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Most popular questions about newsletters

There are many unknowns when you’re talking about newsletters. How often should you send your newsletter? Should you charge money for it? When to go full force into it?
We gathered the most popular questions about newsletters below and we tried to answer them. If you want to know how to start a newsletter – start from this guide first.

Questions about newsletters

We answered 11 of the most popular questions about newsletters below. It would mostly be interesting for those of you who are looking to start a newsletter. Let’s start:

How often should I send my newsletter?

This is one of the most asked questions about newsletters. The answer is that it depends on two things. One, how often do you have something new to say? You should bring value with each newsletter sent! People could drop off each time, so it better be consistent and great! The second thing you should consider is how much time does it take to produce the newsletter. Add some extra time to unexpected events, as they always happen, and that’s your newsletter frequency right there.

What’s the best time or day to send out a newsletter?

CoSchedule looked into 14 studies about email marketing (Mailchimp, Customer.io, GetResponse, WordStream, Experien, etc.), and found the following:

The best day to send your newsletter: Tuesday. Then Thursday and Wednesday right after. According to another research from WordStream, weekends tend to have a low open-rate.

The best time: first, it depends where your subscribers are based. Maybe it makes sense to create different segments to different time zones. The most popular time slot was 10am. Generally speaking, it’s better to send your emails during daytime, while people are awake. Some email marketing tools will offer you their optimized scheduling tool, which will learn your subscribers behavior and send the newsletter at the best time for that subscriber.

Best Email Sending Times - questions about newsletters
Source: https://coschedule.com/blog/best-time-to-send-email/

What are good open rates for newsletters?

It really depends on many factors. You’ll have a different open rate whether it’s a paid or free subscription, different industry, frequency of delivery, length of content, etc..

Privy compared benchmarks from 3 companies (Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor, and GetResponse), and found that the average open rate is 20.4%.

newsletter open rate
Source: https://www.privy.com/blog/2020-email-marketing-benchmarks-guide

Should I first work on the content or bring subscribers?

It’s like the chicken and egg problem. You should probably work on both. It’s very easy to just start a newsletter today for free to test out the water. The most important thing you should worry about is content. Great content will bring more subscribers. Start by writing one incredible post, repurpose it to social media, and work on getting more followers.

Once you have a place where your content is located, you should definitely put it in your social media bio, so people could subscribe. Keep on writing good content at the same time, so you’ll have more to share on social media, and maybe some potential subscribers would stumble upon it on Google and get to your newsletter online.

When should I quit my job and go full-time on the newsletter?

The answer here depends on three things. First, your desires. Do you want to be a full time writer or is it just a hobby? Second, it depends on your financial stress or freedom. Third, what is your risk appetite? Will you be stressed if you don’t manage to bring enough subscribers in time?
If you have the ability to work on shipping the newsletter and promoting it, without getting paid for a period of time, and it’s your dream to become a writer, then you can quit now. However, you should keep it in mind that nobody is promising you any success with the newsletter, and that even if people subscribed, they might churn.

It’s probably best to wait till you have enough subscribers (free), and only quit when you managed to convert a steady % of the free subscribers to paying subscribers. You’ll take much less risk if people commit to a yearly plan. With a yearly plan, you’ll know right ahead how much money you have to spend for the upcoming year (and of course it could go up if you gain more subscribers).

So our advice is don’t rush into quitting your job, unless you are not enjoying your daily job and can use a time off, and you have the financial freedom to do it.

quit my job - question about newsletters

Personal domain VS the newsletter brand domain

Generally speaking, it’s always better to build your own brand rather than another company’s brand. Not only will it improve your SEO (search engine optimization), it will get people to remember your name, and to search it organically if they just saw a tweet you wrote.

The only downside of having your own domain, is that it costs a bit more money than using the platform’s domain. Still, we suggest that it is worth it. Maybe at the beginning you can start with their brand, but once you get some traction, think about investing in your own domain.

How to price my newsletter?

It’s really a demand and supply question. If you have the goods to sell, you can price it higher. If you don’t already have a brand name, and you can’t create a FOMO, you should probably price it in the lower end.

Let’s take a look at some newsletters and their price range:

  1. Ness Labs – $5/month or $50/year.
  2. The Browser – $5/month or $48/year.
  3. Hot Pod – $7/month or $70/year.
  4. TheProfile – $10/month or $50/year.
  5. The Pomp Letter – $10/month or $50/year.
  6. The Dispatch – $10/month or $100/year
  7. Stratechery – $12/month or $120/year.
  8. Rosieland – $15/month or $150/year.
  9. Lenny’s Newsletter – $15/month or $150/year.

Analyzing the top 25 paid newsletters on Substack, the average price they ask for a month is $11.96. 60% charge $10 or under. Only two charge more than $20 (if we take out those two from the list, the average price per newsletter is $9.3).

Substack has a nice tool to see how much you can make (depending on how much subscribers you have and how much you charge). They also have a guide on pricing –

pricing - question about newsletters
Source: https://substack.com/going-paid

Should I get my subscribers to double opt-in?

Again, like most answers, the short answer is it depends. The benefits of having a double opt-in method, is that you know your subscribers are real people, not spammers, and are into reading your newsletter. The cons are that it will lower the number of subscribers as a) not all of the people will follow through with the second step, and b) it will reduce the fake emails.

It’s probably best to do it, as you should care mostly about quality subscribers rather than a vanity metric (high subscribers number).

Should I use analytics to track my newsletter?

It’s a battle between keeping the privacy of your subscribers and getting to learn from your data. If you could keep the trackers to the bare minimum of just how many opened the email rather than exactly who opened and who clicked and which link, it sounds like a fare compromise that will give you enough data.

You can really learn a lot from the analytics; how many people unsubscribed after a specific email, how many opened the email at a specific time frame, etc.

Another method that could give you data and keep the privacy of the readers is to add a survey to each email. The Hustle has a segment at the bottom of each email that contains the following:

thehustle questions about newsletters

I do believe though that they are tracking who pressed on which button, but you can just gather the percentage of each button and not invade the reader’s privacy, and still learn a lot.

Should I delete subscribers that are not opening the newsletter?

We discussed about it a bit before with the double opt-in newsletter question. It has pros and cons. The pro of deleting subscribers that are not reading your emails, is it will increase your open rate, and improve the quality of your subscribers as you keep only those who are really interested in the newsletter.

The con of deleting those subscribers is that they might just one day open your email, they just haven’t done it yet. Also, it will reduce your numbers of subscribers.

Should I promote my newsletter on Product Hunt?

While Product Hunt is a great tool to promote new products/ tools/ services, it might be a bit less relevant to newsletters. On the other hand, if you have already some followers, people who are into the newsletter and are part of the Product Hunt community, they could upvote your newsletter, helping increase the chances that other people will notice the newsletter.

Around 124 newsletters (or newsletter products) launched on Product Hunt in the last 12 months.

Product Hunt newsletter launch

Not like any other social media tool, you can only really use Product Hunt once. So if you decided to go for it, try to read some tips on how to prepare the launch (schedule the launch to 12:00am PST, get people that are already PH members to upvote (new members that will upvote have supposedly less power to help), etc.).

Final thoughts about newsletters

We don’t have all the answers to all the questions about newsletters, and so do the other articles or websites. It’s all about trying and figuring out what’s working best for you. You can, however, learn from other’s experiences. If you do have other questions, feel free to comment below.

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