Most emails aren’t great.
Why? Because too often, marketers are too busy creating emails that simply check a box (“We sent a reminder email for our product this week”) instead of crafting genuine messages that real people would actually want to read. Have you ever read mass-produced emails from major corporations like banks or grocery stores? They’re almost always painfully dull, pointless, even cringey. Most audiences don’t care about those emails.
If you’re like me, you hardly read any emails anymore — but there are probably a few creators or email newsletters that really stick out to you. There’s a reason for that; these are real messages from real people that genuinely care about giving you interesting, helpful emails.
After 10 years of being a publisher and building an email list of over 125,000+ subscribers with a 37% open rate (almost double my industry average), I’ve spent a ton of time learning and experimenting with email. Below are 18 email ideas that can earn you more revenue from your site. I’ve used every one of these email ideas in one way or another, and they’ve really helped my audience come to value my emails.
1. Best Articles Summary
This is one of those email ideas that isn’t the sexiest or flashiest, but it’s a simple one that’s worked for a long time. Since your audience probably won’t see every single article you post on your site, you can send them a convenient email that summarizes that week’s articles so your audience doesn’t miss a post. This will boost your ad revenue from your site, and encourage readers to browse through other of your site articles as well.
This can also work on sites that pay writers based on views/reading time, like Medium, Quora, or Newsbreak. Check out Ezoic’s recent article on some of the best third-party sites you can put your content on.
Another simple email idea is one based on discounts/coupons for your site, products, and services. It’s no secret: people love discounts.
Here’s an example. I was selling a small online course for $37, and sales were doing fine. But one year when Black Friday rolled around, I decided to mark the course at 50% for the day for everyone on my email list. I’d usually get 1–3 sales a day, but on that Black Friday I got about 20 sales.
Of course, the power of discounts and coupons stems from scarcity and urgency — if something is always “on sale” then it’s never on sale. I went to a sushi restaurant and their menu was literally printed and laminated with “all sushi 50% off” written all over. That meant the sushi was never on sale for 50% off: the price was permanent. That isn’t good marketing, that’s lame and fake.
Still, if your audience knows you offer occasional discounts/coupons (not boring ones that don’t mean anything, like the local spa that offers $5 off their $170 spa service), they’ll become more loyal readers and customers.
3. Affiliate Links
One of the oldest marketing strategies in the books, influencers and creators of every kind have earned enormous revenue by encouraging their audience to purchase relevant, helpful stuff and getting a cut from every sale.
There’s no one right way to do this, but below are several affiliate marketing email ideas that have worked for countless other publishers, including me.
4. Affiliate Idea: Book List
Every Sunday, I’d send out my article summary to my email list, and link to any interesting books I’d be reading that week. I’d be sure to create an Amazon affiliate link so that I’d get a cut from the sale of anyone who bought that book using my link. It wasn’t a ton of revenue, but it added up over time.
5. Affiliate Idea: Online Courses
You can get an affiliate link for pretty much anything nowadays, and online courses are a simple, common product that exist everywhere in the digital marketing space. If you haven’t created an online course for yourself yet, I guarantee you many of your industry’s top publishers have. It’s usually very easy to sign up to be an affiliate for these publishers, and offering your audience a high-quality online course is a great way to earn easy revenue.
6. Affiliate Idea: Coaching Programs
Similar to online courses, coaching programs have become a very common staple in the digital publishing world. Usually higher-priced and more intensive than online courses, coaching programs have become massively popular by the small percentage of industry audiences that want more one-on-one help from experts.
If you become an affiliate partner for high-level experts offering coaching services, even a handful of sales can amount to enormous revenue for you. Sending out an email about these services is one of the simplest ways to earn income through an affiliate marketing program.
7. Affiliate Idea: Events
Each year, every industry has local, national, or even international events catered to industry audiences and fans. These events are usually very open to having affiliates promote the event; they typically rely on sponsors and promotional programs by publishers like you to help spread the word and build interest.
A simple Google search about any upcoming events in your industry will probably reveal a slew of such events, and you can email your audience about any that particularly stick out to you. (If you’re planning on attending yourself, you can even increase the likelihood of affiliate sales by encouraging your audience to come meet you in person!).
8. Site-Specific Products
Not every site has a wide variety of products and services they sell to their audience, but there are plenty of non-ad-related income streams you can create to advertise to your audience.
For me, I chose to focus on a handful of products that really aligned with my expertise, industry, and audience: online courses, coaching programs, affiliate products, and books. Each of these product ideas fit with my niche, and proved to be very lucrative over time. Best of all, since most of these products were self-led, once I created them they became fully passive income and I could get sales just by sending out emails to new and past subscribers about them.
9. Selling Your Book
Writing a book for your site isn’t for every publisher (although self-publishing a book from your older content has never been easier). I was fortunate enough to secure a book deal for my traditionally published book, and sales were fine. But I was surprised to realize there was much more opportunity for revenue with a self-published book: I retained more control, and I could easily insert it into other sales strategies (like connecting it to my online courses and coaching programs).
Once you write a book, it’s there forever; after that, it’s just a matter of sending out emails about it to your audience.
10. Membership Access
Membership access products are usually communities where several people can pay to become part of an exclusive group that gets exclusive access. It’s a bit like the VIP section of a club, where only a select few are allowed to enter and get the perks and benefits.
Emails are usually the #1 way for publishers to communicate with their audience; not every reader will see every update on your site, social media is notoriously unreliable for showing up on your followers’ news feeds, etc. If you’ve created a membership access program, a simple email to let your audience know about it is a great way to earn revenue from this paid access.
11. Cohort Groups
I completed my Masters degree at night, completing a full time program while I was working a full time job. It was a ton of work, but what really helped me was connecting with my cohort: the same people who were taking the classes at the same time as me.
You can create a cohort group (it can be as short as a week or a month) where you guide your cohort group through a training, program, or regimen. Emailing your audience about upcoming cohort groups is a great, simple way to earn revenue by creating a space for a community of readers to come together to accomplish a goal.
12. Data-Backed Opinions
When my wife and I first got married, we would often join her grandparents at the Del Mar Racetrack in Del Mar, California for horse racing. A luckier-than-most gambler, my grandfather-in-law always seemed to walk away with more money than he spent at the end of the day.
I began to notice a little habit of his; right before he entered the racetrack, he’d purchase a betting guide from a well-known horse gambler with reliable experience in the horse-betting industry. It was only a $5 pamphlet, but my grandfather-in-law swore by the author’s credibility (as did hundreds of other patrons each race day).
If you can give your audience informed opinions about important topics (even just personal opinions), people will be interested. I would probably never bet on sports or horse racing because I know nothing about the odds of betting conditions…but if I did bet, I’d be sure to study the opinions of experts who study the sport every day.
You can be that expert for your audience.
13. Paid Email Newsletters
For those of you that haven’t heard of these tools, paid email newsletter tools like Substack allow you to set your email content behind a paywall and allow readers to pay you a small monthly fee to access exclusive content and emails.
This isn’t the easiest method of earning revenue; so much great content is available for free, and if you want to get subscribers to pay for your content it better be absolutely incredible. Here’s an interesting case study of a writer who was able to build up an extra $500/month for their paid newsletter.
Below are a few more email ideas for paid newsletters that routinely work in the industry.
14. Paid Newsletter Idea: Exclusive Content
According to Substack, publishers can expect to see between 5–10% of their email subscribers be open to becoming paid subscribers. Of course, no one will want to fork over any money unless your paid newsletter has truly incredible content.
Substack even recommends that most of your email content remain free, but there will always be a small percentage of readers that are interested in paying for more exclusive access, deeper content, and more insights beyond the average content creator. What are some content ideas you can put into a newsletter that are so good, your audience will pay for? What deeper insights, insider information, or above-and-beyond solutions can you give your audience?
15. Paid Newsletter Idea: Collections of Great Resources
A general truth of sales and marketing is that people will pay for convenience. If you can make a process easier for your audience, odds are some people will be willing to pay for it.
This is another reliable strategy to get paid subscribers: by doing the work they don’t want to do themselves. One area to do this is by collecting pertinent, relevant, up-to-date information that give fast-paced people the solution they need. For instance, the rise of AI-generated content has happened very suddenly, and a lot of marketers and publishers are scrambling to understand it. For a few dollars a month, countless marketers would pay someone to research the answers for them.
16. Paid Newsletter Ideas: Interviews
This is essentially the crux of how podcasts work: the interviewer is almost never as interesting or appealing as the interviewees, and the reason most people listen to podcast interviews isn’t for the host, but for the guest.
You can replicate this same process for a paid newsletter, interviewing key figures in your industry and putting the interview in an email. Over time, getting guests will become easier as you build your paid newsletter clout and popularity. This works hand-in-hand with podcasting too, if you wanted to pair the two strategies together.
17. Paid Newsletter Idea: Email Course
A number of my publisher colleagues began creating simple “email courses,” a short content-driven program sent out by daily emails for about a week or so. It doesn’t require any fancy tools or online course hosting software; all the content is just in the email. It’s another simple product that can be sold using just your expertise.
Best of all, this product idea is totally automated and self-led, so sending out a few of these simple email ideas advertising your product can earn you enormous passive income over time.
18. Paid Newsletter Ideas: Vulnerable Stories
In a world flooded with selfish, sales-driven, boring, corporate, influencer-generated jargon, people are drawn to authenticity.
That’s one of the most powerful lessons I ever learned about my email list. Whenever I’d try to push out boring sales emails, my open rates would plummet. But when I’d tell stories about being bullied as a kid for my speech impediment, or getting over heartbreak, or overcoming adversity as an entrepreneur, I’d get dozens of responses from people thanking me, telling me that was exactly what they needed to hear that day.
Once you prove to your audience you’re not there to take from them, they’ll be much more excited to read your content. Then monetization just becomes a matter of attaching a product/service or your site content to earn revenue.
There are countless ways to earn revenue from your site and your email list. Some of the most successful and lucrative publishers diversify their income streams and incorporate several of these strategies simultaneously.
Your audience and readers will have different preferred methods for consuming your content; some will want online courses, others will want books, some will want podcasts, etc. If you can create programs, products, or services that serve your audience in the way they want, you can count on creating multiple income streams for your site that can be activated by simply sending out an email.