming in then continue to run that ad in that publication, while adding a new publication to test for results. To my way of thinking, this is the best way to go, regardless of the product, to successfully multiply your customer list.
Test and Analyse Every Advertising Campaign
Move slowly. Start with a local, far reaching and widely read paper, and with the profits or returns from that ad, go to the regional magazines, or one of the smaller national magazines, and continue plowing your returns into more advertising. Do not abandon it in favour of direct mail. I would not recommend direct mail until you are well established, and your national classified advertising program is bringing in a healthy profit for you.
Do not become overly ambitious and go out on a limb with expensive full page advertising until you’re well established. When you do buy full-page advertising, start with the smaller publications, and build from those results. Have patience; keep close tabs on your costs per subscriber, and build from your profits of your advertising. Always test the advertising medium you want to use with a classified ad, and if it pulls well for you, go on to a larger display type ad.
Classified advertising is the least expensive way to go, so long as you use the inquiry method. You can easily and quickly build your subscriber list with this type of advertisement. I would not recommend any attempt to sell subscriptions, or any product, from classified ads, or even from small display ads. There just isn’t enough space to describe the product adequately, and seeing the cost of your item, many possible subscribers will not bother to inquire for the full story.
When you do expand your efforts into direct mail, go straight to a national list broker. You can find names and addresses in the Yellow Pages. Show the list broker your product and your mailing piece, and explain what type of people you want to reach, and allow them to help you.
Once you’ve decided on a list to use, go slowly. Start with a sample of 1000 names. If the returns are favourable, go for 10,000 names, and then 15,000 and so on through the entire list.
Don’t Go Big Too Soon
Never rent the list based upon the returns from your first couple of samplings. The variables are just too many, and too complicated, and too conducive to losing your shirt when you ‘roll out an entire list’ based upon returns from a controlled sampling. There are a number of other methods for finding new subscribers, which we’ll explore for you here, detailing the good and the bad as we have researched them.
One method is that of contracting with what is known as a ‘cash-field’ agency. These are soliciting agencies that hire people to sell door-to-door and via the phone, almost always using a high-pressure sales approach. The publisher usually makes only 5% from each subscription sold by one of these agencies. That speaks for itself.
Then there is a co-op mailing where you supply a Charge Card Company or department store with your subscription offer as a ‘statement mailing stuffer’. Your offer goes out with the monthly statements; new subscriptions are returned to the mailer and billed to the customer’s charge card. The publisher usually makes about 50% on each subscription. This is one of the most lucrative, but expensive methods of bringing new customers.
Another way to sell subscriptions is through major catalogue sales companies that sell subscriptions to school libraries, government agencies and large corporations. These people usually buy through these catalogue sales companies rather than direct from the publisher. The publisher makes about 10% on each subscription sold for them by one of these agencies.
Most major newspapers will carry small, lightweight brochures or over-sized reply cards as inserts in their Sunday papers. The publisher supplies the total number of insert, pays the newspaper $80 per thousand for the number of newspapers they want their order form carried in, and then retains all the money generated. But the high cost of printing the inserts, plus the $80 per thousand for distribution, make this an extremely costly method of obtaining new subscribers.
Schools, civic groups and other fund raising organisations work in about the same manner as the cash-field agencies. They do the selling and the publisher gets 24% or less for each new subscription sold.
Joining with Other Newsletter Publishers
Newsletter publishers often run exchange publicity endorsements with non-competing publishers. Generally, these endorsements invite the reader of the newsletter ‘A’ to send for a sample copy of the newsletter ‘B’ for a look at what somebody else is doing that might be of special help, etc. This can be a very good source of new subscriptions, and certainly the least expensive.
Last, but not least, is the enlistment of your own subscriber to send you names of the people they think might be interested in receiving a sample copy of your publication. Some publishers ask their readers to pass along these names out of loyalty, while others offer a monetary incentive or a special bonus for names of people sent in who become subscribers.
By studying and understanding the information in this article, you should encounter fewer serious problems. You’ll be able to launch your own successful specialised newsletter. It will become the source of ongoing monetary rewards for you. However, there is an important point to remember about doing business by mail. In particular, within the confines of selling information by mail. Mail Order is ONLY another way of doing business. You have to learn all that there is to know about this way of doing business. Then you need to keep on learning, changing, observing and adapting in order to stay on top.
The best way of learning about and keeping up with this field of endeavour is by buying and reading books. Those written by the successful ones. Or by signing up for emails from the people who have succeeded in making money via the mail.
Free From the Gilded Cage is the education arm of the Loving Heart Foundation Australia . We teach the basics of self-employment, how to save money wherever you can, and basic budgeting skills. This is so that women can learn the skills needed to manage their own lives. So that they don’t feel trapped in a relationship with a man who is beating them up. With these skills they can easily leave him
Update: The first novel in a series of seven has now been published. Written for teenagers who don’t fit in, the story gives hope to those who aren’t enjoying school. Along with those who don’t want to go into a profession that school prepares most for. It is also the courageous account of a young teen growing up in a dysfunctional home filled with domestic violence. Read about how she manoeuvres her way through such a difficult situation.
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