Issue #165 — Is trying to be original hurting your growth?

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Should you copy what works or try to build something unique? It's a dilemma every creator faces on their journey. However, the best answer to this either-or question is often both. There are best practices most every creator will benefit from implementing and areas where the more divergent you can be, the better. It's a balancing act that requires time, patience, and experimentation. This week's collection of resources will help you navigate this challenge.

💯 Top picks

How to build an online community around your content

Online communities are a powerful amplifier. They can supercharge your audience’s loyalty, trust, and engagement with your content.

The latest post from the Ghost blog explores how digital communities can help you reach your business goals. The article includes a 6-step process creators can use to start, grow, and sustain healthy online groups. Plus, there's also a useful guide for deciding whether or not your community should be free or paid.

💸 Business models

Why does every newsletter signup page look the same?

Kolby Hatch, formerly of The Hustle, dissects the 4 elements every newsletter landing page needs and why it's okay for them to look similar. This tweet thread is full of useful images and insights from their time growing The Hustle into the 1.5 million subscriber behemoth it is today.

Serialized books are a burgeoning business

Authors are experimenting with serialized versions of their book in the newsletter format. This article highlights a number of experiments currently happening in the space, such as writer Anand Giridharadas re-releasing chapters of their 2014 book in short-form posts on Substack. Publishers are treating the medium as a marketing channel for the books themselves, but some authors believe the practice could replace print editions completely.

The golden rule

Rob Hardy of Ungated explains the dangers of falling for the allure of "growth hacking" and why treating your fans the way you want to be treated is the only sustainable path to growth. Hardy writes,

If another marketer used this tactic on you, would you appreciate it? Would it improve your relationship with them? Would it make you a true fan? If the answer is no, don’t do it to your own fans. It’s that simple.

📝 Modern publishing

A list of words that every new journalist needs to know

Journo Resources compiled a list of 28 industry terms every news-focused writer should be familiar with. The glossary includes items such as:

  • NIBs — The term used for news in brief. These are short stories of typically less than 100 words.
  • Splash — The story on the front page of a newspaper/magazine.
  • Strapline — A little headline that goes over the main headline.

Commerce is now a revenue stream for a majority of publishers

In a research study by Digiday, they found that the number of publishers utilizing e-commerce as a revenue stream has more than doubled in the last six months. This trend has proven to be successful in other industries, such as with fast food companies selling apparel and accessories. Businesses are starting to understand the power of brand awareness and how it can be leveraged beyond one's typical products.

Related: Digital publishing revenues up by 31.9% in the UK — WNIP

4 ways publishers can capitalize on demand for live streaming

Live streaming has its advantages over traditional video content: it can be delivered quickly, requires less production time and skills, and can drive higher engagement. This article shows how publishers are making use of this technology to not only reach their current audience but to also drive subscription growth.

📬 Email newsletters

Gain newsletter subscribers from your Twitter profile

Last week, Revue announced that users can now integrate directly with Twitter. This enables users to add newsletter subscription boxes to their profiles. Even for those who do not use Revue directly, the service can be linked through Zapier to other email platforms (such as Ghost).

The most profitable newsletters have multiple revenue streams

Louis Nicholls of SparkLoop shares their insights from building products in the newsletter space. Nicholls's main observation is that once creators surpass the 10k mark of subscribers, it becomes increasingly beneficial to expand their product range. The most underrated market opportunity is for the "0.1-1% of subs who will pay for high-ticket products."

💻 Technology

How to use Linkedin creator mode

Social Media Examiner explains how to use the new creator mode on Linkedin profiles. The new setting enables users to add multiple items to their profile: a 30-second video, up to 5 relevant hashtags, social proof elements, and a follow button that can appear on every post you publish.

Substack begins accepting bitcoin payments

The option is currently available only to a select group of crypto-focused publications.

Substack recently announced they would begin working with OpenNode to allow cryptocurrency payments for access to newsletters. The initiative is still in the early stages of development and only open to a small group of users. It's worth noting that several intermediaries are required to make these transactions work, a farcy from being a peer-to-peer solution.

Crux is a startup that is using natural language processing technology to gamify the way visitors interact with the content on websites. They've "developed a widget that calculates a user’s 'knowledge score' on a particular news topic and nudges them into bettering that score by reading more articles." This feature shows promise for updating a space that has remained static for some time.

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