These are the most important things we’ve read over a year of putting this newsletter together, and the most interesting ideas and inspiration for shaping the future of independent publishing.
Happy Holidays - See you in January 🎄❤️
💯 Top reads of 2019
Building an audience for your work is easier and harder than it’s ever been. It’s easier because we have the tools and resources, and harder because there’s a scarcity of attention. This piece discusses how Kevin Kelly’s well-read article, 1,000 true fans, relates to the modern publisher.
We loved this honest article from data scientist and author of Normcore Tech Vicki Boykis, who shares an unfiltered account of how her independent paid newsletter is doing, and what she’d need to turn it into a full-time income.
3. [Podcast] How the right audience development strategy can boost engagement, revenue and retention
This 40 minute podcast with the founder and CEO of News Revenue Hub covers many of the biggest questions facing publishers of all shapes and sizes who are actively building and growing memberships.
This article includes a lot of actionable advice for independent publishers who want to stand out from the crowd and serve a very specific audience. Independent publishers need to adopt these changes to survive in a new world of memberships and subscriptions.
Insights from a successful digital subscriptions business: Kjersti Thorneus from Schibsted explores the top 3 challenges the publisher is facing. This is a 47 minute video that you don’t want to miss.
Morning Brew’s Austin Rief speaks to the Digiday podcast about running a sustainable and profitable email-first media business, competing with big media, and building a subscription business with minimal resources.
Independent publishers with a membership business have the benefit of being able to take (or leave) advice from observing the footsteps of large scale publishers, like The New York Times. Research into a number of these publications found that those who give away less content for free, are doing better. Asking your readers to pay can really pay off!
“On August 15, 2018, we announced to attendees of our Media Gathering event in Cape Town the start of our adventures into membership for Daily Maverick. At the time we weren’t entirely sure how we were going to fund December’s payroll. Now, with more than 7,000 members joining us and a 75 percent growth in headcount since we started, things look a lot brighter.”
“If the last wave of the internet empowered big businesses over small ones, it is possible that the next wave of the internet could easily end up doing the opposite—flipping the relative balance of power back toward small proprietors.”Move over mega-companies! We’re really excited by this take from The Information, about the next wave of the internet being one where independent businesses start to grow 💪
10. Winners and losers of the subscription frenzy: Publishers need a unique, explicit value proposition
“The internet for news is closing. In the wake of the global failure for digital advertising, publishers are putting their hopes in subscriptions.”The key differentiators for successful subscriptions include trust, uniqueness, perceived value and customer care.
Journalism needs a new business model. Hell, it need many new models. Here’s a bunch of them from news:rewired in a succinct roundup by Adam Tinworth.
Getting started with a membership business is one thing - once you’re there, how do you measure it? The Membership Puzzle Project shared a number of great articles in the past year, this was one of our favourites: Loyalty is membership’s North Star.
The $2.5m crowdfunding campaign raised by De Correspondent to launch an English version of the publication was a hot topic earlier in the year. We enjoyed this podcast with Jessica Best about successful communication.
Surprise: “Subscribers who read many stories per visit and read them thoroughly were no more likely to keep their subscriptions than those who skimmed.”
You can lose a large percentage of your readers for every extra second your page takes to load, and increase search-engine performance drastically with every site performance improvement you make. Keep your website simple, user-friendly, and focus on creating great content!
This year at Ghost we made one of our biggest announcements to date, and introduced memberships and subscriptions to the software. Ghost can now power membership businesses of all kinds. You can now also run a members-only newsletter, exactly like this one, with native emails.
We’re really excited to see how independent publishers use these features to tell their stories.