#158 — Why size doesn't matter for strategic publishers

The latest issue offers a step-by-step process for landing your first newsletter sponsor, a template for communicating your unique value, and tips for leveraging social media effectively.


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The challenges new publishers face don't simply disappear once they achieve a certain subscriber base. From betting on different monetization methods to testing what kind of content your audience prefers, publishers big and small often learn lessons through the same process, even if the scale of their results differs. In this issue of Publisher Weekly, discover how you can perform like the leaders in your space, regardless of your size.

💯 Top picks

How to get paid sponsorships for your email newsletter

As a follow-up to last week's newsletter sponsorship article, this piece offers a 5-step process for landing your first sponsor. The article includes tips on deciding which format of sponsored content makes sense, pricing strategies for growing publications, and a curated list of sponsor databases.

💸 Business models

Bundling products to boost subscription conversions

I like to think about this as sort of coming for the content, but staying for the perks.

Bundles are a powerful marketing tactic that more publishers are beginning to harness for growth. Established publications, like The Atlantic, entice subscribers by bundling both digital and print subscriptions into one price. Outside, an outdoor sports magazine, offers subscribers a variety of perks such as access to an exclusive app and reduced ticket fees for events. Consider what meaningful, tangential benefits you may be able to offer readers to increase conversions.

Discovering a value proposition

The Membership Project breaks down exactly what goes into forming a distinct value proposition, how membership differs from a paywall, and why most creators begin with the wrong question in mind. Of particular use in the article is a template for wording one's value proposition: Our [product or service] helps [user] who wants to [need] by [verb] [user pain] and by increasing [user gain].

Related: Rethinking the way we write for the paywall age — What's New In Publishing

The Information is launching its first standalone publication

It's the first time the company is charging for content separately from its roughly $400 annual professional subscription fee.

The Information is betting big on niche publications. In addition to their standard offering, they plan to build a suite of industry-specific newsletters — each run as their own separate entities. Smaller publishers should take note, the more specific your content, the more likely you are to stand out in today's market, no matter the size of your operation.

📝 Modern publishing

TikTok is taking the book industry by storm, and retailers are taking notice

The app has been pivotal for introducing younger audiences to reading.

NBC News reported a significant uptick in book sales due to #BookTok, a community of creators releasing book-related content on TikTok. This trend is a reminder that new technology rarely replaces its predecessors. Instead, competing platforms (like books and short-form videos) find ever-evolving ways to coexist.

Related: Substack signs ex-Forbes writer as it seeks to disrupt book publishing — New York Post

Takeaways from the Reuters Digital News Report 2021

Matthew Lynes summarizes the most significant findings from the Reuters report first mentioned in Issue #156. The following points were included in Lynes digest:

  • Most news is consumed through mobile devices,
  • News aggregators are shrinking amidst users going directly to the source,
  • And the majority of news consumption happens on social media (industry officials call this "side door access").

Why German newspaper Bild is looking to venture into TV news

The German brand Bild plans to move into television primarily to "increase its number of revenue streams to shore up its future." However, the company is not blindly jumping into uncharted territory. According to their data, "eight of the top ten best-converting content was video-related." By building upon this success, they hope to carve out an advantage over other publishers who may not be able to afford large video productions.  

📬 Email newsletters

How to build an audience when your topic is you

Your home page can’t just talk about you and your stories. It needs to say who they’re for, how they provide value, etc.

Josh Spector replies to a reader question about marketing story-based newsletters. There is a growing interest in this niche since most newsletters focus on individual topics, and there doesn't appear to be many memoir-like digital publications. Spector's advice boils down to remembering that our personal stories only matter insomuch as they help, educate, or entertain a reader.

How to use Twitter to build your email list

Alyssa Dulin gathers the tactics working on Twitter right now for growing creators. These include standard tips, such as tweeting consistency and presenting clear call-to-actions at regular intervals. Additionally, Dulin also discusses how tweet threads are getting disproportionately more attention and why they should be a part of every publisher's strategy.

Related: Two social media platforms you need to make content for when you have zero followers — GaryVee TV

18 questions to help you hire a great writer (...or become one)

The Contentfolks newsletter shares a thorough checklist of questions to help leaders or writers ensure their content accomplishes its purpose. If you do not write your content each week, this is especially useful to make sure the content team's priorities align with your business goals.

💻 Technology

Find your dream job with TikTok resumes

TikTok released a U.S. job board where companies (e.g., Chipotle, Great Clips, Target) post open positions, and users apply for the jobs with short-form video resumes. Social media platforms are increasingly becoming all-in-one solutions for the new generation. The publishers who understand this point, and iterate around it, will win.

What is your newsroom’s audio strategy?

Although podcasting may be seen as the underdog in terms of digital content types, it's quickly becoming a necessity for every content-focused business. This resource pulls together several valuable guides, tool lists, and technical walkthroughs to help new podcasters hit the ground running.  

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