You’ve all heard the advice that “the money’s in the list,” right? You’ve been working hard to build your email list, but how can you monetize it the right way? After all, you don’t want to lose them once you start trying to make money.
We’ve gathered seven ways you can earn money from your email list that you can implement today. These are safe ways people have used to make money from their email list while still retaining their readers (and even growing it). Take a look and see if any would work for you.
You Make Money Indirectly From Your List
Before we dive into how to make money off your list, it’s important to remember that making money off your list should be the second or even third reason why you’re emailing them. The beauty of a list is that you have direct access to the people on it. They want to hear from you specifically, and you’ve got their virtual ear.
Your mailing list isn’t for everyone. It’s for a specific person with specific interests and needs. They’ll only click on your links if they trust you, and you build that trust by communicating with them regularly without selling anything to them. You build your list by sending out content even when you have nothing to sell. They come to you first for the valuable information, and they trust you because you don’t immediately try to sell them something.
How to Monetize Your Email List
Now let’s dive into the ways you can make money off your email list.
1. Sell Your Own Products
After you have your list for a while, you hopefully know enough about them and have been providing enough valuable info to them that they ask you for more. So, make that thing they’re asking about and sell it to them. For example, if they’re always asking you the same questions about how to set up a service, create a mini-course about how to do that.
Once you have a few products available, send special offers and discount deals for them to your email list. Encourage more signups to your list by telling everyone that only subscribers get the discounts.
2. Put Some of Your Best Content Behind a Paywall
Newspapers and magazines have been doing this online for years, why not you? Take some of your best content and put it behind a paywall. Then, send out a teaser for it in your emails and ask people to purchase access.
Try this with your best and most popular content, which you can find by looking at your website and email analytics. Discover what content is shared the most, has the most comments, or gets the most clicks.
3. Sell Other People’s Products
Most people think selling affiliate products is the easiest way to make money through your list, but in reality, it’s a lot harder. Because you didn’t create them yourself, you have to dig deep into the product to find out why your list should care about them. People will need a clear reason to buy, so make sure you understand what it is and explain it to them.
Reminder: Several countries globally (including the U.S.) require you to disclose affiliate links anywhere you use them, so make sure you do.
4. Cross-Sell and UpSell
You use these techniques to sell your list an additional or related product to something they’ve already purchased or are interested in. For example, if they buy a cookbook, you could cross-sell them some kitchen gadgets.
As your email list grows and you get to know people, segment them into different categories. Then, you can send them personalized offers for related products or services they’d be interested in. These emails are highly targeted and customized, which tend to perform better.
5. Include Ads In Your Emails
Another way to make money off your list is to include third-party ads in your emails. Typically, that’s done by selling ad space in the email itself or by offering sponsorships to selected advertisers. Advertisers will only be interested if you have a large, segmented list because they know that targeted audiences have higher engagement rates and are more likely to buy products.
Choose one of the two main ways to sell advertising in your emails:
- Sponsored emails: This is the email version of “this podcast is sponsored by…” messages you hear midway through your favorite podcast episode. Work closely with the sponsor to keep the products and emails relevant to your audience.
- Online ads: You can sign up for an automatic ad network like Blogads or BuySellAds, which will automatically place relevant ads into your emails based on keywords and other metadata. Or you can sell online ad slots like WPMail.me does. Their emails go out weekly to nearly 10,000 people, and their ad slots start at $90 per issue.
If you sell ads, make sure to preserve the quality of your newsletter. Otherwise, your audience will wither up pretty fast if you’re just spamming them with sales emails.
6. Sell Subscriptions for Member-Exclusive Content
A newer way to earn money from your email list is to sell subscriptions for member-exclusive content. When you do this, you’re putting all of your content behind a paywall using a service like Substack or Patreon. This route works well if you’re an established authority and expert in a particular field, or you want to target a particular audience.
There are a couple of different ways you can go about this:
- Patronage: BrainPickings offers her content for free, but requests a small donation if you find it interesting.
- Sponsorship: Rachael Herron offers essays on the creative life once a month through her Patreon memberships, and Lindsay Gibbs does this with her Power Plays newsletter about sexism in sports that she offers through Substack.
7. Sell Access to Your List
You can also sell access to your list to advertisers or brands that are relevant to your audience. Think of a business coach buying access to a list with a lot of small business owners. You can charge a flat fee for access or ask for a percentage of whatever they earn through your list.
The best way to do this is to write an introduction at the start of the email, so your readers know you approved the message. This is part of the trust agreement your readers have with you. You could also offer to write the entire message since you know your audience better than the advertiser, and you can tailor the message better for your readers.
You created your list to have a more direct way to communicate with your readers. Use these tips to monetize your list to earn a little money while you provide them with helpful and valuable information.
It might take you some time to find the right balance between driving revenue and delivering an excellent experience to your readers. Once you do, you’ll be able to continue to offer value to your readers while you enjoy a new revenue stream from your list.