5 Tips for a Successful Newsletter Swap

How to organically grow new leads—without spending a cent.
Man and woman shaking hands over a table. Newsletter swap.
Photo by Fauxels on Pexels.

There are a variety of paid lead generation tactics that can be used to increase top-of-funnel growth, like launching ads on Meta platforms or Twitter. But what happens once the budget runs out? Newsletter swaps can be a great organic growth strategy for publishers who are open to collaborating with other outlets or organizations. We asked the Indie Audience and Ads teams to share best practices to get your newsletter swap off the ground and running.

1. Have a goal in mind

The first step is to figure out what this swap should ideally accomplish. This will help narrow down what type of collaboration makes sense and who to contact about working together. Are you hoping to raise awareness with new audiences? Then a content swap with a niche publication or community organization might be a good idea. Or do you hope to gain new newsletter subscribers? An ad spot  with a well-read publication promoting your newsletter sign up page might work best in this case.

2. Know your value prop

What can you offer the other party in the swap? Don’t just think about the list size. You might have a niche audience that can help another publication reach a new geographic location. This will also help determine what the exchange might look like. Will it be an in-kind cross promotion that doesn’t involve any financial exchange? Or does exchanging paid ad space of equal value align with your needs better?

3. Tailor the offer and ask

If you’re doing a content swap, pick a story relevant to your partner’s audience, says Indiegraf audience strategist Pearl Leung. If you’re doing an ad spot promoting your newsletter, ask the other publisher to write the ad copy for you (and vice versa) recommending each other’s newsletter. This will make the partnership feel more genuine and thoughtful, rather than forced.

4. Be specific with what you want and what you can offer

Indiegraf senior manager of development and sponsorship Allison Mcllmoyl says the publisher should have an idea of the value associated with a newsletter ad swap. How much would the space typically be sold for? This might be necessary for nonprofit organizations who want to report the in-kind value of this opportunity. 

Example of newsletter ad in The Ridge newsletter. Newsletter swap.
A newsletter ad swap in The Ridge’s newsletter.

“Be specific in what exactly the in-kind sponsor would get,” she says. You should also be specific about the number of placements each party is agreeing to and the dates. Don’t forget that the placement in a newsletter matters, as well as the number of words in an ad. “We typically offer a 970 x 550 image, 16 word headline, 50 words of copy and one link,” she says. The Indie Ads team can help consult on what’s a fair exchange, taking factors like audience size into consideration.

5. Keep track of your progress  

Metrics are key. Look at numbers such as email subscribers and website views at one month, three months and six months intervals to see how many new leads stayed subscribed and engaged. Use UTMs or tags within your email service provider so you can track results and understand the ad performance. The Indie Audience team can help with all the tech set-up to ensure that success is tracked, so you can determine if a newsletter swap is a good organic growth tactic for your organization.  

Interested in a newsletter swap for your publication, but not sure where to start? Indiegraf can help! Schedule a meeting with us to find out how our audience and ads services can help generate the leads you need.


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