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EXECUTION [Progress] Paid email newsletters

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Andy Black

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Thanks for whoever signed up today. I had changed the price from $9.99 to $9. I think the $9.99 looks more than $10 even, and I prefer the roundness of $9.

Anyway... I'm still posting regularly to the newsletter. I think I'm still only at 15 or 16 subscribers. It's not something I'm advertising. It's enough to know there's a handful of people reading.
 

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Crushbowl

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In continuing with my research, I've been looking at other ways of delivering paid subscription content. Other ancillary related terms:
- Password Protected
- Paywall
- Restricted Content

Just thought I'd use this thread to continue cataloguing what I've come across.

Also, I really hate the idea of using PayPal, Stripe, etc. because they take a large chunk with their ridiculous fees.

Still exploring other options...
 

ZeroTo100

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Thanks for whoever signed up today. I had changed the price from $9.99 to $9. I think the $9.99 looks more than $10 even, and I prefer the roundness of $9.

Anyway... I'm still posting regularly to the newsletter. I think I'm still only at 15 or 16 subscribers. It's not something I'm advertising. It's enough to know there's a handful of people reading.
Hey Andy,

Always love reading your work and how transparent you are in your journey.

You ever think about experimenting with a different payment option such as 97.00 a year plus maybe throw in some bonuses and a free gift.

What about dropping down to like 2.97 per month and then scaling it higher when you hit a certain number of readers - then you can grandfather initial users in.

I recently read an interesting study on payment options. It seems like people are more willing to choose a monthly option that costs more overall after seeing the lump sum price.

If I sell a photography service for 297.00, the human psych would rather spend 3 payments of say 114 vs paying that 297 upfront - even though they’re paying around 15% more. Imagine what that does to your bottom line?

Food for though. ;)
 
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Andy Black

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Hey Andy,

Always love reading your work and how transparent you are in your journey.

You ever think about experimenting with a different payment option such as 97.00 a year plus maybe throw in some bonuses and a free gift.

What about dropping down to like 2.97 per month and then scaling it higher when you hit a certain number of readers - then you can grandfather initial users in.

I recently read an interesting study on payment options. It seems like people are more willing to choose a monthly option that costs more overall after seeing the lump sum price.

If I sell a photography service for 297.00, the human psych would rather spend 3 payments of say 114 vs paying that 297 upfront - even though they’re paying around 15% more. Imagine what that does to your bottom line?

Food for though. ;)
Thanks. Good thoughts about pricing. I’m sure an annual fee that has two months free would entice more people to signup monthly, and would get some folks to signup annually.

The Substack support team advised me not to remove the annual fee, saying I’d leave money on the table. It’s not even an option in the interface, you have to ask them to do it manually.

I still went ahead and removed the annual fee because I want to know if people will pay monthly, and for how much.

More importantly, I didn’t want people paying for a year when I wasn’t sure I’d kill it after a month! I’m fairly sure I’ll keep it going because it’s so easy, and I’ve been posting content daily for over five years. However, I just don’t want “annual” hanging over my head.

For my course there’s no payment plan. It’s the full price or nothing. For this, I *want* it to be monthly.

The lowest price a Substack newsletter can be is $5/mth. I pushed the price up a bit because I thought $9.99/mth looked better than $5/mth. It looks less “cheap”.

Then I thought $9.99 looks a bit dumb. I’m embarrassed to tell people it’s $9.99 which is effectively $10/mth. I even think $9.99 looks more than $10.

If I had a plugin then I’d probably start it at $9/mth or $10/mth ... even if more folks would buy at $3/mth. I want to filter for the slightly more serious.
 
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Andy Black

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Someone posted this in @AllenCrawley ’s insider email marketing AMA (https://www.thefastlaneforum.com/community/threads/ama-email-marketing-how-to-best-practices.86639/):

An additional resource:

Matt Paulson has some great content about email marketing. In 2018 he did over $6,000,000 with emails and a subscription email newsletter biz.
Email Marketing Demystified Second Edition Now Available - Matthew Paulson


Email Marketing Demystified Webinar Replay

I’ve not watched all the video yet, but this intro slide jumped out at me. (I might have already mentioned/linked to a great 2016 podcast this guy did with James Schramko on the Superfastbusiness YT channel.)

 
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Andy Black

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Found this on Udemy last night too (the first course in the list):

Complete Subscription Newsletter Business | Udemy

I love that it’s only 1.5 hours long.

It was €12 last night. This morning it’s €20.


EDIT: I checked it out on my PC (without being logged into Udemy) and it was back to €12. Logged in and bought it at €12. Kinda annoying that Udemy change prices like that. Anyway... I'm interested in whizzing through the course today - not just to go through the content, but also to see how people structure a 1.5 hour course.
 
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Andy Black

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Dayum... I've accumulated a fair bit of content in my archives:
  1. A lead from a Google employee? (May 02, 2019)
  2. Stop being so salesy (May 01, 2019)
  3. Personal vs Business website? (May 01, 2019)
  4. Why a Google Ads dude doesn’t use Google Ads (Apr 30, 2019)
  5. The sliding scale from freelancer to platform (Apr 28, 2019)
  6. I prefer to start minimal with websites and landing pages (Apr 26, 2019)
  7. Why do you have a simple website? (Apr 23, 2019)
  8. Don't automate too soon (Apr 21, 2019)
  9. The best way to learn how to drive traffic? (Apr 19, 2019)
  10. How can you make money when your product/service is free? (Apr 17, 2019)
  11. Always be closing? (Apr 14, 2019)
  12. For those intimidated speaking to business owners (Apr 06, 2019)
  13. Stop trying to be “a salesman” (Apr 05, 2019)
  14. Nice BLAB “lite” version (Apr 02, 2019)
  15. A good use of your lunch breaks (Mar 31, 2019)
  16. My Book-Like-A-Boss page (a work-in-progress) (Mar 28, 2019)
  17. I chatted to a new prospect last night (Mar 22, 2019)
  18. Use Google Ads to sell my Google Ads Course? (Mar 21, 2019)
  19. Update on 3 sales strategies (Mar 03, 2019)
  20. Do things that don’t scale (Feb 26, 2019)
  21. I’ve started updating my course (Feb 20, 2019)
  22. The car dealership signed up (Feb 16, 2019)
  23. It's easier to reach to people who have already raised their hand (Feb 13, 2019)
  24. Sales for the introverted (New thread started in TheFastLaneForum) (Feb 07, 2019)
  25. What habits changed your life? (Feb 05, 2019)
  26. Email sent to the car dealership (Jan 26, 2019)
  27. Ways to increase revenue (Jan 18, 2019)
  28. Are you waiting for permission? (Jan 13, 2019)
  29. Closing in on a car dealership (Jan 12, 2019)
  30. Prospects, leads, customers (Jan 04, 2019)
  31. "What is your big motivation for this year?" (Jan 03, 2019)
  32. 2019 Q1 goals (Jan 01, 2019)
  33. Thoughts on scaling (Dec 31, 2018)
  34. “What would you invest $100k in?” (Dec 28, 2018)
  35. Thoughts on agencies, and why I don’t want to build one (Dec 15, 2018)
  36. Saying Yes has it's place though (Dec 13, 2018)
  37. W/C 10-Dec-18 (Dec 10, 2018)
  38. A danger of documenting your journey (Dec 9, 2018)
  39. W/C 03-Dec-18 (Dec 3, 2018)
  40. What happens when you quit your job? (Nov 28, 2018)
  41. Procrastination and Perfectionism (Nov 23, 2018)
  42. The greatest freedom? (Nov 21, 2018)
  43. Automatic No (Nov 19, 2018)
  44. Touch it once (Nov 17, 2018)
  45. Smaller guys pay on time (Nov 15, 2018)
  46. Get to the point (Nov 12, 2018)
  47. You've made your first sale! (Nov 9, 2018)
  48. Build relationships (Nov 6, 2018)
  49. Lack of time? (Nov 4, 2018)
  50. You should ... (Nov 3, 2018)
  51. Think bigger with local lead gen (Nov 2, 2018)
  52. Another inbound brain-dump (Oct 31, 2018)
  53. Pricing tiers (Oct 31, 2018)
  54. A couple of tips about TRAFFIC and CONVERSIONS (Oct 30, 2018)
  55. Our prospecting lists (Oct 24, 2018)
  56. Your step's too short (Oct 20, 2018)
  57. How to not be spammy (Oct 19, 2018)
  58. An example of SHOW, DON'T TELL (Oct 18, 2018)
  59. How to let everyone know what you do (Oct 17, 2018)
  60. Let everyone know what you do (Oct 16, 2018)
  61. What makes a good business operator? (Oct 12, 2018)
  62. A website naming fail (Oct 10, 2018)
  63. It's only 200-300 searches a month? (Oct 4, 2018)
  64. A couple of nice little sales tips (Oct 2, 2018)
  65. Thoughts for copywriters (Sep 26, 2018)
  66. An email I just sent a prospect (Sep 25, 2018)
  67. W/C 24-Sep-18 (Sep 24, 2018)
  68. “Hell Yeah, or No” (Derek Sivers) (Sep 20, 2018)
  69. Blasphemous thoughts on email marketing (Sep 19, 2018)
  70. Growing 10x is easier than going 2x (Sep 18, 2018)
  71. Consume less, create more (Sep 18, 2018)
  72. Sunday evening is the start of my week (Sep 16, 2018)
  73. Stack to create your high ground (Sep 16, 2018)
  74. I’ve changed the newsletter name again (Sep 12, 2018)
  75. It's a journey (Part 1) (Sep 11, 2018)
  76. My 4 main to-do lists (Sep 10, 2018)
  77. Why subscribe to this paid email newsletter? (Sep 10, 2018)
  78. The magic of helping people (Sep 9, 2018)
  79. Why I might kill the free newsletter (Sep 7, 2018)
  80. Examples of the 5 levels of perceived value (Sep 2, 2018)
  81. My AHA moment pitching to 3 prospects last week (Aug 25, 2018)
  82. Why I'm nuking my personal branded website (Aug 12, 2018)
 
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Andy Black

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How are you getting on with your paid email newsletter @Lex DeVille?

Are you still enjoying posting to it? What do you like about it the most? What do you want to improve?
 

Lex DeVille

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How are you getting on with your paid email newsletter @Lex DeVille?

Are you still enjoying posting to it? What do you like about it the most? What do you want to improve?
For Creative Persuasive newsletter it's closed and I don't promote it. Basically it's made up of members who were active at the time I closed enrollment. We had a bit of churn after a few months (I'm guessing people who didn't realize it was a place for my personal updates) and after that it was very steady.

I had options for monthly, six-month, and twelve month enrollments with discounts for longer periods. I have members who have re-enrolled at each level now.

I do enjoy posting updates. I like to share ideas or updates in the newsletter that I can't or don't want to share anywhere else. Feels super personal, although I rarely get questions.

What I like most is probably the predictability. I know about how much income to expect from it each month. Since the concept is proven I also know I can repeat it (which I did with the latest marketplace ad) and scale it with more promotion. Lastly, I like that I am in control.

For improvement hmm...not really sure on that one. My emails are super simple. Text only. Maybe one thing to improve could be polling readers more to see if there's anything in particular they want me to chat about.

If I were doing it as an email newsletter for an audience that didn't already know me, then there are some things I would probably change:

1) Automated promotion through ads
2) More ways to discover the list
3) More structured topics
4) Topics that apply to a wide range of people yet can be targeted to niches or even sub-niches
5) Hire writers who specialize in certain topics
6) Don't create an expectation of getting emails from myself personally (because then I either have to hire a writer that writes like me or trade more time writing emails myself)
7) Different price points with different levels of service (maybe)
8) More upgrade offers (maybe)
 
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Andy Black

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I had options for monthly, six-month, and twelve month enrollments with discounts for longer periods. I have members who have re-enrolled at each level now.
Interesting. I just wanted monthly because I wasn't sure I'd continue it and didn't want someone to pay for a year and have that hanging over me (or have to figure out refunds if I shut it down).

I do enjoy posting updates. I like to share ideas or updates in the newsletter that I can't or don't want to share anywhere else. Feels super personal, although I rarely get questions.
Likewise. It's good that we can use the word "enjoy"! I found (having to) post in a forum or Facebook group quickly started feeling like a "job".

What I like most is probably the predictability. I know about how much income to expect from it each month. Since the concept is proven I also know I can repeat it (which I did with the latest marketplace ad) and scale it with more promotion.
Yeah... it's not passive MRR, but it's consistent MRR. Given I'm creating content every day it's pretty easy for me to keep posting updates. So long as I continue to keep my subscribers happy for $9/mth then it should be quite a good long term as well as consistent MRR stream.

I can also see how one newsletter can be scaled by adding many more members (some folks have hundreds of thousands of subscribers to their emails ... good luck scaling your Facebook group to that size and NOT having an admin headache).

And I can see how I can apply the same strategies to any old niche where people like regular information. (I haven't started the marketing piece yet so still need to nail that part.)

Lastly, I like that I am in control.
I've sacrificed some control for speed by being on Substack. I'd like to have it more under my control and will look at other options later (maybe like Thrivecart with ActiveCampaign like you're doing, although I prefer a cheaper solution even though I've already got Thrivecart).

For improvement hmm...not really sure on that one. My emails are super simple. Text only. Maybe one thing to improve could be polling readers more to see if there's anything in particular they want me to chat about.
Mine are mostly just text too. I like the simplicity of it. I was also going to poll folks to ask what they want me to chat about. I think I could add a survey as they join and ask those things too.

If I were doing it as an email newsletter for an audience that didn't already know me, then there are some things I would probably change:

1) Automated promotion through ads
2) More ways to discover the list
3) More structured topics
4) Topics that apply to a wide range of people yet can be targeted to niches or even sub-niches
5) Hire writers who specialize in certain topics
6) Don't create an expectation of getting emails from myself personally (because then I either have to hire a writer that writes like me or trade more time writing emails myself)
7) Different price points with different levels of service (maybe)
8) More upgrade offers (maybe)
On "3) More structured topics"... I like that I can just start and NOT have structured topics. When I look at my 80+ posts I like that they started more random and I dialled it in a bit over time. There's enough content there for me to create more structured courses or eBooks or whatever. Reminds me of the line "Darken the page" by Gary Halbert. I think that might be the biggest advantage of a simple paid email newsletter - they're that fast to setup that you darken the page early and then the content starts flowing.

On "8) More upgrade offers (maybe)" ... I feel that might be a "definitely". I can envision folks hitting a squeeze page to signup for a free 7 day email series, that concludes with the offer to join a longer running paid email newsletter at a low price point. Then paid subscribers get discounts on any future courses etc. So like how Amazon prime customers get discounts on Amazon goods (or delivery, I don't actually know), and this encourages them to buy things occasionally to "get their money's worth".
 

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I like the idea of this model, but I have one problem with it.

Usually I like the thought that you don't have to be an expert to start something. Here it's different because I can't see why anybody should subscribe if I'm not a real expert in any particular subject.

How do you think about that?
 

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Nicoknowsbest

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Just wanted to give @Andy Black a shout out for what he is doing with the paid newsletter subscription.

I have been on the list since it started and must say, there's a ton of value in each email.

I really like his style of writing and especially the brevity of the emails.

If you are a beginner, this will really help you move forward.

Thanks for this @Andy Black!
 

Lex DeVille

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I like the idea of this model, but I have one problem with it.

Usually I like the thought that you don't have to be an expert to start something. Here it's different because I can't see why anybody should subscribe if I'm not a real expert in any particular subject.

How do you think about that?
At the very least you're an expert in the following:

- Your own family
- Your own jobs
- Your own trials and tribulations
- Your own progress and failures
- Your own opinions
- Your own beliefs
- Your own relationships
- Your own personality
- Your own life

But even if we skip all of that, people buy perceptions and not usually actual expertise. How would they even start to define "expertise"? Is it how much you've studied? How much experience you have? How many people you've taught? The results your customers got?

People usually buy based on the following:

- Perceived solution to their problem (which is established through good marketing)
- Perceived authority (which is established through strong credibility markers)
- Perceived value (which is established through proof of results or good marketing)
- Or they just plain want what you have and don't give a shit about anything else

You don't have to be a pop sickle guru to make money selling ice pops from a creepy a$$ van on a blistering summer day. You just have to be in the right place (park, ball field neighborhood) at the right time (when people are out and about) in front of the right people (kids with money, kids with parents with money etc.).

I guarantee you there are things that can be sold with very little prior expertise if you really give it some thought. If you're adamant on expertise, take a $10 Udemy course!
 
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Andy Black

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I like the idea of this model, but I have one problem with it.

Usually I like the thought that you don't have to be an expert to start something. Here it's different because I can't see why anybody should subscribe if I'm not a real expert in any particular subject.

How do you think about that?
Super question! Thanks for asking.


Firstly, check these two threads/videos out and let me know what you think:
  1. You don't need to be an expert
  2. People listen to experts, they follow leaders

Now you’re back, ask yourself why you’re following this thread when I’m not an expert on paid email newsletters? ; )


Quite a few people follow threads where I deliberately show at the start that I am not an expert, but just go for it and document my journey.

Examples:
  1. EXECUTION - Adventures of an Instagram newbie
  2. NOTABLE! - [Progress] #AndyTalks




Secondly, what would Richard Branson do?

What if he spotted millions of searches a month for XYZ and was of a mind to build yet another business? Would he need to become an expert in XYZ before he helped people with it? Or would he, as a smart businessman, come up with another way of adding value and getting paid? (Like getting an expert to write that content for him for instance?)


Thirdly, in your first sentence, how would it read if you swapped “but” for “and”?

“I like the idea of this model, but I can’t see why anyone should subscribe if I’m not a real expert in any particular subject.”

vs

“I like the idea of this model, and I can’t see why anyone should subscribe if I’m not a real expert in any particular subject.”

In the first variation my brain throws its hands up in the air in defeat when I hit “but”. In the second variation my brain feels like it’s been thrown a gauntlet.

“Now then” says my brain, “why should anyone follow me if I’m not an expert?”

You’re brain is a super computer that will solve the challenge you give it. Make sure you give it a good challenge to solve.

HTH

Thanks for the great question.
 

ZeroTo100

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Disagree totally.

I’m guessing Elon Musk is an expert in Solar, Space travel, Automotive, any others?

Or was Branson an expert in Air travel? Music?

You don’t have to be an expert to sell a good product or create a good product.

You know how many people start Shopify websites everyday and know nothing about the products they sell?

If I sold a newsletter for my Keto recipes and they came every week and kept you on your diet...Wouldn’t you pay for that? If it helped you, you would. Even if I’m not, maybe I can still sell it or at the very least bring on someone who is an expert.


I like the idea of this model, but I have one problem with it.

Usually I like the thought that you don't have to be an expert to start something. Here it's different because I can't see why anybody should subscribe if I'm not a real expert in any particular subject.

How do you think about that?
 
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Andy Black

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I wrote the following somewhere else. It’s relevant to the paid email newsletter. I’d like to create some free 7 day email series or challenge, get signups from Google paid search ads, and then see if they’d signup to the paid email newsletter and/or buy the course.
For clients, we’ve been running paid search ads to a squeeze page where the offer/CTA is to signup to an email series. That’s a pretty crap offer, but I didn’t want the client doing any extra work until we proved we could get people to the page, and get a few signups.

Believe it or not, about 5-15% of visitors have been signing up. So now the clients have business cases to create email series and/or lead magnets.

Once my own landing page has been created I’ll be doing exactly the same thing... and to a domain with zero content on it. My goal is to get people onto an email list and start communicating with them by hand ASAP so I can find out more about them, what they’re struggling with, how I can help them, and what they’d pay for.

I churn out content every single day - in TFLF, Facebook groups, projects with clients, or with my team. I don’t put it on a blog, and have no intention to either. I’d rather put the choice bits into a paid email newsletter, and then create more polished content from those pieces.
 
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Andy Black

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The other part of this I like is the transform with vs transform from aspect.

When I learn from Andy I'm limited to knowledge or insights he's already mastered and shared.

When I learn with Andy I can apply new insights and get results in real-time.

In learning from Andy I'm almost limited to growing to the level he's already at based on his knowledge of narrow subject matter (maybe that's enough).

In learning with Andy I'm unlimited. Instead we can grow together or I can even grow beyond. Instead of a single aim of focus, I tap into his personal perspective on ideas and life.

If you learn from Elon Musk, you might build a flame thrower or a rocket ship. People might even buy it.

If you learn with Elon Musk, you might do something nobody else has ever done and go down in the history books side by side.
Interesting that I reread this comment. I’ve just started a Facebook page where I decided to take this angle. I’ll post things and people can follow along and see me getting better. Thanks again @Lex DeVille.
 
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Andy Black

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DustinG

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Great article. Thanks for posting it!

Curious on people's thoughts around the frequency of a newsletter. It seems like the most financially successful newsletter are daily (and they're also news-focused, which makes it easier for them to come up with daily content). If you're going to monetize it with sponsorships, daily will probably earn the most, but for a lot of topics, a daily email is probably overkill.
 
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Andy Black

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Great article. Thanks for posting it!

Curious on people's thoughts around the frequency of a newsletter. It seems like the most financially successful newsletter are daily (and they're also news-focused, which makes it easier for them to come up with daily content). If you're going to monetize it with sponsorships, daily will probably earn the most, but for a lot of topics, a daily email is probably overkill.
From my own experience being on lists, daily emails is too much. Maybe if it’s daily stock market or horse racing tips then it would make sense. For general information I find t a bit much... but then I’m a sample size of one.

For my own (very small!) paid newsletter I send out something only when I’ve something to say, and I won’t send more than once a day.
 

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@DustinG

In the below post on SubStack they suggest that paid newsletters provide:
  • 1 free newsletter post every week, AND
  • 2-3 subscriber-only newsletter posts ever week
 

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