The State of Newsletters In 2022
The year is ending and it's time for InboxReads' annual State of Newsletters review. This is the third year of this feature where I look at data gathered via InboxReads in the past year to find trends and insights in the newsletter space.
Email newsletters continued to be a huge trend this year but with a lot more talk of "are we at peak newsletter". As with most trends it always takes some time to see if they will stick around and the insights can help you decide.
This year there have been 660 newsletters submitted and added to the InboxReads directory. That's a 7% growth from last year. Let's get into the data.
The 10 most popular newsletter topics this year contained the usual suspects like startups, entrepreneurship, tech, and self improvement.
The top 10 remains relatively consistent from last year with only 3 new additions: education, writing, and art. It's great to see more diversity in newsletter topics as many of these topics have been popular in searches but with relatively few newsletters submitted.
Here you can see how the percentage of submissions in the most popular topics decreased in 2022 vs 2021. This reflects the diversification of the topics newsletters cover now than in previous years.
In past years there has been a discrepancy between the most popular topics in the submissions received and the most popular topics users are searching for.
Unlike the submissions, the topics users are interested in are more varied and focus on other aspects of life. There continues to be a ton of opportunities in these categories for creators.
Compared to last year, there's been some big swings in the most popular topics with users. Bitcoin and cryptocurrency plummeted from #8 to #24. Likely due to the tumultuous year the crypto space has had. Politics and music also dropped out of the top 10. And out of nowhere film rose to #5 after being in the depths of the 200s last year. It's a great time to be writing a film related newsletter.
For more data on newsletter topics check out the new topics page.
Email Service Providers
Substack continued to grow in popularity amongst newsletter creators. It seems to be the de facto choice for anyone just getting started. The most interesting trends are the continued growth of Ghost after making it's first appearance last year, and Beehiiv at #4 in it's first year appearing on the chart.
Every other platform either remained the same or declined and I believe this is likely due to a clear divide growing between email service providers. Email marketing and email newsletters are different enough use cases that it's hard for tools to excel at both. The more general email marketing tools continue to drop in popularity as newsletter creators turn to tools more focused on their needs.
Also R.I.P. Revue which still made it to #5 this year but is being shutdown in January.
How Long Did They Survive?
10% of newsletters submitted this year were inactive by year's end. That's slightly down from last year's 12.5% but continues the downward trend seen in past years. More creators are sticking longer with their newsletter than ever before.
There were no significant changes in sending rates this year. Weekly remained the most popular by far. Every other schedule has about the same level of popularity but monthly sending is noticeably less common.
The percentage of paid newsletters slightly grew this year but most newsletters continue to be free. It's easier than ever to launch a paid newsletter as more service providers have built in support and I expect this to continue to grow but free newsletters will always be more popular.
55.6% of the newsletters submitted this year were interested in ads and sponsorships. It still continues to be the most popular form of monetization for newsletters by far.
Cross promotion is hugely popular with newsletter creators. Most are interested in it but there's no data on how many actually go through with it. If you're interested in cross promoting you can check out the list of interested newsletters here or use the search feature for more granular results.
There's been less attention paid to the newsletter space this year but the number of new newsletters still increased. It's a further sign that this isn't a trend but sustainable businesses in the creator economy.
Substack continued to be the most popular email service provider by some margin. But competitors like Ghost and Beehiiv are growing quickly and offering targeted products for email newsletters as well. Last year I thought Twitter's acquisition of Revue could supercharge it's growth but instead with all the chaos at Twitter it stagnated and is now being killed.
There are still many opportunities available for newsletters in niches outside of tech and productivity. As newsletters become more popular maybe it'll reach the people who are interested in those fields and we'll see further diversification of topics covered. It continues to be a great time to launch a newsletter.