5 ways to promote a paid newsletter

Paid newsletters are popular in the creator economy. But no matter how good the content, creators still need to promote their work to attract subscribers.

The creators are podcasters, YouTube personalities, bloggers, musicians, business coaches, and more. Remunerated directly, they form the creators’ economy.

Newsletter promotion can take many forms, including advertising, emails, free content submissions, landing pages, and word of mouth.

1. Advertising

As with any other form of e-commerce, paid newsletter subscriptions often require advertising.

Consider “Scott’s Cheap Flights,” a popular paid newsletter with annual pricing tiers ranging from $50 to $200.

“Scott’s Cheap Flights” is a popular paid newsletter.

Google ‘discount flights’, you’ll probably see an ad for Scott’s paid newsletter.

Screenshot of Scott's cheap flight ad in Google search results

Scott’s Cheap Flight Paid Newsletter advertises for industry-appropriate keywords and audiences.

As with any advertising program, test keywords and audiences to find the best performing campaigns while keeping an eye on the relationship between customer lifetime value and customer acquisition cost.

Advertising can also work with other tactics on this list. For example, some paid newsletters are the premium version of a free subscription. For these publishers, lead ads on Facebook or Google can generate free signups. Then the free newsletter can promote the paid version.

2. Email

It might seem odd to suggest that email could promote a paid newsletter, but email marketing is one of the best ways to get paid subscribers.

Beyond upselling free subscribers, a creator can offer a free preview and then use email marketing to incentivize upgrading.

The browser, which curates articles and has around 75,000 subscribers, lets people try a free preview. Then it uses that preview and associated landing pages to encourage upgrades to a paid subscription.

Web page on The Browser which presents various subscription offers - free to paid.

The browser newsletter offers a free preview to promote the paid version.

Finally, email marketing can sell gift subscriptions. A mom who loves her paid money-saving newsletter might buy a subscription for her college-aged son. A grandmother who loves to cook could get a gift subscription for a grandchild to easily share recipes.

3. Placements in free content

The browser preview is similar to the presentation of the newsletter in various forms of free content. For example, many YouTube channels have associated paid products, including newsletters.

It is common for these YouTube creators to promote their newsletter in every new video.

Podcasters take the same approach. Bloggers too. Even people who tweet.

Benedict Evans, a London-based analyst, publishes a technical newsletter with around 170,000 subscribers. The newsletter sells for $10 per month or $100 per year.

Evans, who has over 340,000 followers on Twitter, has been promoting this newsletter there since at least 2019. It’s an example of a free content pitch.

A screenshot of a tweet that reads: I send out an email newsletter every Sunday with my notes from the past week - news and links that I found interesting and what they could mean, as well as any new posts here.  There are now around 115,000 subscribers.  You should sign up too - that's pretty good.

Benedict Evans promotes his paid newsletter in tweets.

4. Landing Pages

The landing page of a paid newsletter should be a search engine-friendly sales funnel that drives conversions. Landing page content can be a mix of articles, videos, or anything else to drive subscriptions.

The page should have a clear value proposition for the potential reader, and it should also be tested. Don’t just build it and forget it.

The “What to Cook When You Don’t Feel Like Cooking” newsletter started out as a cookbook concept, but is now a popular paid subscription. Its registration page on Substack is simple but (seemingly) effective.

Homepage of the

The “What to Cook When You Don’t Feel Like Cooking” newsletter started out as a cookbook concept, but is now a popular paid subscription.

5. Word of mouth

A well-written, high-value paid newsletter will almost certainly generate word-of-mouth subscriptions. And with a little encouragement, it could generate a lot.

  • Include a sharing link in each newsletter.
  • Develop a referral program (affiliate).
  • Offer discounts.
  • Ask loyal readers to recommend.

People like to share when they find something interesting, useful or entertaining.

About Madeline Powers

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