Start a Newsletter Business with AI PART 5 – Monetization, Advertising and Sponsorships

Hey Prompt Entrepreneur,

And here we are at the end of the process.

Over the past 4 Parts we’ve laid our foundations for growth.

Now I’ll talk about how you’ll go about monetising your newsletter.

This will be a mix of methods for immediate revenue as well as reviewing the later possibilities so you know what you are aiming for.

Let’s get started:

Monetization: Advertising and Sponsorships

1. Recommending other newsletters

The first technique you can immediately start using is generating revenue from each new subscriber you get.

We can do this by recommending other newsletters we think would be helpful for our readers.

An example. I like the newsletter “The Rundown”. It’s a great breaking news newsletter for AI. Therefore when people sign up for my newsletter I show a quick message that asks if they want to subscribe to “The Rundown”.

It looks a bit like this:

The Rundown AIGet the rundown on the latest developments in AI before everyone else.Subscribe

If someone clicks the link, I get paid $1-2. The exact amount depends on the newsletter.

Better, the widget I show has 3 newsletters that I recommend, which means for every new subscriber I get I can potentially generate 3 x $1-2 or $3 to $6.

It’s small but adds up. 10 new subscribers a day could mean $60 of revenue for instance. Pretty cool.

How do we set this up?

In beehiiv it’s easy. We use Boosts. Go to Monetisation > Boosts and you’ll see a list of offers, how much they pay and their terms.

Just choose ones that you think would be genuinely useful for your audience. Make sure to actually read the newsletter! Don’t just choose newsletters based on who is paying the most – your brand reputation is more important than this.

Not on beehiiv? No problem – check out Upscribe by Sparkloop. It’s free. It requires more manual installation than beehiiv but is a great option if you aren’t using beehiiv.

Use recommendations to get your revenue flowing as the first step. It’s automatic, easy to implement and no brainer additional cash.

2. Affiliate offers

The next layer of monetisation we add is affiliate offers.

An affiliate offer is basically a link to a product or service that you add to you newsletter. If a reader goes to that link and makes a purchase you, the person who sent them, gets a percentage of the sale.

One of the best known affiliate programmes is Amazon Associates. By becoming an Amazon Associate you can send people to Amazon to buy products. When they buy you make a percentage of that Amazon sale.

If I ran a board gaming newsletter I could review and recommend a board game in my newsletter and add a link to the board game on Amazon.

If someone buys the board game I’d make 6% of the sale. If the board game was $50 I’d make $3. If I drove 100 purchases I’d make $300. Nice.

To check out Amazon’s pay out rates check here for USA: Associate Commissions or Google “your country + Amazon Associates Commission Statement” to find the local rates.

The reason this works well with early stage newsletters is that size doesn’t matter. You can join an affiliate programme and drive however many sales – you aren’t locked into delivering a certain result. Therefore it’s a good early stage revenue stream.

And there are many many affiliate programmes out there. Amazon is one of the largest but we’re going to use ChatGPT to find others.

Here’s a prompt for starting our affiliate journey:

Act as an affiliate marketing expert. 

I write a newsletter about [topic]

Give me a list of known affiliate offers (products and services) in this niche from a wide range of sources like Amazon, Clickbank and other affiliate marketplaces, education marketplaces, individual brands, blogs and influencers

Give me a total of 20 specific known offers 

Prompt Output 💬

Using [topic] = board games

This prompt will give us places to go and check out.

From here visit the websites and find their affiliate programmes. Google “name of website + affiliate” to find the exact page quickly.

From there check their payout rates and terms and conditions. Register for the ones you like the look of to get your affiliate links. Then simply start to drop those links into your upcoming newsletters.

This could be an issue that is specifically a review.

Or it could be a general link to their website – for example I might say “This issue brought to you by Zatu Games” at the top of my site and add my affiliate link straight to their homepage. If they then browse around and make a purchase you’ll take a cut.

3. Newsletter Sponsorship

Next up is sponsorship.

This is when a company pays you to feature their product or service.

It could be a link at the top of your newsletter, a small classified advert, a featured piece in the newsletter or even a whole issue takeover.

There are lots of creative ways to do sponsorships but always make sure that it is a positive experience for your readers too!

Generally you’ll need a few thousand subscribers before sponsorship makes sense. I’ve seen newsletters do it with 2000 subscribers in certain niches but generally you’d want to be at 5,000 or ideally 10,000 before it becomes worthwhile for a company to sponsor you.

Act as a sponsorship broker

I publish a newsletter about [topic]

Provide me with a list of companies that might be interested in sponsoring my newsletter. 

The companies must match the size of new newsletter. For example a small company will be interested in sponsoring my newsletter when small but a large company will not. I wish to get larger and larger companies as sponsors as I grow. 

Provide 5 suggestions for each stage of growth:
1000-5000 subscribers (very small)
5000-10000 subscribers (small)
10000-50000 subscribers (medium)
500000-100000 subscribers (large)
100000+ subscribers (very large)

Provide specific company names

Return everything in tabular format

Prompt Output 💬

Using [topic] = vegan fitness

Use this a starting list to start reaching out to potential sponsors. At this point it’s basically cold outreach via email and LinkedIn until you get some interest.

That’s a little too much to go into here so I’ll refer you to Email Sponsorship as a solid resource.

Alternatively you can work with companies that will do outreach for you and help you secure sponsorships. They’ll charge a flat monthly fee, take a commission or both.

If you have a strong audience in the right niche this investment is well worth it. Shoot me a tweet or DM and I can provide up to date recommendations here.

4. Advertising

Advertising in the context of newsletters is allowing ads to be inserted directly into your issues.

This is done “programmatically”. The ads can change and alter to best fit your audience and (theoretically) lead to more clicks and better performance for your advertisers.

As such this tends to the be most high volume, highest paying source of revenue. It’s also nice and automatic, especially compared to securing sponsorships.

However, it means ceding some control over exactly what is shown to your audience. That’s a deal breaker for some newsletters.

It also (generally) requires a high level of subscribers – 10,000 is a good benchmark but it depends entirely on the advertising platform.

beehiiv has their own advertising platform directly in the interface: beehiiv Ad Network which makes everything a bit easier.

If using a different newsletter system though then Paved is the big player in this industry.

Pulling it together

In this part we’ve covered how to start generating revenue from your newsletter.

In brief

  • when you get started roll with newsletter recommendations and affiliate offers
  • when you hit 5,000 or 10,000 subscribers (depending on niche) add in sponsorships
  • at 10,000 look into programmatic advertising

These four pillars will give you a solid foundation of revenue – automatic low level payments from recommendations and affiliate and more manual big chunks of cash from sponsorships.

And of course as you continue to grow your sign up rate, subscriber count, clicks and sponsorship prices go up so that all of these methods also increase the amount of revenue they are generating.

Wrapping up

Let’s review what we’ve covered:

Part 1: Understanding Newsletters and AI Tools

Part 2: Setting up your newsletter

Part 3: Content Creation with AI – Part 1

Part 4: Content Creation with AI – Audience Building

Part 5: Monetisation: Advertising and Sponsorships

Solid work!

If you run through these past steps you’ll have the basic foundations of your newsletter in the right place for growth.

From here it’s about consistency and growth. Keep publishing, keep building the audience, keep refining the newsletter based on your audience’s feedback.

It will be slow initially. I won’t lie to you about that.

But the work we’ve done over the last week has put all your basic systems in place so that this work will pay off if you keep at it.

Have we missed things? Absolutely.

This is because I wanted to give you the bare minimum to get you up and running and creating. Once you are in the world of newsletters you’ll find other ways to do things, more ideas for your content, better techniques for growth etc.

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