My $2985.30 newsletter fail

🗓️ May 6, 2024

In this Email

  • How to make a daily newsletter (according to the pros)
  • Sample of a succeeding newsletter
  • The website I made
  • The exact facebook ad copy I used
  • The exact email I sent
  • How much I spent (see: subject line)
  • How and why I failed
  • What I’m doing now
  • If you make it to the end, the title of the next email I’ll send you

The Story of my Failed Newsletter

I left off the last email saying I was going to try to make a newsletter following the Scott Delong method (which Jon Dykstra has been flogging lately, too).

Let’s add that to the burning pile of failures I’ve left in my wake.

Here’s what happened.

Part I: Learning the Model

I had to learn what making a newsletter was all about.

So I bought Scott’s course ($497 I’ll never see again).

The idea is this:

  1. You buy email subscribers with a facebook ad.
  2. You send a daily email.
  3. The daily email funnels people to your website, which is monetized by Mediavine.

This appealed to me for obvious reasons. You own the audience. And you don’t have to “sell” ad spots on the newsletter itself.

Here’s a sample of what the daily email looks like from a daily newsletter called Paw My Gosh:

​As you can see, it’s a bit like an RSS feed of the 3 new articles you threw up for the day.

​The nice thing is, the articles can be as simple as summaries of other people’s videos, so it takes less than an hour to whip together the articles + the newsletter each day (especially with AI).

​Here’s a sample article from Paw my Gosh. Essentially, the newsletter wants to funnel you to this article:

​Yep, that’s the whole model. Find other people’s content, embed and summarize it on a blog post, and then email the list saying “Hey, I’ve got new articles up!”).

Part II: Build the Website Procrastinate

​For the first 10 days, I worked on a website.

(To be honest, I was just scared to dip my toe into facebook ads so wasting time…)

I chose the niche (it was parenting) and banged together 30ish articles.

​I thought “hey, I need something to send to the audience – better build up a backlog of articles!”

​This is the website I made:

Part III: Facebook Ads

When I started out, I was getting subscribers for $1.50. This was the ad:

​I spent weeks testing different ad copies. I got the moms niche down to about 63c per sub.

​So, I thought, why not try a few other niches.

​I tried ads for about 15 niches.

​Tested sending emails for the 3 top niches.

​I had one niche that was getting subs for as low as 17c some days (it was actually dogs – I straight up copied Paw My Gosh, sent emails for a week, and open rate sucked).

​I settled on scaling a niche where I was getting subs for about 35c.

​I chose the 35c niche because the subscribers were higher quality and signing up specifically for the newsletter, not a lead magnet.


​So I scaled it to about 4,000 subscribers.

​Cost: idk. Maybe about -$2,200 if I combine all the testing + scaling up the niche I landed on (not parenting).

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Part IV: Send the Emails

Here’s a sample of a daily email I sent for the moms niche, before I abandoned it:

​I started out with a 40% CTSR.

​That’s click-to-subscriber rate.

​If you have 1,000 subscribers at a 40% CTSR, you’ll be getting 400 PVs a day.

​For the first few weeks, I could see a path to profitability. I really thought I had cracked it.

​Based on my modeling, a 40% CTSR at a $20 RPM would have had me breaking even in 4 months and at $10k per month within 12 months:


​(You can play with this modeling yourself if you want to make a copy of the spreadsheet I made).

​Cracked the model?


The Problem with the Newsletter Model (For Me)

​Here’s where things went wrong.

My click to subscriber ratio (CTSR) went down, and down, and down:

​In other words, subscribers stopped opening the email and unsubscribed in droves.

Turns out, most people consider a daily email to be borderline pestering them.

​By the end, my CTSR was under 6%.

There were dozens of unsubs every single day.

I pulled the plug … my excel sheet was telling me that this was not going to work.

Far too much churn.

​Hard to crack.

​99% of people just don’t like daily emails. It’s just TOO MUCH emailing.

​But perhaps more importantly to me, I considered it to be an annoying, pestering way to make money online.

​I’d much rather have fans who get EXCITED about seeing my email in their inboxes.

P.S. I do believe the model works. But you need to get the niche right, the ad copy right to capture high-quality leads, the email copy right, and you need to front-end the investment.

​But imho, it’s not easy, it’s expensive, I don’t see it adding much value to the world, and it’s a real hamster wheel.

My current future failure…

​I’m sure at least one of you is thinking … “So, what’s next for Chris, then?”


​I’ve landed on a return to YouTube.

​I’ve always loved YouTube. It’s a really fun platform and I’m a big consumer of YT as well as a producer.

​The current project is kind of … a niche site, but for YouTube.

It’s “faceless”, but I don’t like that term … it feels lowbrow.

​The only reason my channel is faceless is because it’d take far too long and gum up the whole process if I had to physically record myself for every video.

I’m creating 3-minute videos with a focus on search traffic. Cranking out about 5 per day on average.

It works almost as well as niche site Google SEO used to (although with a few twists).

I’ve known it works for years, I have been making a small but consistent amount of passive income from this model for a long long time.

But … you gotta make videos at scale, which is hard.

I’m currently making about $3.70 per video per month.

You can read my April 2024 YouTube SEO Income Report here.

If, with a VA, I can make 200 videos a month, this could scale nicely.

That’s enough for me to keep at it, for now. At least until my muse gives me a more profitable idea.

Sneak Peek…

​In a few months, I might send you another email.

Here’s a sneak peak at the title:

“My expensive YouTube failure.”

​Look out for it in your inbox 😉

Best of luck with everything, I hope you’re finding success.

– Chris.

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P.S. Thanks to everyone who replied to the last email, it was really heartwarming to hear from you. Sorry, I didn’t respond to anyone– I’ve still got all your emails bookmarked in my inbox because I intended to reply, but it’s been so long now that it’d just be weird to email back at this point.