#170 — How to unbundle your way to an audience

In this edition of Publisher Weekly, find the best newsletter directories for your publication, learn why consistency trumps strategy, and take a look at how unbundling is changing how we think about business.


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Unbundling means to take a slice of your competitor's pie, one small aspect, and do it better than them. In this week's issue, dive into the creators and companies doing exactly that, and winning big as a result.

📣 Exciting things are coming to Publisher Weekly. Next week, keep an eye out for the next iteration of this newsletter. Don't worry, we'll still be delivering the excellent content you expect, only now with a new format, look, and name!

💯 Top picks

How to get discovered in newsletter directories (+ a complete list)

Online directories can be a powerful discovery tool when used correctly. The latest article from the Ghost blog provides a list of the top 30 directories for newsletter authors, as well as a best practices guide when listing your publication.

Related: How to get your first 1,000 email subscribers — Ghost

💸 Business models

On publishing 100 articles in 100 days and crossing $100K ARR: Anne-Laure Le Cunff's story

Consistency trumps strategy.

Anne-Laure Le Cunff was recently profiled on Indie Hackers where they shared their story of growing a newsletter and community to six figures in under two years. The piece is filled with practical advice, such as how the author balanced their side project with full-time work, how they chose what to work on, and what advice they have for those just starting out.

Related: How to make it as an artist: Stop following the rules — Autonomous Creative

A labor movement for the platform economy

Li Jin explains how the future of independent and creative work will rely on individuals taking more control of the platforms they utilize. The article cites the recent protests of DoorDash and Twitch as examples of how users can influence the algorithms they work with. Still, owning your platform is the best way to build a sustainable income online.

Related: It's time for new marketing metaphors — Contentfolks

Single-topic news organizations are “a growing niche” in nonprofit news

The number of single-topic nonprofit news organizations has quadrupled since 2008.

It used to be that businesses won because of their size and breadth. Newspapers, cable networks, and even technology companies won by having their hand in as many segments of the market as possible. Now, the opposite is true. Ben Thompson calls it The Great Unbundling. Expect this trend to grow as even more populations come online for the first time.

📝 Modern publishing

How Axios is tackling local news: newsletters from small teams, in more markets

Instead of building large, centralized teams, Axios aims to build a legion of small, localized newsrooms. This approach will allow them to keep costs down while expanding their reach into new markets quickly. This is another perfect example of the idea that as the internet gets bigger, one should think smaller.

Related: How Social Spider is making local news commercially viable — WNiP

Time partners with Charter to expand into future of work coverage

Traditional publishing is willing to experiment more than ever before. Time announced they'd be partnering with Charter to "distribute its content across Time's owned and operated channels." It's worth noting that this is not an acquisition, as they wrote there is "no financial exchange in this partnership." However, the collaboration certainly lays the groundwork for future monetizable endeavors.

Related: Leah Finnegan is rebuilding Gawker with her editorial vision front and center — Digiday

How to find interesting and unique sources and case studies

Journo Resources compiled a guide for new journalists to help them find sources while working remotely. The pandemic changes how many in the industry conducted their research since in-person meetings became unfeasible. It's a useful guide for those that want to better leverage social media and digital communities.

📬 Email newsletters

A six-part course on the key knowledge independent writers need to build a newsletter

Jasmine Sun highlights an in-depth resource for newsletter creators. The tweet thread links to various parts of a free course published by Substack, which helps users develop their strategy from the ground up: from finding their first readers, to knowing when and how to monetize their audience.  

Related: How to set goals in a way that helps you accomplish them — For The Interested

Tim Soulo, CMO of Ahrefs, shares their best tips for leveraging SEO as a new writer. They break down the most common link-building tactics into four categories: add, ask, buy, and earn. Even for veteran publishers, this is a resource worth revisiting.

How publishers can use audio to spark greater audience engagement

Although audio may seem like the underdog medium at times, there are numerous ways to leverage it without simply turning your written content into a podcast. This article puts forth several creative ideas, such as capturing audio reviews from readers, using voice memos for interviews and quotes, and hosting audio-only events (such as those made possible by Twitter spaces).

💻 Technology

Google Search to get 1,000 times more powerful

With this new capability, a user can look for something that might be difficult to describe accurately with words alone.

Google recently announced "a new technology called Multitask Unified Model, or MUM for short" that will help them move into the future of search. Essentially, AI will help users search for things using images, words, and combinations of the two. The goal is to help people find what they're looking for in "fewer searches." It's a fascinating improvement that will be sure to impact how content is made in the years to come.

How to drive business results with analytics

What's New in Publishing identifies nine action steps publishers can take to capture better analytics in a cookie-less future. They include focusing on fewer data points, investing in strategic tag management, and working with external analytics experts.

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