Newsletters are not like what you think they are, and in this guide I want to explain how to create a premium newsletter capable of becoming an ongoing source of income, thanks to the membership business model.
The fact is that this term came to us with the advent of the Internet (around the 1990s), aided and abetted by the fact that we chew little English, but in fact the term newsletter denotes-since time immemorial in the Anglo-Saxon world-an editorial product, a content, similar if not a precursor to daily newspapers or periodicals.
It was already the year 1704 when the Boston News-Letter, as a "bulletin" to inform local people, and was chargeable.
Today, thanks to the Internet and the media mix we can create, newsletters have become something more.
E-mails with attachments, with images or videos, audio content, in-depth links, and you name it.
A newsletter is said to be premium - like much other online content-when it offers something more than usual, something more than what you expect, something more than what you might find for free on the Net.
While we have been accustomed to receiving dozens of newsletters every week, if not every day, for years now, all of this information is often mere commercial ads and really has little impact in our lives.
In fact, not many-and I invite you to analyze your inbox-the messages we receive as subscribers to a mailing list are truly useful, engaging, and full of useful content.
Good marketers write persuasively by often passing you off as "good" content that is part of a transformational or persuasive journey, toward a sale.
Nothing wrong with that, eh, mind you.
I have been doing it for decades too 🙂 🙂
The fact remains, however, that these are NOT premium newsletters.
Like the Boston Bulletin, it is editorial content selected, edited, and edited by a person (or company) you value and containing only and exclusively the information you would like to receive and read.
Insights, analysis, reports, opinions, interviews, reviews...
Without overt or covert advertising, without ulterior motives, without half-measures.
Think of the premium newsletter as a rich paragraph in a book you just bought at the bookstore.
Obviously you do not expect to find, in the book, any banners, any advertisements nor any passages designed to induce you to buy some product or service.
It is pure useful content.
So if you decide to sell this kind of product, and figure out how to create a Premium Newsletter, you must first assimilate a fundamental concept: it is the content that makes the difference, not the medium (Premium newsletters are sent with exactly the same tools as advertising newsletters). It is this difference that determines their quality and justifies their payment.
So if we wanted to give a precise and more concise definition, premium newsletters or paid newsletters , are a product sold on a subscription basis delivered periodically by e-mail to its subscribers.
Premium newsletters are then delivered on a regular basis, sometimes monthly, sometimes weekly, but there is no rule, you decide when as you throw down your plan of action and study how to create a Premium Newsletter that can be easily appreciated by your audience.
Premium Newsletters usually focus on certain types of topics or engage subscribers interested in a particular vertical, niche, or common goal.
They are also characterized by having original content, that is, content that is not available elsewhere, include in-depth links, and perhaps other media such as exclusive video or audio.
How to create a premium newsletter: case studies.
Let's look at some examples of premium or paid newsletters that really work, each with features that I think are interesting and with features that have rewarded authors' choices in adopting them.
"Stratechery" by Ben Thompson is one of the first successful subscription newsletters in memory.
His minimally designed site is packed with content and useful information about the hi-tech and digital world, but users to support Ben's work, gladly pay a monthly or annual fee so they can access exclusive or preview content.
"De Correspondent" is one of the biggest success stories in premium newsletters, billing millions simply by offering a series of editorials and in-depth news coverage in Dutch. Amazing isn't it?
For some time they also had an English version, but it was dropped in January 2021 to focus on their audience which is at the Dutch 90%.
Their membership costs only €7 per month or €70 per year, and they have always had a very transparent approach to the use of their finances. This has enabled them to build an enviable reputation among the public, who see them as true committed journalists.
"Confessions of a Guru." is the premium newsletter of yours truly, Valerio.it and was the natural evolution of the previous column, free and sent weekly, called "Saturday Update."
The decision to move to a premium subscription version, abandoning the classic "free newsletter sent indiscriminately to everyone" mode, allowed me to focus on creating more impactful and valuable content.
The subscription costs only €10 per month or €97 per year, and each newsletter features two audios in addition to the written text.
One is the newsletter read by an AI-driven voice, for those who do not feel like scrolling through the text can then listen to it in full.
The other is my in-depth, true "confession," in which I take up the theme of the newsletter and complete it with my own observations.
I was seeing over time that the effort adopted to write a long text every week accompanied perhaps by a video was not creating the impact I wanted on my audience, for the simple fact that we are now users accustomed to having everything and more.
Instead, having content that you pay for, that is of quality and arrives in your inbox on time, gives tremendous value to the content itself.
It is appreciated.
It is read.
It is consumed and assimilated much better than a free one.
How to create a premium newsletter: monetization.
In addition to understanding How to create a Premium Newsletter, you must also consider the revenue factor has its importance, the premium newsletter requires some commitment-though infinitely less than many other digital products-but it is still a membership that you must nurture with content and subscriptions.
That is why the financial part of the project must be taken into account and structured appropriately.
Subscription is usually offered on a monthly or annual basis, where with annual membership you get two free months and sometimes some extra bonuses.
As an example, a typical subscription is €7 per month or €70 per year, €67 if we want to follow the unwritten web marketing rule that wants "7" in the pricing of online products.
I have created this online calculator to give you an idea of the potential income you can make, while also taking into account the commissions that Stripe or Paypal (the most popular online payment processes) take and the platform you obviously need to run the newsletter.
How to create a premium newsletter and turn it into a viable product.
Subscription newsletters are not a recent invention, and we have seen that, but they have come back in vogue lately for a number of reasons.
If you want to understand how to create a premium newsletter, you need to consider these key elements:
- Videos, which have been major players for years, are demanding, both for those who create them and for those who have to consume them. They take up a lot of time, and if you think about it, if you watch a video you can't do anything else in the meantime.
- E-mail will never die; it is like your Tax ID for the Internet. You can't access any services without it, so it won't be deleted or abandoned for a long, long time.
- Emails remain, always there, available, in your email app. While a PDF, a video -- they end up gathering dust in some remote corner of your hard drive, and you forget about them.
- When an e-mail arrives, from a sender you know and a fortiori have paid for, you open it and read it. Certainly more than any other message.
- Reading a premium newsletter is not as challenging as watching a video course; you have a greater focus and can pick up where you left off more easily.
- If the premium newsletter is accompanied by audio, even better. You can listen to its content while doing some more: You're cooking, you're playing sports, you're traveling....
- If you unsubscribe from the service, the newsletter remains yours, in your inbox.
- You can print it out.
Okay I think these elements are enough to make you Understand how to create a valuable Premium Newsletter, and listed enough PROs and clarified what the benefits of this kind of product are, from a customer or user perspective, but what about the creator or author?
Here again I see only so many advantages.
- Writing is as natural as speaking, but just think, there are apps or services that can transcribe your voice. So you might as well speak and transcribe your premium newsletter.
- To launch and run this service you need virtually no equipment or make major expenditures. All you need is a computer with a keyboard, a connection and an e-mail marketing platform (which costs you something like €20 per month at the beginning).
- You choose when to create your content, any day or time, wherever you are.
- The premium newsletter gives you the freedom to write whatever you want, on the topic that suits you best. And you don't have to be accountable to anyone, you don't have haters criticizing you, you don't have competitors pestering you.
- This product is easily scalable, and when you write for 10 subscribers, you write the same way for 1,000.
- Word of mouth is very powerful and you don't need large advertising investments.
- The premium newsletters you write soon become an incredible repository of knowledge and insight that you can also reuse in other contexts or for other products, such as books, speeches, public blog posts, and tracks for videos or podcasts.
As you can see, the advantages are many and frankly, I see no disadvantages or cons, worth mentioning.
First you need an idea.
Yes you are definitely prepared or trained in a particular topic, but you need to ask yourself these three questions:
- Do I know enough to handle writing a text every week?
- Will I have the constancy to write?
- Will I know how to run it as a real business?
Let us look together at the answers to these three dilemmas.
No.1 Topics and themes.
First, yes, you have to know the topic pretty well, but that doesn't mean you have to be the world's No. 1 expert on it.
If, for example, you have a passion for homemade desserts, and you know that you know lots of recipes, that your friends and family love the way you cook, and that there is always someone who asks you for advice about it every week well then you already know enough about the average person in this country.
Your job then will not be to turn your readers into star chefs, but to give them what you routinely do with friends or girlfriends who ask you for advice.
Then if the topic you want to cover is inherent not in a hobby but in your work, it is even easier.
Treat your subscribers as customers, giving them different advice from different angles.
Let's take an example, you are a dentist.
Your premium newsletter could have these titles for the first 10 issues
(and--hey--I'm by no means an expert and I'm not a dentist, but I bet you'll find it intriguing).
- How to choose the right toothbrush.
- At what time and how many times a day should you brush your teeth?
- Mouthwash yes or mouthwash no?
- 5 foods you need to avoid to keep your teeth white.
- But is it true that. 5 false myths about dental care.
- Tooth decay, how to avoid it by eliminating these bad habits.
- How to teach your children to brush their teeth properly.
- How to choose the right toothpaste for you.
- Chewing, this unknown.
- Teeth cleaning: how it works and why it is essential.
He thinks I got carried away and wrote 13 topics. Yet I am not an expert, but these are the titles of the newsletters I would like to receive, because they are interesting topics.
As you will see, then, these topics do not cannibalize the profession, i.e., it is not that if I read this newsletter then I no longer need to go to the dentist.
In fact, far from it.
In all likelihood, I will be more sensitive to certain issues and will make an appointment more consciously and without hesitation upon the appearance of some symptom I read about in my inbox.
No.2 Continuous writing.
Writing is good, it's fun and believe me, it's like running.
It improves over time, and becomes addictive.
Writing is cathartic, liberating and helps you reflect because you are forced to "find the right words" to make yourself understood.
It is therefore a matter of starting a good habit.
Complementing it is "moral obligation" to your clients, who have paid you, and so you have a deadline to meet.
You'll see that after you sell your first subscription, you won't be able to do without it, and here we come to point No. 3.
If you do something that exposes you to the public, from whom you are asking for money in exchange for your content, you have only one thing left to do.
But that's not enough, of course you will also have to create content to convince people, to buy your content.
This is not a play on words, but the truth.
A premium newsletter thrives on subscriptions, so people pay regularly to read you.
If your main task is to write content, what follows close behind is the continuous sourcing of new clients.
To do this there are several strategies that I want to mention here:
- Create a persuasive sales page, and send us paid traffic (advertising), extremely on target with your theme.
- Create an e-mail sequence in which you explain your project, and send it to your existing (free) subscribers to let them know about the project.
- Offer bonuses to those who sign up in the early launch period.
- Encourage word of mouth, perhaps by giving away a month's subscription to anyone who brings a friend.
- Give a taste of your premium newsletter by sending a couple of your best issues free to those interested.
Of course, no one prohibits you from taking these marketing tactics and mixing them together or making them more your own.
A premium newsletter, in my experience, I can guarantee that it is an easy sell, since the price is low. You just convey the value of what you will share, appropriately.
How to create a premium newsletter: the platforms to use.
You can use virtually any e-mail marketing platform, as long as you can have the ability to "filter" subscribers between paying and nonpaying, have an effective landing page to present and sell your subscription, and a system to get paid.
Kajabi, the platform on which all of Valerio.it's business rests, has available a product type specifically for premium newsletters, and being an all-in-one system, you have everything you need within a single tool: mailing list management, CRM, automations, landing pages, payment system, premium newsletters... but also much more, such as podcasts, private podcasts and video hosting (to combine, for example, your newsletter with audio or video content as well)... and much more.
If you want to learn more about Kajabi you can read these articles on my blog, where I explain how it works and make some comparisons with alternatives.
The tools Kajabi offers:
Questions and answers about Kajabi:
Kajabi vs Clickfunnels:
Another platform that I really like, and that lends itself great to this kind of product is ConvertKit.
ConvertKit allows you to create wonderful newsletters, manage payments, and create fairly simple landing pages (you'll have to make do).
On its side, it has excellent e-mail management and an enviable style. It is expensive but it is money well spent.
The platform that I am most curious about and keep an eye on more than any other is Ghost.org.
Born from a project on Kickstarter a few years ago, it is now a mature and functional publishing platform, initially seen as a competitor to WordPress.
Just in 2020 they "veered" toward premium newsletters sniffing the trend (and the business), offering a whole range of tools, templates and options for those who want to launch their own premium newsletter.
Its cost, as with ConvertKit, increases as the number of your subscribers increases, as opposed to Kajabi where you pay a flat fee with no surprises.
How to create a Premium Newsletter: conclusions.
As you can see, figuring out how to create a premium newsletter is not difficult, really.
There are a number of obligatory steps that force you to organize and plan well for this product, precisely because it is continuous (read membership) and initially it is quite challenging.
On its side are incredible simplicity of execution from a technical/IT standpoint - it is practically the easiest digital product to make and with virtually zero setup costs - and the one that offers the most possibilities for scalability (do a simulation with the calculator).
Another big advantage is the reuse of content (find some ideas here) which, once produced, should not be forgotten.
It is essential to understand that Without an editorial plan and web marketing strategy for its launch and development is likely to be a washout.
Over time I have created several successful programs, online courses and memberships, including the premium newsletter: "Confessions of a Guru."
If you are also interested in this type of membership you can schedule a call with me and have me follow up with you directly or attend one of my courses where I explain everything, and go in depth on every aspect.
Start Me Hub Ltd. | Valerio.it®
Valerio Fioretti is the web marketing specialist for small and medium-sized enterprises. Bestselling author, speaker, consultant, trainer and business coach.
Start Me Hub Ltd. is a registered publishing house.