What's said in the Crew normally stays in the Crew - it's only fair. But when Newsletter Crew members Sammy Villarreal and Matthias Bohlen (of News Bundler) hit it off in our Discord server the conversation they had was too good not to share. Meet them both in this interview of Matthias by Sammy.
New to the Crew, Sammy Villarreal is after adventure and fresh ideas. He is launching a newsletter soon that will track his journey shedding his belongings and embarking on a year of van life. His goals include building up a subscription base to cover modest living costs and using his newsletter to generate momentum for a community of those who choose the nomad life. Sammy is a father first and a newsletter-aficionado second. He admits to signing up for way too many newsletters about all his interests. He’s newly and happily a part of Newsletter Crew, where “everyone is talking about the business of newsletters”, and he can launch his NomadicLifers newsletter with a bang. He shared with us that he is excited about the opportunities to interact with and learn from other creators, including a recent conversation he had with Matthias Bohlen about his start-up News Bundler.
Matthias Bohlen is a trainer for software engineering methods who turned into a solopreneur. He founded Bohlen Labs LLC and built News Bundler in early 2022. He enjoys coding and improves News Bundler constantly. Matthias weekly writings appear on newsbundler.com/blog, Substack, and Medium and cover processes, methods, and tools for newsletter growth. Outside of innovating in the newsletter space, Matthias likes to walk in the local apple fields around where he lives, and tinker with the violin and guitar.
Building the next step in paid writing
Sammy: Tell me about News Bundler
Matthias: News Bundler is a software platform that allows newsletter creators can easily partner with another newsletter and offer a bundle-deal to subscribers. It lets newsletter creators tap into the subscriber base of compatible newsletters while offering readers more newsletter for less buck.
The idea isn’t new, people have been discussing it on the internet for 10 years now. I thought, “this is really cool, let's do it!” I later discovered how difficult the nitty/gritty details can be, and I'm totally happy I could solve all of them so authors will have zero things to think about.
Basically, it works like this: Alice and Bob each have 1,000 subscribers to their newsletter, at a rate of $10. Because they both feel that their subscribers would enjoy the other’s newsletter, they decide to bundle them and offer readers two for $16. Let’s say that all 2,000 subscribers upgrade to the bundled subscription. Alice and Bob have each doubled their subscriber base. Their new subscribers net both Alice and Bob 2,000 x $16.00 (minus a platform fee).
Even if a newsletter is not ready or interested in bundling, News Bundler is a clean and easy newslettery directory with 55 categories that makes it easy for a user to find and subscribe.
Sammy: Are there any restrictions on the platform the newsletter is hosted on?
Matthias: None- I developed it myself because I wanted to be able to support all newsletter writing tools out there. So, whatever platform an author uses, it works with News Bundler. And if two newsletters that are bundled together are on different platforms, it’s not an issue.
Sammy: How many users have you been able to get on board using it, so far?
Matthias: I have 10 authors who signed up and are waiting for the payment function to go live next week. It launched on Tuesday April 12th.
Sammy: How do newsletters become bundled?
Matthias: Newsletters can self-select another buddy newsletter to be bundled with, or it’s something that can be generated on our end. Think of us as a marketplace that can sell a bundle that makes sense for your revenue stream. There’s a strategy involved in the bundling process, if two newsletters have a significant subscriber overlap, this will not generate as much revenue as a bundle with newsletters that have very little overlap. With too high a number of overlapping subscribers, the subscribers will receive the deal off of the newsletters they already subscribe to and the writers will not receive a significant enough bump in the number of subscribers.
One thing we’re considering to address this is to offer the option to upload subscriber lists and let us calculate the overlap and the projected revenue. Once the algorithm has completed this calculation, the subscriber lists will be deleted for privacy sake. This way, we offer a safety net and you can find a bundle buddy that offers the most potential for growth.
Sammy: This is more of a statement than a question... this might also work for newsletter creators who have multiple newsletters. Right?
Matthias: Oh yes, if an author writes more than one newsletter, they can use News Bundler to easily offer readers access to both newsletters at a reduced rate. That's a cool thing that I didn't even think about yet, thank you!
Sammy: Are the affiliate payout agreements between partners agreed to prior to signing up or does NewsBundler somehow auto calculate payout amounts based on some sort of predetermined calculation/formula?
Matthias: News Bundler runs a predetermined formula, automatically. The formula looks like this:
- News Bundler sells the bundle for 80% of the sum of the original two newsletter prices, offering subscribers a 20% discount.
- News Bundler keeps 8% of the original prices as a fee, the rest goes to the authors.
- Authors receive 72% of the original pricing, of a much bigger subscriber base
For anyone curious about your particular model, I developed a revenue calculator that you can use to project the increased revenue you’d earn.
Money is processed through Stripe and is directly sent to the authors. Keep in mind that Stripe does deduct credit card fees.
Sammy: How are newsletter partners notified when they receive any revenue?
Matthias: Whenever $$$ comes in from a subscriber of a bundle, News Bundler distributes it to the authors' Stripe accounts, immediately. If the authors have the Stripe Dashboard app on their phones, they can get a push notification.
Sammy: How do they receive their payments?
Matthias: As an author, you connect your bank account to your Stripe account. Stripe runs daily payouts but it keeps the money for a week to be able to fight fraud. So, you get the money after 7 days.
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