Newsletters on the Net

Should you provide free content on the Internet when you also aim to sell content?

Dear Janet,

I am currently researching the business feasibility of starting a newsletter for a specific market. I’m also considering developing an Internet site for the newsletter. This has led to a question in my mind: when it comes to profits based on number of subscribers, will having a web page for your publication undermine your profit margin? I ask this because a long time ago I gave up buying newspapers in order to read them for free online. How can you maintain and increase profits when you are posting your publication for free on the Internet? Thanks for your consideration.

–Thrifty Reader in VA


Dear Thrifty,

If you plan carefully — and if your publication contains information that people like you can’t get for free elsewhere — the Internet site should enhance your profits rather than killing them.

The way to make it work: make only a small portion of your newsletter available on the web site. Include a link to a subscription form in each portion of the newsletter you post. The portion of the newsletter that’s online should then help you attract new subscribers to boost your profitability.

If you think your subscribers would like to read the entire issue from your web site or that they’d like to discuss the issues you talk about in your newsletter, divide your site into two areas: a public area and a private area. Make the private area accessible only to those who have paid for a subscription.

The Internet site could enhance your profitability in one other way, too. It could be used to sell products to your subscribers.



Business Know-How(tm) provides general information only and should not be considered individual advice. Consult your own attorney, accountant or other advisor before taking any actions that might lead to adverse consequences for your business.

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