View profile

Newsletter courses are taking off

Hello newsletter authors, Mark from Revue here again 👋 Last week we talked about send time and it see
The week in
A weekly update for newsletter editors and audience managers, sent every Tuesday morning in the US, afternoon in Europe, and evening in Asia.
Hello newsletter authors,
Mark from Revue here again 👋
Last week we talked about send time and it seems most of you are cool with my Tuesday time slot - or just read the issue whenever is most convenient while it patiently waits in the inbox. Email is great like that 📥
This week I want to talk about a type of newsletter with a very different cadence: The newsletter series or courses. 🔁 Several really cool ones were launched recently and I think it’s quite an exciting development. Hope you enjoy it, too.
Looking forward to your thoughts as always, and would love if you would forward this newsletter to a few friends who might also enjoy it. Thanks!
Lots of newsletter course launches
Newsletter courses, or series, are newsletters that instead of being sent daily, weekly or monthly, go out in a number of instalments. They are pre-produced and delivered to each subscriber at a set pace after sign-up.
Newsletter courses are not a new idea, but have recently seen a lot of interesting new launches. The one that got the most attention was The Wall Street Journal’s Six-Week Money Challenge. It’s written by personal finance journalists Bourree Lam and Julia Carpenter to help during challenging times. In the announcement, the authors explain how it works:
You’ll get one email a week with a challenge aimed at improving your knowledge of your finances. Every week, you’ll get a greeting from one of us, a warm up exercise to get you in the money mood, and a detailed step-by-step challenge.
It looks like the WSJ put a lot of effort into the series, with an expert team of writers, a fun gamification element with challenges, and beautiful illustrations.
The effort is important, because newsletter series are designed for the long-term. They should provide value to someone who signs up today or in a few months or even years. Which makes it appealing to publishers who can generate value from these series for a long time.
Kayleigh Barber does a great job at highlighting the advantages in her article ‘The second wave’: Publishers see the value of providing education through newsletter courses for Digiday.
The article has many more great examples including CNN’s seven-part Sleep But Better newsletter series, Wirecutter’s courses about credit cards, sleep and working from home, as well as BuzzFeed who pioneered the format five years ago with The 7-day Better Skin Challenge.
Publishers seem happy about the many new opportunities offered by newsletter series:
[…] building new audiences, deepening existing subscriber relationships, earning new sponsorship revenue by selling to topic-specific advertisers and extending out affiliate businesses by incorporating product recommendations that can help readers better accomplish the goals from the lessons.
And have the results to show for it:
- Buzzfeed drove 25,000 sign-ups in its first 36 hours and on average, the courses newsletters would have higher than average conversation rates between 35-55%. 
- nearly 30,000 of Wirecutter’s newsletter subscribers are subscribed to one of the publishers’ courses
And there are many more examples of successful newsletter series. Joseph Lichterman highlighted several of them in his 2019 article Why the Pew Research Center created a two-week newsletter course on U.S. immigration.
The Pew Center did a great job thinking through how the newsletter course would need to be different from other newsletters. Important points were a good visual appearance on mobile, a length limited to 600 - 800 words, fewer links, and a question that was asked to start each lesson.
And had great results also:
- Nearly 9,000 people have taken the course.
- Pew has averaged about a 60 percent open rate across all seven emails
- The newsletter has also brought in a new audience for Pew. About 70 percent of the subscribers are new to Pew’s email list
Other examples of successful newsletter series in the article are The Washington Post Voraciously Meal Plan of Action, Curbed’s The Small Fix, and Harvard Business Review’s eight-week analytics course.
So newsletter series are clearly a promising format with courses created across a wide range of topics from personal finance, to cooking, home improvement, technology or even immigration, and positive results across the board.
The week in newsletters
Newsletter series are super interesting but also quite different from regular newsletters. While thinking whether they might work for you, here is the other newsletter news of the week 💌
The Newsletter Tips Collection
17 Non-Negotiable Newsletter Things
Getting newsletter readers to reply
Emails, perfected for publishers* by Revue.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Mark from Revue

A weekly update for newsletter editors and audience managers, sent every Tuesday morning in the US, afternoon in Europe, and evening in Asia.

If you don't want these updates anymore, please unsubscribe here.
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here.
Manage all your newsletter subscriptions here.
Powered by Revue