This is the second issue of the Business Ideas series.
You can read the first installment here for a look at the initial idea I sketched out for you aspiring entrepreneurs out there.
Here’s the quick and dirty rundown: the Business Ideas series is a feature I rolled out where I lay down the foundation of an online business.
Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to run with the idea and improve upon it and come back here to share your journey.
OK, this week we’re taking a look at letter.ly for your next business model.
What is letter.ly?
The letter.ly service is an easy-to-use email newsletter publisher. You set up a free account, submit your newsletter by email to an email account they assign you and the email gets published for your paying subscribers. There is also the option to allow people to read for free. More on that later.
Here’s a shot of their main page (also their sign up page):
They showcase a few sample newsletter names and subscription prices right on this main page. On their About page (below) you’ll see that they handle payments via Amazon payments.
It’s lightweight. It’s user-friendly. And you get paid to write emails. What’s not to like?
Phase 1: Business Tool Kit
The following are my recommended pieces of the puzzle if you’re going to conquer this:
- A letter.ly account. This is kind of important since the business idea revolves around letter.ly.
- A Facebook Page or perhaps a Facebook Group so that your subscribers can engage in a community setting. This helps because their friends will see them actively participating in conversation about your newsletter. Free publicity! But we also all love being part of an exclusive community so this is powerful.
- A WordPress website. I use the Headway Theme for WordPress here on JonAlford.com but you can opt to customize any free WordPress template. You know my view on paying for your site so try to avoid the free blogging platforms.
- You or any Subject Matter Expert (SME). You’re publishing a newsletter so you’ll either need to have something interesting to say or have an area of expertise (eh, preferably both). If you have neither, then make friends with someone that does. The deal there is, you’ll bolt the pieces of this together and they’ll supply the knowledge.
- Twitter account. Optional but could be another useful traffic source.
- An email account and/or word processor (I won’t leave out the obvious).
Phase 2: Build Your Business
Go sign up for a free letter.ly account. Next, you will promote your newsletter on a WordPress domain so you’ll need to register a domain and find hosting.
My suggestions? Grab a domain at Namecheap and snap up some hosting at HostGator (no, those aren’t affiliate links). I’ve had experience with both and highly recommend them. You’ll have to resolve your Namecheap domain to your Hostgator servers and then install WordPress.
Don’t know how? Then hire me to help connect the dots for you.
Then you’ll have to put together some valuable content on your WordPress site and look legitimate. This isn’t about spammy backlink building or time to look cheesy. Put care into the aesthetics of the site but mainly write some quality content.
People will be paying for your writing, after all.
Write your 3-5 articles of cornerstone content all tightly focused around your newsletter topics. These will be the first articles posted to your new WordPress site. Link them to your letter.ly landing page but don’t go overboard with linking or get stuffy with keywords.
Below is the landing page on letter.ly for Everett Bogue’s newsletter (I picked his because $25.00/month stood out). They will all look this basic, so don’t go thinking that I picked a dull-looking landing page:
So let’s recap so far. You have registered your domain, secured hosting, and fired up your WordPress website. Then you loaded it up with articles showing off your knowledge about “your topic” (and the articles link to your letter.ly landing page).
What about some sidebar advertisements on your site? Chris Brogan links out to his Blog Topics letter.ly newsletter from a 125×125 pixel ad; you can go see for yourself and come back. I’ll wait.
Pro Tips: You will want to split test your approaches when linking your sidebar ad. Here are some options to consider when linking:
- Direct link to letter.ly (relies on the newsletter description you write on letter.ly)
- Link to an article on your site (the article romances the reader into signing up)
- Send people to a page with a brief newsletter description and a full sample edition
If you try the last option, you’re going to let people have a sneak peek at an entire email. Make sure the sample is your premium, knock-out type of content. Not only will this increase your chances for conversion, but you’ll be challenging yourself to continue writing at that value level.
Also, if you’re wondering where on your post or page to place your newsletter ad or links then take a look at the image to the lower right. It’s a sample of where Google suggests to place their Adsense ads.
Click on the image to read the full article.
There are all kinds of studies that you will easily find on page layout, heat maps, and the like. Do some research and test what works best for your offer.
You should also consider dedicating an entire page of navigation to the pre-sell page of your newsletter.
Phase 3: Promote and Scale Your Business
So, how are you going to get all these moving pieces to work together and promote your business?
Give away a couple seats to your show. What I mean is, let a few people in for free and start gathering their feedback on the quality and content of your newsletter. They’ll appreciate you and feel compelled to help you out.
You’ll appreciate them for singing your praises because your content rocks (don’t let them go telling everyone it’s free).
Got Twitter? Then tweet about your happy community. Tweet about some of the topics you’re covering and ask probing questions. Have fun promoting buzz and stirring up conversation about what your incredible newsletter has to offer.
Leverage Facebook sharing and form your own Group to bring your happy community around your offering. This is the ultimate social proof. The ultimate “green light” for anyone on the fence about signing up.
Then try to display a few testimonials on your site. Ask the free readers that you started with to write about their experience with your newsletter. Post their testimonials conspicuously on your website so your visitors can see you’re the real deal.
Yes, you can also try article marketing, blog commenting, and the usual site promotion to get the word out about your newsletter. There are countless ways to promote but choose only a strategy or two and master them first.
So, are you off to set up your own letter.ly account?
Do you know someone you can work with who can deliver the content while you attach all the nuts and bolts of this business idea?
What would you add to improve this idea and do you know anyone trying this out? Please leave your comment below.