The differences between a free newsletter and a paid subscription newsletter

With the recent release of my Subscription Newsletter Success Blueprints home-study course, which shows entrepreneurs how to publish a paid subscription newsletter, I’ve received a few interesting emails.

One in particular was asking why I created this course, when there were so many other resources available that covered publishing customer newsletters.


My short answer back was “A free customer newsletter, while hugely valuable to the business owner, is a completely different animal than a paid subscription newsletter.  It’s like comparing a horse to a zebra.   There are similarities, but they are definitely not the same.”

I am a huge fan of the free prospect, customer, client or patient newsletter and have used them in my own business and have helped my clients create them, but publishing a free newsletter is nowhere near as complex as publishing a print newsletter you expect to be paid for, month after month.



To help clarify the difference, I thought I would highlight what I believe are the biggest differences between the two.

Perceived Value

Though I can make the case just about every business owner should send out their own free newsletter customers and prospects there is a huge difference in perceived value with a free newsletter that starts showing up in the mailbox one day vs. the newsletter somebody is paying for and expecting each and every month.

You will not find too many who save their free newsletters, whereas you will find shelves of binders filled with back issues in the paid subscriber’s office or home.

Subscriber Marketing

There is little marketing required when you send a free newsletter to your customers.  Essentially, these types of newsletters are sent with no cost to the person receiving it.  They’re getting it simply because they are a customer, client or patient.

With a paid subscription newsletter, you are asking for money for the newsletter itself (or the membership program wrapped around it), which requires efficient and effective marketing to get the potential subscriber to open up their wallet.

Once somebody becomes a subscriber, the paid subscription newsletter publisher has to work at retaining subscribers.  Quality and relevant content is critical for continued success and profitability.   If a customer doesn’t read your free newsletter, it’s not optimal, but it’s not a major hit to your business.

If a paid subscriber doesn’t read and consume your content, you’re going to have serious problems.

The marketing of a paid newsletter is complex, which is why it’s the biggest blueprint out of seven blueprints for publishing a paid newsletter.

Newsletter Writing

Writing any newsletter is a learned skill.  It takes practice and real-world experience to get good at it, but again writing a free newsletter is not quite as complex as a paid newsletter.  Typically, you will find what I call “fluff” in free newsletters.  Things like recipes, fun facts, puzzles, tips, etc.  Content that is light and easy to read.  Fine for free newsletters, but not acceptable for paid subscription newsletters.

Paid newsletter subscribers are looking for content that’s going to have an immediate and positive impact on their life or business.  There is little room for fluff and paid subscribers will leave just as fast as they came in, if they feel their time and money is being wasted.

Part of the Business vs. Being the Business

With a free customer newsletter, the newsletter is a part of the business.  With a paid newsletter, it is the business.

A free newsletter can enhance and help you connect with your prospects and customers in ways few other marketing media can.  If you’re not doing one, you should consider doing one.  If you’re looking for quality content on how to start a free newsletter, look no further than my friend Jim Palmer.  Jim has several books available on Amazon and a lot of useful content on his web site at

A successful paid newsletter can make you rich, famous or both.  Many well-known and not-so-well-known publishers have built amazing businesses around their paid newsletter and yet there is little in the way of quality content for showing the aspiring paid newsletter publisher the in’s and out’s of the business.


In my Subscription Newsletter Success Blueprints course, I outline all the reasons why newsletters, especially paid newsletters are so important and why, when done right, they have a much higher readership than other forms of marketing.

If you’re looking to publish a paid newsletter, focused on your business expertise, hobby or passion and want my personal short-cuts and blueprints for success, you absolutely must invest in my Subscription Newsletter Success Blueprints course.  There is nothing like it available, at any price.

About Mike Capuzzi

Mike is a publisher, Amazon # best-selling author, and coach for business owners, entrepreneurs and corporate leaders looking to stand out from the competition by authoring, publishing and leveraging short, helpful books. He is the author of 19 books, including two Amazon #1 Best Sellers. Learn more about his publishing opportunities at


  1. Greg Russell on December 11, 2013 at 11:52 am

    Great analogy: “Part of the Business vs. Being the Business”. This makes it very clear the difference. The paid subscription newsletter is a profitable business model. Thanks for sharing.

  2. JB on December 11, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    I’m a home remodeling contractor and I can’t see how a newsletter sent to my customers will help me. I sometimes do other jobs for the same customer, but not that often.

    Am I missing something?


    • Mike Capuzzi on December 11, 2013 at 4:40 pm

      JB, a free customer/prospect newsletter CAN help you in a variety of ways (getting repeat business, getting word-of-mouth referrals, standing out from your competition, connecting with people, telling stories, etc.). But it’s not an instant solution and it’s not THE solution. It is part of a smart marketing arsenal.

      There is too much to say for this simple comment post. I suggest you buy Jim Palmer’s book – The The Magic of Newsletter Marketing – to get all the details.

  3. Jim Palmer - The Newsletter Guru on December 11, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    Hey Mike, I enjoyed the article as usual, and appreciate your recommending my book! JB, I have two things for you. First, if you are interested in my book, you can order it in paperback or Kindle at Amazon, and two, I currently have a free video running where I walk you through the benefits of a customers newsletter and how it can get you more repeat and referral business. You can access the free video here: Hope that helps!

    Thanks again Mike, great work as always!

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