How I Created A $30K/Year Local Newsletter With $100

Published: March 8th, 2023
Ida Jakobson
Founder, The Mallorcan
The Mallorcan
from Palma
started April 2022
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hello! My name is Ida Jakobson and I started The Mallorcan, a local media brand all about Mallorca, Spain. Our core business is a weekly email newsletter, supported by our web content and social content.

Our customers are local businesses in Mallorca looking to reach an audience of residents and visitors to the island.

Today, our sponsorship and advertising revenue generates around $2.5k per month.


What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I experimented with moving to Mallorca in the fall of 2021 to escape the cold winters in Sweden. Moving to a new place is exciting but also challenging. You need to start from scratch to build a community and this isn't always easy.

My idea was born out of a desire to meet new people in Mallorca. Originally I thought that starting an email newsletter would be the easiest way to get started. I could use that side project as a low-effort way to validate if there was an audience for this type of local content.

My background is in Marketing but I had never started a business online before. I had enough basic knowledge about email marketing and email newsletters to start there as a side project.

I was working full-time when I started The Mallorcan and have transitioned to part-time freelancing as it has grown. As sponsorship revenue can be unpredictable, I will continue to supplement it with freelance marketing work.


Take us through the process of building the first version of your product.

I found that it was relatively easy to generate weekly content for the newsletter. I would interview a local entrepreneur, and feature upcoming events and other interesting things I was discovering.

There were a few great templates for building a local newsletter at the time. From Boise and Ron Orp were two great examples. They gave me a blueprint for what type of content I could create each week and a path to revenue via newsletter sponsors in different shapes and sizes.

The format has remained relatively unchanged since day 1. It begins with curated images from Mallorca, a weekly interview with a resident, my “tip of the week” and bookmarked articles relating to Mallorca. This has been the foundation content all along. Then I experimented with other themes, like “property of the week” and “wine of the week”.

I quickly designed a landing page on Squarespace and got an email template setup in Email Octopus. This took less than a week and under $100 to get started.

I’d describe the business as ramen profitable. Operational expenses are minimal and so all revenue is almost pure profit.

I found my first few hundred readers by sharing in local Facebook groups. The early feedback was positive and I thought this was an idea that could grow into more than just a weekly email newsletter.

My aha moment came after the first 3-4 newsletters were sent. My list was growing, the unsubscribe rate was super low and I figured if I could crack distribution on this idea, I would be able to replicate some of the success of other local media brands around the world.

I wanted to see at least 100 subscribers to give me the confidence to continue. This was achieved in those first few newsletters and within a few months it had grown to over 1,000. The unsubscribe rate was never exceeding more than 0-5 profiles per newsletter which was another positive sign.

Describe the process of launching the business.

There was no flashy launch to speak of. I just wanted to commit to sending a weekly newsletter and start experimenting with different growth channels week to week. My first proven strategy was to cross-promote on Facebook groups and sub-reddits.

These were people residing in Mallorca or with a strong interest in Mallorca. So getting some initial subscribers was easy to do as it was a new medium for these readers to learn more about the place they lived in.

When you are validating an audience or a product, keep an open mind and test as many distribution channels as possible to find what works.

I used cold outreach to line up early interviews with local business owners. I also reached out to potential sponsors from day one. I wanted to validate each aspect of the idea as early as possible. Finding interviews, attracting readers, and generating sponsorship revenue.

Within a few weeks I had set up a pipeline of interviews, gained a few hundred subscribers, found my first paying sponsor, and without planning it as such, launched my business. Property is a huge market in Mallorca so it made sense to collaborate with high-quality real estate agents. Our first partnership was with an amazing company called Fantastic Frank, which sponsored 6 months' worth of newsletters.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

Over the first year of The Mallorcan’s existence, I’ve experimented with as many growth channels as possible. The newsletter has grown through reader referrals and consistent cross-promotion on social channels.

After gaining the first 1,000 subscribers and some initial sponsorship revenue, it made sense to build out the website’s content and become more active on Instagram.

By opening up these new mediums for our audience, we also opened up new growth channels.

In the first 6 months, I wrote several “best of” blog posts on things like hotels, restaurants, and experiences. These posts started to pay off via SEO within a reasonably short timeframe. It was possible to start getting top 10 keyword rankings on some great search terms. SEO, therefore, became a core strategy for growing website traffic and subscribers.

I have also tried other experiments like paid Facebook ads, press/influencer outreach, and starting our own Facebook group. The key takeaway from our first year’s growth has been that SEO works, asking readers for referrals works, and sharing your content in relevant groups and sub-reddits also works well.

Beyond generating top of funnel traffic to our content, a lot of experimentation goes into converting traffic into email subscribers and finding sponsors.

What has worked well here is to create forms and CTA’s in as many relevant places as possible, pointing back to the newsletter. For example, within each blog post, I will create a CTA to sign up for the newsletter and likewise on our Instagram account.

Finding sponsors has worked best via cold outreach. What has worked best for me where is a short and simple email. No more than 3-4 sentences to quickly show the recipient who we are and how we could help their brand reach a new audience. It’s a simple process of identifying businesses in the area that have an advertising budget and pitching them to our audience reach. Our content cross-promotions have also led to some inbound opportunities.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Today, our audience is steadily growing across our three key mediums: website, email newsletter, and Instagram. I’d describe the business as ramen profitable. Operational expenses are minimal and so all revenue is almost pure profit.

Revenue can be unpredictable in an ad-driven media business model like this. Sponsorships can fluctuate from month to month.

For this reason, I would eventually like to develop the product offering to include some form of subscription revenue. Either a B2B product for advertisers or a B2C product for readers.

Our website traffic has grown to around 6k visits per month. Our email list has 2.5k subscribers. Our Instagram followers are at 2.3k.

I parry out 90% of the business’ operations. Creating content, distributing content, and finding and managing sponsors. From time to time I will use freelancers for certain tasks like web design and my partner, Luke, provides some input on specific strategies as well.

Looking forward, the focus is on scaling our SEO efforts, growing the email list to 10k+, and starting a content strategy on TikTok to reach a new audience. I know that if I can 10x our audience from here, the sponsorship opportunities will increase and with that, I can start to develop more products for our audience.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

One of the biggest takeaways for me in starting this business has been to ask for help in areas I am not proficient. A lot of time has been invested in things like learning elements of web design and CMS. These things could have been outsourced from day one.

Another lesson has been finding pricing and product clarity. I have been experimenting and negotiating with each customer on a case-by-case basis. This takes up a large amount of time. By producing an offering around sponsorship and creating a self-serve payment and onboarding setup, I think I could save an incredible amount of time.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

The key tools I use for the business are Squarespace as the CMS, Email Octopus for the newsletter, Instagram, Ahrefs for SEO and Google Business for managing all the internal documentation.

I also use Asana to stay organized and have just started out using Geneva as an extra layer of community and chat tool for our audience.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

For books, everything Seth Godin has written has been impactful on the way I think about brand building. Steven Pressfield’s The War Of Art has also taught me the importance of doing the work every day and playing the long game.

People Vs. Algorithms is a great podcast about modern media brands and the direction media is taking. My First Million has also been inspirational with so many examples of other businesses succeeding online.

I’ve learned a lot about SEO from Pat’s Lean SEO course and recently joined the Newsletter Blueprint Discord which is a great community of newsletter creators. Far and away though I find Twitter is the most valuable resource when it comes to everyday learning in building online.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

My first tip would be to just start shipping something as quickly as possible. Whether it is media, code , or a physical product, start prototyping straight away and get feedback as early as possible.

I think myself included, so many people have ideas in their heads and are holding back from putting them into the world as they feel uncertain about how they will be received or whether a competing idea could be better.

When it comes to growth, always be testing! What works for others might not work for you and vice versa. I came into this business with assumptions about what would work and what might not work.

Many turn out to be wrong. When you are validating an audience or a product, keep an open mind and test as many distribution channels as possible to find what works.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

Not right now. The immediate goal is to grow my revenue to a predictable monthly amount. In the meantime, I will continue to use freelancers for specific tasks.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!