If you want to make money from your email list, you should create multiple revenue sources. Your best options are digital products, an exclusive community, and services.
While brainstorming this piece, we came up with 35+ ways to make your email list work for you.
If we skip the shady or impractical ideas — and let’s be clear, at Campaign Refinery, we’re totally against selling or buying email lists or using them to send fake emails, the result is a list of actionable sales channels that utilize your email list to the fullest.
So, here’s our shortlist of ideas on how to make money from an email list:
|How it Works
|Average Earning Potential
|Run a paid newsletter
|Offer exclusive niche insights to paying subscribers through monthly or one-off subscriptions.
|$12 to $20 per subscription.
|Build an exclusive community
|Offer exclusive access to content, personal interactions, and other unique benefits.
|$7 per member.
|Ask your subscribers to donate whatever amount they prefer and help you stay afloat.
|$3 per donation.
|Subscribers pay to buy your e-books which contain exclusive content.
|$5 to $15 per sale.
|Sell webinars or courses
|Sell your in-depth knowledge through courses or webinars and promote them through your emails.
|$20 to $50 per sign-up.
|Offer consulting services
|Give one-to-one consultations to subscribers and charge them by the hour or per project.
|$100 per hour.
|Sell physical products
|Promote products in-store or on an e-commerce platform.
|Varies based on product margin.
|Sell subscription boxes
|Subscribers receive a box of curated items on a recurring basis.
|Varies based on product margin.
|Send tripwire content
|Offer low-cost products to new subscribers as an introduction to your product line.
|Varies based on product margin.
|Do affiliate marketing
|Use your email list to direct subscribers to other sellers’ or brands’ products and earn a commission.
|5 to 50 percent of the product price.
|Work with sponsors
|Partnering with companies to introduce their product or service to your audience.
|$100 to $1000+ per campaign, depending on email list size and engagement.
|Promote other sellers’ products through ads in your email content.
|Varies based on payment type, list size, and engagement.
|Drive traffic to your site
|Send subscribers to your website to use other monetization methods.
|Indirect earnings potential.
Table of Contents
- How Do I Make an Email List Profitable?
- How Many Email Subscribers Do You Need To Make Money?
- 1. Run a Paid Newsletter
- 2. Build an Exclusive Community
- 3. Accept Donations
- 4. Sell Ebooks
- 5. Sell Webinars or Courses
- 6. Offer Consulting Services
- 7. Sell Physical Products
- 8. Sell Subscription Boxes
- 9. Send Tripwire Content
- 10. Do Affiliate Marketing
- 11. Work with Sponsors
- 12. Place Ads in Your Email Content
- 13. Drive Traffic To Your Website
- Maximize Your List’s Earning Potential
- Is It Legal to Sell Your List?
- Can You Sell Your List’s Activity Data?
- Ready to Turn Your Email List into a Profit Engine?
How Do I Make an Email List Profitable?
Not every email list has the potential to become profitable. The key to turning an email list into a revenue-generating asset is in understanding its strengths and limitations.
These are the items you need to consider:
- Size. In general, the larger the email list, the more potential profit it can generate. However, some monetization methods, like niche product sales or exclusive communities, can be highly effective even with smaller, more targeted lists.
- Health. Not every big list can become profitable. If you haven’t kept your email list clean, your efforts won’t lead to much profit. Regularly cleaning your email list ensures it’s healthy and free of spam traps, invalid addresses, inactive users, or duplicates.
- Activity. Do you send your email list regular emails? How long has it been since the last email? An inactive email list has next to no value.
- Metrics. Open rates, click-through rates, and deliverability are the key factors that make your list appealing to potential sponsors and lead to good results.
- Reputable ESP. A reliable email service provider is the ultimate tool that helps you keep your email list clean and profitable. With an effective ESP, like Campaign Refinery, you get advanced tools for segmentation, automation, and analytics.
How Many Email Subscribers Do You Need To Make Money?
You can start with 500 truly engaged, loyal, and responsive subscribers and build your way up.
However, The ideal number of your subscribers depends on the profit you plan to make and your monetization method. For example, affiliate marketing is usually less lucrative than selling courses. So, you may need to reach more subscribers to earn a considerable sum.
When it comes to making money from an email list, quality trumps quantity. Without a clean list and a highly engaged subscriber base, your email performance won’t be high enough to generate profits.
To set up your email list for success, you should work on these areas:
- Deliverability to increase your inboxing rate.
- Engagement to make sure people interact with your emails.
- Segmentation to send relevant content to different groups in your audience.
1. Run a Paid Newsletter
Suppose you’ve built a list of loyal subscribers with free guides, tips and tutorials. Now, you can up the ante and target the most engaged portion of your subscribers. These people are more likely to pay for more in-depth knowledge and skills.
A paid email newsletter can cover exclusive content on the current issues of your niche.
For example, if you’re a movie critic, you can analyze the latest movies. Or, if you’re an SEO expert, you can offer insights about the latest algorithm updates and how you expect the SERPs to change.
You can charge monthly subscriptions or one-off payments for each newsletter. While monthly subscriptions can bring in regular revenue, one-off payments allow you to publish your newsletters at your convenience.
What’s the earning potential?
You decide how much to charge, but you have to consider your niche, your level of expertise, and how much value you’ll provide. At the time of writing, the average paid subscription for a newsletter is between $12 and $20 per month for each user.
2. Build an Exclusive Community
Building an exclusive community around your email list can turn your subscribers into paying members who value your unique insights and offerings.
Platforms like Patreon let you create membership tiers to offer exclusive perks such as:
- Early access: You can give members a first look at your new content, whether it’s blog posts, videos, podcasts, or any other media.
- Behind-the-scenes content: You can share insights into your creative process, upcoming projects, or day-to-day operations that aren’t available to the general public.
- Members-only Q&A sessions: Regular live Q&A sessions let members ask you questions directly and create opportunities for more personal interactions.
- Customized content: Members get to vote on or request specific content topics, making them active participants in content creation.
Segment your list based on subscriber engagement and preferences to offer more personalized tiers and content.
What’s the earning potential?
The average earning from each paid member on Patreon is about $7. So, you can’t expect much from a small list. But as your community grows and you add more value, your earnings can increase substantially.
Here’s an example:
- Three membership tiers at $5, $7, and $10.
- List size = 10,000.
- Conversion rate = 0.5 percent.
- Average subscription = $7.
- Monthly earnings = $350.
3. Accept Donations
You may have heard of Buy Me a Coffee, a platform used by creators and artists to help them raise donations from their followers.
As a content creator with a loyal subscriber base, you can ask them to support you by donating small contributions. This can be a source of steady income if you have an engaged audience.
Follow these tips to get better results:
- Be transparent and tell them exactly why you need the money. Tap into emotions and tell your story in a way that resonates with them. Don’t make them feel used.
- Reward donations with one of your free products to help them see you care.
- Regularly update your donors on how you’re using their contributions to foster a sense of community and ongoing engagement.
How much can you earn?
It depends on your email list management and audience engagement. You should also factor in the strength of your relationship with your audience and how compelling you can be.
If you have a highly engaged list of 1,000 subscribers, and a small percentage, say 1%, donate an average of $3 each month, you could potentially earn around $300 monthly.
Here’s a helpful video from an actual creator on how much you can earn through donations from your subscribers.
4. Sell Ebooks
Writing an ebook may seem like a daunting task. But it’s not that different from a newsletter. It has the same basic steps, but it’s longer and has a wider scope.
To make sure your subscribers will need what you offer, identify their pain points. Send them online surveys and questionnaires to discover their needs.
Want to know an expert promotion tip?
Don’t wait until your ebook is finished. Share your ideas and excerpts with your audience to build anticipation and gauge their feedback. This is the same playbook Malcolm Gladwell used to become a rockstar writer and speaker.
And what’s the potential revenue?
You can’t charge much for a single ebook, even if it’s packed with top-grade value. Somewhere between $5 to $15 is what you can charge per sale.
But writing a book can open doors to lots of lucrative opportunities like speaking engagements and consulting gigs.
5. Sell Webinars or Courses
The key here is to offer your audience something they can’t find anywhere else. Otherwise, you may come across as some random guy who thinks of turning any generic idea into cash.
The good thing about webinars is that they let you be creative and choose a set-up that helps you the most.
For example, you can:
- Enlist the help of a co-host.
- Invite another expert in your niche and run an interview with them.
- Host a Q and A session to let your audience use your expertise directly.
If your subscribers show interest in your webinars, you can grow them into paid courses. It’s a good idea to send email coupons to the subscribers who attended your webinars because they’re loyal customers.
How much can you potentially earn?
Webinars tend to be more expensive than ebooks. You should charge based on how the content can improve your audience’s life. Also, consider their ability to pay and how long your session will last. I’ve seen an average two-hour webinar sell for anywhere between $25 and $50.
If your webinars become successful, you can start offering courses, boot camps, and seminars, which can sell for a hundred all the way to a couple thousand dollars.
6. Offer Consulting Services
If you have a deep knowledge of your niche, you can become a highly sought-after consultant. Offering this type of service has more benefits than just helping you earn money from your email list.
Here are a few of them:
- It’s a great opportunity to learn more about your subscribers and gain deeper insight into their needs and interests.
- It’s more profitable than selling digital products because you can charge by the hour or per project.
- It helps your subscribers bond with you. Seeing you in person can increase their loyalty.
How lucrative could this be?
Again, the actual number depends on a variety of factors, such as your niche and services. But if you can actually help your clients, you can bill your clients around $100 per hour.
7. Sell Physical Products
You don’t have to be a guru to make money from your email list. You can send promotional emails to introduce products that resonate with your audience’s needs.
We don’t mean you should start an online store, though. The idea is to offer relevant products that your audience can’t easily find on online shops. They could be your own creations, or you could find a niche supplier.
If you understand your audience well enough, you’ll find (or make) exclusive products that exceed your subscribers’ expectations. This way, you’ll create a loyal customer base eager for your next offering.
Once you gain traction, you could expand into a full-blown e-commerce store. In the beginning, though, a landing page connected to a payment gateway and a tracking software is all you need.
How much money is on the table?
Your specific earnings will depend on:
- Product’s price,
- Email list size,
- Audience engagement,
- Promotion effectiveness.
For example, if you have an email list of 10,000 subscribers and a conversion rate of 2% with an average profit of $5 per sale, you’ll make $1,000 in profit per campaign.
8. Sell Subscription Boxes
Subscription boxes are popular with e-commerce companies selling physical products. The subscribers receive a package containing a set of related products, such as men’s products, books, clothing, or make-up, on a monthly basis.
It’s a fascinating idea that you can adopt in your own niche and use it to make money from your email list.
A subscription box is a great way to connect with your subscribers every month, especially if you send personalized emails along with the physical products. You can even introduce an element of surprise and delight to increase customer loyalty.
What’s the earning potential?
With the right product mix and pricing strategy, subscription boxes can offer a steady and scalable income stream. The actual income will depend on the items we listed before.
But here’s an example:
- List size = 10,000.
- Conversion = 2 percent.
- Subscription price = $30.
- Profit per subscription = $10.
- Monthly profit = $2000.
9. Send Tripwire Content
A tripwire offer is a welcome package for your new subscribers to give them a taste of your products or services.
Imagine you’re a fitness expert who helps your clients get in shape and live pain-free. You could set up a trigger email to run once a new subscriber joins your email list. The welcome message can contain one of your paid webinars or guides at a lower price or for free.
Other examples of tripwire offers include:
- Free trials
- Free Memberships
- Discounted bundles
- Discounted or free parts of a service with different stages
This offer, placed at the top of the sales funnel, helps potential customers make the first purchase with less friction. It’ll remove the resistance that some customers have before buying their first products.
You should see tripwire offers as a long-term investment, though. They raise the chances of making higher-ticket sales, since the customer can see the real value they get.
10. Do Affiliate Marketing
Coming up with an idea and creating a product out of it is a challenge. What about piggybacking on the back of those who already have a product to sell?
Affiliate marketing involves promoting someone else’s product or service and getting paid for each sale.
But the product has to be relevant to your audience. Resist the temptation to promote an unrelated product just because it pays better. If it has nothing to do with your subscribers’ interests, they may see your promotions as bait and unsubscribe.
And remember that you must put disclaimers in your email content confirming your affiliate ties with the sellers. It’s an ethical and legal obligation to disclose your financial interest in the product you endorse.
How much can you expect to earn?
The earning potential of affiliate marketing is directly tied to the size of your audience and the commission rates.
For example, with a well-targeted email list of 10,000 subscribers, if you achieve a 0.5% conversion rate on a product that offers a $20 commission per sale, you could potentially earn $1,000 per campaign.
11. Work with Sponsors
Working with sponsors involves partnering with companies whose products or services align with your audience’s interests.
In exchange for promoting their offerings to your subscribers, you receive sponsorship fees.
However, never endorse a product that you wouldn’t use. Your subscribers see you as a reliable the source who cares about their audience’s money. They don’t want to be seen as “objects” to make money for you.
Don’t know how to find a sponsor? Here’s how to go about it.
- Search for businesses in your niche.
- Find those that offer relevant products or services.
- Contact them and pitch your offer. Explain how you can help their business.
- Showcase your growth rate, subscriber testimonials, and other valuable details to get them interested.
How much revenue can this generate?
The earning potential from sponsorships can be significant, depending on your negotiation skills and the value you provide to sponsors.
For example, with an engaged email list of 10,000 subscribers, you might negotiate sponsorship deals ranging from a few hundred to a thousand dollars per campaign, depending on the sponsor’s budget, the promotion, and the perceived value of your audience to the sponsor.
12. Place Ads in Your Email Content
Advertising is a great shortcut way of making money with your email list without selling a product of your own.
Brands love advertising their products on properly segmented email lists that let them reach relevant audiences. This form of advertising provides excellent email marketing ROI since it ensures targeted communication with highly engaged individuals.
You can use your email list to advertise other people’s products in different ways. Here’s a rundown of their types, pros, and cons.
|Banners in different parts of the email
|Looks overly promotional
|The entire email body advertises a product or service
Can deliver quality content
|Can hurt the audience’s trust.Is misleading
|Introducing the advertising partner as your email’s sponsor at the end or beginning of the email content.
|Gives the audience the choice of what to read.
Doesn’t feel too much like an ad.
|May not get the same attention as it does with other types.
What’s the earning potential?
As always, it depends. But as a general estimate, you could earn anywhere from a few dollars to several hundred dollars per advertisement, depending on your list size, engagement rates, and the ad relevance.
For instance, with a highly engaged list of 10,000 subscribers, you could charge $200-$500 per ad.
13. Drive Traffic To Your Website
Email marketing and SEO go hand in hand. The most common approach is to attract website visitors to your email list. But it’s a two-way street; your email list can help with your website traffic.
This is particularly important if you can’t run ads inside your email content, such as when you use Amazon Associates. In that case, you need to place your affiliate links on your blogs and lead readers from your email to your website.
Want to learn a trick to send people to your website?
Instead of relying on your subscribers’ decision, give them an incentive: more in-depth content, gifts, coupons, or surprises.
Your email copywriting skills matter here. Write a captivating email text to attract the readers’ attention. But only include a short introduction and ask the readers to head to your website to read the entire text.
If the content is luring enough, the reader will want to continue reading, even if it’s somewhere else. Craft an effective CTA to ensure the reader will go to your website.
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- Design irresistible lead magnets that your audience will read.
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Maximize Your List’s Earning Potential
Regardless of how you choose to monetize your email list, you can make more money and cut your email marketing costs if you follow a few basic principles.
You can turn a large email list into a revenue machine, but only with the right foundation: an audience that trusts you.
When your audience trusts you, they see you as a reliable source of expertise. So, they’re more likely to do what you want, be it clicking affiliate links or purchasing your sponsored products.
Plus, a good rapport with your audience means they’re happy to help you. They won’t see ads as intrusive but as something to help you keep your business going.
What’s the key to building that rapport? Delivering value.
Craft informative, useful, and relevant content and deliver it to them regularly to establish yourself as someone who cares about them.
You can take it to the next level by following these tips:
- Ask for feedback.
- Learn about their needs through surveys and questions.
- Follow email marketing best practices such as the 5Ts of email marketing.
- Show your human side by assuming a warm and friendly tone in your emails.
Segmentation Is Key
Very few areas in email marketing don’t need segmentation. It’s the core idea behind delivering value to your subscribers.
It involves dividing your list into smaller segments based on subscriber behavior, demographics, or purchase history. Then, you target each group with a different monetizing method.
For example, you can pitch your consultation courses to the most engaged subscribers since it shows they’re interested in your content. Or you can tailor the monetizing plans to their income levels.
By sending personalized offers to a segmented list, you can expect to get more positive reactions and conversions.
Take Your Time
You can’t build a rapport overnight. It takes months to reach the number of subscribers that can drive sustainable revenue for your email list.
It’s not enough to just keep growing your list. For many purposes, such as sponsored content and affiliates, your list’s engagement is more important than the number of subscribers.
For example, if you have 10,000 subscribers and a 50% open rate, you’re a more appealing case for sponsors than 20,000 subscribers and a 10% open rate.
So, turning your email list into a money machine takes a lot of dedication and hard work.
When monetizing your email list, you don’t need to dive all in. Take product offerings as an example. Instead of taking months to offer something huge, start with smaller bits.
- Create a simple handout, a 20-minute podcast, or an exclusive PDF guide.
- Pick a small segment of your subscribers and pitch your product.
- Perform beta testing to see what works and what needs improvement.
This can be a good starting point, as you build up on your previous steps and make it big.
Is It Legal to Sell Your List?
Generally speaking, there are a lot of gray areas regarding selling email lists. So, act with caution to avoid trouble down the line.
A critical consideration for selling email lists is legality.
The main legislation that governs email list policies in the US is the CAN-SPAM Act, which revolves around privacy, messaging, and spam.
The Act doesn’t state clearly that you can’t sell an email list. It only mentions you can’t sell an email address after the subscriber has opted out of your list.
But if you’ve promised your clients not to share their information, you may risk infringing privacy laws.
Plus, if you sell your list, you won’t have control over the content sent to your subscribers. You might end up selling to a spam email sender. And while this may not have legal consequences for you, it will damage your reputation and relationship with your customers.
Can You Sell Your List’s Activity Data?
This is one of the murkier options when it comes to how to make money from an email list.
Some organizations are willing to pay you for actionable data. But the biggest consideration is still privacy. Your subscribers must consent to having their data collected and sold.
Be completely transparent with your opt-in emails. Explain what parts of user activity data you’ll give to third parties. Reassure them that their identity and personal information are completely safe. And provide a way to opt out.
It’s also best to consult a lawyer as the first step to ensure you’re not breaking any laws. That’s because privacy laws can be confusing since different jurisdictions approach them differently.
Ready to Turn Your Email List into a Profit Engine?
Now that you’ve explored the strategies on how to make money from your email list, it’s time to put your knowledge into action.
But remember, the effectiveness of these methods doesn’t just depend on what you do; it’s also about how you do it.
That’s where Campaign Refinery comes in. With our industry-high deliverability rates, we make sure your emails spark the action that turns into revenue.
And it doesn’t stop there: our cutting-edge engagement tools turn your creative content into compelling campaigns that drive real action and revenue.
But why just read about it when you can experience it? It’s time to see the difference for yourself. Join a community of successful marketers who have transformed their email lists into significant income streams.