Is a Newsletter Subscription Cost Effective?

Is a Newsletter Subscription Cost Effective?

By Ann O'Brien | May 8, 2021

You love the idea. Reaching out on a monthly basis in a direct, non-obtrusive way that gives customers and prospects something of value and establishes you as an expert in your field. But is a newsletter subscription worth it versus just doing it yourself? Let’s take a look at all of the components involved in piecing together your newsletter, along with their costs.


Brainstorming is perhaps the biggest overlooked factor in creating monthly newsletter content, something not needed with a newsletter subscription. If your goal is to provide readers with a variety of interesting, beneficial, and entertaining articles, developing ideas for these topics takes time. Topics should be either fresh or evergreen, so they won’t go stale by the time your readers receive your newsletters. And you’ll need to consider the fact that you probably have a wide range of ages and interests to appeal to, which takes a certain finesse when it comes to finalizing ideas. The point is, the brainstorming component alone takes a curious mind that probably enjoys reading and keeping up on current events and trends, with the time to spend deliberating over various topics. While there are certainly exceptions, this is likely not a role for your part-time receptionist or college intern. You’ll need a professional editor or writer, which generally means researching or hiring a freelancer. The going rate? $30-100 per hour (Source: Editorial Freelancers Association). Final minimum brainstorming cost: $60-200 minimum or A LOT of your own spare time.


Now that you have a batch of ideas to choose from, it’s time to write. How long will it take you to draft a 500-word general interest article or business spotlight? You might be surprised. Unless you have a built-in encyclopedia microchip that provides you with an instant wealth of facts and statistics, you’ll need to research. Part of that research will include looking for legitimate sources or tracing what you find in your searches to the original source to make sure the information is correct and properly cited. Then you’ll need to do the writing itself, followed by at least a few revisions: one for content/organization and one for grammar and spelling. This process can take the average business owner anywhere from a few hours to a half a day or more, something you don’t need to worry about with a newsletter subscription. But remember, you need at least a few articles, so you’ll need to multiply the time it takes you to complete one article by the number of articles you plan on including. Let’s say you settle on six. That’s a minimum of 12 hours. What does 12 hours of your time cost you? Is it less than the $360-$1200 freelancer’s price? And please don’t think a college intern can handle this type of project. This isn’t just a social media post; it’s a collection of articles that you’re sending in print via the mail. We cannot emphasize professionalism and experience enough. Yes, there are exceptions. But those exceptions are rare—how will you find them?


Depending on the quality of the writer you chose, you may want to hire a proofreader to make sure your articles are free of embarrassing homonyms and punctuation mistakes. We personally run everything through our staff proofreader so she can spot even the most inconspicuous of errors. While the average person probably wouldn’t notice these mistakes, you just never know who’s reading your articles…including English instructors, writers, and folks who were brought up on impeccable grammar. Since you probably have zero need for a staff proofreader, hiring a freelance editor for basic copyediting will cost you approximately $30-40 per hour (Source: Editorial Freelancers Association).


The articles are now done. Whew! Whether you write them yourself or wrote that painful check to your freelancer, now it’s time to insert your articles into your newsletter design. This is another component to newsletters that isn’t quite as easy as it looks. The space between words should look professional. Words shouldn’t be cut off too frequently and continued on the next line. The font and size should be consistent. And don’t forget the pictures! Articles with images get over 90% more attention than without (Source: NewsCred, 2014).

Wait. Before you find something online, do you have permission to use it? It’s one thing to share images online. But reprinting images for commercial use that you don’t have the copyright to? So now you need to purchase a package of images or a monthly subscription to an online royalty-free photo provider. Cost per image: approximately $5-20. Images needed per newsletter? One per article. The verdict: Unless you know your way around publication software, this job is probably best for a freelance graphic designer. But that’s going to cost you. $25-300 an hour to be exact. Either way, you’ll probably have a minimum charge of $50 (you hope), plus the $30-180 you need for royalty-free images.

Newsletter Subscription vs. DIY

If you’ve been adding up the costs, you’ve probably already concluded that attempting the newsletter business on your own will cost you over $500 per month at best for six articles. Ouch. Our monthly newsletter subscription costs a lot less than that And in addition to the brainstorming, writing, proofreading, and design, you have access to our printing services at a discounted price that’s only available to our newsletter subscribers. We’ll even fold and ship your newsletters!  Check out our newsletters here.

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