Are you wondering how to make money with email marketing?
Many businesses start an email newsletter because they’ve been told email marketing has the best ROI.
But they don’t actually know how to make money from email marketing newsletters. They end up producing content that doesn’t lead to sales. Or they give up because it’s too much work for too little reward.
Good news! Email marketing doesn’t have to be a slog. Once you know how to make money from email marketing, you’ll want to write newsletters all the time.
In this article, we’ll go over 13 ways to make money from your email newsletter.
Are you ready? Let’s get started!
How Do Email Lists Make Money?
First, let’s go over the 3 basic ways that you can make money from email newsletters.
Email newsletters are a bit like blog content. You own the channel and you can create whatever content you want. The only difference is that email is sent directly to subscribers who have chosen to hear from you, while blog posts rely on search and referral traffic.
Because of this similarity, many of the ways to make money from a blog apply to email lists as well. There are 3 main ways to make money from your newsletter:
- As part of a larger sales funnel
- Charging for the content itself
- Monetizing your audience or access to your audience
In the next section, we’ll go over strategies from each of the above categories.
Top 13 Ways to Monetize Your Newsletter
In this section, we’ll first go over how to use email newsletters as part of your sales funnel. We emphasize these strategies first because you don’t need a large email list to run a profitable sales funnel.
Monetizing your content or audience generally requires more subscribers to make any meaningful revenue, but it’s certainly possible. So we’ll also go over how to make money with your email marketing content itself.
Here’s a table of contents to help you find what you’re looking for:
- Newsletters for eCommerce Sales Funnels
- Newsletters for Small Business Sales Funnels
- Newsletters for Nonprofit Sales Funnels
- How to Make Money From Any Email Newsletter
- FAQ About How To Make Money From Email Marketing Newsletters
Newsletters for eCommerce Sales Funnels
You can achieve a high conversion rate with eCommerce email newsletters because customers are already looking to buy when they subscribe to your list. Here are 3 ways to use email marketing in your eCommerce sales funnel:
1. Upsell, Downsell, Cross-sell
When it comes to email marketing in eCommerce, upsells, downsells, and cross-sells are your best friends.
These terms all sound a bit similar, so let’s clarify what they mean:
- Upsell: You promote a product that’s more expensive than what your customers have already purchased in the past, such as an upgrade or extension.
- Downsell: You promote a product that costs less than what the customer currently has in their cart. This is a great way to recover carts that would be abandoned because of price.
- Cross-sell: You promote related products regardless of pricing.
If you’re able to track your customer’s purchase history or abandoned carts, sending these newsletters out should be a breeze. You’ll simply write a few emails for your most popular products and send them to your audience.
For even better results, make sure you segment your audience, too. This is where you organize your contact list by different subscriber traits, such as location, demographics, or purchase history.
Did you know that you can also display targeted promotional campaigns on your website with OptinMonster?
OptinMonster is the best lead generation tool for growing your list and bringing customers into your sales funnel.
It allows anyone to quickly and easily create stunning optin campaigns in minutes.
By “optin campaigns,” we simply mean things you’re already familiar with, like popups, floating bars, fullscreen welcome mats, and more.
Best of all, you can even use OptinMonster’s OnSite Follow Up Campaigns to highlight new products, recommend products to customers who have opted in for a coupon, or to present a low-cost offer immediately after they opt in.
2. Send Seasonal Promotions
Another way to make money with your email newsletters is to promote your seasonal offers. This would be for major holidays like:
- Black Friday
- Winter holidays
- Valentine’s Day
- Labor Day
- And more…
Or you can simply run specials that are unique to your store. For example, you may sell a seasonal or weather-dependent product like blankets. You could run a promotion the week of the first frost. You also could do a mid-summer clearance to move inventory from the previous season, and boost sales during the slow season.
Regardless, you can easily send these offers to your mailing list to increase your site’s bottom line.
You can also create matching campaigns on your website with OptinMonster. Most people need to see an offer multiple times before they decide.
With OptinMonster’s targeting rules, you can show your email subscribers special seasonal offers. This is an easy way to build a personalized customer experience that can lead to more conversions.
3. Start a VIP Program
A subscriber-exclusive VIP program is a great way to build your list and generate more sales. You can create a special optin form using OptinMonster’s drag and drop builder. To make it a true VIP experience, this optin can be shown only to past customers or visitors who have been to your site several times already.
Then you can send special promotions and updates to this list. These customers will be the most eager to hear from you, so you can hope for a higher conversion rate from your VIP list.
Newsletters for Small Business Sales Funnels
If you run a small business that isn’t eCommerce based, you might be wondering how to make money from email marketing newsletters.
The good news is that email marketing is great for building relationships that lead to client inquiries and referrals. Even if a subscriber doesn’t hire you directly, they might recommend you to someone if you’ve delivered enough value in your email newsletter.
Here are 3 ways to market your small business in your email newsletter:
4. Fill Openings In Your Calendar
Unbooked slots are terrible for service providers because you’re often paying your overhead expenses whether you have a client or not. You can use your email newsletter to fill slots in your calendar, sometimes with very short notice.
Your email list is likely filled with past clients or at least visitors who are big enough fans to hand over their email address. So it may be easier to fill those last minute slots through your email newsletter than general ads.
You can also use your newsletter to book your calendar out farther in advance. For example, if you know you’ll be going on parental leave or extended vacation, you can offer your remaining slots to your email list. This will help create both a sense of urgency and exclusivity, both of which can boost your bookings.
5. Promote Digital Products
Contrary to what you may hear on the Internet, digital products don’t just sell themselves once you create them. Just like eCommerce products, digital products need promotion and marketing too. Your newsletter is a great place to do that.
It doesn’t need to be a direct sales pitch, though it can be if you’re launching a new or limited-time seasonal product. Occasional mentions can reap big rewards over time.
Remember: your subscribers opted in to learn from your expertise. If you have a digital product that can help them, send out a free email about the same topic. Include a soft pitch for your product and a link where subscribers can buy.
As with eCommerce, you can set up corresponding campaigns for your digital products using OptinMonster.
6. Sell Workshops and Group Programs
Email newsletters are a great way to drive registrations to workshops or group programs.
Your list is a group of your biggest fans who are probably eager to spend time with you face to face. If you’ve been delivering helpful content in your newsletters, this is especially true.
Workshops and group programs can be more affordable for your subscribers who can’t afford to work with you individually. You can also use free workshops as a list builder, like in the example below.
OptinMonster integrates seamlessly with WPForms so you can easily serve popup registration forms on your website.
Newsletters for Nonprofit Sales Funnels
Just because an organization is a nonprofit doesn’t mean it doesn’t need money to operate. You can use your nonprofit email marketing newsletter as a way to raise awareness, fundraise, and recruit volunteers.
7. Share Impact Stories
Your nonprofit newsletter is a great place to share how your organization is making a difference.
Every newsletter is an opportunity to highlight someone who benefits from your work. Then you can include a simple invitation to contribute to the cause.
8. Create a Recurring Givers Program
You can use your email marketing newsletter to create a special community for recurring givers.
It’s similar to a VIP program for eCommerce, but instead of sending coupons and promotions, you can send exclusive updates or invitations to special donor events.
9. Recruit Volunteers
Nonprofits need volunteers as much as they need funds. Plus, volunteers often become donors, and some grant funding is contingent upon volunteer service hours. So growing your volunteer force can help your nonprofit’s bottom line.
Your nonprofit email marketing newsletter is a great place to remind supporters that they can give their time as well as their money.
You can set up a form specifically to build a list of potential volunteers. Then you can send out profiles and testimonials from current volunteers, volunteer training dates, and special or ongoing volunteer opportunities.
How to Make Money From Any Email Newsletter
Our final 4 newsletter monetization tips can be applied to any industry or business model. You can even make the newsletter itself your primary product, just like with blogging. You’ll need to grow a much bigger audience to make a full-time living from it, but with the right tools and strategies, you can do it!
10. Paid Subscriptions
One of the most straightforward ways to make money from email marketing newsletters is to sell subscriptions.
That’s right, just like print magazines and newspapers! (Remember those?)
In its simplest form, here’s how newsletter subscriptions work:
- You create content for your newsletter.
- Subscribers pay to access it.
That’s it! Many creators use a limited freemium model to grow their lists. Free subscribers get a preview or less frequent newsletters. Premium subscribers get full or more frequent newsletters.
You can use services like Substack or Patreon to sell subscriptions to your newsletter, but you’ll have to pay monthly fees based on how many subscribers you have, plus any regular payment processing fees.
We prefer to use a self-hosted option like WPForms to create a recurring payment form that is then linked to your email service provider (ESP). You can learn how to create a recurring payment form and how to create a newsletter signup form.
Another option is to use a membership plugin to create a paid newsletter in WordPress.
11. Email Courses
A variation on paid subscriptions is paid email courses.
Rather than selling ongoing new content, you sell a pre-made online course delivered by email. In your course, you teach something specific in bite-sized pieces.
This is a great way to deliver online course content without paying for a separate course platform.
Email courses also make great lead magnets if you decide to offer one for free.
Just like blog posts and podcast episodes, email newsletters can be sponsored. This essentially means that a brand pays you to mention their company or product in your email newsletter.
This can be a small blurb at the end of your email similar to a classified ad in the newspaper.
Or it can be a more prominent feature near the top of your newsletter.
Either way, you want to be transparent about what content is sponsored by whom. You also want to respect your subscribers. They subscribed to hear from you about your area of expertise, not your sponsors. Always make sure your sponsored content aligns with your own content.
13. Affiliate Links
An easy way to monetize your email newsletter is to promote affiliate links. Here’s how it works:
- You promote affiliate products in your newsletter and on your site
- Your audience buys those products from your unique links
- You get a commission from those sales
It really is that simple!
But remember, the goal isn’t to SPAM your audience.
Writing over-the-top sales pitches for all your affiliate products and sending out 5 emails a day is a great way to get flagged for spam and kill your deliverability rates.
Instead, think of affiliate recommendations like making suggestions to your friends. Only promote products you actually use and love. It shouldn’t be the core of your email marketing strategy.
You can use OptinMonster to promote your affiliates on your website and encourage subscriber signups.
In fact, Human Food Bar was able to grow their email list and generate $17,000+ in affiliate sales with OptinMonster:
If you’re serious about affiliate marketing, Pretty Links is a great tool to help you manage your affiliate links in your newsletters and on your website. Pretty Links shortens long, ugly affiliate links into clean, memorable, speakable, totally shareable links.
For a more in-depth look, check out this helpful resource: How to Make Money While You Sleep With Affiliate Marketing.
FAQ About How To Make Money From Email Marketing Newsletters
How Much Money Can You Make with Email Marketing?
The sky is truly the limit when it comes to your ROI on email marketing. In general, you’ll get out what you put in. Create high-quality content and respect your subscribers, and they’ll reward you. Spam your list with too many affiliate links or promotional material, and you’ll lose subscribers and credibility.
That being said, for most small businesses, using email newsletters as part of your existing sales funnel will make more money more quickly than placing affiliate links or sponsored content in your newsletters.
How Many Subscribers Do You Need To Monetize a Newsletter?
Many people think you need a huge list to make money from an email newsletter, but that’s not always true. A small but targeted and engaged email list is nearly always more profitable than a large, unorganized list.
There are no hard and fast rules for how many subscribers you need to monetize. But in general, here are the strategies in order of how many subscribers you’d need to see a decent ROI, from least to most subscribers:
- Booking clients from your email list: Depending on how much your services cost, you may only need a few people from your list to hire you in order to be profitable.
- Promoting your own products: This will vary depending on how much your products cost, but you’ll keep all the money from product sales so you need to make fewer sales compared to affiliate link sales.
- Selling subscriptions or email courses: Most customers won’t want to pay a lot for a paid newsletter or email course, but at least when selling your own content, you’ll keep all profits.
- Sponsorships: You can make decent money from sponsored content without thousands of subscribers, but you’ll need to spend time building a highly engaged list before brands will want to work with you.
- Affiliate links: You’ll only earn a small commission on any sales, so you’ll need a lot of active subscribers clicking on and purchasing through your affiliate links before you see any significant ROI.
Make sure you set up Google Analytics email tracking so you can see which newsletter topics or formats get the most conversions.
How Do I Get More Email Subscribers?
We’re so glad you asked! We could talk about list-building all day, but here’s short answer to how to get more subscribers:
- Offer a persuasive lead magnet for subscribers to join your newsletter
- Create engaging optin forms and share them widely
- Deliver valuable newsletter content to your subscribers
There you have it, 13 ways to make money from email marketing newsletters, no matter what business model or stage you’re in!
If you’re curious about how much revenue your email marketing is generating, check out our guide to email marketing analytics.