Are paid newsletters the next big thing?


If any of you thought that email was going to die a slow death, then you are similar to Decca Recording Company. Who? They are the company which declined to sign the Beatles in 1962, saying, “We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” The Beatles turned out to be one of the greatest rock bands ever, and as for the guitar, you know how popular they still are.

Social media is changing the entire landscape of communication, and even the way we do business. But it has not been able to mitigate the influence email has over us. In fact, the best way to reach out to your social media followers is to send them a newsletter, which is basically an email to a set of people who have subscribed to follow your updates.

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I talked to Vijay Anand about his decision to move to a paid newsletter format. Vijay is the CEO of The Startup Centre, an organization that works with early-stage technology entrepreneurs. “I wanted a small closed group rather than the open conversations I have on social media already. We have a little over 400 subscriptions. The level of interactions is much higher with the paid newsletter group and I quite enjoy the interactions. Social media has gotten way too noisy where everyone is happily regurgitating what they read somewhere rather than putting thought into it. “

What would it mean to have a bunch of subscribers? Let’s say you charge ₹2,000, and thanks to your influence in your niche, you have 1,000 paid subscribers – now, that’s a cool ₹20 lakh. If you have an audience in the US willing to listen to you, about $30 is a pittance for them. Imagine you market it well and get 1,000 more subscribers? The amount of effort you put in for the newsletter is the same, while your returns will be double. That is ₹40 lakh. Well, it will take a lot of marketing and time to get there, but it is possible.

Vijay adds, “I think, increasingly, the Indian audience is warming up to the idea of paying for content. I charge ₹1,500 a year for the fortnightly newsletter. With 26 newsletters a year, that is roughly ₹60/newsletter, which is cheaper than the price of coffee. If the right advice saves you ₹60, you’ve broken even on that investment. I have noticed that startups in India are somewhere between the practicality of traditional businesses in India and the scalability of startups in the Valley. Our ecosystem doesn’t allow for a lot of things, but flapping your wings thinking you are flying doesn’t make you a bird. We need to be tuned to ground realities. I have a lot of conversations with entrepreneurs about the ecosystem, and this is how the idea of opening to a huge circle dawned.”

The New York Times now has 13 million subscriptions to 50 email newsletters. Well, that’s NYT. In this time and age, when there is a lot of free content floating around, getting people to pay for subscriptions would be a task in itself, but it is entirely achievable.

How can you hit the right spot with a paid newsletter?

Attract subscribers with free content

Well, this is the best way to increase your email list too. You can make this happen with a blog, joint ventures, affiliate marketing, and many other ways. You need to produce content that is not rehashed from somewhere, but is of value to the readers. Even if you were to make it a paid newsletter, your readers should not hesitate paying for it – that is how good the content should be.

Offer some product/service at a cost

Along with your paid newsletter service, add a high-quality product at a low price. This could be anything – a well-researched report, list of products, service, or anything that will add value to people in your niche, or maybe an analysis of your niche.

Offer services along with the newsletter

Your services could include a one-to-one consultation, access to a seminar, or email support for a brief period along with your email newsletter. This should be something that brings you closer to your readers, and also not an endeavour that takes up a lot of your time.

With all said, you might want to maintain the highest level of standards when it comes to your services/ products as the Internet is not too kind to people who flatter to deceive. Give them their money’s worth and you have a thriving business where people are willing to trade their money for your offering.

Read Also: 4 email marketing examples that will leave you inspired


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