Today’s post is a contribution from Simon Cave, blogger at TheBecomer.com and a long time Side Hustle Nation reader.
This is actually a really interesting and timely topic because I was actually thinking of starting a “newsletter-first” side hustle later this year. Stay tuned for that!
You send them to share your latest content, promote your products, services, and events and yet you are not getting the most out of it…
A few months ago, I looked for new ways to monetize my blog, the Becomer. I came across a post from Bryan Harris that caught my attention. In it, he basically explained how he made money from his email list by selling sponsorship to his newsletter.
I liked that side hustle idea so I thought that I would give it a shot.
The result? 3 days after reading the post, I landed a 3 month-contract with a couple of sponsors and made $300/month with only 30 min of work.
Then I thought that I would share what I learned with my friend Carrie Smith and guess what? She made $1,650 with a few hours of work too.
This kind of sponsorship definitely works!
Today I am going to show you how selling sponsorship to your newsletter work and how you can do it too, ready?
Nick’s Notes: Before you can sell sponsorships in your newsletter, you need a website. Here’s the fastest and cheapest way to set one up. I use ActiveCampaign to manage my email list and newsletters. Check out my full review and demo here.
How Selling Sponsorships in Your Newsletter Works
As a side hustler, entrepreneur or blogger, I’m sure you listen to a few podcasts every once in a while, and you’ve probably noticed what some podcasters do at some point on their show:
They promote products, services, apps… to you, their audience. And as you already know, they get paid for that.
Nick’s Notes: You’ve heard me do this all year on The Side Hustle Show. I will say this: getting paid to do something you’d do for free is a pretty big thrill.
Selling sponsorship to your newsletter works the same way but instead of promoting, services, apps… on a podcast, you promote them in your newsletter.
TheSkimm, does it in their newsletter.
And you can do it too.
All you have to do is open up sponsorship slots on your newsletter and find sponsors.
Here’s exactly how to do it.
Step 1: Make sure that your email list is attractive to sponsors
Let me ask you a question. If you were a sponsor, would you pay a blogger $300 to promote your product to a list of 400 inactive subscribers?
Of course not!
To attract sponsors, you have to make sure that your email list is big enough and engaged.
1,000 subscribers is a good place to start in my opinion, but you can even try this technique if you have anywhere between 500 – 1,000 subscribers. I wouldn’t recommend trying it with less than 500 subscribers because you will have a hard time getting companies interested.
Your subscribers must be also engaged. They must actually open your emails and click on your links.
If your average email open rate is 18% and your click through rate is 2%, potential sponsors will consider your community disengaged and they won’t want to work with you.
Ideally, you want your open rate to be 25% and your CTR 8%.
Nick’s Notes: I imagine newsletter sponsorships could actually command a much higher rate than podcast sponsorships because users can easily click a link and take an action.
Step 2: Create your sponsorship proposal
Before reaching out to companies, you want to create your sponsorship proposal. In other words, you want to create your offer.
Your sponsorship proposal must be about 3 things:
1. Your Offer
Will you offer sponsorship slots? Will you write a paragraph about the sponsor at the top of your newsletter? Will it be at the bottom of your email? Will you write it in bold/with a different color? Will it include an image? How many links will you add to your newsletter to promote the sponsor? Will you write a whole dedicated email about the sponsor?
Will you promote the sponsor in every newsletter you send? Will you promote it once a week? Once a month? Every Wednesday?
You need to choose how much you are going to charge and how you are going to charge. Do you want to charge your sponsor a fixed price/month? Or maybe you want to offer a pay per click option (the sponsor is charged for the number of clicks your newsletter generates)?
Pricing is probably the hardest part to figure out at this point because there is no point of reference out there.
Selling sponsorship is a little known practice. Very few entrepreneurs and bloggers do it, which means that you won’t be able to use any benchmarking. You will have to do some testing instead. The best way to do this is to pick a price that you think is right and then start reaching out sponsors to see how many get back to you with a YES.
If more than 20% of sponsors gives you a positive answer, it probably means that your price is too low. If no one gets back to you (providing you followed step 1), then your price is too high.
You can also create sponsorship packages by combining the 3 aspects I just mentioned (offer, frequency, price). For example, you could create the 3 following packages:
- Standard Package ($500 for 1 month): Mention the sponsor in 2 newsletters/week for a month. The mention will consist of a 300 word paragraph in bold at the beginning of each newsletter. The paragraph will include a link to the sponsor’s page.
- Premium Package ($700 for 1 month): A whole email about the sponsor will be sent twice in a month. The email will be between 600 and 1000 words long with a maximum of 2 links/email.
- Deluxe Package ($2,000 for 1 week): The sponsor will get a daily promotion for a week and will be able to write the copy of 6 emails.
Nick’s Notes: For that Deluxe Package, it had better be sandwiched with some valuable content or else people are going to unsubscribe faster than you can say, “But wait, there’s more!”
Step 3: Find sponsors
There are many ways to find sponsors.
Use Google search
You can do a search on Google by typing in keywords related to your niche and see what ads come up.
If these companies advertise on Google, you know they’re spending money to attract new customers, and may be interested in sponsoring your newsletter too.
Visit blogs in your niche market
When visiting blogs, pay attention to their top bar and sidebar, you will find potential sponsors there.
Listen to podcasts in your niche
Make sure to listen to a few podcasts in your niche to find out which sponsors your favorite hosts promote on their show.
Ask your friends
Some of your blogger and entrepreneur friends are probably already working with some companies. Send them a quick email to know which companies they’ve partnered with and ask them if they can introduce you to them.
Use these 3 sites
Nick’s Notes: You could also subscribe to similar newsletters (if any exist) to see what sponsors they include.
Make a list of products, services that you like and use
Whether it’s for your business or your personal use, you are currently using products, services, and tools. Why not contact the companies that have created them and sell them sponsorship? (As long as these products, services and tools are relevant to your audience.)
Nick’s Notes: One easy way to test this concept, which I actually did on The Side Hustle Show, is to start with “affiliate sponsors.” If the companies you want to work with have an affiliate program, you can start by promoting them with your affiliate link in your newsletter and see both how it performs and what reaction you get from subscribers.
Step 4: Find the email address of sponsors
Finding the email address of sponsors is pretty simple. Just go to the sponsors site and 99% of the time you will find a contact page or an email address somewhere. And in case you don’t find anything, use Email Hunter and VoilaNorbert.
Step 5: Reach out to sponsors
Let’s do a quick recap, shall we?
- You made sure that your email list is big enough and attractive – check
- You created your sponsorship proposal – check
- You made a list of sponsors to contact – check
- You got their email address – check
Now comes the important part where you actually reach out to sponsors.
There is some information that you want to include in your email such as what your blog/business is about, who’s your audience, why it would be interesting for them to work with you and more.
Jason Zook — a master of partnering with brands — recommended figuring out what each company wants, and making sure to include that in your email.
Look at it from their perspective, the company wants as much exposure as possible so what can you offer them?
Don’t use the excuse “I don’t have time.” As I mentioned before, it only took me 30 minutes to land my first sponsorship deal so I know you can do it.
What do you think? If you’ve attracted a solid subscriber base but are still struggling with monetization, I think this could be a great way to go. The important thing is to put your audience first and only work with companies you’re confident will serve them well.
And if I get my newsletter-based side business off the ground, I’m definitely going to take advantage of some of Simon’s tips!