How to Start an Email Newsletter Side Hustle: The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners
January 24, 2024
After 18yrs of building businesses online, I believe an email newsletter is the single best starting point.
FOR. ALL. BUSINESSES.
The reason for this is because an email newsletter is fast, easy, and cheap to start. It takes less than an hour to build your newsletter sign up page. Then it takes less than an hour per day to follow up with your subscribers. You could even go as low as just sending one email a week.
I've done exactly that, and had a $10,000/mo income stream from a newsletter I wrote once a week on Sunday nights.
More Reasons Why Should You Start an Email Newsletter?
The other reason an email newsletter is the best starting point, is it's a launchpad for launching any and all business types. Once you have an email subscriber base, you can then send them emails to launch an ecom store, and affiliate blog, a consulting company, and agency, software, Youtube channel, anything!
Email newsletters have been around for decades and are still one of the most effective ways to reach your audience. Unlike social media, email is a more personal and direct way to communicate with your subscribers.
With email, you have complete control over your message and can track your performance metrics. Also, email marketing has a high return on investment (ROI) compared to other marketing channels. According to a study by Campaign Monitor, email marketing generates $44 for every $1 spent
Read that again!
For every $1 you invest into email marketing, studies show you'll get $44 back. I can confirm this, my last business our email subscribers cost us $3 to acquire, but earned us $24 within 30 days and over $200 after a year.
In this guide, we will take you through the process of starting an email newsletter from scratch. You will learn how to choose an email newsletter tool, define your newsletter's goal and audience, create content, design your newsletter, personalize it, send and optimize it, and more.
Benefits of Having an Email Newsletter
#1 Builds relationships with your subscribers
Building relationships with your subscribers is crucial to the success of any email marketing campaign. One of the best ways to do this is by providing them with valuable content that they can relate to and find useful.
This could include tips and tricks related to your industry or niche, exclusive promotions, or even just interesting stories or anecdotes. You can also use personalization techniques to make your emails feel more personal and relevant to each individual subscriber.
For example, you might address them by their first name, or send them targeted emails based on their past purchase history or browsing activity. By taking the time to build these relationships, you'll be more likely to earn your subscribers' trust and loyalty over time, which can ultimately lead to increased engagement, conversions, and revenue.
#2 Drives traffic to your website
Another significant benefit of having an email newsletter is that it can drive traffic to your website. By including links to your website in your emails, you can encourage subscribers to visit your site and explore more of what you have to offer.
You can also use your email newsletter to promote specific products or services on your website, or to announce new blog posts or other content that you've published. By driving more traffic to your site, you can increase the chances of converting those visitors into paying customers or loyal followers.
#3 Boosts brand awareness and credibility
Sending regular emails to your subscribers can help to increase brand awareness and establish your credibility within your industry or niche. By consistently providing valuable content and insights, you can position yourself as an expert in your field and build trust with your audience.
Over time, this can lead to increased brand recognition and a stronger reputation, which can be invaluable when it comes to attracting new customers or clients. Additionally, by regularly communicating with your subscribers, you can keep your brand top of mind and ensure that they think of you first when they need products or services that you offer.
#4 Increases sales and revenue
Having an email newsletter can also directly lead to increased sales and revenue for your business. By including calls to action in your emails and promoting your products or services, you can encourage subscribers to make purchases or take other desired actions.
You can also use your newsletter to promote special deals or discounts, which can be a powerful tool for driving sales and generating revenue. By consistently providing value and building relationships with your subscribers, you'll be more likely to see positive results in terms of your bottom line.
#5 Establishes credibility and authority in your industry
In addition to boosting brand awareness and credibility, having an email newsletter can also establish your credibility and authority in your industry. By sharing valuable insights, tips, and industry news with your subscribers, you can position yourself as a thought leader and go-to resource for information.
This can help you stand out from competitors and attract new customers or clients who are looking for someone with a strong track record of expertise and success. As you continue to provide value and build relationships with your subscribers, you'll be able to further solidify your reputation as a trusted authority in your field.
#6 Provides valuable insights into your audience and their behavior
By analyzing the data and metrics from your email newsletter campaigns, you can gain valuable insights into your audience and their behavior. You can see which types of content and products are most popular, which calls to action are most effective, and even which subscribers are most engaged with your brand.
This information can help you make informed decisions about your marketing strategy, such as what products to promote or what content to create. By tailoring your approach to your audience's preferences and behaviors, you'll be more likely to see positive results and build stronger relationships with your subscribers over time.
#7 Launch many different revenue streams
Once you have a few thousand subscribers on your email newsletter, it changes your financial situation forever. Because you'll have an audience that knows, likes, and trusts you - you will now be able to launch a clothing line, an e-commerce store, a digital course, a Youtube channel, podcast, software, iPhone app, the world is now your oyster!
Defining Your Newsletter's Goal and Audience
Once you have chosen your email newsletter tool, it's time to define your newsletter's goal and audience. It's important to have a clear and specific goal in mind, as this will guide the content and strategy of your newsletter.
Next, consider who your target audience is. Who do you want to reach with your newsletter? Are they current customers or clients, potential leads, industry peers, or a mix of these? Understanding your audience will help you create content that is relevant and valuable to them, and tailor your messaging and calls to action accordingly.
You may also want to consider segmenting your audience based on their interests or behavior, so you can deliver more personalized and targeted content. This can lead to higher engagement and conversion rates, as subscribers are more likely to take action on content that speaks directly to their needs and interests.
Overall, defining your newsletter's goal and audience is a crucial step in creating an effective and impactful email marketing strategy. By setting clear objectives and understanding who you are communicating with, you can create content that resonates with your subscribers and drives results for your business.
Deciding on Your Newsletter's Purpose
The first step is to decide on your newsletter's purpose. Are you trying to promote your products or services? Are you trying to educate your subscribers? Are you trying to entertain them? Knowing your newsletter's purpose will help you create content that aligns with your goals.
Example Newsletter 1: Fitness and Wellness Newsletter
Title: "FitLife Weekly: Your Guide to a Healthier You"
Main Topic: Tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle through exercise and nutrition
Weekly Workout Challenge: A new workout routine or challenge for subscribers to try
Nutritious Recipes: Healthy recipes that are easy to prepare and delicious
Mindfulness Corner: Techniques and exercises for stress reduction and mental well-being
Success Stories: Inspiring stories from subscribers who have made significant progress in their fitness journey
Product Spotlight: Review or feature of a fitness product or service
Call-to-Action: Encourage subscribers to share their progress on social media using a specific hashtag or joining your Facebook group.
Visuals: High-quality images of people exercising, nutritious meals, and calming nature scenes.
Example 2: Small Business Marketing Newsletter
Title: "Marketing Matters: Effective Strategies for Modern Marketers "
Main Topic: Marketing tips and strategies for small business owners
Trending Topics: A summary of current marketing trends and how they can be applied to small businesses
Case Study: A real-life example of a small business that successfully implemented a marketing strategy
Expert Advice: An interview or guest post from a marketing professional sharing their insights
DIY Marketing: Step-by-step guides for implementing various marketing tactics on a budget
Upcoming Events: Information about local networking events, webinars, or workshops related to marketing
Call-to-Action: Invite subscribers to sign up for a marketing consultation or buy a course about a specific marketing method.
Visuals: Eye-catching graphics illustrating marketing concepts, images of successful small businesses, and visuals highlighting the benefits of various marketing strategies.
Identifying Your Target Audience
The second step is to identify your target audience. Who do you want to reach with your newsletter? What are their interests, pain points, and preferences? Understanding your target audience will help you create content that resonates with them.
What we teach our members to do in this case is to create a customer persona. This is a short document that explains who the target customer (in this case target reader) is, including their age, gender, location, where they work, possible income, interests, frustrations, and dreams.
Example Newsletter Persona 1: Tom the Tech Guru
Tom is a 28-year-old software engineer living in San Francisco. He is passionate about technology and loves staying up-to-date with the latest gadgets, software releases, and tech news. In his free time, he enjoys attending tech conferences, participating in hackathons, and experimenting with new coding languages.
Location: San Francisco, California
Occupation: Software Engineer
Income: $110,000 per year
Technology and gadgets
Coding and programming
Artificial intelligence and machine learning
Startups and entrepreneurship
Stay informed about the latest tech trends
Learn about new gadgets and software releases
Network with like-minded individuals in the tech industry
Information overload from various tech news sources
Difficulty finding reliable and concise tech updates
Limited time to research and explore new technologies
Example Newsletter Persona 2: Sarah the Fitness Fanatic
Sarah is a 35-year-old marketing manager living in Chicago. She is dedicated to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and prioritizes her physical and mental well-being. Sarah enjoys trying new workout routines, experimenting with nutritious recipes, and sharing her health journey on social media. She is always on the lookout for tips and advice to improve her overall wellness.
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Occupation: Marketing Manager
Income: $75,000 per year
Fitness and exercise
Healthy eating and nutrition
Mindfulness and meditation
Outdoor activities and adventures
Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Discover new workout routines and healthy recipes
Stay motivated and accountable in her fitness journey
Information overload from various health and wellness sources
Difficulty finding reliable and actionable wellness advice
Balancing a busy work schedule with her fitness goals
Choosing Your Email Newsletter Tool
Before you start creating your newsletter, you need to choose an email newsletter tool. There are many email newsletter tools available, both free and paid. These tools are what give you the templates so your newsletter looks great as well as handles the sending out of your newsletter - you DO NOT just send it out from your personal email!
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Tool
Integration with other tools
Email newsletter tools range from free (up to 500 subscribers) to around $100 per month. The average price is $20 - $35 per month for a good email newsletter tool. You'll want to make sure the tool you choose has all the features you want. I recommend something with good looking templates, analytics, forms, and a drag&drop editor.
All of the tools I recommend below have these features...
MailChimp is a popular email newsletter tool that offers a free plan for up to 2,000 subscribers. It has a user-friendly interface and offers a variety of templates and design options to choose from. MailChimp also provides detailed analytics and reports to help you track the performance of your campaigns.
It's a new platform that lets you create and share beautiful newsletters with your audience. You can choose from hundreds of templates, customize them with your own branding, and add interactive elements like polls, quizzes, and videos.
But the best part is, Beehiv has a referral feature that helps you grow your email list.
Every time someone subscribes to your newsletter, they get a unique link that they can share with their friends. And for every friend who signs up using their link, they get rewards like free credits, discounts, or access to exclusive content. How cool is that?
Substack is a platform that enables writers to create and send newsletters to their subscribers. It has gained popularity in recent years due to its user-friendly interface and easy-to-use tools. Substack offers a range of features, including customizable templates, analytics, and a payment system that allows writers to monetize their content. One of the benefits of Substack is that it provides a community for writers, allowing them to connect with other professionals in their industry and share advice and insights. This can be particularly helpful for new writers who are looking to establish themselves in their field.
If you're looking for a simple and elegant way to create and manage your online content, you might want to check out Ghost.org. Ghost is a platform that lets you build beautiful websites, blogs, newsletters, and more with ease. You can choose from hundreds of stunning themes, customize them to your liking, and publish your content in minutes.
Ghost also has a powerful editor that supports markdown, rich media, and code snippets. You can also integrate Ghost with your favorite tools and services, such as Google Analytics, Mailchimp, Stripe, and more. Whether you're a hobbyist, a professional, or a business owner, Ghost can help you create amazing online experiences for your audience.
ConvertKit is a popular email newsletter tool for bloggers and online creators. It offers customizable forms, landing pages, and automation features to help you grow your audience and engage with your subscribers. ConvertKit also provides detailed analytics and integrations with popular tools like WordPress and Shopify.
Each of these tools has its own pros and cons, so it's important to research and compare them before making a decision.
Creating Content for Your Newsletter
Now that you have defined your newsletter's goal and audience, it's time to create content. Here are some tips for creating engaging content:
#1 Brainstorming Ideas for Content
Start by brainstorming ideas for content. What topics are relevant to your audience? What questions do they have? What problems can you solve for them? Make a list of potential topics and choose the ones that align with your newsletter's purpose.
For example, when I started planning this article I went to Google and searched "how to start a newsletter" and then looked for the questions people were already asking Google about this topic.
#2 Gathering and Curating Content
Once you have chosen your topics, start gathering and curating content. This can include articles, videos, podcasts, infographics, and other types of content. You can also curate content from other sources, but make sure to give credit where credit is due.
An example of this is Ben Tossel's newsletter about artificial intelligence called "Ben's Bites."
In Ben's newsletter he starts off by writing 3-5 short paragraphs about relevant news in his industry with links for the reader to go read the full announcement from the original source. Then he usually has a section with an advertiser (paid sponsor) and includes a little blurb about that sponsors product. He ends it with a bunch of links to new tools that have been released and popular tweets, videos, or articles that he thinks his reader might like to see.
#3 Writing Engaging Copy
Finally, write engaging copy that grabs your subscribers' attention and keeps them interested. Use a conversational tone and avoid being too promotional. Focus on providing value to your subscribers.
Good copywriting is essential for effectively communicating your message and persuading your target audience to take action. One of the fundamental principles of good copywriting is to know and understand your audience. This means researching their needs, desires, and pain points so that you can craft a message that resonates with them on a personal level.
Once you know your target audience VERY WELL, a strong headline is crucial for capturing attention and piquing interest. Obviously the body copy should be clear, concise, and focused on the benefits your product or service provides. However, a strong headline that immediately explains the content and the benefit of reading that content is literally the make it or break it moment. Some people study headline writing their whole lives.
Today, I just use ChatGPT or a website called Poe.com to write my headlines for me. I'll usually have it write me 10 headlines and pick the one I like best.
Another best practice in copywriting is to use persuasive language and storytelling techniques to engage your readers emotionally. By creating a compelling narrative, you can evoke emotions that make your offering more relatable and appealing. Additionally, ensure that your copy is scannable by using short paragraphs, bullet points, and subheadings to break up large blocks of text.
Finally, always include a clear and strong call-to-action (CTA) that guides your audience towards the desired outcome, whether it's making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or following your brand on social media. By adhering to these copywriting best practices, you'll create content that effectively connects with your audience and increases the real results you originally wanted to get from your newsletter.
Designing Your Newsletter
The design of your newsletter is just as important as the content. Here are some tips for designing an attractive newsletter:
1. Choose a responsive and attractive template
Your email newsletter should look good on any device and browser. That's why you need to use a responsive template that adapts to different screen sizes and resolutions. You also want to choose a template that matches your brand identity and style. You can use online tools like Mailchimp, Beehiiv, Ghost, or Substack to create and customize your own templates.
2. Write catchy and concise headlines and copy
Your email newsletter should capture the attention of your readers and entice them to read more. To do that, you need to write catchy and concise headlines and copy that highlight the benefits of your content. Use clear and simple language, avoid jargon and fluff, and break up your text into short paragraphs and bullet points.
3. Include relevant images and videos
Images and videos can enhance your email newsletter by adding visual appeal and interest. They can also help you convey your message more effectively and emotionally. However, you need to make sure that your images and videos are relevant, high-quality, and optimized for web. You also need to add alt text for accessibility and SEO purposes.
4. Include a clear call-to-action
Your email newsletter should have a clear call-to-action (CTA) that tells your readers what you want them to do next. Whether it's clicking a link, signing up for a webinar, or buying a product, your CTA should be prominent, specific, and actionable. You can use buttons, colors, fonts, and words to make your CTA stand out.
5. Test and measure your results
Finally, you need to test and measure your email newsletter to see how it performs and what you can improve. You can use tools like Litmus or Email on Acid to test your newsletter on different devices and browsers. You can also use analytics tools like Google Analytics or Mailchimp or any of the tools we recommended above to track metrics like open rate, click-through rate, bounce rate, conversions, and more.
By following these best practices, you can design an effective email newsletter that engages your audience and achieves your goals.
Personalizing Your Newsletter
Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to communicate with your audience and drive conversions. But if you want to stand out from the crowd and make your subscribers feel valued, you need to personalize your email newsletter.
Personalization is not just about adding the recipient's name to the subject line or greeting. It's about creating relevant and tailored content that matches the interests, preferences, and behavior of each subscriber.
Here are some best practices for personalizing your email newsletter and boosting your open rates, click-through rates, and conversions.
Use catchy and relevant subject lines
The subject line is the first thing your subscribers see when they receive your email newsletter. It's also the main factor that determines whether they open it or not. Therefore, you need to craft subject lines that capture their attention and curiosity.
One way to do that is to use personalization tokens, such as the recipient's name, location, or purchase history. For example, "Hey John, here's a special offer just for you" or "Sarah, check out these events happening near you".
Another way is to use segmentation and dynamic content to create subject lines that reflect the subscriber's interests, behavior, or stage in the customer journey. For example, "You left something in your cart" or "How to get the most out of your free trial".
Segment your list based on relevant criteria
Segmentation is the process of dividing your email list into smaller groups based on specific criteria, such as demographics, psychographics, behavior, or engagement. Segmentation allows you to send more targeted and relevant content to each group, rather than sending the same generic message to everyone.
For example, you can segment your list based on:
Location: You can send different content based on the subscriber's country, city, or timezone. For example, you can send local news, events, or offers.
Interests: You can send different content based on the subscriber's preferences, hobbies, or topics they have expressed interest in. For example, you can send content related to their favorite products, categories, or genres.
Behavior: You can send different content based on the subscriber's actions or inactions on your website, app, or email. For example, you can send content related to their browsing history, purchase history, cart abandonment, or email engagement.
Stage: You can send different content based on the subscriber's stage in the customer journey or lifecycle. For example, you can send content related to their awareness, consideration, decision, retention, or advocacy.
Use dynamic content insertion to customize your content
Dynamic content insertion is a technique that allows you to change the content of your email newsletter based on the attributes or behavior of each subscriber. It uses conditional logic and personalization tokens to display different content blocks or elements to different segments of your list.
For example, you can use dynamic content insertion to:
Show different images based on the subscriber's gender, age, or interests.
Show different headlines or copy based on the subscriber's location, language, or stage.
Show different offers or calls-to-action based on the subscriber's purchase history, cart value, or engagement.
By using dynamic content insertion, you can create more personalized and relevant email newsletters that resonate with each subscriber and increase their likelihood of taking action.
Personalizing your email newsletter is not a one-time task. It requires constant testing and optimization to find out what works best for your audience and goals. But by following these best practices, you can create email newsletters that deliver value and delight to your subscribers and boost your email marketing performance.
Sending and Optimizing Your Newsletter
The KEY to making all of this work is how do you make sure your newsletters stand out in the crowded inbox and get opened, read, and clicked?
In this section, we'll cover some of the best practices of sending email newsletters that will help you achieve your goals and delight your subscribers.
Before Sending: Test Your Email
You don't want to send out an email newsletter that has broken links, typos, or formatting issues. That's why you should always test your email before sending it to your subscribers. Here are some things to check:
Preview your email in different devices and browsers to make sure it looks good and is responsive.
Send a test email to yourself and a few colleagues or friends to get feedback on the content, tone, and design.
Use a tool like Mail Tester or Litmus to check your email for spam issues, deliverability, and compatibility.
During Sending: Schedule Your Email
You don't want to send out your email newsletter at a random time when your subscribers might not be interested or available. You want to send it at a time when they are most likely to open it and engage with it. Here are some tips to schedule your email:
Use your email marketing platform's analytics or a tool like CoSchedule to find out the best time and day to send your email based on your audience's behavior and preferences.
Consider the time zones of your subscribers and segment them accordingly if you have a global audience.
Avoid sending your email on holidays or weekends when people might be busy or distracted. However, it's important to know your audience, sometimes Sunday is the best day to send your email.
After Sending: Analyze Your Performance
You don't want to send out your email newsletter and forget about it. You want to measure its impact and learn from its results. Here are some metrics to track and analyze:
Open rate: How many people opened your email? This shows how effective your subject line and sender name were.
Click-through rate (CTR): How many people clicked on the links in your email? This shows how relevant and engaging your content was.
Conversion rate: How many people took the desired action after clicking on your email? This shows how well you aligned your email with your goal.
Unsubscribe rate: How many people unsubscribed from your email list? This shows how satisfied or dissatisfied your subscribers were with your email. Don't worry TOO MUCH about this number, there will always be some unsubscribes. However, the goal is to make sure it's not higher than the average of your normal unsubscribe rate. LET ME REPEAT THAT... it is totally NORMAL to have some unsubscribes every time you send out. It's actually good, since it means your current subscribers are more likely to want to see what you're sending.
By following these best practices, you can send out an email newsletter that delivers value to your audience and helps you achieve your objectives.
Final Tips and Best Practices for Email Newsletters
Here are some additional tips and best practices for creating effective email newsletters:
Keep Your Newsletter Brief and Focused
Avoid overwhelming your subscribers with too much content. You don't want to overwhelm your readers with too much text or information. Aim for short paragraphs that are easy to scan and digest. Use bullet points, subheadings, and bold fonts to highlight the key points.
Make Your Call-to-Action Clear
Include a clear call-to-action (CTA) in your newsletter. What do you want your readers to do after reading your newsletter? Whether it's clicking a link, signing up for a webinar, or sharing your content, make sure you have a clear and compelling call to action that stands out from the rest of the text. Use buttons, colors, or emojis to draw attention to your CTA.
Use Eye-Catching Visuals
Use visuals such as memes and gifs to create life and fun in your newsletter issue. Visuals are a great way to spice up your newsletter and make it more engaging and memorable. You can use memes and gifs to add humor, personality, or emotion to your message. Just make sure they are relevant and appropriate for your audience and topic.
And that's it!
These are all of my best tips on how to write an email newsletter that rocks.
Starting an email newsletter is an awesome side hustle. There are people who have made millions with their email newsletter like TheHustle, MilkRoad, or MorningBrew. It's a great way to reach people, teach people, and build strong communities.
Plus, once you have a few thousand subscribers you can use your email newsletter to launch all kinds of business ventures. You could launch an apparel line, a digital course, any kind of services agency, software, ecom, whatever you want!
I hope you found these tips useful and inspiring. If you did, please share this post with your friends on Twitter or Facebook. Maybe you know a family member who is a writer or needs a side hustle, please send them this article.
By following this step-by-step guide, you will be well on your way to creating a successful email newsletter.
Remember to focus on providing value, personalizing your content, and optimizing your newsletter for maximum performance. If you stick with this and be persistent, you can create an email newsletter that stands out from the competition, drives results, and brings financial freedom to your family.
Lastly, please don't forget to subscribe to for more great articles, courses, and interviews on equipping parents to win in the creator economy.