#78 — What 1000 true fans means for today's journalism startups

Happy Sunday everyone - thanks for tuning in for this week’s issue. This week’s top read is 🔥make sure you check that one out. In addition to that we’ve shared stories about subscriber growth, retaining subscribers & a handy user research workflow template that you can use for free.

PS, we have an exciting announcement coming up at Ghost next week. Watch this space 👀

💯 Top picks

What 1000 true fans means for today’s journalism startups

“You don’t need a million casual readers, just 1000 committed ones”. Phillip Smith wrote this fascinating essay about the concept of getting 1000 true fans for startups in publishing, making one key point: you don’t need to chase a daunting goal, it’s entirely possible to build a successful business around a more attainable number of “true fans”.

💸 Business models

Turn passive readers into engaged members with these tips

Onboarding campaigns, special rewards and extra benefits are some of the key things you can do to increase engagement and retention. Find out more from this piece from the Reader Revenue Toolkit.

How TechCrunch uses product perks to drive paid subscriptions

Speaking of extra benefits – TechCrunch has begun offering extra perks to annual members of Extra Crunch, such as two free months of Aircall, 6 free months with Zendesk and $1000 dollars of AWS credits.

How news publishers are chasing international subscriber growth

“For news publishers chasing digital subscriber growth, international readers are playing an important and growing role.”

Why it’s so hard to scale paid podcast subscriptions

This piece from WNIP by Simon Ownes explores why it’s hard to monetise with subscriptions for content that isn’t text based – with Podcasters and YouTubers relying on ads, or selling to a major streaming service. Fragmented podcast listening apps make this even more difficult by adding increased friction.

✍️ Modern journalism

How we built a system to let our teams run their own user research projects

WhereBy.Us run five local media brands with a small team and minimal resources, so they put together documentation and ran user research training to empower their small teams. This article explains how and why they did it – plus they’ve shared a full worksheet so you can follow in their footsteps.

Journalism’s Dunbar number: Audience scales, community does not

Evolutionary science came up with a theory that the limit of close social relationships a human can maintain is 150. This article explores the notion that there’s a similar number in media for building communities, and to extend this number, you’ll need more than a marketing campaign.

👩‍💻 Technology

Tim Berners-Lee unveils global plan to save the web

“Inventor of web calls on governments and firms to safeguard it from abuse and ensure it benefits humanity.”

Platforms and publishers: The end of an era

“The relationship between technology platforms and news publishers is entering a new moment.”

This Tow Center Report investigates the end of the advertising revenue “bubble” and how publishers are dealing with a new sense of distrust in platforms.

Happy 25th anniversary, banner ads – now it’s time to retire

“While banner ads are past their prime, we wouldn’t be in this golden age of digital content marketing without them.”

Keyword block lists still cause headaches for publishers

“Publishers are being penalised more than ever over blunt brand safety tools that rely on lengthy keyword blacklists.”

🤷 WTF?

Opinion: Care about journalism? Maybe you should cancel your newspaper

“It’s not a popular thing to say, but journalism may be approaching the point where dedicated news consumers might take a hard look at their local newspaper and—in the interest of better journalism—cancel their subscriptions.”

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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