The idea of converting a free newsletter to paid is so unusual, it would never occur to most publishers. But the biggest hurdle to selling content is mustering the belief that you can.
The next hurdle in selling content is investing in editorial. You need a newsroom trained to recognize and report on industry-essential news, research and trends. That was little problem for Dan Fink, managing director of Money-Media, a New York-based subsidiary of UK’s Financial Times.
Money-Media had built a successful group of high-priced content products for the investment management industry. They saw continued growth, but did not see room for a new, breakthrough product on the immediate horizon.
Enter paid newsletters.
Firstly, Money-Media identified a niche market that overlapped with their existing audience. Secondly, they assigned an editor without having to hire, and used freelancers for the remaining content. Thirdly, they bought some lists to add to their own and launched a thrice-weekly newsletter – Monday, Wednesday, Friday.
The light bulb moment about the viability of the product came when they ran benchmarks against their existing, paid newsletters to other sectors. They were seeing the same amount of engagement, even more at times.
They then posted a notice that the newsletter would be free for the next 30 days – “If you want to continue receiving this valuable news, contact our sales rep”. People began emailing the rep from the first announcement.