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How to get started with newsletter sponsoring

Anna from Revue
Anna from Revue
Hallo newsletter editors,
This is Mark from Revue with The Week in Newsletters.
2021 started like 2020 ended - lots of good news for newsletters but bad overall. Let’s hope things improve while newsletters keep going strong.
One aspect that I am bullish on in newsletters is monetization through sponsoring. So today I will share lots of examples of how publishers and indie authors alike are increasingly finding success with that business model.

More and more newsletters get sponsoring right
We’ve seen many examples of sponsoring working well for newsletters.
Two winning formats are local newsletters like 6AM City or WhereBy.Us and the demographically focused newsletters like Morning Brew or TheSkimm.
And while sponsoring seems more difficult for indie authors without sales teams, there are many successful examples such as Ann Friedman’s classifieds, or Ernie Smith and Kai Brach offering sponsoring options for Tedium and Dense Discovery respectively.
Let’s look at some of the solutions in more detail.
Ann Friedman has been publishing her newsletter on NY culture since 2013 and has inspired many other newsletter editors. Her monetization model has not changed much and is a combination of a paid version with premium content and classified ads.
We can learn a lot from how she set up classified sales. There’s a landing page with the available formats and costs and a possibility to book. It’s fully self-service and built using Squarespace’s commerce features. A classified is $120 for 150 characters and reaches 50,000 subscribers at a 45% open rate.
Media newsletters Deez Links and Study Hall apparently did look at Ann’s model closely and have partnered up to offer classifieds in a very similar way. The rate is $150 for 280 characters in both newsletters, with a total list size of 12,000. Unlike Ann’s fully automated solution, they are currently using a Google form that potential sponsors can use to reach out.
The above are well-known newsletters with many subscribers. But smaller newsletters can also get started with sponsoring. Here’s Carl Chenet sharing how he approached sponsoring. His newsletter “Le Courrier du Hacker” has grown to some 3,000 subscribers after 150 issues.
You’re ready, but how to attract sponsors for your newsletter? It may seem very basic, but trust me I’ve tried it before: simply talk about it to your audience. Just like that! It works.
Since then, Carl has developed a landing page with PayPal checkout to allow sponsors to book a slot for €299.
Kai Brach also has custom-built a fully automated sponsoring solution for Dense Discovery. Kai is another thought leader in the newsletter space and his booking page is top notch. Quite expectedly, his ad inventory sells out quickly at $475 to reach some 30,000 subscribers at a 50% open rate.
Nonetheless I spotted Dense Discovery on one of the many newsletter sponsoring platforms that are gaining popularity. It’s available on Letterwell, albeit without pricing information or the possibility to book directly.
Letterwell is a marketplace where newsletter publishers and sponsors can find each other. And it’s not the only one.
Another newsletter sponsoring platform where I have spotted some familiar faces is upstart.me, which amongst others lists Ernie Smith’s Tedium and Hung Lee’s Recruiting Brainfood.
Another example is the hecto platform where I have seen Newsletter Crew and #jesspicks listed amongst others.
Besides the possibility to get discovered and contacted by sponsors, I find these marketplaces useful for getting an idea about rates. Here’s a quick sample I took from letter,well, upstart.me and hecto:
The newsletters accepting sponsors come in various shapes and sizes and as a result the sponsoring rates vary greatly. We actually see some smaller newsletters at the high-end, so clearly audience and topic have a big influence, too.
And while the above marketplaces are targeted at indie newsletters, there’s a first sponsoring platform for newsletter publishers also. The team behind WhereBy.Us has recently launched Letterhead, which works quite similarly:
Overall, the newsletter sponsoring solutions still seem in full on development. There are lots of custom-built solutions and marketplaces that were launched only recently. And sponsoring rates depend on many factors including list size, open rate, and target market.
But I do see an upwards trend, as more newsletter editors figure out how to do sponsoring successfully and manage to find a suitable solution from a technical perspective.
The week in newsletters
Success factors of Morning Brew
How Finimize grew a million subscribers
Today in Tabs is back
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Anna from Revue
Anna from Revue @revue

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