4 Steps to Building A Profitable Digital Newsletter

Find the right market, target your approach and you can make a living off your digital newsletter. Here's how.

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By Ryan Lee

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Starting your own digital newsletter is an exciting business model with virtually unlimited opportunities for entrepreneurs. The low startup costs -- you can get started with a site and email delivery system for less than $100 -- and ability to work from anywhere make it ideal for anyone looking to break into the world of publishing.

You can monetize your digital newsletter with advertising, sponsorships, product sales, subscription fees and even earn commissions for referred sales.

But with the low barrier to entry comes increased competition, and the space is really heating up. To give your fledgling digital newsletter a jump-start, here are four of the best-kept secrets to getting started on the right foot:

1. Get specific.
Your first instinct might be to pick a very wide and broad category like "health" or "money," but that is dangerous. There's an old saying: "When you try to sell to everyone, you end up selling to no one." The key is to be laser-focused and connect with a core audience.

A simple way to figure out a good newsletter topic is to narrow it down twice. For example, if you want to do a digital "health" newsletter, going one level deeper could be a "Natural Health for Women" newsletter. Then, take it one step deeper and you have "Natural Health for Women Over 50" or "Natural Health for Pregnant Women." Now, you can stand-out and reach a focused target market.

Related: The Keys to Writing Reminder Emails That Work

2. Offer a premium versions.
Before you write your first issue, consider offering two versions of your newsletter. A "standard" issue which features rock solid content, and a "premium" version with even more benefits to your subscriber. There will always be a percentage of your audience who wants a premium version of anything you offer, so give it to them. Offering a paid version will also help your immediate cash flow.

Premium versions can include monthly live webinars, video training, and even a private forum for community and networking.

3. Submit to free digital newsletter directories.
There are dozens of free directories featuring digital newsletters. While a single listing might not generate tens of thousands of subscribers, it's a good way to start getting the word out about your publication.

Do a simple search for "newsletter directories" and you'll see listings like The Ezine Directory. Simply follow their instructions and submit your newsletter.

4. Interview other experts.
This is my favorite startup tactic. Find other experts with an active presence online and interview them. This simple strategy delivers three powerful benefits.

First, it gives you fresh, original content for your newsletter without having to come up with it yourself. Second, there's a good chance the person you interviewed will mention it to their followers and subscribers. That's free traffic and a potential windfall of new subscribers. And finally, it allows you to build relationships with other influential people in your market, which is the real key to success in any business.

This is an exciting time to start a digital newsletter. And those who move fast and begin connecting with their subscribers will be rewarded with a fun -- and profitable -- business.

Related: 10 Questions to Ask When Choosing an Email Marketing Service

Ryan Lee

World's Leading Lifestyle Business Entrepreneur

A former gym teacher turned serial entrepreneur, Ryan Lee is the co-author of The Worst-Case Scenario Business Survival Guide (Wiley, 2009) and Mastering the World of Marketing (Wiley, 2009).

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