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What a career in newsletters is like

Hello newsletter editors, I'm curious who of you are working on newsletters for a living. Is the news
The week in
A weekly update for newsletter editors and audience managers, sent every Tuesday morning in the US, afternoon in Europe, and evening in Asia.
Hello newsletter editors,
I’m curious who of you are working on newsletters for a living. Is the newsletter your main source of income? Does it contribute? Or is it just something you do on the side? That maybe later will turn into something with a direct economic value?
We got an interesting glimpse into that question through a spreadsheet in which people working in media share their salary information as a benchmark for others. Besides salary and location, the spreadsheet also has a “job duties” column with lots of interesting details about what newsletter editors do all day long. Read on for the details.
And while we’re on the topic of sharing: I would love it if you forwarded this newsletter to a friend who might enjoy it 💌
Thanks and have a great week,
Mark.
Addendum to last issue
Before I get to newsletter job details, I need to amend the list of long running newsletters I made last week. I talked about The Lefsetz Letter as the prime example of newsletter continuity. Started in 2005 and currently at 5.660 issues, it’s certainly worthy of being on that list.
But there’s one newsletter that is much older as Paul Metcalfe was nice enough to point out: Randy Cassingham has been publishing his newsletter This is True since 1994. Absolutely amazing 🏆.
Careers in newsletters
Time for today’s main topic: What does a career in newsletters look like?
We got some interesting insights through an anonymous Google sheet that someone created and that got a lot of attention when it was shared by the Columbia Journalism Review.
The creator of the sheet wanted to break a taboo. Salary is seldom discussed although having access to that information is often vital:
Talking about how much or how little money you make feels taboo, and it shouldn’t. Knowledge is power and Glassdoor info is hit or miss. Wouldn’t it be great to know what your peers make so you can use that to leverage a raise? Or if your company does a “market adjustment” yet you don’t see the data, wouldn’t it be great to know how accurate it is or isn’t? So, let’s share what we make and any relevant info to help each other learn our worth!
As of writing this issue, more than 1.400 people working in media had shared their salary information along with background that makes it comparable (job title, location, years of experience) and interesting details about their day-to-day tasks.
Among the 1.400 records, there were 50 that mentioned newsletters as part of their job.
And while salary was the main focus, I thought the job descriptions were particularly interesting. Before getting to those let’s look at the juicy salary details you’re dying to find out about:
  • The average yearly salary of newsletter jobs is $52.000
  • The average is slightly higher for audience / engagement related roles ($53.000) than for writers / editors ($52.000)
  • There is progression over time. Entry level (<2 years) jobs had an average yearly salary of $46.800, mid level (3-6 years) $48.000, and senior level (>7 years) a significantly higher average of $64.000.
  • Finally there’s a gender difference, with the average amongst women at $51.000 and amongst men at $57.000.
So much for the hard data. But let’s not forget about the details of their day-to-day that people submitted in the “job description” column. What struck me was the breadth of tasks that people reported working on in newsletter roles. Far from being specialists, people wear many hats 👒🎩🧢.
Here’s a typical entry by a digital editor from New York City about their job duties:
Report, write, edit, run website, schedule all social, posts and curate and send the daily newsletter
It’s a variety of tasks ranging from writing to editing, managing and marketing, on several channels including newsletters, social and web.
And this is not an exception. Here’s another one by a managing editor from California, which even covers conferences and print next to newsletters and other digital channels:
Manage website content, including daily updates; supervise nine freelance journalists; assign and edit pieces about health care; compile daily newsletter; engage with members on social media; track website traffic and interest via metrics; produce conference programs and other printed material.
It also touches on another recurring aspect in the job duties of people working in newsletter jobs seems to be working with freelancers. Like the editor from California, many people mentioned this as part of their duties. Here’s another example by an associated editor from Washington:
Write stories for online newsletter, write articles for magazine, edit freelance content
Much like editors, audience managers also seem to perform a variety of tasks across multiple channels. In their case, duties frequently include metrics and SEO. Here’s an impressive list of responsibilities taken on by an associate social media editor from New York:
Managing social media accounts with millions of followers, distributing flow of daily articles and design content across platforms, copy editing blogs, optimizing seo and meta data, compiling and managing daily newsletter, assisting publisher and marketing department with sponsored campaigns, moderating audience across platforms, increasing audience engagement, data analytics & analysis, pitching & writing blogs, designing social visual assets, among other tasks.
Apparently you need to be skilled in many areas to be successful in newsletter publishing, and journalism in general. So to end this section I’ll leave you with this daunting list of tasks of a publishing assistant:
- Provided admin and technical support for journals team, individual journal editors, and contributors on Editorial Manager
- Wrote, A/B tested, coded, edited, and scheduled delivery of journal marketing and recruitment emails
- Wrote, edited, and scheduled delivery of journal eTOCs and newsletter blasts to subscribers
- Wrote and edited email templates, media kits, and other content for the digital ad sales team
- Liaised with external organizations, societies, and associations for blog content
- Wrote original blog content and managed freelancers
- Assisted with editorial workflow and project management of journals
- Worked several conference events to market and sell journal subscriptions, as well as recruit potential journal editors and contributors
What a list… 📋 I guess on the plus side, it keeps you out of trouble!
The week in newsletters
If you have a little time left between updating social, reviewing copy by freelancers, checking metrics and writing that longform article, here are the need to know articles of the week in newsletters 📯
Stratechery price up to  $120/year
Industry Standard for Attribution
13.243 words in two years
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