Good morning, and thanks for spending part of your day with Extra Points.
Since I launched this thing as a full-time job last April, I've provided business updates every few months. I believe Extra Points is now about 18 months old, so I thought now might be a good time to update everybody about how things are going, how things have changed, and where I hope to go next.
Okay, give us those topline numbers. How many people are reading Extra Points, and how much does it make?
As of today, Extra Points has 6,979 total subscribers, with 761 of them paid subscribers. A free newsletter generally has an open rate between 42-46%, while paid newsletters generally have an open rate between 54-60%. CTR varies on free newsletters, but generally falls between 2-5%.
According to my most current data, Extra Points brings in $5,273 in MRR from subscriptions, which comes out to $63,276 in subscription revenue. That brings total projected annual income (subscription revenue + ad revenue + t-shirt sales) to a little over $68,000. In the interest of transparency, I also earn a little bit of money from consulting (for other newsletters, not athletic departments), and book sales, but I don't include that as Extra Points revenues.
That's not $68K in profit. I have to pay for my website hosting, newsletter CMS, photo rights, freelancers, advertising, subscriptions and other expenses. But 18 months into this, I can say that thanks to your support, this is a sustainable enterprise. I can justify making this my full-time job. That's a huge blessing, and in the boom or bust world of newsletters, I think that makes Extra Points an uncommon example of something of a middle-class success story. That's pretty cool, in my humble opinion.
Where do Extra Points readers come from? How do you grow your audience?
I think audience growth is probably the single hardest business problem in the newsletter world. There are lots of great tools to help publishers monetize their audience, but not many to help them build one.
As best as I can tell from my tools, Twitter remains the single largest referral source for new Extra Points subscribers. Word of mouth is second, followed by referral traffic from D1 Ticker, referral from advertising campaigns, and then LinkedIn. Occasionally, I'll get some new subscribers if a post blows up on Reddit or on a message board, but not very often.
Figuring out where and how to advertise has been a challenge. I've seen good success after buying some ads on one of my favorite podcasts, Split Zone Duo. My most successful ad campaign has been with another wonderful newsletter, The Daily Coach. But I've also spent hundreds of dollars on various campaigns that only led to a tiny handful of free subscriptions. There is a real learning curve to this, and I'm very much still learning.
Extra Points readers, generally, fall into one of three buckets. They're either college sports industry professionals (ADs, athletic department staff, vendors, media members, etc.), sports industry academics (professors of sports business OR students studying related fields), or simply die-hard fans.
What are the next business priorities for Extra Points?
The most important priority, has always, is to make newsletters that you'll want to read. This is still what I try to do every time I pick up the phone or sit down at my desk.
A major priority over the last few months has been to find ways to take stuff off my plate. I was super excited to be able to reach an agreement with Andy to have him regularly contribute to Extra Points, and I think his newsletters not only make Extra Points better, but they also make me better, since it gives me a chance to catch my breath during the week. I am excited to continue publishing him. I'm also happy to take a look at (and pay for) other freelance submissions.
I always want Extra Points to be a subscription-focused business. But I think there are ways to continue to grow the ad sales side, which has begun to show promise this quarter. I've also had great experiences selling bulk Extra Points subscriptions to college classrooms, newsrooms and other organizations. My newsletter tech stack recently got the ability to offer institutional subscriptions (i.e. give a paid sub to everybody with a particular email domain), and I'm looking for a few test cases.
I have open ad inventory for November and December, and if you'd like to discuss advertising on Extra Points or Going For Two, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I also just got the ability to offer Tiered Pricing again. When I was on Substack, I offered a $7/mo and $70/year subscription plan, but also a $150/year plan for people that REALLY wanted to support Extra Points. I disabled that functionality when I moved to Ghost back in April, but I brought it back yesterday. No pressure, but if the spirit moves you to really help get this thing off the ground, I'm work shopping some other cool features I can add for that tier. Private Zoom calls? Bonus merch? Special newsletters? Finally letting Penny do a newsletter? It's all on the table.
If there is something you would like to see on Extra Points that I'm not currently offering, drop me a line. I'm at Matt@ExtraPointsMB.com.
What's the long-term plan here?
I haven't been shy about this. In a perfect world, I'd like to sell Extra Points or merge it with another publication. This isn't because I want to cash out (honestly, this isn't the kind of newsletter that lends itself to that). It's because I care a lot about this project, and I think I can't do everything it needs by myself. I'm a pretty good writer and podcaster, I think. I've learned a LOT about ad sales, tech stacks, email open rates, and more. But I'm not great at everything else that comes with running a small media company yet. And I'm just one guy. I think this product would be better if somebody who was really good at the stuff I'm not good at...did those things. Every minute I'm researching membership program integration tools is a minute I'm not filing a FOIA, you know?
I am optimistic this will happen, and perhaps soon. I've had a lot of conversations about it over the last several months with various publishers and individual investors.
If and when this happens, it will be because I think it will create the best possible Extra Points for everybody.
Thank you again for your readership and support
I didn't launch Extra Points to get rich. I launched Extra Points because I got laid off from my job, lol. I keep doing it because I love this subject, I love the relationships I've built with my audience, and because I love trying to improve publishing on the internet.
Thank you for your readership, your subscriptions, your ad sales, your tweets, your positive remarks to your colleagues, and for helping sustain a college sports publication that's a little bit different.
Here's to a great end of 2021.
Good Spot Publishing LLC