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Writing Newsletters How to Build Steady, Recurring Income Streams with this Booming Specialty

Business owners know their success relies on a critical transformation:

Turning prospects into customers.

But to build a truly sustainable business, they can't stop there…

Those customers, in turn, need to become repeat customers.

So how can a business develop a meaningful, ongoing relationship with its target audience over time?

That's where newsletters come in…

Newsletters, in both email and print, are a fun and engaging way for businesses to keep in touch with potential and existing customers on a consistent basis.

Conversational in tone, newsletters tend to be informational and/or entertaining. They give readers valuable content without being directly sales-y or overly promotional.

And businesses of all kinds send A LOT of newsletters…

According to Omnisend, 83% of businesses use email newsletters in their marketing — including 81% of B2B marketers saying it’s their most-used form of content.

This is because people love reading newsletters. Assuming they’re  well written that is…

A well-written newsletter is typically packed with useful information that's relevant to its subscribers, so they look forward to opening it.

And they’re a dream project for writers…

For starters they’re short: the average newsletter only runs about 1,200 to 1,500 words, or between 1 to 3 pages.

And they pay REALLY well…

Due to the ongoing need for consistent quality, companies will gladly pay a skilled newsletter writer $800-$2,000 per issue.

Not only that, but businesses won't send only one newsletter. They'll consistently keep sending them monthly, weekly, and some even daily.

Which means you'll have ongoing, steady paychecks from every newsletter client you work with.

Newsletter writing is an unparalleled opportunity for any writer who enjoys fun, short projects that pay well — and keep paying month after month.

To help you get started, this guide will cover everything you need to know about writing newsletters, including the skills you'll need, how to approach each project, and tips on finding your first newsletter clients.

What Is a Newsletter?

A newsletter is a short business publication sent on a consistent schedule to subscribers who have opted to receive it. Each issue is formatted to offer a mix of content tailored to their specific interests, such as company or industry updates and insights, short articles, curated content from other sources, or promotions for the business's products or services.

The most common form is an email newsletter, or e-newsletter. But newsletters can also be published in other digital formats, or in print.

Newsletters are a great way for a business to build relationships with their existing and potential customers. Sharing useful information on an ongoing basis shows they care about their customers and want to provide them with value.

However, newsletters also serve many other business functions. They allow a company to:

  • Reinforce awareness: Regular newsletters keep a brand at the forefront of its audience's minds.
  • Catch prospects in their moments of need: Timely information can turn a reader into a customer.
  • Attract their ideal customers: By delivering valuable content, newsletters can draw in the exact audience a business is targeting.
  • Allow people to get to know them better: Newsletters offer a platform for businesses to share their story and connect with subscribers on a personal level.
  • Educate their prospects about their business and products or services: Through informative content, newsletters can help subscribers understand the value of a company's offerings.
  • Generate additional revenue: This can be done through offering paid newsletter subscriptions, ads for complementary goods and services, or affiliate and partnership programs.
  • Help drive traffic to their website: By including links in the newsletter, businesses can direct readers to their website for more information or to make a purchase.

Now, it's important to mention that while newsletters can accomplish a lot for businesses, the best newsletters are actually very simple.

For example, this is a daily e-newsletter from DailyOM, a website that offers a variety of online health and wellness courses. It starts with a short, inspirational article:

First section of DailyOM e-newsletter
Second section of DailyOM e-newsletter

Then it highlights one of their online courses, with links to other new courses underneath:

Third section of DailyOM e-newsletter

The last section shares some articles on their site that the reader may be interested in. And they conclude with a final link to their course library and sign off:

Fourth section of DailyOM e-newsletter
Fifth section of DailyOM e-newsletter

Pretty straightforward, right?

We'll get into the nuts and bolts of writing newsletters later in this guide, but you can check out the different types of newsletters you can write for clients for more examples.

6 Reasons Why Newsletter Writing Is an Amazing Opportunity for Writers

We've already touched on a few reasons why you might want to consider adding newsletters to your writing services.

But let's take a closer look at what makes newsletters such an attractive project.

1. The Income Is Predictable

If you're a freelance writer, and particularly if you work alone, the jobs and associated income can be very uneven.

Newsletters, on the other hand, are published over and over again on a predictable schedule. Unlike the “one and done” nature of many freelance projects, newsletters keep going until your client says “stop."

And this means your income is also steady and long-term.

2. The Workload Is Predictable

There’s no such thing as an “e-newsletter emergency.”

Sure, things go wrong occasionally (although rarely, once you get into the groove). But for the most part, everything happens on a predetermined schedule established by you and your clients.

That means no frantic client calls as a deadline looms, no unexpected work on the weekend, and no disasters that need to be handled at a moment’s notice.

Newsletters are a consistent, reliable project with few surprises. With some basic training in writing newsletters, you’ll become familiar with the most effective formats, and you’ll be able to set up a system to handle projects easily and effectively.

3. You Get Paid for Results, Not Effort

At AWAI, we typically recommend writers charge by the project, not by the hour.

Charging hourly requires more effort to document your time, but it also doesn't account for the fact that “time spent” has little to do with “value provided.”

With newsletters, you can easily charge a flat fee per issue.

This is better for clients because they like knowing how much it will cost up front and can budget for it.

And it's better for you — no more watching the clock, and the faster you work, the more money you make.

4. You Don’t Need a Lot of Clients to Make Good Money

If you sell “one-off” services, when the project is done, you need to find another project or another client. Even if your clients love you and your work.

By contrast, newsletters happen over and over again. After all, readers expect to receive them consistently.

Of course, you'll have some natural turnover in your clients over time, although we know writers who have had newsletter clients for 10, 15, even 26 years! In general, once you have a few steady clients, you don’t have to spend much time or energy looking for more of them.

Then there's your income potential…

As a quick example, say you had three clients who pay you $1,000 each for a monthly newsletter. Your total earnings would be $3,000 per month, or $36,000 per year.

And considering the average newsletter is around 1,000 words, how long do you think it would take you to write each issue? Maybe four hours?

That means you'd be making an extra $36,000 per year… working just three mornings a month!

It doesn't get much closer to easy money than that.

5. No Loose Ends

If you’ve ever worked on an “open-ended” writing project like a website or white paper, you know that sometimes they can drag on for a long time. Particularly with larger companies where many people need to weigh in and sign off before the final approval.

Newsletters, by their very nature, have a deadline. If your client’s newsletter is scheduled to go out the second Tuesday of the month (for example), all the input and approvals have to happen on time.

Everyone involved is aware of this, which means that things move along like clockwork. (As do your invoices.)

6. Clients Are Everywhere

Every business — large or small — in every niche imaginable can use newsletters to stay in touch with current and prospective customers. No matter what your interests are, you’ll find clients that need your help.

Software… beer or wine… investing… real estate… self-defense… pet care… living overseas… antique furniture restoration…

This just scratches the surface…

The options are endless.

Whatever you enjoy writing about, you'll almost certainly find clients who are a perfect match.

Not to mention, newsletters are also an excellent way to get your foot in the door for other projects. For example, you could offer to write social media posts to promote the newsletter, or supporting ads or blog posts (for an additional fee, of course!).

Depending on the business, they may have all kinds of opportunities for you to help them. (We’ll talk more about finding newsletter clients in just a moment.)

What Newsletter Writers Actually Do (And What They Don’t!)

So what exactly would you get paid to do as a newsletter writer?

And what would your clients expect from you?

Keep in mind that every newsletter will be unique to that client, so your individual tasks will vary somewhat. But these are some typical things you might do as a newsletter writer:

  • Write articles and other content: Each newsletter can include different types of content, such as a short article, opinion piece, or update from the company.

    Your clients may provide you with some content, or you may need to write the entire newsletter from scratch. This would be decided between you and your client prior to starting the project.

  • Come up with topics: A common complaint AWAI members hear from their clients is that they don't know what to write about in their newsletters.

    You can be a superhero in this case, suggesting all kinds of ideas based on common questions, industry news and events, top tips from employees, and more.

  • Create an “Editorial Calendar”: You may want to formalize your ideas for your client and create a calendar for the entire year that maps out topic ideas over different seasons, etc.

    This is an additional charge on top of writing the content.

  • Research: You'll need to gather some information for your content. However, you won't need very much per issue. Quite often, you’ll simply talk with your client, perhaps interview an employee or customers, do a little online research… and the information you glean may be more than enough to keep you going for multiple issues.

  • Curate content from other providers: You can also help clients find and/or share appropriate content from other sources, such as industry experts or thought leaders.

    This can be a particularly good service for businesses that don’t have the resources to create all their own newsletter content.

  • Design, email management, or other "non-writing" tasks: These types of tasks are completely optional. But if you have skills beyond writing, don't hesitate to use these in addition to your writing services.

    Naturally, these will be an additional fee.

As you can see, writing newsletters doesn't require any special skills beyond solid writing capabilities and good communication — things you probably already have if you're reading this!

4 Steps to Writing Newsletters that Build Trust and Engagement

Now, each newsletter you write will be a bit different. But the newsletter writing process is the same, no matter what the final product looks like.

Let's break down how to write a good newsletter step-by-step.

Step 1: Determine the Content Approach

There are a few different styles of email newsletters, and choosing the right one is just a matter of what works best for your purpose, along with personal preference.

Some of the most common forms and styles of newsletters are:

  • Original content: You'll write fresh, original articles based on your own research and/or information from your client.
  • Curated content: You'll write insights about breaking news or current events in your industry, or respond to articles or blog posts you've found that are relevant to your audience.
  • Blended content: Another option is to begin your newsletter with original content and then add in curated content.
  • Digest: With a digest-style newsletter, you'll write brief descriptions or "teasers" that link to full-length articles on the Web.
  • POV (Point of View): A POV-style newsletter comes from one person's perspective — usually someone well-known in their niche or industry. This style makes sense if your client has a personal brand and their audience wants to hear directly from them.

Now, once you've chosen which newsletter style you’ll use for each issue, your next step is to decide what pieces of content to include.

Step 2: Map Out the Content Elements

You may be starting a newsletter from scratch, or your client may already have a specific format they want to follow.

Either way, you'll want to clarify the content elements to include prior to writing your first issue. And if your client already has a format, don't hesitate to offer suggestions if you feel a different approach may work better.

You want to make the newsletter the best it can be so their subscribers look forward to reading every issue.

So here's a partial list of content elements you might include:

  • Introduction: Often, you'll start with a warm, friendly greeting. But you could also start with a short "teaser" and link to a longer article if you're using a digest-style approach, or dive straight into your feature article or opinion piece. Whatever type of introduction you use, make sure it pulls the reader into the content.
  • Featured articles: Whether original or curated, these can vary in length and topic. The idea here is to deliver valuable content to the reader, so make sure you cover relevant, useful, and current topics.
  • Sidebars and graphics: You can add bullets, quotes, stats, charts, photos, and more to the sidebar. These are punchy, concise, and add visual appeal that brings your newsletter to life. Just make sure anything you include supports the content and isn't there just for show.
  • Success stories: Stories that center on a problem and solution, or a "before-and-after" scenario, inspire people and provide a powerful form of proof. It's best when the reader can relate to the person in the story, so choose moving stories of people overcoming everyday challenges rather than "one-off" success stories.
  • Tips and tricks: You can write short, practical, how-to hacks that add great value to your readers in a small amount of space. These don't have to be full articles. A list of tips — or even just one useful tip — is an effective use of space in a newsletter.
  • Q&A: Another good option is to answer one or two of the most-asked questions your business gets in every newsletter. Or solicit questions from subscribers on social media and pick one or two that you want to answer. This section is a great opportunity to showcase the expertise of your client.
  • Staff/customer profiles: This is a great way to let your email newsletter "humanize" your client's business. You can put a face to the business by introducing a member of the staff and letting your readers get to know them on a more personal level.
  • Offers/sales: Share any current discounts or other special promotions. Or better yet, offer exclusive savings or deals to newsletter subscribers. This will make them feel like they're on the inside and getting something special — which they are — and encourage them to keep opening each issue.
  • Calendar of events: Like most options, this might not be relevant for every type of business. But, for example, an accountant will want to include tax deadlines in their newsletter. A youth sports league should include registration deadlines. And a local theater company can advertise show dates.

And there are still loads of other things you can include…

Again, depending on the type of business the newsletter is for, you can use your imagination to come up with all kinds of fun ideas.

As a quick example, this is an e-newsletter from Nick Ortner of the self-help company The Tapping Solution. It starts with a short overview of what's in the newsletter and a short, personal message:

First section of The Tapping Solution’s e-newsletter

Then it goes on to highlight a new video the company just published on their website, with links to the video:

Second section of The Tapping Solution’s e-newsletter

Next, it shares information about an upcoming screening of a film that The Tapping Solution's audience would be interested in. The film is part of a summit that The Tapping Solution is also participating in, so this is a great way to promote the summit (and indirectly, themselves):

Third section of The Tapping Solution’s e-newsletter

Lastly, it has a friendly sign-off and concludes with a helpful link to their company's app:

Fourth section of The Tapping Solution’s e-newsletter

Their newsletter is engaging, with useful information and clearly laid-out content. But it's also brief and to-the-point, which only helps make this newsletter more effective.

For more writing ideas, check out these tips on writing a reader-focused newsletter.

Step 3: Research

The research you do for your newsletter will depend on the content elements you plan to include.

And once you've mapped out your newsletter, you'll gather whatever information and resources you need.

Search for relevant articles, blogs, videos, and social media content that will help you write or that you will respond to.

Ask for any resources your client can provide… conduct any interviews you need with customers or staff… gather links, graphics, or images you want to include…

And then keep it all handy for the final step…

Step 4: Write the Content

With all your planning and research complete, it's time to write the newsletter.

Just like with your research, the type of content you include will determine what you write.

But whether you're using feature articles, digest-style teasers, blended content, or anything else, keep these tips in mind while you write:

  • Make sure the newsletter's voice, tone, and style represent the company: A newsletter is an extension of the company's brand and a relationship-building tool. So if the company's website, emails, and social media are fun and hip, the newsletter should be, too. But a credit card company or a charity that provides disaster relief shouldn't have a jokey newsletter. Their newsletter's tone should match their mission.
  • Keep it engaging: Even if you're writing for a more formal company, you can't bore your audience or they'll stop reading. So always write human-to-human. Because you can't forge a connection or build a relationship if your reader feels like they're hearing from a faceless business.
  • Craft an irresistible subject line: For e-newsletters, it's crucial to write a subject line that grabs your reader's attention and offers a compelling reason to open the email right away.

    So, hint at something that's inside… offer an intriguing benefit the reader will get from opening right away… or remind them why they signed up in the first place.

  • Don't make the reader work hard: Since so many readers view their email on a smartphone, it's best to keep your email newsletters on the short side.

    You should also break up your content with subheadings and bullets, when applicable. And use short sentences and paragraphs. This will make your newsletter easier to skim and scan.

With so much flexibility in terms of style and content, you can customize your email newsletter so it fits your client’s mission perfectly.

Whatever tone you want it to have… however you want to engage with your audience… whatever content will entertain, inform, and persuade them… you have the freedom to create.

This will help you build strong, lasting relationships with prospects and customers, so they become your biggest advocates.

If you'd like to learn more about writing effective newsletters, AND landing clients who need this done regularly, check out our self-guided training program, How to Write Engaging E-newsletters: Earn Ongoing Income by Turning Casual Prospects into Devoted Customers.

Who Sends Email Newsletters?

Companies of all sizes and across nearly all industries send email newsletters to their customers, clients, patients, and prospects. In fact, 81% of small and midsize businesses use email as their primary channel to acquire new customers, and 80% use it for customer retention, according to Oberlo.

Any company, from any niche, is a potential client… It doesn’t matter if it’s a giant corporation, a midsize company, or a local doctor, dentist, mechanic, or other solo professional… ANY business could benefit from sending an e-newsletter.

Think about all the local businesses… the solo professionals… the service providers in your hometown… that would benefit from sending email newsletters on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis.

For example:

  • Accountants
  • Insurance Agents
  • Financial Advisors
  • Marketing Agencies
  • Staffing Agencies
  • Lawyers
  • Real Estate Agents
  • Housecleaners
  • Florists
  • HVAC Specialists
  • Gardeners/Lawn Care Services
  • Chiropractors
  • Veterinarians

The list goes on and on, but you can see the potential. All of these professionals would like to stay top of mind with their customers, so they can keep their schedules full.

Newsletters give them the chance to "be front of mind" on a consistent basis. And ensure they maximize their own earning potential at the same time.

4 Ways to Find Newsletter Writing Clients

Considering that 83% of businesses use newsletters in their marketing… you won't have to look very far to find potential newsletter writing clients!

Whatever you want to write about, from automotive repair to the latest wellness trends, there are businesses that need your help.

We recommend you start by writing a few practice newsletters using the four-step process shared above. Then, once you have a few samples to show potential clients, you're ready to start your client search.

As a newsletter writer, you can build your business in two ways:

  1. You can start by focusing on your local area, reaching out to local businesses or Professional Service Providers in your community, for example. Or…
  2. You can specialize in a certain industry, such as becoming the newsletter writer for accountants. The internet makes it possible for you to write for professionals in any geographic area, near home or across the globe.

Either way, you'll enjoy consistent projects and predictable income you can count on every month.

These are four of the most direct ways we've found to get your newsletter writing career off the ground as quickly as possible…

1. Email Prospecting

Email prospecting involves directly reaching out to potential clients through email.

Consider what copywriting niche you might want to write for, and compile a list of 50 or more companies you think might be a good fit for your interests and background. See if you can find the email address of their marketing or human resources director, or failing that, a general contact email.

Then, start sending personalized emails to each company. Ideally, you want to craft compelling email pitches that highlight your newsletter writing experience, the unique value you can offer, and examples of your work.

It’s essential to personalize each email, addressing the specific needs of your prospective client and how you can help meet those needs. You can use these prospecting email samples for inspiration.

2. Networking

Networking is all about making connections — both online and offline. Building relationships through networking requires patience and genuine engagement, but it's a valuable method for getting your name out there and establishing your credibility.

Start by telling everyone you know about your new writing specialty. Many AWAI members have gotten their first client through their own personal network of friends and family.

You may also want to try attending Chamber of Commerce meetings and industry events, joining relevant online forums or groups, or participating in social media discussions.

3. LinkedIn

One of the best opportunities for online networking is through LinkedIn. You can set up a profile for free that highlights your newsletter writing skills, and then start connecting with people in your target industry or area who you might like to work with.

Self-marketing expert Ilise Benun shares more tips in her free webinar LinkedIn Now: Best Practices for Getting Great Writing Clients.

4. Online Job Boards

Sites like Writers Wanted, Upwork, Freelancer, and specialized job boards for writers and marketers can be gold mines for newsletter writing gigs.

These platforms allow businesses to post projects they need help with, and you can apply for these projects by submitting a proposal outlining your skills and experience.

While they can be competitive, they're also a great way to build your portfolio and gain experience working with different types of clients.

Ready to Start Writing Newsletters?

Writing newsletters is one of the easiest paths to achieving a steady, predictable income as a freelance writer. Your income will grow as your roster of clients expands, and the consistent, steady pace of work gives you security month after month.

As you spend more and more time with your clients over the months and years, you will develop strong, enjoyable relationships with people who come to depend on you to grow and improve their respective businesses. And will have numerous opportunities to take on additional writing projects too.

Remember, businesses send a lot of newsletters, and many are willing to pay top-dollar for your specialized skills because you ensure they earn top dollar from theirs.

They also need them written on a regular basis — which means regular paychecks you can rely on, month after month.

So don't hesitate to explore this booming specialty and discover how you can thrive as a newsletter writer!

If you’d like to speed up your progress, check out our in-depth newsletter training program. It includes everything you need to write effective newsletters, land clients, and start getting paid.