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The Business of Content

May 21, 2018

There’s no question that newsletters are on the rise. Legacy publishers are constantly launching new newsletter products. Quartz’s Obsession newsletter, for instance, picks seemingly random topics and goes deeps on them. Vox’s Voxcare newsletter, a favorite of mine, covers new developments in healthcare policy.

But we’re also seeing a number of media startups that are producing newsletters without corresponding websites. The Hustle, a business-news oriented newsletter that has over 500,000 subscribers, keeps all its content contained within its newsletter and publishes none of it to its website. The same can be said for theSkimm, a female-focused newsletter launched by two former NBC producers, and Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter.

So what’s the business model for these types of newsletters? Of course many of them rely on advertising, but we’re also seeing a number of new products enter the market that allow newsletter publishers to charge money to their subscribers, often in exchange for access to extra premium newsletters. For example, Hot Pod, a newsletter about the podcast industry, sends out a weekly free newsletter each Tuesday and a second one every Friday for subscribers who pay $7 a month.

Given the rise of paid newsletters, we’ve seen a number of new platforms spring up to service this type of publisher. One of those platforms is Revue, a newsletter distribution platform that was designed with content publishers in mind. I interviewed its founder Martijn de Kuijper about the platform’s offerings and the best way for publishers to convert casual newsletter readers into paying subscribers.