⛏️ How to carve your own creator path

What's simultaneously the best and scariest part of becoming an independent maker? Your journey won't look like anyone else's. Read on to learn how you can leverage this gift.

💬 In this week's issue:

  • Business vs. audience. Can one part of the journey distract you from the next?
  • Acquired. Get a sneak peek at one creator's strategy for growing and selling newsletters quickly.  
  • Part-time. See the often-overlooked benefits of balancing a creative side hustle with a full-time career.

🏙 Build a business, not an audience

Your main priority always should be to do meaningful things, to solve real-world problems.

Don't let the process distract you from the real goal.

When Jakob Greenfield wanted to create their own source of income, they kept running into the same suggestion:

The most common piece of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs has become that you should focus on building an audience. So when I started to get into entrepreneurship a few months ago, that’s exactly what I did.

For months, Greenfield experimented with posting content on various platforms. They grew a small following but were confused about what to do next. Their article about this experience contains some hard critiques of online content (some warranted, others not so much). But at the end of the day, they were missing a key point.

The creator journey is not linear. On Ghost's resources page, our team chose to organize the content into 4 collections: Getting started, Start publishing, Grow an audience, and Build a business. But, for most independent creators, these phases overlap, coincide, and blend together.

It's good to experiment with pricing as you publish your first posts; to test audience types as you find your voice; to evolve your content strategy as you discover what you even want to make in the first place.

Building an online audience shouldn't be a distraction from building a business. They should work together to serve the same goal. How you do that, and in what order, is up to you.

🗞 Latest tips & stories

🏷 How I sold my newsletter with Jeff Possiel

I think too often that newsletter creators, especially early on, focus too much on growth rather than value-add engagement.

Newsletter acquisitions are growing in popularity as individuals and businesses better recognize the value of a captive, reachable (with no algorithm to deal with), audience.

Jeff Possiel has been creating newsletters since 2014 and recently sold three of their projects:

  • Two newsletters for five-figure sums each.
  • One LinkedIn group with an attached newsletter for a six-figure sum.

Now, Possiel has found a formula that's worth emulating. This is the strategy they've used to start and grow more than a dozen projects over the years.

  1. Find active, growing communities on social platforms (Jeff's favorite is LinkedIn).
  2. Start a newsletter to serve only them.
  3. Use the early success to reach related groups and monetize the newsletter.

Starting with an audience is a surefire way to speed up your success. Whether your plan is to sell your creation or have it sustain your lifestyle, understanding who you're serving is the key.

⌚️ The rise of the everyday creator

There's a growing cohort of everyday creators—individuals working 9-to-5 jobs while spending early mornings, evenings, and weekends as influencers, streamers, writers, and podcasters.

There's an unspoken pressure to go "all-in" when you're creating online content — whether that's a newsletter, blog, video series, etc. Some people think that if your goal isn't to become a full-time creator, then what's the point in putting so much effort towards these side projects?

However, there are a host of benefits for those who pursue this balanced approach.

  • Maintaining a full-time job offers financial security, allowing you to take more creative risks.
  • Pursuing a side hustle offers more than just a monetary upside. There's creative expression, networking opportunities, and skill development.
  • Many creators are finding that building a digital brand has helped them progress in their career faster, or unlock opportunities they otherwise wouldn't have discovered.

As you consider what your journey may look like, avoid thinking in terms of black-and-white scenarios. In this era, your options really are as open as your imagination.

👀 Curators pick

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Create your brand: Launching a publication Start publishing: Creating content that works Grow an audience: Finding your true fans Build a business: Earning revenue from your work