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How The Blueprint Became One of the Top Real Estate Newsletters

Breaking Down the Tactics for Rapid Growth & New Income Streams

This creator spotlight has been reposted from creatorspotlight.com

Building a business has never been easier than it is right now.

A newsletter allows you to create relationships with audiences and design products that cater to their specific needs.

The best part is — all you need is a laptop, an idea, and the hustle to make it work.

For Ben Teller, The Blueprint newsletter provided him with the perfect opportunity to do exactly that.

Last year, Ben partnered with real estate superstars James Harris & David Parnes, to create a twice-a-week newsletter. Today, The Blueprint boasts 25,000 subscribers, ad deals with multiple companies, and their recent brand extension: an online luxury real estate course.

How The Blueprint Became One of the Top Real Estate Newsletters

We recently sat down with Ben to discuss how beehiiv helped The Blueprint grow so quickly. If you’re thinking of starting your own newsletter, or you’re wondering what it’s like building on beehiiv, Ben has a fountain of advice and knowledge to share with creators and aspiring newsletter operators regarding what it takes to succeed in the industry.

The Blueprint Origin Story: From Reality TV to Email Inboxes

How The Blueprint Became One of the Top Real Estate Newsletters

In January 2022, Ben Teller partnered with real estate superstars James Harris and Davis Parnes, the #2-ranked real estate brokers in the industry, who are known nationally from Bravo’s hit show “Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles”. Ben helped them launch a brand new real estate newsletter on beehiiv’s platform.

The Blueprint is a straight-to-the-point newsletter, comparable to Morning Brew, that breaks down the hottest residential real estate topics into bite-sized pieces. The twice-a-week publication was designed to help real estate agents take their careers to the next level.

In just 18 months, the newsletter has over 25,000 subscribers and boasts a 52% open rate!

How The Blueprint Became One of the Top Real Estate Newsletters

We asked Ben to give us a bit of background on how the newsletter came to be and what makes it different.

He shared, “The Blueprint is a real estate newsletter backed by James Harris and David Parnes who became famous nationally after appearing on the hit Bravo that used to be on the reality TV series show Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles.”.”

“When we were getting to know each other, James and David mentioned how when they were starting in the business, it was difficult to find information about the real estate industry that you could trust. There are a lot of news outlets, but no single go-to source. We decided to fix that. We hired a team of real estate analysts to source the news, and we had James and David give their takes on those stories. That way, our readers get more than just information, they get trusted advice on what it means for them, and actionable tips on how they can incorporate that information into their day-to-day.”

We thought that real estate news was kind of hard to understand. There were so many news outlets, and nobody knew which to read. So we figured we’d hire a team of real estate analysts to present to us the top stories, we’d run them by James & David to ensure they were important, put them in each newsletter, and make them easier to digest for people.”

So, how did Ben end up on beehiiv?

Ben shared how he and his new partners James and David were looking for a user-friendly platform that would support them as a “newsletter-first company” even though they had never put out a newsletter before. Enter beehiiv. “We were thinking, ‘How are we best going to launch this product?’” Ben said. “I met Tyler Denk, (beehiiv’s CEO) through a friend. He introduced to the team, and within almost no time, we were up and running. We’ve used the product for almost a year and a half now, and it’s an integral part of everything we do.”

How The Blueprint Became One of the Top Real Estate Newsletters

“An investor of The Blueprint and an advisor who had worked at the Morning Brew newsletter with Tyler had mentioned and had kind of recommended I use the product. So we launched in January 2022 on beehiiv.”

Creating Media Products Based on Audience Feedback

Ben has also used the newsletter to build something even bigger–a community. He receives constant feedback from his avid readers, and then uses this feedback to help steer his next move.

Ben noticed his readers were craving more information on how to ramp up their skills and achieve more success in the real estate industry.“They kept sending us emails and DM’s asking for advice. They wanted to hear from James and David directly,” Ben said. So that’s when we launched our podcast Rise Above the Ranks.”

How The Blueprint Became One of the Top Real Estate Newsletters

Each week on the podcast, James and David discuss one important topic and give actionable advice that agents can go out and implement right away. Ben kept the episodes short (<20 minutes) for a reason.

“When it comes to the attention economy and creating new content, you have to be specific on why you are creating that product,” Ben said. “We knew the audience wanted advice, and that helped us make the call to divide the episodes into one single topic to help the audience find what they were looking for.”.

That strategy is also working. The podcast has maintained an impressive 85% completion rate through its first six months.

How The Blueprint Became One of the Top Real Estate Newsletters

That strategy also led Ben, James, and David to create their biggest venture yet — an online real estate course specifically designed for agents who want to break into the luxury market.

““With home values higher than they’ve ever been, the luxury market has never been more attractive to agents,” Ben said.“We took everything that the guys used to get to #2 in the nation, and put it into a luxury real estate course.

Nothing Is More Important Than Owning Your Audience

While speaking with Ben, something became clear early on–he cares a lot about his audience and knows a lot about them too.

“The breakdown of our audience is 80% residential real estate agents. So highly, highly niche, and pretty high quality,” Ben explained “And then 10% are kind of interested in becoming an agent. And the last 10% are mostly looking at real estate as an investment vehicle. So Airbnb, short-term rentals, and things like that.”

If there’s one piece of advice he had for anyone, it’s to make sure you own your audience, rather than be subject to media platforms like Facebook or Google where your audience can come and go in the blink of an eye.

“If you look at the creator economy now, a lot of it is about kind of owning your audience,” Ben said “And I think a newsletter is the best way to do that in the free format.”

How The Blueprint Became One of the Top Real Estate Newsletters

He shared that while David and James had reached millions of people through TV, he wasn’t able to gather much intel on them like their wants or needs since it’s a one-way channel.

He recalled, “My first goal was to figure out who would be our potential audience. Fans of the show? Real estate agents? People who like browsing luxury homes? I knew that I couldn’t properly monetize their business until I knew who I wanted to reach. ”

Ben stressed how you need to take action to transform an audience into a business. The key is cornering a niche audience.

“To make money in advertising and build a business, you need a niche audience,” Ben explained. “For us, that audience was real estate agents. While James and David are famous for being on television, it’s their success in real estate that got them there and kept them there. Real estate agents would want advice and information directly from them, and the newsletter was the best way to deliver it.”

Taking Notes from Morning Brew

How The Blueprint Became One of the Top Real Estate Newsletters

While Ben had worked in the digital world for a decade, he had never dipped his toes into the newsletter world.

He shared, “To be honest, I didn't know anything about newsletters. I only knew that Morning Brew had just sold for a bunch of money and there was an opportunity here.”

“I'm a digital guy. I've been in digital for 10 years now. And I think I saw the trend moving away from social media into newsletters. And so, I met Tyler Denk before beehiiv even launched actually, and so I was just convinced. And I think for me, I needed a no-code software that was affordable.”

How The Blueprint Became One of the Top Real Estate Newsletters

Ben was sold on beehiiv’s business model. beehiiv offers a simple, flat-rate pricing model, instead of taking a cut of the revenue from paid newsletters. This means creators can scale with ease knowing they’ll keep 100% of their premium revenue on the platform.

“At the beginning, I thought I was going to do a paywall [for a premium newsletter], so I thought I was going to be charging people five or ten bucks a month and I didn't want to give a cut to the newsletter platform,” Ben said. “So a few of those reasons led me to beehiiv.”

Zero Ad Spend Strategy

There’s no shortage of strategies for how to grow an email list.

You can create social media content, run paid ads, use a referral program, or even use beehiiv’s new Boosts program, among many other methods.

While paid tactics like sponsorships can be a great way to fast-track your growth, Ben’s goal was to grow his newsletter organically.

“I think growing an email list organically is very hard, and I think most successful newsletter exits and stories are people who were paying for [subscriber] acquisition,” Ben said. “We have not opted to pay for any subscriber acquisition at all.”

He shared how one of his goals was to stay lean and focus on attracting the right subscribers by providing value.

“I haven't put any money into advertising spend. I'm running the business very lean because I think the newsletter is best served high quality, regardless of the number,” Ben said“I know that real estate agents are a high-value audience, so I'm not trying to devalue that list in any way.”

Ramping Up Growth With Social Media & Lead Magnets

How The Blueprint Became One of the Top Real Estate Newsletters

This LinkedIn post by James received 250 newsletter signups.

Without spending money on ads, Ben knew he’d have to start by leaning into organic growth channels like social media to capture his audience.

He shared, ‘So, early on when we jumped out the gate, I think we got to about 3,000 or 4,000 subscribers just through some simple social media content posts.”

He continued, “And then the 5,000 to 10,000 [checkpoints] were some growth hacks and beehiiv’s referral program, and some downloadable ebooks. At 10,000-15,000 and 15,000-25,000, we had more of a struggle. Since we haven't opted to pay for growth at any point, we've really had to do everything by word of mouth.”

How The Blueprint Became One of the Top Real Estate Newsletters

While many newsletters are driving acquisition through Instagram and TikTok, he’s found that his audience tends to hang out on LinkedIn and Facebook. So, he’s been leaning into those platforms to “try and go viral.”

“David Parnes & I would door knock for 12 hours a day in the Hollywood Hills when we got started...”

Ben shared, “We’re really using the podcast as an avenue to make short-form clips. So a lot of that has worked. I mean, some SparkLoop and beehiiv Boosts — some of that stuff has helped us grow, but I would say that the best growth for us has been through free guides.”

How The Blueprint Became One of the Top Real Estate Newsletters

He continued, “Real estate information is pretty valuable. So we gave out a door-knocking downloadable guide for free. We got like 3,000 emails. Maybe in a financial audience, that wouldn't be a lot, but 3,000 subscribers that are 80% real estate agents — it's worth it.”

How The Blueprint Became One of the Top Real Estate Newsletters

Subscribers: Quality Over Quantity

With newsletters, a bigger list isn’t always better. While more subscribers typically equate to greater opportunities for revenue, it isn’t always the case. The key to a successful newsletter is instead your number of engaged subscribers…

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