HOW TO START A NEWSLETTER: Everything you need to know about building an audience and making money off your writing

HOW TO START A NEWSLETTER: Everything you need to know about building an audience and making money off your writing



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  • Newsletters go directly from writers to readers’ inboxes, bypassing the algorithms that influence the content of social media feeds.
  • As a result, and thanks in part to easy-to-use platforms like Substack, newsletters have enjoyed a renewed interest in the last year.
  • Substack allows writers the option to monetize their newsletter, by placing it behind a paywall, or keeping it free.
  • Below is a guide of everything an aspiring newsletter creator needs to know about how to get started, build an audience, maximize reach, and monetize.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Newsletters, one of the oldest methods of communication on the internet, have enjoyed a resurgent popularity in the last several months, spurred on by a variety of technological and business factors. 

For one, the media landscape continues to shift, as publishers and tech platforms compete against each other for revenue and reader eyeballs. Thanks to their siloed nature, flying straight from writers’ minds to readers’ inboxes, newsletters are an oasis of content not mediated by algorithms or social media platforms. Newsletters find their way directly to the intended audience’s inbox, which has helped popularize the medium.

Plus, there are more ways than ever now to make money off a newsletter. Rising platforms like Substack, Revue, Buttondown, and Ghost, have simplified the process of constructing and delivering these emails. They have also made it easier for writers to make money from their content, by offering creators the option to monetize their output by placing it behind a series of tiered paywalls. 

Combined, these forces have made newsletters one of the preeminent trends of 2020. Established journalists like Casey Newton and Anne Helen Peterson have left comfortable jobs, at Vulture and Buzzfeed respectively, to strike out on their own in the budding newsletter economy. Likewise, thousands of writers with no sizable following to boast of have launched their own newsletters, in hopes of finding success similar to that of Alicia Kennedy or the team at Petition.

To help aspiring newsletter creators, Business Insider has compiled all of its related resources below. Whether you’re still trying to figure out what to name your product, who your audience is, or how to price it (or whether or not to charge for it at all), this guide has an article to walk you through the process.

Business Insider regularly covers the latest news and must-have innovations in the newsletter ecosystem. You can read them all by subscribing to BI Premium.

Getting started

Picking a newsletter platform: Newsletters are all the rage. We broke down the 5 best platforms to use whether you want to market your business, make sales, or engage with customers

What to write about: Making money off a newsletter doesn’t come easy. Substack’s cofounder gives 4 secrets to writing emails people will pay to read.

Building your audience: Substack creators are making 6 figures off newsletters. Here’s how they built their audiences from scratch.

A case study of success: How a 25-year-old entrepreneur bootstrapped her free newsletter into a 500,000-subscriber business that made $1.1 million in one month

Tips for writers with small followings: Star writers are making 6 figures on newsletter platform Substack, but napkin math proves the odds are long. Here are 4 tips from successful writers without big followings.

The rise of Substack

How newsletters monetize writers: Newsletters are booming. Investing in writers could be the future of the media business — and a low-cost win for companies like Substack.

The Substack story: Subscription newsletter platform Substack has doubled its users as COVID-19 jeopardizes the ad-based media model

Top talent is flocking to Substack: Tech journalist Casey Newton takes us inside his upcoming newsletter, which is set to bring in at least $5,500 per month

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Subscriber Collection
Entrepreneurship
Newsletters

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