You’ve started writing a newsletter and you’re growing your audience. You’ve nailed your writing style and are becoming known as an expert on your subject matter. Now it’s time to think about monetising it.
So, how much should you charge for your email newsletter?
It’s a question we get asked a lot and it’s a tricky one to answer. Most newsletters tend to price between $5-$15 per month – but that’s not a hard rule, and the value of a newsletter depends greatly on a number of things (topic, audience, quality of insight etc).
To help shed some light on this topic, we’ve put together a list of 7 considerations for any budding writer wanting to turn their free email newsletter into a paid one. Let’s get into it.
1. Check out what your competitors are charging
This is an obvious tip, but one of the most important (and easiest) things to do. Unless you are the only email newsletter in your field of expertise, pay a visit to all the other newsletters in your space that are already charging.
Take the time to examine what they do and ask yourself (honestly) how you think your publication matches up. If your content is similar to, or offers more value, then you can base your initial pricing around your competitors to see what resonates.
Don’t have any immediate competitors? Go straight to tip #2.
2. Ask your readers
Another really obvious tip is to talk to your most loyal readers directly and gather first-hand feedback on your newsletters. Find out what they like about it, how it helps them and where they see value.
Brace yourself for some difficult answers – you may well find that your audience isn’t prepared to pay for your content just yet. But you can convert that feedback to mould your content into something that your readers will be willing to pay for.
3. Know your audience
Knowing your audience is a vital guide to a pricing strategy. Generally, your audience will be tied to the content you are producing.
For example, if you’re newsletter contains in-depth financial analysis read by C-suite executives with a lot of disposable income, it stands to reason that your pricing point might be higher than most. Conversely, if you’re producing a newsletter on Sourdough, read mostly by home-bakers with much less disposable income, you’ll be looking at a much lower cost.
If you have good knowledge of your audience, and know some of the other publications they subscribe to, then you can start to make some informed decisions about how much you should be charging.
4. Understand the value of your newsletter
This is probably the most important part of pricing a newsletter, but also the hardest to really answer – what is the value of your newsletter in the eyes of your audience? Or, to put it another way, how much would a reader actually be prepared to pay to read your newsletter?
Value, in this sense, is what your newsletter helps your reader do. What perspective does it offer that they can’t get elsewhere? What decision does it help them make? These are some existential questions that must be answered before you start pricing.
But the key thing to remember is to price your newsletter on what it helps people do – rather than the content you are delivering.
5. Factor in the costs
When you start charging for your newsletter, your platform will also start charging you payment fees. With so many publishing platforms out there, each using its own pricing model, it’s important to choose one whose fees wont compromise your earnings.
One of the easiest ways to choose is by running few basic calculations based on fees and your subscriber count. Start small – how much will it cost with 10 subscribers? Then 100? Then 1,000? We’ve looked at the fees of some of the biggest publishers in the financial publishing space and answered the all-important cost question for you below:
On top of platform fees, most services will also charge payment processing fees, which can quickly add up. At Scriber, we charge a flat 7% of all revenue generated, inclusive of all payment fees and charges. This means you won’t be hit with any transaction fees and you get to keep more of your revenue – exactly how it should be.
You can find out more about fees in our resources area.
6. Set yourself a (reasonable) revenue target
It always helps to have a target revenue in mind. This allows you to track progress and manage your expectations of your paid email newsletter.
It’s very easy to pick a target out of thin air and be unrealistic in your ambitions. Everybody wants to make millions – but it pays to start small. Take some time to really think about how many of your existing free subscribers are likely to convert to paying subscribers at the first time of asking (see tip 2: You could always ask them) and calculate what the revenue might look like with a range of prices.
When you do launch, keep a very close eye on your free-to-paid conversion rate. It’s the key indicator of whether you’ve priced your newsletter correctly with your audience.
7. Use discounts to test
A very effective way to find your optimal price is to test different pricing points via discounts. This can be in the form of early-adopter discounts or special offers – something that adds a little extra incentive and some urgency on the readers part.
Use discounts carefully, however – discount too little and it wont act as much of an incentive. Discount too much and you may end up inadvertently devaluing your newsletter in the eyes of your potential audience. Stick to modest increments – 10%, 15%, 20% off – and and be guided by the data you collect.
Ultimately, there’s no “correct” way to price your newsletter from the start. With so many factors in play, it will likely take time to find a pricing point that works for both you and your readers – so don’t be disheartened if nobody subscribes right away.
What matters is that your price accurately reflects the value of your content in the eyes of your readers.
Keep testing. Keep looking at the data.
Got your own tips to share?
If you’ve already gone paid and have some pricing tips of your own, let us know at email@example.com and we’ll add the best ones to this post.