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How to build your ezine list by "buying" subscribers

By Phil Wiley
Posted Sunday, January 16, 2005

It's getting harder and harder to build a decent subscription base for your ezine.

In the old days, two or three years ago, word of mouth and other free methods were enough to build your list. But now there is so much competition that people are already suffering from ezine overload.

One way - and the best way if you can write well and quickly - is to submit articles to ezines and websites. But writing well is not something all of us can do.

But one other sure-fire way to get new readers is pay for them. Call it advertising if you like.

We all know that advertising works. The big companies are the ones that spend most on advertising and marketing. The bigger the promotional budget the bigger the sales. When I was in England the other week I read that Walkers Crisps became the countries biggest selling potato chip last year by spending around $500 million dollars on advertising. Do you think they'd have reached that coveted number one spot without spending big on advertising? Of course they wouldn't.

It stands to reason that if you advertise your ezine heavily you're going to get a lot more subscribers than if your ezine remains a little known secret.

( though whether you retain the new subscribers you "buy" depends on the quality of your publication )

Here's what to do:

1. Decide how much you can afford to spend on promotional activities...on marketing/advertising. Set aside a budget for buying advertising - whether it's a percentage of the income you make from your web site, or just money you can afford to set aside by quitting smoking or something. You also need to work out how much a new subscriber is worth. Here's a clip from Ken Evoy's brilliant Sales From The Edge ezine, which you can subscribe to (


"Before forking out any money, always think of what you can get in return first (sorry, I'm a mercenary guy here). So ask yourself... if you pay $x per click-through, how much profit can you get in return?

Confused? A little math will clear things up in a jiffy...

Suppose you are selling a digital product (i.e., zero incremental per-unit cost of production) at $50, and you have a 1% conversion ratio, i.e., you make one sale for every 100 visitors. So one visitor is worth $0.50 ($50/100), and that is the maximum amount you should bid at for each keyword. We will call this your BID CAP."


Of course, if you're not selling a product, just giving away an ezine, you need to look at it a little differently. A simple way is to add up your monthly advertising income + affiliate program sales income and divide it by the number of subscribers. If you make $500 a month from 2000 subscribers then each subscriber is worth 25 cents. ( though if they stay subscribers they will be worth a whole lot more over time ).

2. Buy spots on Goto and similar pay-per-clickthro search engines. I've listed a few on the Goto pages I put up at ( You'll also find links to some great Goto keyword tools

3. Buy advertising in other ezines. You can find a lot of info on this at Ruth Townsend's Directory of Ezines at (

4. Running an affiliate program where you pay people to send subscribers to you. Two ezines that do this are Bizbot and Web Promote. I'm not sure how well this works though. I signed up for their affiliate programs maybe a year ago, but I've never received a check from either of them so I guess I haven't sent many people their way.

5. Directly paying for subscribers. A number of web sites have sprung up which act as newsletter subscription points. The details of your ezine are entered into their databases and a subscription form to your ezine is placed on their web site. You then pay them for each subscriber they send your way.

Most of them charge between 8 and 15 cents for every new subscriber they get you. And it can work out to be expensive. With Newsletters For Free you have to agree to pay for 3000 at $300 a month, if they can produce that many subscribers for you.

One thing to think about before you start using these services, is that when people find your ezine through one of these sites the unsubscribe rates may well be higher than usual. This is because people often just check a number of subscribe boxes, then later realize they've got too much mail, and go back and tick the unsubscribe boxes.

The best way to avoid people leaving your newsletter is to put out a quality publication.

List World

List World will get you subscribers for $0.15 each. You can elect to receive them as individual emails or they can be added via email commands directly to your list server. (

Newsletters For Free

Newsletters for Free charge you 10cents a subscriber. It's a good professional site with plenty of traffic. The downside is that you have to agree to pay for at least 3000 a month if they can send you that many. You can elect to have new subscribers sent to you daily, weekly, or monthly, and you should elect to get them daily. If someone signs up and doesn't get a welcome letter from you for weeks then they might think you're spamming them. (

Best Newsletters

This site used to charge you $15 a month for 100 subscribers. If they didn't get you 100 new people you didn't pay, but now they've changed to charging a fee of 8 cents a subscriber. (


This one works differently by billing you a yearly fee of $100, but you can reduce this to just $30 if you run two newsletter adverts for them, plus link to them in your "thanks for subscribing"letter.

You can find a lot of excellent information on building your ezine list, on how to set ad rates, on how to judge the value of a subscriber - and a lot more - at (

About the Author
Phil Wiley
All the Secrets Marketing and Free Publicity Newsletter (


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