Delivering Value For A Value: Pricing A Paid-Subscription Newsletter

I started “Hungry for Gumbo,” a paid newsletter last month, mostly as an experiment. Now that I’ve produced a handful of newsletters for a small group of family and friends, I’m starting to enjoy the format and the weekly, versus hourly, pace.

I only charge $1.00 month. I might raise the price at some point, but I like the iTunes-influenced price point because there’s zero price-based resistance to it. An interested reader might balk at the sign up process, but the price isn’t going to put anyone off.

Of course, other authors have a different model that makes sense to them. Chris Brogan charges $9.97/month. Gwen Bell charges $20/month. And Ev Bogue charges $25/month.

Here’s Ev Bogue’s rationale for his price point:

Many people charge $1.99 – $3.99 for their Letter.lys. My fellow-collective-buddy and augmented human @rosshill and I had a big discussion about how we could price our Letter.lys at a point where the people who received them felt like they were getting value from them. $25 seemed to be the right price point.

I’m teaching people how to create second selves that take care of them, essentially letting them earn a living without having to be tethered to a screen all day. The value return can be, when applied, many to the power of many times what the small group of people who subscribe are paying for.

When pricing a, the biggest concern I had with extremely low price points is simply that it will just seem like an inconvenience to sign up. What is the difference between free and $1.99? Not much, it’s simply a barrier of entry. I think if you’re going to charge, you might as well charge a real amount.

Maybe Bogue, Bell and Brogan are right and I’m still giving content away for almost free. When will I learn? I don’t know. The discussion I had when pricing “Hungry for Gumbo” went like this…”Is it easier to get 1000 people to pay a dollar? Or 100 people to pay 10 dollars?”



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.