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In this issue, we highlight a few of the most exciting experiments and growth tactics happening in publishing this week. Plus, as the alternative mediums of audio and video content continue to expand, the tools and strategies used in these domains could be adapted to help writers promote and monetize in new ways. Keep reading to learn how some of your fellow publishers are making their newsletter business models work.
💯 Top picks
Twipe recently published an excellent article detailing three pricing experiments that led to significant growth for their publishers.
Two experiments proved that longer-term trials (6+ months vs. 4-weeks) and subscription lengths (2+ years vs monthly) led to higher retention rates as well as increased growth across the board. After studying the results, the author added, "longer contracts build stronger relationships."
A third experimenter introduced a 400% price increase after concluding that "quadrupling of subscribers was unrealistic therefore a price increase was the only way to grow their reader revenue."
Publishers of all sizes can glean takeaways from these examples: price in a way that encourages long-term relationships, don't shy away from strategic increases, and seek answers through experimentation.
💸 Business models
"Packy McCormick is the writer behind Not Boring. In one year, his newsletter grew from 400 to 42,000+ subscribers."
This video interview dives into the McCormick's unique strategy that enabled them to grow a sizable fanbase incredibly quickly. For those unfamiliar with Not Boring, the author describes it as "the most fun way to learn about what’s going on in business." If you're unable to watch the entire interview, Miranda also provides two shorter highlight videos from the conversation on his channel.
Growth is the goal of almost every publisher. But it's important to remember that growth can be a double-edged sword. When it happens too quickly, it can destroy itself. This was the case for a community that quickly grew to 1,700+ members. Unfortunately, it didn't have the pricing or team required to keep it afloat. The founder writes, "it became clear over these last few months that Lounge was no longer a sustainable model for us operationally or financially."
Useful question to ask: How can you make your publication and related offerings sustainable from day one so that when growth occurs, you're fully prepared?
Related: Scale was the god that failed
"Clubhouse says it won’t take a cut of payments, meaning that creators get the entirety of what somebody sends them." As the creator economy matures, individuals are becoming more attuned to which platforms make sense from a financial perspective (i.e., why Ghost has had a 0% platform fee from day one). Expect to see this trend continue as platforms figure out how to incentivize creators away from their competitors.
📝 Modern publishing
“What is the best possible content we are positioned to create that will add the highest value to the lives of our target audience?”
Every publisher is familiar with the treadmill trap: the ever-increasing rate that new content needs to be created. Janessa Lantz offers a different strategy based on evidence that sheer "volume of [conent] isn’t only useless, it’s actually harmful."
Tobias Van Schneider addresses one of the most common problems writers face as they create a library of published work, "The more we recycle our creations, the more watered down they get." In a similar conclusion to the piece above, Tobias points out that publishers must strike a balance between business and creative goals, lest they allow the demand for volume to drain their creative ability.
The questions raised in this article address some of the most pressing issues in media today, such as misinformation, understaffing, and employee burnout. The pandemic accelerated changes, both positive and negative, across the industry. Now, the question is what can, and should, local news look like in a globalized, post-pandemic, digital world?
📬 Email newsletters
"While roughly 306.4 billion e-mails were estimated to have been sent and received each day in 2020, this figure is expected to increase to over 376.4 billion daily mails by 2025."
In an encouraging bit of data for newsletter writers, email communication is expected to grow steadily over the next five years as an increasing number of the world's population comes online. Despite the rapid pace at which technology moves, the world is still very much at the beginning of its digital revolution.
Spector is mostly known for his free newsletter For The Interested. However, he's been able to leverage his free audience into a myriad of paid opportunities such as consulting, cross-posting on Medium, publishing ebooks, classified ads, and subscriptions for his productivity newsletter. His current focus is increasing the total subscription revenue so that he can reduce his reliance on consulting clients and ads.
The Newsletter Crew offers four tactical steps to gaining an audience through Reddit. These include joining appropriate subreddits, increasing Karma through interactions, and strategically repurposing your newsletter content in posts. Although Reddit users can be unforgiving, the platform is often one of the simplest ways of accessing passionate niche communities.
You don't have to look far to bump into a story about Clubhouse's massive growth over the last year. This article takes a different approach by offering creators a practical guide to using the platform effectively. The author reviews a brief history of the tool, current opportunities for makers, and a high level view of how other social platforms are aiming to join the audio gold-rush.
The continent of Africa is often overlooked for the technological advancements happening across its massively diverse landscape. Yet, there are some challenges preventing the widespread adoption of mediums taken for granted in other parts of the world. David I. Adeleke addresses podcasting in particular, "podcasters in Africa have to deal with the high cost of data and inadequate phone features." Although this may slow podcast growth in the near term, obstacles like these often lead to newer solutions that improve upon (and at times, fully replace) their predecessors.
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