What do you think of when I mention “investment newsletter”?
Many will answer referencing the numerous emails (spam?) they receive on a daily basis with information “that’s guaranteed to triple your money!” While that’s a preposterous boast, I think the most important thing to do when starting a financial newsletter business is picking the theme of the newsletter.
Picking a niche topic versus building a general investment newsletter
The key in the investment newsletter business is positioning (see this for an explanation about your Unique Selling Proposition), just like in many other consumer-focused businesses. Success in branding, marketing and distributing your newsletter will be built upon your investment newsletter’s theme. e-books, like newsletters, follow similar rules.
So, is it better to go niche with your newsletter (and publish the clean technology newsletter) or stay broad with a loosely-defined universe (like Joe’s Top Stock Picks)?
I think there is a fine balance between being to tightly-defined (Chuck’s Tech Stocks that Begin with the Letter ‘A’) and standing out from the rest of the pack.
See what else is out there
Go to Forbes Newsletter site. Forbes runs a whole business where they distribute and market other people’s newsletters. Check out some of the leading titles. You’ve got
- personality newsletters — newsletters that are sold leveraging the reputation of an individual (e.g. Gary Shilling’s Insight, Gilder Telecosm Forum)
- sector-focused newsletters — investment newsletters focused on different industries (e.g. Forbes Wireless Stock Watch)
- product newsletters — newsletters focused on investing in specific products (Forbes ETF Investor)
- geography-limited newsletters — investment newsletters focused on opportunities in certain countries (Canada Report)
The majority of the investment newsletters tend to fall in the broad category. This is probably because the audience served by a broad newsletter is larger than any of the other options. If you choose to go this route, you fall into the space with the greatest noise.
Buck the trend
The reason so many newsletters have to resort to such slimy marketing tactics is because they lack differentiation because they are so broad. If you want to stay above the fray, get better defined, without becoming so niche that you become irrelevant.
Have the foresight to scout future trends. Analyze new investment products as they gain traction. Scout new geographies where visibility is poor (China hasn’t been taken seriously enough). Have the insight to pick an investment newsletter focused on the next hot sector in technology. There will always be buyers (albeit, fewer) for more niche newsletters.
But here’s the thing: they’ll pay more for your expertise. So instead of finding yourself in the $39-$149/year club, you’ll push the upper range.