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From Apple's premium podcast surprise to the TikTok exodus, this issue captures the biggest moves happening across the publishing space. Regardless of medium, attention is currency in the content world. Those who understand how to attract it, direct it, and capitalize on it will inevitably shape the future of publishing.
💯 Top picks
You can offer shows with paid subscriptions, or fans can listen to free shows that come with additional benefits when they subscribe.
There were a few key reveals during Apple's recent virtual event: candy-color iMacs, an M1 iPad Pro, and a subscription solution for Apple Podcasts. The last of which is significant because Apple is offering audio creators a viable alternative to ad-only revenue models. This change will dramatically shake up the podcasting landscape, similar to how membership options have changed the way publishers and writers monetize their work online.
Useful tip: Turning your written content into audio content, by reading it aloud or using it as a conversation starter with guests, can be a great way to reach new audiences through content repurposing. It could be a good time to experiment with this opportunity since there will be a renewed interest in the format due to Apple's announcement.
💸 Business models
All these things are pointing in this one direction of making the creator economy bigger and helping more creative people do what they do best.
Jack Conte, CEO of Patreon, was recently interviewed by Yahoo Finance to give their take on the recent explosion of creator-oriented startups. Conte's main takeaway was that all of the competition would ultimately produce better tools, career paths, and monetization models for creators.
Digiday examines the trend of growing TikTokers leaving the platform once they've amassed significant followings. As YouTube-native, Facebook-native, and Instagram-native creators discovered previously, building a business on a platform you don't own is not only unsustainable but dangerous. Inevitable changes to the algorithm, competing platforms, and newer creators all present significant challenges to the success of a brand. That is why serious publishers must own their platform from day one. Social media can be a great discovery channel, so long as the audience is then directed to a creator-owned home base.
📝 Modern publishing
Independent writers are joining forces to create networks of shared resources to make it easier to strike out on their own.
A recent trend highlighted by Axios is an increasing number of writers opting to work in collectives versus personality-driven solo ventures. One of the most successful examples of this is the publication Every, which boasts 21 writers across a bundle of 12 interdependent publications. Cooperatives provide individual writers with more support along with a better distribution of tasks. However, personality, quality, and goal differences are likely to arise.
Experimentation became the default mode for many traditional media companies as they struggled to keep their lights on amidst the pandemic. A few of these experiments led to new content formats, novel ways of engaging audiences, and surprising marketing tactics. This article's summary of the innovations may spark experimentation ideas for you to try.
This week, Nieman Lab refuted the published findings of the American Press Institute's recent study on journalistic values (see Publisher Weekly Issue #146). Nieman's argument was that API skewed the statistics in order to present a problem that doesn't exist. Mathematically, the majority of American's prioritize exactly the same values, regardless of their political views. This story is a good reminder of the truth in Mark Twain's quote, “Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable.”
📬 Email newsletters
In this personal essay by Web Smith, founder of 2pm, they detail the emotional, financial, and mental challenges it took to build their publication from a solo operation into a team of 10+ creators. Smith also reflects on the pros and cons of such growth, noting the transition from creator to leader as one not every writer will want to make.
Related: How to stop doing so many stories
The Newsletter Fest hosted by Curated brought together several influential speakers in the digital publishing space to share their wisdom, including Dan Oshinsky, Anum Hussain, Ryan Johnston, and many more. All of their recorded Zoom sessions are now available on YouTube through the above link. If you're unsure where to begin, the session titled 4 newsletter business models is an excellent starting point.
Kindle Vella is Amazon’s response to a number of similar platforms that have sprung up over the years, such as Radish, WebNovel, and Wattpad.
Vella is a new Amazon platform for sharing and selling short, serialized publications. While the tool is primarily aimed at fiction writers, it does present opportunities for non-fiction writers to learn how to make their publications more compelling (e.g., using overarching narratives to connect individual posts). Furthermore, this move by Amazon supports that there is a growing demand for episodic reading material.
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