Entrepreneur: Trish Witkowski
Biz: Fold Factory
Tilt: Creative folded solutions
Rev Streams: Videos, events, licensed content, books, courses
Our Favorite Actionable Advice
- Don’t expect big success right away: Trish found a unique content tilt, but her potential audience hadn’t yet realized they wanted it. So she devoted more time to education.
- Deliver content consistently: Creating a weekly series allowed Fold Factory to develop a loyal fan base, an audience that looks forward to the content. That’s why Trish feels a responsibility to make sure she doesn’t miss a week.
- Don’t give up on poor-performing good content: Throwing your hands up isn’t the best option if a good content asset fails to deliver. Tweak it, update the title, or edit the description, then release it back into the world.
Trish Witkowski knows more about brochure folding than anyone else in the world. Over 20 years ago, she chose it as the focus for her master’s degree thesis.
“There just was nothing available on the topic,” she says. “I was working as a designer. I didn’t know what my options were. So, it really was my own curiosity. I wanted to know how many folding styles are there for brochures and the field was wide open.”
It went from a thesis project to a passion project, then a side hustle, and finally a full-time content business for more than 10 years. She had high hopes early on. “I thought I’d be a huge success,” Trish explains. It started as a software company that built templates for folded materials, and Trish wrote a book on it too.
She thought, “Wow. Nobody else has ever documented this. I’m going to be a big hit.” But then reality hit. Since nobody had ever done it, the audience wasn’t ready for it. “You have to teach them how to use it. There’s a learning curve I didn’t see at the time,” Trish says.
Her mission shifted to one that would change the conversation, to prove the value to marketers of doing something different with their brochure folding. To bring it to the mainstream, she started doing videos.
Now 12 years later, she’s produced over 550 weekly videos, and Fold Factory is a full-fledged content business with a diversified revenue stream. She has sponsors, sells products, does events, licenses her content, writes books, and creates courses.
Creating her identity
Trish understands the value behind a brand identity. Her videos are designed to establish ownership and authority in the space. “It’s given me opportunities to get out there and get in front of people in lots of different ways,” she says.
Focused on publishing one video every week is a deliberate strategy. As Trish explains: “If I was designing and sharing a bunch of things that I was doing, I don’t think it’s as interesting.” Instead, people look forward to the video, wondering who will be on the show, what the fold will be, etc. She creates the element of surprise.
And it’s not just about the fold and guests; it’s also about Trish’s T-shirt. In each video, she wears a different fun T-shirt with a fold-related message, such as “Fold your horses,” “This too shall fold,” and “This is my resting fold face.”
“It became kind of my hook. People watch just as much to see what I’m showing, but they also get a kick out of the shirts,” she says.
Her business and process
The shirts tell another story, too – Trish’s money-saving, DIY approach to the business. She used to order her shirts online, but they cost $22 each. So now, she buys a shirt at a local crafts store, prints and cuts the vinyl words, then irons them to the shirt.
“I’m kind of a one-woman show,” she says. “I write, shoot photos and video, I produce my own videos. I do my own video work. I have a pretty sophisticated photo and video studio in my house.”
Trish doesn’t use a script in her videos. She prefers to memorize the specs around the project and reflect on what she wants to say before she turns on her cameras. Yes, “cameras” is plural. She’s expanded to a multi-camera shoot for different angles.
“I have a formula with my show. It’s an inspiration-plus-education model. And I’m always sharing the creative side plus the under-the-hood production to try to help people learn,” Trish says.
Once the video is shot, she gets down to work in editing it, then moves onto the email for subscribers, writing the story and detailing the specs, parts, and pieces. “I’ve gotten it down to a science,” Trish says. And she does that every week.
“When you have a show that you have committed to, that people rely on … you don’t get to skip a week when you don’t feel like doing it or when you’re tired,” she says. “You can’t cut corners, and you have to be consistently good and have good energy every time.”
While Trish focuses on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Pinterest, her strongest platform is YouTube. She also creates courses for LinkedIn Learning, where over 65K have taken one of her folding classes. “If I had made my own course on my own platform, I don’t think I would have gotten the same views or visibility that I’ve gotten on LinkedIn Learning,” she says.
She’s also learned she can’t be everywhere. “I’ve tried to really be as good as I can be in few places,” Trish says. “I’ve found that I’m really focused now on blogging because I can embed my videos in there and have them more searchable.”
Advice for content entrepreneurs
Her advice for content entrepreneurs just starting out?
Be organized. “I don’t care what platform you’re on; think about how you might use your content in the future. Put in the time to be organized as you go along because it’s really, really hard to go back and do it later,” she says.
Don’t give up right away on good content that performed poorly. “Instead of saying, ‘Well, did that. It failed.’ Try again. Do something else with it,” Trish says. Change the thumbnail, write a different description, rework it a little. Then put it back out and see what happens.
About the author
Ann regularly combines words and strategy for B2B, B2C, and nonprofits, continuing to live up to her high school nickname, Editor Ann. An IABC Communicator of the Year and founder of G Force Communication, Ann coaches and trains professionals in all things content. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.