Unconventional way to make money from your email list

Bryan Harris —  Bryan Harris - October 17th, 2015

How do you make money from your email list? For most people it means creating a product.

A physical product like a journal or guitar.

Or a digital product like an app or a course.

Products aren’t easy though. They take months to create and years to perfect. What if there was an easier way?

What if there was a way to quickly grow your list to 1,000 subscribers and then immediately start generating $200 to $800 per month in recurring revenue? And what if it involved you creating NO product at all?

Is it possible? Well…check this out.

A few weeks back I ran across buymyfuture.com. (Go catch up real quick if you haven’t seen it already.)

After digging a little further, I discovered that the guy, Jason, behind the site was also the guy behind iwillwearyourshirt.com. He generated over a million dollars in revenue from that project by selling sponsorships to businesses where he put their logo on a t-shirt and wore the shirt for the day.

*mind blown*

Jason is the KING of sponsorships.

He also wrote a book about his experience with both projects called Selling Creativity.

And of course, like all of his previous projects, he sold sponsorships to his book as well. Those sponsorships (which were sold before he wrote a single page of the book) generated $80,000 in revenue.

The crazy part of Jason’s entire story is he’s done all this with a small email list.

The brilliant idea you need to copy (like right now)

As I read Jason’s story I had an idea!

What if I sold sponsorships to my weekly newsletter like Jason sold sponsorships to his book?

If it generated enough money, I could use the revenue to write more blog posts and create more tools and products (like 10ksubs) for y’all.

It also might be a cool way to regularly introduce you to new products and services that otherwise I might not talk about because I’m not writing full-fledged blog posts about them.

Even better, if I could perfect the process for getting sponsorships for small email lists, this could be a brilliant way for newbies to quickly monetize their lists!

It would look something like this:

Step 1: Get to 1,000 subs (in 90 days).

Step 2: Find a sponsor to pay you $200 to $800 per month to put a little blurb and link at the bottom of your weekly emails.

So I did it!

I tested to see:

1. Could I could get a sponsor to pay $500 for a small ad in one email to my list?

2. Would it feel weird to have a sponsorship message in my newsletter?

Here is what I did next:

First, I made a quick list of 3 different companies I thought might be a good fit. I started with the low-hanging fruit (no sense in making it harder on myself than needed). The three companies I listed were companies I had some sort of pre-existing relationship with. Which means I had either actively used their product or had some sort of relationship with the owner.

Second, I wrote a quick little note to each company and pitched them the idea.

Here is exactly what I sent them.

A software company

A service company

Jason Zook (the sponsorship guy) himself…

The results?

Just 3 hours after pitching the three companies, one of them paid over $500 for the sponsorship! Woot!

This is what that ad in the email to my list looked like:

The cool part was the person who bought the sponsorship was Jason Zook (the sponsorship guy)!

And that small $500 sponsorship resulted in 3 sales of his Buy My Future product @ $1,000 each.

= Win/Win.

How can you do the same thing?

First off, I’m not an expert on sponsorships. My experience is limited. My sample size is small.

But here are three practical steps you can follow to do the same thing I did.

Step #1: Build your list to 1,000 subscribers before trying to get a sponsor.

If you need help with that, join 10ksubs when enrollment opens in a few weeks. I’ll show you how to do it in 90 days or less.

Step #2: Make a list of 3 companies that already advertise in your industry.

One easy way to find people already advertising in your industry is to Google keywords around your topic and take note of the companies buying Google Adwords already.

Step #3: Pitch them on advertising to your list.

It’s easy to over-complicate this step. Don’t. Use the three different scripts pictured above as a template to pitch your potential sponsors.

Also watch this video for a little inspiration.

What’s next for sponsorships at Videofruit?

My goal is to get to $10,000 per month in sponsorships by the end of January.

The #1 reason I want to do this is so we can up the quality of everything around here. I’d love to hire a full-time writer and programmer with that revenue. That would give you better quality content and allow us to keep building out Plinko and 10ksubs.

So this is what I did.

First, I needed to find someone to help me. Between a new baby, writing on the blog and managing a few different products, I personally don’t have the bandwidth to learn all the ins and outs of sponsorships.

So I talked to a few friends and found Sachit Gupta.

He helps people like Andrew Warner and other top podcasters and websites get sponsorships.

Second, I hired him.

Sachit isn’t cheap (I’m paying $2,000 per month for his help), but if you’re just starting out and can’t afford him, no worries. You can learn from my experiment.

Here is the plan:

Step 1: Sachit helps Bryan get to $10,000 per month in revenue from sponsorships.

Step 2: Bryan brings Sachit to the Videofruit audience to teach y’all how to do the same thing.

Step 3: We’ll give you a framework and easy-to-follow steps to start monetizing your list without a product.

How would $200 to $500 per month change the way you run your business? What would it allow you to do?

Let me know in the comments below. Also, let me know if you have any specific questions on the experiment or the overall sponsorship approach.