The 1 ‘must’ for how to start a paid newsletter

Go to Google and search “how to start a paid newsletter”.

You’ll find lots of articles saying the same old stuff…

  • Identify your target market
  • Create a writing schedule
  • Choose your platform
  • Set your price

Blah, blah, blah.

Don’t get me wrong, you have to do all these things. 

Especially getting your pricing right. I’ll show you how to do that another time.

But these articles fail to mention the most important step. 

To successfully start a paid newsletter…

Start with a free newsletter.

When I first started RiskHedge, we wrote a once-a-week free newsletter with nothing for sale. 

The next year, we launched our first paid newsletter. It made over $2 million in revenue in the first 12 months.

We NEVER would have been able to achieve that without us first building up a free newsletter and subscriber base.


Before you sell a paid newsletter, build an audience that trusts you

Everyone’s a stranger on the internet. 

People distrust strangers. You might be smart, insightful, and a whiz at expressing unique ideas clearly – all the qualities of a great newsletter writer. 

None of this matters until you demonstrate it to readers. 

A free newsletter is the perfect way to do that. 

It allows you to build a relationship with readers before asking for anything in return. 

Your goal is to go from ‘stranger’ to a voice your readers know, like, and trust. 

You can’t do this on Twitter. It’s too shallow and brief.

You can do it on long-form video, like YouTube. But most newsletter writers like to write. Their strength isn’t being on camera. 

When I started my free newsletter, we focused on sending great, authentic content, and building a list of qualified email subscribers. We’d figure out how to make money later.


Trust is everything

The internet is full of disappointing products.

Some people are outright scamsters.

Others just produce subpar stuff.

In order to prove you are the real deal… you must build trust. 

Your readers have to trust you’re authentic. That you won’t take their money and run. That you’ll reliably publish on a regular schedule. That you’ll respond to emails. That you’ve got useful insights. That you’re a real person with unique thoughts. 

A great free newsletter knocks down all these objections. Readers will get used to hearing from you every week. They’ll get to know you, like you, and trust you… which makes them far, far, far more likely to buy from you when the time is right. 


How to start a free newsletter 

Starting has never been easier. Go to Substack or Beehiiv, pick a name, and start writing.

The real-world obstacles to starting a free letter are practically zero. The biggest challenges are usually mental ones.

Here are some ideas to overcome those…

All feedback is good (even if it’s negative)

Writing online can feel like standing on stage as a comedian. It feels vulnerable. You’re putting yourself out there, and you don’t know how the audience will react. What if they don’t like you? 

The thing to remember is all feedback is good. If somebody responds positively, you know what’s working. If they respond negatively, you hit a nerve… which is often a good thing for reasons I explain here

If you hear nothing, keep writing until you do.

Good and done is better than perfect

Perfectionism is a big challenge for writers. If you always insist on perfect, you’ll find it hard to publish frequently. A good piece of content published today is better than a ‘perfect’ piece sitting in your ‘drafts’ folder. 

Write plainly

When starting out you might find yourself using big words and writing to impress. Knock it off! Write like people talk.

At first I did this coming from a CPA background. I thought I was supposed to use big words and flowery language. Nope. 

Write simply, make it easy to understand, and inject some emotion. Tools like MS words FK score and Hemingway can help.