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Mar 15, 2001
Case Study

How Got 1,200 Online Subscribers to Pay $19.95 a Month

SUMMARY: Starting almost from scratch a year ago, Publisher Monique Harris has created a book publicity resource site that's so useful more than 1,200 pay $19.95 a month for access. Learn how she used free email newsletters and eBooks to get the word out about her paid service, and what she learned about pricing along the way.

Book and eBook publicity consultant, Monique Harris was, self-admittedly, "really burnt out" after co-authoring her own magnum opus, "Make Your Knowledge Sell" published by Ken Evoy's SiteSell (TM) in January 2000. However, she couldn't resist trying to see if she could grow an ongoing subscription-based product out of the publicity that surrounded her book's publication.


Harris already had a broadly focused site, SellYour, she'd run for about a year, the URL of which was mentioned in the book several times. So, after taking a few weeks off to refresh her batteries, she dug in, tightened the focus of the site to specifically appeal to her target audience -- book and eBook authors and publicists -- and relaunched it as a subscription-based service at $197 a year.

Paid subscribers get access to a regularly updated online database of resources for book and eBook publicity, as well as a subscribers-only message board. Harris explains her content as follows, "We write descriptions of existing sites and online resources and point our readers toward them. We don't do any original content. We don't write articles." Why are subscribers eager to pay for this? Harris says, "The thing is, free stuff online is not organized properly for people who need to use it. We also give customized information so if you have a specific type of book you're trying to promote, we'll do the research and post it." Her site traffic logs bear out the value people find in this. New subscribers often spend an hour or more in the site the first time they enter it.

Harris markets the service passively through search engine optimization, and actively by sending out a twice-weekly, free "lite version" of email newsletter paid subscribers receive. She says, "I create the paid version first, and then I take things out to create the free one. The free one is really teeny, one or two tips and that's it." The free version also contains tantalizing glimpses of the resources readers will get access to ... as soon as they ante up for a paid subscription. also offers a premium, a $49 value special report, to encourage conversions from free to paid.

In addition, Harris markets the site by offering an eBook, "55 E-Book Marketing Resources," which includes excerpts of site content plus a promo page for her free lite-version newsletter, to related Web sites to give out to their visitors for free. She gets the word out by emailing webmasters a brief note asking them to offer the eBook to their visitors. (There's a copy of the note below.)

RESULTS now has 1,200 paid subscribers with more joining weekly, and less than two dozen cancellations after more than a year.

Harris did find that her marketplace was not happy with the $197 annual fee; so, soon after launch she switched pricing strategies to only offer subscriptions at $19.95 per month on a til forbid basis. ("til forbid" means a publisher will charge a subscriber until told not to, which eliminates the need for a renewal series.)

The site's most successful sales method has been its free lite-version email newsletter. Harris says, "We found that the free newsletter was the bread and butter of it all. Every time we send it out a couple of people convert to paid. Sometimes they tell me, 'I've been on your list for awhile and I just couldn't stand it anymore!'" About 4,000 opt-in readers currently receive the free newsletter.

Harris was surprised by the fact that the site's message board is one of its most popular areas. She says, "It gets a tremendous amount of traffic. Way more than I anticipated."

NOTE: For those of you who like to steal good copywriting for your "swipe" file, here's a sample of the simple note Harris sent out to entice a site owner into carrying the promotional eBook on her site:

Hi Kathryn,

My name is Monique Harris, and I recently published an e-book titled, "55 E-book Marketing Resources," which features dozens of places where you can promote
an e-book online.

It's available free of charge at

Feel free to distribute it to your sites visitors, or e-zine readers.

And if you need any other e-book promotional content, let me know. I have a database with a TON of resources at my fingertips.

Warmest regards,

Monique Harris
Editor, Digital Publishing & Promotion

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