We used to make zines with typed and photocopied pages. Those were the old days, before desktop publishing, computers and the whole concept of publishing on the Internet. Now, people are creating email newsletters to promote their online services and businesses. In between are the old, real newsletters which can still be created, written, planned, published and distributed to make money in the real (offline) world.
Consider making money with a real newsletter, in real print (not on the Internet).
Consider how many online newsletters you have actually read lately compared to the actual print newsletter which you pick up while you are out somewhere and likely read during some of your offline down time. I read the same print newsletter every month. It’s distributed through the family restaurant where I like to have a leisurely breakfast out a few times a month. I watch for the latest newsletter there. It’s sponsored by local businesses (it makes money by publishing their ads) and the content is light and simple. If the same content were on a website I would pass it by. But, when I’m just sitting there, enjoying a slow pace, that newsletter gets read and I enjoy it.
The print newsletter is not dead, it’s just a little rusty, dusty and over looked.
Make money writing a print newsletter you can distribute in your local community. Once you have a basic product (the newsletter) get paid advertising to make money from it all.
Open Source (Free) Graphics Editors
Desktop Publishing Software
The Business Plan
Start by looking at what sort of newsletter already exists in your area. You can get ideas from them and decide how you will compete with them. What could you bring that would get new readers, bring new information and attract local businesses to advertise in your newsletter?
Talk to local businesses and see who would be interested in in advertising and what kind of money they would consider fair and reasonable. It would be a good plan to approach them with a mock up of your print newsletter and a distribution plan. This way you will be ready to answer (at least some of) their questions.
Printing and Distributing the Newsletter
You need to find a local printer. Try offering free ad space in exchange for a discount on the cost of printing the newsletter. But, don’t choose a printer based on price alone. You want someone who can print the newsletter on time, without printing errors. One thing you can do is ask about left over paper stock from other jobs they have printed. You could get a bargain on paper someone else ordered and then didn’t use.
Printers can fold and/ or staple newsletters for you but that is an extra cost. Consider doing your own folding – at least until you are making money and can afford to spend on a few nice extras.
Is your newsletter being distributed in store fronts or mailed out? Options for distribution need to be considered based on cost, effectiveness and how well you can track the issues you put out versus how many were read by people. You need to know this for your advertisers. They want to know their ads are being seen.
Passive distribution means you leave your newsletter in public areas where people will pick it up. Active distribution means you have to know who you are sending your newsletter to, you will need to create and build up a mailing list of subscribers. If you use active distribution you can also consider having paying subscribers versus free subscriptions. People might pay for a subscription to a print newsletter if the content were valuable to them in particular. A general sort of newsletter isn’t likely to find a lot of people interested in paid subscriptions.