💸 The best way to get paid to create

...is to make something you want to exist in the world. We overcomplicate what it takes to succeed online. This week, let's uncomplicate it.

💬 In this week's issue:

  • Puzzle-money. Learn why Wordle is so attractive to publishers.
  • 3-years and counting. Discover what a membership expert has to say about their success.
  • Drowning in data. See which numbers really matter for creators.

🟩 Why the New York Times has acquired Wordle

It speaks to NYT’s drive to acquire subscribers from non-news-related products.

We talk a lot about content in the creator economy: articles, videos, podcasts, etc. But what we don't talk enough about is why content works.

The driving force behind great content is attention. A well-edited video or expertly researched newsletter will hold people's attention longer than a poorly made one. It's more likely to be shared — gaining more attention in the process. And attention, not the content itself, is what transforms into revenue.

"NYT is transitioning from a news organization... to an attention-led publisher."

Now, there are pros and cons to this principle.

On the con-side, creators who build for attention by any means necessary quickly fall prey to spammy, dangerous, or even illegal content.

On the pro-side, setting attention as your filter can free you up to create things you may otherwise not have considered.  That's why the New York Times can publish long-form, investigative journalism AND 30-second word games and still succeed massively.

If you tried something out of the ordinary with your creative work, what would it be?

🗞 Latest tips & stories

🏯 Roden: Insights from three years of running memberships

Memberships enable everything I do. I mean that. It provides the full financial (and emotional) backing to do all the weird stuff I do each year.

Craig Mod is an incredible artist and one of the few membership experts worth listening to (although, I doubt they'd call themself an expert). Mod recently released survey results that shed light on why their premium membership and products have done so well.

Here are a few highlights.

  • The "jobs to be done" theory.  Here's how Mod explains it:
Folks don’t “buy” stuff, they “hire” stuff. So goes the prime example: You don’t “buy” a milkshake from McDonald’s, you “hire” it to do the job of “satiating your hunger".

Once you fully grasp what "job" your newsletter, YouTube channel, or any other content does — you'll be well on your way to turning it into a thriving business.

  • Unlocking the commons. When asked what the most valuable "perk" of membership was, 87% of Mod's audience responded "Enabling my public-facing work to be free for everyone."

This wasn't by chance. It was the primary reason Mod started the membership in the first place. As you think through what you'd like your offering to be, be honest — what's the best-case scenario? What would you love to create and for who? If what you're building doesn't excite you, why bother?

  • Cultural translator. Finally, Craig Mod's audience loved the Japan-focused content, which only came about because Mod traveled there and decided to invite others in (e.g., the bridge-building method mentioned in last week's issue).  

The best advice is usually the simplest. Create what you can with the skills you have for the people you know (Source).

📊 Data is good; Decisions are better

I can get you as much data as you want, but you won’t actually use it all, so let’s figure out what you actually need.

It's easy to become obsessed with data-driven decisions. Depending on the industry you come from, it can be a revolutionary idea. However, it doesn't take long until everything turns into a data point.

Many people believe more data = better strategy. It's a belief many new creators hold as well. But in reality, an obsession with information is usually a distraction from output.

There's absolutely a time to evaluate the impact of your efforts, but it's further down the road than most people think. Until you've published 50-100 posts, or achieved 1,000 email subscribers, or created consistently for an entire year — the data you have just isn't that important.

If you really want to move your business forward, do the work.

👀 Curators pick

The more specific your to-do's, the more likely they are to get done.

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