As much as some people wanted to believe in Slack’s tagline that email was dead, it seems in 2020 that email is anything but dead. I observe trends in tech, I’m always looking for new ideas and startups to explore.
One thing I have noticed these past few months in 2020 is newsletters are becoming big business.
Instead of launching products, people are launching niche newsletters. And honestly, I’m sold. The past month alone, I’ve subscribed to more newsletters than I have my entire internet life.
This newsletter called Patents Today sends you a newsletter with interesting patents. Another is called Mental Models, where they will send you an email with a new mental model and explain it to you in simple terms.
And a shameful plug, I have even taken the plunge and started my own newsletter called The Ideas Digest.
There is a heap of these things. Product Hunt has a great collection of these newsletters here. Most of the newsletters I have joined were found on Product Hunt.
What is most interesting about this new newsletter trend is that it is mostly being driven from Substack which is a genius platform that makes it easy for people to build communities built around newsletters. Think of Substack as a Tumblr meets Mailchimp type product where you can create newsletters and communities, even the ability to monetise with subscriptions.
The beautiful thing about newsletters is there is no barrier to entry, if you know something about a particular topic, you can create a newsletter and build a community for it. All that is required is knowledge and time, that’s it.
Even if you don’t know anything about a particular topic, you can make it up as you go along and take your readers on the journey with you. Maybe you’re learning to code, perhaps you’re on a journey to become an authentic French cook. Journeys in themselves are interesting enough that people would want to follow them if they are consistent.
To my knowledge, none of these Substack newsletters have made million-dollar exits nor had venture capital thrown at them. But, here is my prediction: newsletters are going to be big business going into 2021. The best thing is, you don’t need investment.
Just like streamers on YouTube and Twitch can make a decent living, not-to-mention influencers on Instagram (even with small follower counts), newsletters with large followings can make a decent income and with very little outgoing costs.
A couple of avenues that come to mind are advertisements, paid listings and referral links. Imagine building a newsletter audience to over one-million people, that kind of audience would give you access to businesses wanting to advertise. If you have built a niche audience, that is even more valuable and you don’t need one-million subscribers either.
One of the easiest ways to monetise through a platform like SubStack is subscriptions where users can subscribe to your newsletters and access exclusive members only content.
A niche newsletter with 25,000 readers in itself could be valuable. Targeted audiences are laser-focused on your niche. It’s not so much how many readers you have, but the quality of the readers you have. Are your open rates high? Do you have good engagement with your readers? Do people care about what you’re sending them?
Say you are writing about home DIY and sharing tips, you could partner up with tool companies to offer discounts, companies like Home Depot might want to advertise to an audience that is very much their target audience.
Not all ideas have to be products or built using code. Consider starting a newsletter, it might be a profitable side hustle for you.