It seems that all the big money bloggers insist that the newsletter, aka “the list” is the best way to monetize a blog. Because a lot of non-“make money online” bloggers read those money sites, it is easy to think that we are losing out if we don’t have a proper newsletter.
Pat Flynn mentions the saying “The Money is in the List” and describes why newsletters are so awesome.
The reality is that like most things in life, your mileage may vary. In some cases, by a lot!
When someone gives advice, it’s important to understand the context of the advice giver. Just because XYZ works great for them, doesn’t mean it will work as well for you – or at all for you.
In the case of the “make money online” bloggers – they can’t make money from Adsense because there just aren’t enough advertisers in that space. Those bloggers need to make money from their regular readers, because there is nowhere else to make money. An email list is a very good way to reach their readers with affiliate offers and product launches.
A personal finance blogger (like me) on the other hand, typically will list Adsense as their top earner. The vast majority of Adsense clickers are search engine visitors, not regular readers.
When it comes to monetization – a Money blogger shouldn’t unconditionly follow advice from a Personal Finance blogger and vice versa. Apples and oranges.
The downside of newsletters
The big downside of newsletters is the extra work involved. If you are just sending out your regular posts in your newsletter, you are wasting your money. The whole point of having a newsletter, is to use the extra functionality not available in RSS email service.
- Formatting – You can format the posts anyway you like.
- Autoresponding – A new subscriber can get an automated timed series of posts.
- Stats – Typically, there are pretty good stats available for the reader actions.
The extra features take extra time, which is why I haven’t started a newsletter yet. I know I won’t do anything other than just send out my regular posts.
Targeted audience is the key
The success of a newsletter is heavily dependent on how targeted your readers are and how it monetizes.
The reason search engine visitors are profitable for personal finance blogs (if there are good ads showing in Adsense), is because they are targeted. Thanks to Google and other search engines – people looking for information can easily find a post you did on that topic, even though you might have 1000+ posts on your blog on all kinds of topics.
If your site is very targeted, your readers will also be targeted by definition. A good example is a “make money online with blogging” site.
Pat Flynn, Erica.biz are a couple of good examples of that. They pretty much only write about blogging and monetization and therefore I would assume, most of their readers are bloggers who are trying to make more money.
If they send out an email blast for an affiliate product like Scribe or Market Samarai, which would obviously be of interest to bloggers trying to make more money – they will likely have some good success. There is a good match between their readers and the product offering.
Personal finance blogs are generally not very targeted – they can cover anything to do with money – which is pretty much everything. Your readers’ interests will also reflect that variety. If a personal finance blogger sends out an email for a discount brokerage offer – how many readers will be interested? It will always be a small percentage.
I’m not suggesting that newsletters are not a good idea – that is something we should each test and determine for ourselves.
It’s very common for certain bloggers to insist that the email list is the only/best way to make money and you’re an idiot if you don’t have one. If your site is very targeted and can’t make money from search engine traffic via Adsense – you probably need an email list. For the rest of us, an email list will be less beneficial and less critical.