How to Buy and Sell an Email Newsletter

September 8, 2022

How to Buy and Sell an Email Newsletter

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How to Buy and Sell an Email Newsletter

Unconventional Acquisitions

September 8, 2022

We’ve seen it. We’ve heard it. You probably even joked about it over drinks a few months ago.

Print is dying (maybe even on its last leg…), but online newsletters? They’re here to stay, and the cash is flowing.

According to StoryDoc, online newsletters are in high demand, with 90% of Americans subscribing to at least one newsletter, and as many as 74% subscribed to ten or fewer newsletters.

Even more interesting? StoryDoc also shared that 97% of Americans check their email at least once a day, and 56% check their email at least three times a day.

If content is king, then the email inbox is the castle.

You may not know this, but there’s actually a huge market out there for buying up dormant and dead newsletters, a.k.a. any newsletter that hasn’t published a new email in four months or longer. 

We’re super into the idea of buying up a bunch of newsletters, but one of the biggest reasons is because they’re great for dealmaking newbies.

If you’ve never done a deal before, you can practice all of the same steps of the deal making process (like negotiating or drafting a letter of intent) without going hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt in the process. 

Plus, in general, the deals tend to be more straightforward than if you were to acquire a traditional business. 

But there are a few downsides we need to address, too. One thing to consider is that acquiring newsletters isn’t a source of 100% passive income—it takes time, quality writing, and consistency. 

If you can’t commit to those three things (or outsource to people who can), newsletter buying probably isn’t for you. 

But if you know you’ve got the combo of time available, good writing, and are down for pressing send consistently, read on.

First things first. Let’s talk about how to monetize an email newsletter. 

How to Monetize A Newsletter?

Here’s a breakdown of our plug-and-play newsletter monetization strategy that we’ve seen work well…

40% – revenue from website (i.e. premium membership or content paywall)

40% – ads & sponsorships

20% – done-for-you services (i.e. marketing support, consulting fees, one-off coaching calls, etc.)

One thing about this structure is that it’s extremely flexible based on your niche, industry, and time investment you’ve got available.

Basically, you can scale when you’d like and how you’d like. 

The larger your audience is, the more likely you’ll be able to secure ad and sponsorship deals (generally easier to manage than creating content internally).

There are also endless possibilities for additional products or services you can offer as upsells inside of your newsletters. 

You could try adding on an ongoing offer or possibly a one-off opportunity, depending on your business and where the demand lies within your market. 

Things to Look for When Buying a Newsletter

If you’re looking into buying a newsletter, here’s what to think about when structuring your deal.

1. Ask How Long the Newsletter Has Been up and Running. 

There’s a sweet spot to how long a newsletter should be in circulation before it’s a good idea to acquire. 

In general, older newsletters are more valuable than newer ones. That’s because it takes time to gain trust and loyalty from a subscriber (and thus, see the revenue flow through from ads/sponsorships or additional income streams).

If a newsletter is newer, you also run the risk of finding a super niche audience that is focused too much on a particular trend that could potentially fade away. Not ideal in this scenario. 

Trending is good, but you’re looking for subscribers who know the product and are loyal to the business for higher conversion. 

2. Pay Close Attention to How The Subscribers Were Targeted. 

It’s one thing to have a list of 20k email subscribers, but another thing completely if the list came from a low-cost gateway, like a giveaway or free lead magnet.

These methods of audience acquisition generally lead to lower conversion rates and lower ROI, because they’re not actually interested in the business. They just wanted free sh*t. 

However, if you can find an email newsletter that gained an audience through word-of-mouth marketing or organic search traffic, you’ll be much more likely to see conversions once you acquire your newsletter.

3. Focus on Website and Newsletter Traffic Versus Revenue Generated. 

Sounds weird, we know. This is a really common mistake we see in newsletter deals. Don’t be that person.

Websites and newsletters are one of the most undervalued business asset classes. And the reason why? 

Everyone’s obsessing about click counts and open rates, instead of paying attention to engagement.

Think of it this way: website traffic is just revenue unrealized. 

And if you’re using a website like Flippa to find an email newsletter to buy, make sure to search for revenue but don’t make it your only consideration. 

4. Figure Out and Lead out Decisions Based on The Price Per Subscriber. 

Buying and selling a newsletter doesn’t have to feel difficult, but you’ll want to do your due diligence. 

One thing we recommend, especially in the early stages of dealmaking, is to figure out the total cost of the deal divided by how many subscribers you’re acquiring. 

In general, a typical acquisition via email subscribers can cost around $8 to $14 per subscriber, depending on the niche, industry, and if the newsletter is free or paid. 

If the newsletter is smaller (maybe a couple hundred subscribers or so), it’s not uncommon to see the per subscriber rate be as low as $2 per subscriber. 

Remember there is always room to negotiate, especially if the writer hasn’t published in a few months. 

5. Consider How You’ll Cash Flow and How Much Time You Have Available Before Buying. 

This one is a huge blind spot for newly acquired email subscribers because the truth here is that you can do some things, but you can’t do everything. 

Newsletters still take time to write, so you should NOT consider this a source of passive income, even though the payoff can be huge. 

While there’s no way to know all of the possible logistics in advance, you’ll want to monitor how you’re spending your time once you get started. 

That means before you go into your deal, you should also know how many hours a week you want to spend working on this. 

You’ll likely have lots of ideas on how to serve your new audience, but it’s unrealistic to think you can do every single one. 

If you’re not sure if you’ve got the time, estimate and block out how much time you think it will take you to work on your newly acquired newsletter. Then, as you’re interviewing potential sellers, try to get an idea of key information like…

  • How often is the newsletter published? 
  • Is there an opportunity to repurpose and freshen up older content? 
  • Is the content easy to streamline (i.e. guest interviews)?
  • Could you outsource the writing to an additional team (i.e. staff writers)? 

New to deal making in general? We’ll walk you through the EXACT steps you’ll need when approaching your first deal in our small biz buying course.

…or maybe you’re looking for next-level support and a community of other dealmakers so you can hands-on help with all of your questions? If that’s more up your alley, you should join our mastermind.

Remember that time is money.

Yours Unconventionally,

Codie & Ryan

Co-founders – Unconventional Acquisitions

If you want to learn more about how to find and buy businesses, check out these articles👇

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