October 27, 2015

Before “Girls” creator Lena Dunham became the latest celebrity to launch a newsletter, she hinted in September that it would eventually be accompanied by some form of advertising.

Nearly a month after the debut of Lenny Letter, Dunham is getting more specific about plans to monetize her audience. In the fifth edition of the newsletter, released this morning, Dunham announced she and her team of editors are partnering with Hearst Magazines to generate revenue:

We also wanted to let you know that in the next few weeks we are going to start running advertising in our newsletter and on lennyletter.com through our new partnership with Hearst Magazines. Hearst is going to help us by spreading the Lenny word across its digital platforms like Elle, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Marie Claire, and more. (Our articles will be online a day after our email subscribers have had the exclusive look. Y’all are the originals.)

The arrangement is aimed at helping Lenny Letter become a self-sustaining enterprise, Dunham writes. The revenue will help Dunham compensate her full-time staff of three and “pay our authors and artists fairly.” The newsletter, a weekly longread, features lengthy interviews and submissions from writers.

The partnership with Hearst seems to be a departure from the usual business model for celebrity newsletters, which Slate’s L.V. Anderson wrote have traditionally been “glorified shopping portals.” By adopting a syndication model, Dunham says she will retain ownership and “complete editorial control” over Lenny Letter.

Today’s partnership with Hearst is the second alliance with a media outlet announced by Dunham in recent days. The actress and writer previewed a podcast, “Woman of the Hour,” with BuzzFeed’s podcasting division on Oct. 20.

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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
Benjamin Mullin

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