You have Andrew Methven to thank for what I’m about to share with you.
Andrew writes the Slow Chinese newsletter, which helps people improve and maintain their Chinese language skills in 10 minutes a week.
There’s a free version of the newsletter and a paid membership — he hired me to help him figure out how to improve his monetization.
He found my advice helpful and suggested I share it with others (like you) in a blog post so more people can benefit from it.
Below you’ll find some suggestions I gave Andrew — most can be applied to any content you want to monetize.
1. Make it clear what free subscribers are missing.
If your newsletter has a free and paid tier, don’t just pitch the paid product with a couple sentences in your free newsletter.
Show readers what they’re missing.
For example, I suggested Andrew include the headlines of his paid content in the free newsletter and black out that premium content for free subscribers.
This serves as a weekly reminder to free subscribers of exactly what they’re missing each time they read the newsletter.
2. Emphasize the benefits, not just the features.
The most important thing to explain on a product sales page isn’t what people get if they purchase (the features).
It’s what they gain from having access to those things (the benefits).
3. Don’t offer a free trial if it doesn’t convert.
If you offer a free trial of a product, you better make sure you can track the conversions it generates.
If your free trial isn’t converting people into paid customers, then it’s likely your product needs to be improved or your free trial is attracting the wrong audience.
4. Name your membership something people want to join.
Andrew’s paid membership is currently just called “Annual Membership.”
That’s a missed opportunity.
Name your products something exciting and unique — or at least something that gives people a sense of belonging.
You can can even have your existing members help come up with a name they feel represents them and their goals.
5. Offer a low-priced, one-time purchase product.
Andrew currently only offers one subscription product.
I suggested he also offer an inexpensive one-time purchase product.
The one-off product creates an entry point for people who may hesitate to commit to a subscription, but who if they have a good experience with their one-off purchase, will be likely to become a paid subscriber.
It also creates an upsell opportunity.
For example, when people buy one of my Skill Session workshops, I give them the opportunity to upgrade to a full Skill Sessions subscription and get their initial purchase refunded.
6. Offer a high-end product.
Let’s say your goal is to make $100,000 a year from your products.
If your only offer is a $120 per year subscription, you’re going to need 800+ paid subscribers to hit that goal.
That’s challenging — even with a great product.
But if you also offer a more expensive product— even if it’s only offered sporadically and not many people purchase it — the math drastically changes.
For example, Andrew could create a mastermind group with himself and four members who meet once a week to practice speaking Chinese.
Even if he charged just $250 per month, that would earn him an extra $12,000 per year.
If it worked well, he could offer additional groups — potentially mentored or led by people from the initial group — and scale the product.
If he got to a point where he had four groups running with each generating $1,000 per month, suddenly it’s a $48,000 per year revenue stream.
And all he needs to make that happen is to find 16 people willing to pay for access to the masterminds.
For comparison, he’d have to get 400 paid newsletter subscribers at $120 per year to earn that same amount of money.
Which do you think is easier?
7. Broaden your monetization approach beyond just products and services.
Not doing this is one of the biggest mistakes I made early in my own business.
Andrew has a specific niche audience and while it may not be millions of people, it’s likely big enough that a variety of companies would pay to reach them.
Consider what your audience spends money on, what they seek, and who wants to reach them.
Then explore incorporating ads into your newsletter and/or affiliate partnerships to help them do so.
For example, Andrew could sell sponsorships to language apps and tutors, do affiliate deals with Chinese travel companies or hotels, or incorporate job listings in his newsletter for companies looking to hire Chinese speakers.
8. Use social media to grow your audience, not just engage your existing audience.
No matter what platform you use, you need to post content people are likely to share and that appeals to people who don’t currently know you exist.
The goal of social media is to draw new people into your world and that won’t happen if what you post is only understood or relevant to your existing audience.
9. Do more cross promotions.
Cross promotions with other newsletters or social accounts that have a similar audience to yours are the quickest and most cost-effective way to grow your audience.
Andrew has already seen this work and I encouraged him to double or triple down on his cross promotional efforts.
Amplify tactics that work instead of always looking for new tactics.
10. Read these.
Here are a few more resources I thought Andrew would find helpful that will likely benefit you as well:
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