#155 — How to turn discovery into profit

In this issue, discover how landing pages can accelerate newsletter growth, why TikTok might be an untapped resource for publishers, and what's behind local news's resurgence.


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From TikTok videos to live audio rooms to viral articles, there is no shortage of ways for people to discover your work. The difference, then, between successful and unsuccessful publishers is how effectively they transform discoverability into profitability. This edition explores the devices helping publishers accomplish this feat, including landing pages, content funnels, and more.

💯 Top picks

How to increase your paid-for newsletter subscribers with landing pages (Part 1)

This week on the Ghost blog, landing page expert Rob Hope offers a series of tips to help newsletter authors grow faster by increasing their conversion rates. Hope's suggestions include customizing the call-to-action button, letting your personality shape the headline copy, and emphasizing the practical benefits of your newsletter.

The second part, How to increase paid-for newsletter subscribers with landing pages (Part 2), focuses on how creators can use "upgrade" pages to turn free subscribers into paying members. In the article, Hope explains seven elements that specifically influence purchasing behavior such as including a thought leader's testimonial or offering a discount for annual memberships.

💸 Business models

Strategies that make affiliate marketing work

Every reader touchpoint is an opportunity for creative monetization.

Affiliate marketing is becoming one of the most promising revenue streams for publishers, spurred on by the immense growth of e-commerce over the last decade. What's New in Publishing shares five distinct ways creators can incorporate affiliate links into their content, from passively linking to mentioned products to curating a collection of recommended items.

Related: Decisions, decisions: weighing up long-term revenue models in digital publishing — Journalism.co.uk

BuzzFeed will pay for user-contributed content this summer — up to $10,000 per post

Ever thought you could make a better quiz or list than BuzzFeed? Well, now is your chance. BuzzFeed announced a Summer Writer's Challenge that will pay contributors a fixed amount based on the number of pageviews their article receives, from $150 for <500,000 pageviews up to $10,000 for >4,000,000 pageviews. It's an exciting experiment both for the potential exposure it offers writers and to see whether the economics of it will end in BuzzFeed's favor.

I'm selling books on TikTok, no dancing (or crying) required

Visitors who come to my website from TikTok are ten times more likely to click through to purchase my book than those who come through targeted (and expensive) Facebook ads.

Author Jane Friedman recounts their experience using TikTok to reach a new, younger audience of readers. Friedman includes a number of tips that helped them gain traction on the platform even when they only had "five followers (two of my kids and three of their friends)." Their story is a reminder that attention is platform agnostic, and the best way to grow an audience is to set up camp where they already are.

Related: Video can help publishers’ subscription strategy (but it’s not for everyone) — What's New in Publishing

📝 Modern publishing

10 best interview questions to ask podcast guests

For many publishers, interviews are a core part of the research process. This guide offers ten questions used by podcasters that would also serve other creators well. Here are two examples of the questions included: What keeps you awake at night? and If you weren’t in your own profession/field, what other career would you pursue?

Related: Interview Kickstart, podcast kits, and more — IndieHackers

Bad blood? The Wall Street Journal apparently wants its reporters to pay to use their own reporting in books

In most cases, if you’re a journalist employed by a news organization, the copyright of your work belongs to the company, not you.

Journalists and their parent companies have shared a mutually beneficial relationship when it comes to book publishing: journalists get to expand and reuse their articles, and in turn, the company (newspaper, magazine, etc.) benefit from employing a high-profile writer. This symbiotic arrangement is now threatened by the stricter standards some publishers are enforcing.

Why has local news collapsed? Blame readers.

In this opinion piece from Politico, a media writer recounts how a preventable mix of apathy, poor business models, and misguided editors led to the current atmosphere local news finds itself in. One of the most interesting findings stated that "a 2018 Duke University study of 16,000 local news outlets in 100 communities deemed only about 17 percent of articles as truly local." Essentially, part of the reason local news "died" was because more of its content became regurgitated national news instead of focusing on local interests. This may clarify why the resurgence of local newsletters has seen success - because they fill a real need in the market.

Related: Six months after launching a local news company, here’s what I’ve learned — NiemanLab

📬 Email newsletters

Not a Newsletter — June edition

Dan Oshinsky's monthly resource included a number of valuable links and ideas, two of which are worth pointing out here. First, Oshinsky provides one of the most comprehensive explanations of how Apple's privacy settings will likely affect publishers. They also included several official statements on the issue from email service providers, such as Mailchimp and the CM Group. Second, Oshinsky dissects Axios Local's business model and argues for why it will succeed where other local initiatives have failed.

Related: Is my newsletter a failure if I don’t monetize it? — Dan Oshinsky on LinkedIn

The challenges of the subscription model in Africa

By asking your audience to pay for content, you are competing with the necessities of life.

David I. Adeleke dives into the unique economic factors facing content businesses in some African countries. For many, paying for content is a financial stretch. However, Adeleke points out that there are business models that would support publishers in these environments, such as the one used by the South African publication Daily Maverick.

Related: How to estimate membership revenue — The Membership Puzzle Project

9 free mini-lessons to grow your newsletter

Josh Spector released a series of short, actionable tips aimed at helping newsletter writers grow and connect with their audiences more efficiently. The tips are excerpts from Spector's accelerator course and include points learned from running three profitable publications.

Related: How Edwin Dorsey grew their newsletter to 750 paid subscribers — Twitter

💻 Technology

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg hosts first test of Live Audio Rooms in US

Facebook's Clubhouse clone is getting closer to public launch. The app's first live session included conversations between Zuckerberg, Facebook executives, and a selection of popular Facebook Gaming creators. It's likely the service will launch with a series of monetization tools for creators, similar to those available for streamers.

Deepfakes, disinformation and detection: How can journalists know what is real?

As the technology supporting AI creation advances, journalists are finding it more difficult to differentiate between what's real and what's not. However, technology is also being used to address this problem with tools like Factiverse, an AI-powered fact-checker that verifies the authenticity of claims at a speed impossible for news professionals to emulate.

Related: How to best combat fake news and misinformation online — What's New in Publishing

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