Newsletter editors are the new power brokers at newspapers
We’re going to see newsletters amass their own gravitational pull, thereby transforming the newsletter editor into the new power broker.
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Digiday: The New York Times aims to convert newsletter readers into paid subscribers as The Morning newsletter tops 1 billion opens
We keep seeing more and more evidence that the best way to convert someone into a paying subscriber is to first get them to sign up for your free newsletter.
In fact, I think we’re going to see newsletters amass their own gravitational pull, thereby transforming the newsletter editor into the new power broker.
Just as print newspaper were oriented around the daily front page meeting, we’re going to see reporters and editors lobbying newsletter editors for key placement. Big feature articles will be timed to go live shortly before a daily newsletter gets sent out. Newsletter editors will get primed days in advance when a big editorial project is coming down the pipeline.
Newsletters are also going to develop more personality, similar to what you see with TV broadcasts and podcasts. That’s why The New York Times refers to its morning newsletter editor David Leonhardt as a “host,” and it’s why in a recent edition of the morning newsletter Leonhardt started it with a long essay about a 1,600 mile road trip he took to get his mother vaccinated. It’s all about forming a deeper connection with the reader and increasing the likelihood of a paid conversion.
Announcing a new creator spotlight feature
I cover a lot of aspects of the media industry, but one of the sectors that excites me the most is the emerging creator economy. Creators are basically one-person media companies, responsible for everything from content creation to audience development to monetization. They have so much to teach us about how to build bootstrapped content businesses.
That’s why I’m excited to announce a new regular creator spotlight feature. It basically starts with me asking the creator a few basic questions about how they launched their podcast/YouTube channel/newsletter, how they grew their audience, and how they monetized it. I then turn it over to the audience to ask the creator questions. Here are the first two creator spotlights:
How Jane Friedman built her book industry newsletter The Hot Sheet [link]
How Bob Cesca built a paid membership for his politics podcast [link]
Could you do me a favor and go in and ask them some really good questions to answer? I want to be able to point to these spotlights as examples for when I try to get more creators on board with participating.
Cherie Hu is a great example of how creators who don't already have huge followings can build paid subscription businesses. Hu started the newsletter as a way to promote her freelance journalism, but moved more and more of her longform reporting onto the newsletter itself.
Today, Hu generates $12,000 a month on Patreon, but she ran Water & Music for years as a free newsletter, and then spent two years building up the paid version into a sustainable business. It really is about delivering value over and over and over again until your audience finally begins to acknowledge that your content is worth paying for.
How Kent Anderson became a watchdog over the scholarly publishing industry
Most people reading this won’t know who Kent Anderson is, but if you work in the insular world of scholarly publishing, you almost certainly do. Through his blog and newsletter, Anderson has become one of the leading journalists that covers one of the world’s most influential industries.
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Bloomberg is just such a well diversified business across its terminals, digital subscriptions, TV channel, and advertising.
I mostly agree with this assessment. Apple TV+ isn't trying to compete with Netflix or HBO Max. It's trying to provide additive value to make the entire Apple ecosystem more enticing so you'll buy more Apple products.
From the article: "The [New York Times] is trying to convince its reporters, many of whom had gotten used to live-tweeting analysis and nuggets of information, that they should be sharing those same things using the Times’ formats on its sites instead."
Want to join my private Facebook group?
I only promote it in this newsletter, and it’s grown to over 450 members, almost all of whom work in the media industry. It’s a great place for people to swap trade secrets and discuss industry news. Go here to join: [Facebook]
Five or six years ago, there were lots of hand wringing opinion pieces about the death of the open web, but the resurgence of newsletters and paid subscription strategies is resulting in publishers reinvesting in their core websites.
Adding paywalled tweets to the timeline seems like a no brainer to me. I could definitely see Twitter integrating the paywall with Revue so that your paying subscribers also get access to your paywalled tweets in addition to your paid newsletters.
So let’s say you’re an entertainment writer who writes a newsletter on Revue. One of the benefits you could offer to subscribers is the ability to see your paywalled tweets as you live tweet your favorite TV shows. The same goes for a financial writer who paywalls his live tweets of a company’s quarterly earnings call. It would provide great additive value to an already-existing newsletter subscription.
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