This post is brought to you in partnership with Paved, a marketplace connecting newsletter creators and brands to create sponsorship campaigns that resonate with engaged audiences. Paved is made up of a network of publishers dedicated to building communities centered on every topic you could imagine, from musician gear to front-end web development tools.
From building a community to sharing your thoughts with like-minded readers, writing a newsletter can be a rewarding endeavor. However, it takes significant time and energy and it can be hard to deliver high-quality content if you can’t cover your costs.
Sponsorships are a great way to generate revenue for your newsletter while continuing to deliver value to your subscribers. So let’s talk about how newsletter sponsorships work, how they compare to other monetization strategies and how you can start running your own sponsorships as part of your revenue model.
What’s a newsletter sponsorship?
A newsletter sponsorship is a paid advertisement that runs on a single email newsletter. In contrast to a ‘programmatic ad’, a sponsorship is a direct partnership between an advertiser and a newsletter publisher. Newsletter sponsorships can be divided into two categories: sponsored emails and dedicated emails.
A sponsored email is a sponsorship placement within a newsletter. Ideally, this type of ad will be incorporated natively into the rest of the content, along with a sponsorship disclosure.
A dedicated email, by contrast, is entirely devoted to the advertiser’s message, aside from the publisher’s logo at the top of the page. Most dedicated emails will go out to the newsletter’s entire subscriber list. However, some publishers offer targeted options that will only be sent out to specific segments of their audience.
Newsletter sponsorships vs. premium subscriptions
Another common newsletter monetization strategy is premium subscriptions, or paid newsletters. Some publishers will require membership for all subscribers, whereas others will offer a premium edition as an add-on to their free newsletter.
Because premium newsletters tend to have weekly or monthly rates, they often provide a more consistent revenue stream. However, many publishers prefer to keep their newsletters accessible to all subscribers, especially when they’re still growing. Additionally, figuring out what readers are willing to pay for can be a difficult process.
Some publishers may worry that sponsorships will undermine their integrity or hurt their reader experience. However, that doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, newsletter sponsorships can allow you to monetize your newsletter while delivering additional value to subscribers through exclusive deals or product recommendations.
In the end, you don’t have to choose between sponsorships and premium subscriptions. Many newsletters manage to successfully pull off both. All that matters is how well you execute your plan.
How to start monetizing with newsletter sponsorships
For most newsletters, landing a sponsorship isn’t as easy as posting an announcement on your website. Typically it requires some preparation to set your newsletter up for consistent sponsorships. Fortunately, it’s a worthwhile investment.
Create a media kit
Building a media kit is a key step in attracting advertisers to your publication. This promotional tool is designed to educate sponsors about your content and demographics. It should include a description of your newsletter, including your mission and which topics you cover.
Additionally, you’ll want to include some information about your audience demographics. Do you mainly publish content specific to women? Does your readership lean more toward Gen-Z?
You’ll also want to include some data-driven statistics, including gender, age, location and income. Many publishers retrieve this information from their email service provider (ESP), or from a tracking software like Google Analytics.
Lastly, include email metrics such as subscriber count, click-through rate and open rate (unless your list is full of Apple users). Additionally, if you’ve ever run an advertisement or newsletter sponsorship in the past, results from previous campaigns can also give potential sponsors a sense of what to expect.
Decide what kind of sponsorships to offer
When deciding whether to run a sponsorship, most advertisers will want to see what a placement in your newsletter would look like. Think about what kind of sponsorship you want to offer, whether it’s a dedicated email or a placement within the newsletter.
Once you decide, it can’t hurt to mock up a few designs of where the sponsorship would be placed and how you’d incorporate it into your newsletter. You can even sketch out an example advertisement to show to potential sponsors.
Set your rates
Before advertising your sponsorship placements, you’ll have to decide how much to charge. If you’ve never run a newsletter sponsorship before, it can be difficult to decide where to set your rates. Most newsletters set their prices based on CPM, or cost per 1000 subscribers. However, that rate can depend on a variety of factors, including your target audience, engagement metrics, and sponsorship performance.
If you need help settling on a rate, you can try browsing a marketplace like Paved to see what similar newsletters are charging. Additionally, you can always opt to charge slightly less at first. Then, once your slots fill up, you can begin to raise your rates.
Attracting advertisers is often the most difficult step in running newsletter sponsorships. Unfortunately, even the most well-planned sponsorship is useless without an advertiser who’s willing to pay for it. If you find yourself struggling to generate interest from sponsors, start reaching out to brands who might be interested.
Make a list of companies in your niche, and look for a PR contact or contact form on their website. From there, you can craft a proposal about what your newsletter can offer. This strategy may take some time, especially for smaller newsletters. However, it’ll get easier over time as you start to get more advertisers and build a portfolio to show future prospects.
Join a marketplace
Newsletter sponsorships are a great way to monetize your publication, build relationships with advertisers and bring valuable content to your subscribers. However, it can take some time and effort to start up the process. Joining a marketplace can give you a headstart on your monetization strategy.
If your newsletter has 10k+ subscribers, you can sign up to be a publisher at Paved. At Paved, you can get help through every step of the process, including building your media kit, setting your rates and finding advertisers through our marketplace.