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Morning Brew Review: The Free Daily 5-Minute Business Newsletter

Morning Brew is a free email newsletter that collects the latest business and tech news. After receiving their emails for many months, I decided to write a review.

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A huge part of being an entrepreneur is being up to date with what’s going on in the world and what are the last trends. I used to check blogs, news, and podcasts every day (and still do frequently) but then I came across Morning Brew.

I thought it would be cool to be more organized with the reads I took in terms of tech and business news so I decided to subscribe. +6 months later, I’m writing a detailed review outlining what is Morning Brew, who’s behind it, what’s included in their emails, some great points about it, and some things I think that could be improved.

Go on reading if you’re wondering whether to subscribe or not or if you’re interested in getting your hands dirty with business and tech topics but don’t know where to start.


What is Morning Brew?

Morning Brew is a free daily email newsletter (six-days a week, delivered before 6 am EST) that compiles the most important business and tech news and transforms them into enjoyable bites that can easily be digested while drinking your morning coffee (their logo is actually a cup of coffee).

Morning Brew's homepage

Morning Brew was launched in 2015 and has since grown to 1.9 million subscribers. They have already sent +350 emails which you can find in their archive.

They started just with the newsletter we will be mainly talking about in this article, but they have also expanded to other things.

Along with this newsletter, they have launched 3 more which are quite less popular:

  • Emerging Tech: It’s about the newest technologies that are being created and launched, including drones, AI, automation, etc. It’s sent on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and you can check out their archive here.
  • Retail Brew: Sent on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, it covers all the topics related to the retail industry, including news, new products, logistics, etc. You can check their latest emails here.
  • The Turnout: It’s the newest one of the four. It was launched in October 2019 and have since sent only 23 emails, as it has a weekly frequency. It’s quite an innovative idea as it provides a look into the relationship between politics and industries. You can find all of their emails here.

On the side, while writing this article, I came to know there’s a Morning Brew podcast called Business Casual. It was launched in September 2019 and it is hosted by Kinsey Grant.

In its episodes, Kinsey sits down with well-known entrepreneurs and thought-leaders, including Scott Galloway and Mark Cuban to discuss trendy topics and get to know their views.

One more thing to note: They have a really active Twitter account where they tweet and re-tweet a lot of great stuff related to the behind-scenes of the company + latest news, and a well-designed Instagram profile (which we admire at @hellofailory!) full of memes and funny content. Make sure to give them a look!

That’s all for what’s Morning Brew. If you’re already a fan, make sure to check their sweaters and mugs ;)

Also, go to the site and enter your email address in their subscription form. If you don’t enjoy or find useful their emails, you can unsubscribe in 2 seconds (I would wait some days, anyway).


Who’s Behind Morning Brew?

MorningBrew started really small and lean but has since grown to a team of +30, including writers, graphic designers, sales, developers, community managers, etc. 

Alex Lieberman (CEO) and Austin Rief (COO) are the two co-founders and according to LinkedIn, Morning Brew is their first startup.

Pretty cool to find out all of the crew members (including Alex and Austin) have their emails listed on the website.

There’re many interviews with Alex out there on how has he started and grown Morning Brew which are really interesting. It all started as a side-project and stayed like that for more than one year and a half until he left his full-time job (September 2018) to focus 100% on the business. Austin then joined him 6 months after, when he graduated.

However, the “turning point” for Morning Brew didn’t come until the beginnings of 2018. In just a few months, the newsletter grew x10 and the team went from 4 to 24.

Here’s a great podcast interview Alex did with Noah Kagan:


What’s Included in Morning Brew’s Emails?

Morning Brew’s emails have changed throughout the years and the topics included vary every day. However, they all have the same similar structure:


Introduction

Their intros are super short but really friendly. They generally include jokes, recommendations or summaries of something important they have published (such as the Mark Cuban podcast episode).

On the side, before the intro, there’s Morning Brew’s logo + the email sponsorship’s logo (will be then talking more about this).

Morning Brew's introduction


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Markets

The first section of the email is a chart with how did these markets performed the day before: NASDAQ, S&P, DJIA, GOLD, 10-YR and OIL.

Below the chart, they include two or three points explaining something related + linking to articles where you can continue reading about it.

Morning Brew's markets section


Topics

The following 3 sections are dedicated to different topics, such as economy, politics, COVID19, tech, international, etc.

The structure of these sections is always the same: title, image, analysis of the news. They include many links as well, which is really useful if you want to keep reading about that topic.

Morning Brew's topics section

Sponsor

All of their emails have 1 or 2 sponsors. They are generally business-related companies, such as credit cards, tools, insurances, but I have lately seen more general sponsors like clothing and fitness brands.

After this, there’re more topics included and, generally, one more sponsor.

Morning Brew's sponsor section


“What Else Is Brewing”

Four or five important business news and a link to keep reading about them on sites like Wall Street Journal, The Verge, BBC, Bloomberg, etc. 

Morning Brew's what else section


Quizzes, Bets, and “From the Crew”

The last sections vary every day, but they generally are business-related quizzes or trivia and bets or recommendations from the Morning Brew team.

Morning Brew's quizzes section

One more time, I recommend you to check their emails yourself here.


How is Morning Brew Free?

We’re really used to free newsletters and getting access to an infinite amount of content for free. However, people have lately begun to monetize their newsletters. Nowadays, there’re many paid publications or free ones who offer exclusive content for some $$.

Tools like Substack have facilitated this change. According to this tool, for example, the newsletter “The Dispatch” which goes all around culture and politics, has thousands of subscribers that pay $10/month.

So why is Morning Brew free if it sends so many emails and there’s so much work behind each of these?

Their business model is different, although I wouldn’t be surprised if they introduce a payment gateway for exclusive content someday.

Morning Brew is making money ($13M  in 2019!) throughout sponsorships and partnerships. Alex, Morning Brew’s CEO, hasn’t disclosed the amount they’re charging per advertisement, but a newsletter of millions of subscribers with an open rate of +40% can easily be charging +$50,000.

As an entrepreneur from a third-world country, where $usd has a high value and can’t afford to pay email subscriptions here and there, I have learned to take advantage of free (but high quality) content like the one Morning Brew creates, paid by advertisers and VCs.

However, something you need to know is that Morning Brew does offer…


Premium Content

But wait. It’s premium but not paid.

As I mentioned at the beginning, Morning Brew’s emails are sent daily, 6 times a week (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday).

But some people missed them on Sundays, so they launched a premium Sunday email you can get access to if you refer 3 people to the Morning Brew newsletter.

You can easily ask for a referral link and if 3 people (friends, family, etc) subscribes using it, you get the Sunday newsletter.

If you keep promoting, there’re bigger prizes, such as stickers, t-shirts, and even a trip to Brew’s HQ (you only need to refer 1,000 subscribers...)!  


Morning Brew’s Numbers

Everything is free for the user. But at the same time, Morning Brew is making great figures. Here’re some numbers for you take dimension how huge is this newsletter:

  • They have a 1.9M subscriber base and they aim to reach 2M by the end of the first quarter of 2020.
  • Morning Brew’s daily newsletter makes 89% of the revenue, while Retail and Emerging Tech accounts for 10%.
  • They have an open rate of 42%, which is above the average.
  • Emerging Tech has 160,000 subscribers and 50% open rate; Retail Brew has 100,000 subscribers and 55% open rate; Turnout (the newest) has 60,000 subscribers and 65% (!!!) open rate.
  • Their “Business Casual” podcast has 1M downloads.
  • In 2019, they made $13M from 180 newsletters (doubling the 97 figure in 2018).
  • They have a crew of 33 members.

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The Negative Points

Okay, so everything seems to be positive. How can it be real?

Well, during these months of receiving and reading their emails, I’ve been taking some notes of things that could be improved:

  • No content customization: All subscribers receive the same content. Suppose I’m more interested in tech news, there’s no way to notify that and receive more of that stuff. I think this is something Morning Brew will work in in the future. It’s a huge business opportunity for them as well, as they can do more targeting which brings more money.
  • No “markets” customization: Their “markets” section isn’t customized, which I think is a big error and something they can (and should) solve soon. If I invest in some stocks, I’d prefer to see how they perform, instead of receiving updates on gold’s price changes.
  • Lack of connection between the emails: I think there isn’t much connection between the email sent on one day and the email sent the next day. They generally don’t follow stories day-to-day and the topics covered change a lot. The only existing connection I can think of is following the same structure.
  • Just newsletter: There’s no desktop or mobile app or website. Well, you can enter their archive and read the emails from there, but the usability isn’t really great. I guess they have thought a lot about this and have decided not to do it for some reason. I believe, anyway, than an app and website provide them even more business opportunities so they might be doing it in the future.
  • Amount of emails: I’ve personally thought about unsubscribing from their newsletter (and think I had for some time) due to the numerous emails I was receiving from Morning Bre. In times where there are many things going on, the fewer emails you receive, the better. However, I’ve read some people that claimed that the emails were too few. They wanted one in the morning and one in the evening, which is another reasonable choice.
  • Too American/European: I’m from Argentina and have never seen any news about the startups and tech from my country (and Latin America in general). Their sections and news are almost all related to the US or Europe. I think they are losing a big market here, as the business-related audience from other parts of the world is huge.
  • No Indie News: The news are mostly about big venture-backed businesses from Silicon Valley or Wall Street. I think there are millions of super interesting indie/bootstrapped businesses that could be covered. However, I understand why they are not including them in their emails and think they could be more interested in working on a separate newsletter for this kind of stuff.

I’ve been reading +50 reviews people have written here and think I haven’t missed anything big. There’s only one repetitive critic that I don’t really agree with: “It’s too referral based!”.

Morning Brew has grown a lot with their referral program. One of their team members has actually written an article about this and explained how it was possible. Despite this, I think they have achieved a great middle point between asking too much for referrals and evolving their community in their growth.

At the same time, the rewards of referring users, apart from the Sunday email which is really easy to achieve, are just nice-to-have things, like stickers, mugs, or a t-shirt. It’s not that you need the rewards in order to be able to understand their newsletters. 

That’s why I think there’s nothing wrong with their referral program and how they manage it.


Alternatives to MorningBrew

There are thousands, if not millions, of business newsletters. There are some really similar to Morning Brew, particularly those from media sites like TechCrunch, The Verge, etc, which only include their stuff but do a pretty great coverage of the important business and tech news.

Another really great (actually one of my favorite newsletters) alternative to Morning Brew is Accelerated. The topics covered are similar, but more focused on businesses and startups. I like how they also talk about smaller businesses, even many run by college students. They also work on their own articles and analyses. However, the frequency is just one email/week so it’s quite different from what Morning Brew offers.

On the side, I really enjoy reading about indie and bootstrapped businesses, so I really like newsletters like Startup Watching, Indie Hackers, and Startup Curated (as well as Failory’s newsletter!).


Conclusion - Should I Subscribe to Morning Brew?

Yes.

If this was a paid newsletter, I’d try to give a more balanced recommendation on whether it is worth it or not and for who is a great fit. However, this is free and you can unsubscribe in 2 seconds. So there isn’t any loss if you then find out you don’t like Morning Brew’s emails.

Now that I have explained from the negative view, here’s the positive view: I think you should subscribe as it is a great way to keep updated with what’s going on in the tech and business world.

For who is a great fit? I think that for anyone who has some sort of like towards entrepreneurship or just learning about companies and how they are related to all the aspects of the world, like culture, health, etc.

That’s all for this review. If you enjoy it, make sure to use our link to subscribe, which helps me keep writing and publishing this kind of stuff.

If you think I missed anything, want to ask me something or just give me your point of view about MorningBrew, just send me an email to hello@failory.com.


If you have enjoyed this article, please consider using our affiliate link to subscribe to Morning Brew. We get a really small payment, but if many people sign up using it, it contributes a lot to keep this site afloat.

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