OCTOBER 22, 2021

Welcome to The Tilt, a twice-weekly newsletter for content entrepreneurs. Each edition is packed with the latest news, strategies, and tactics, plus inspiring creator stories and exclusive education, all to help you create, grow, and monetize better.

Features in this issue (view online):

full tilt

Don’t Just Grow an Audience, Create a Community

Audience and community are not the same thing. Yes, they’re related, but they’re not synonymous.

Your audience often is your content business’ primary asset – they’re the number that attracts advertisers and sponsors, and likely determines what they will pay.

Your community is the lifeblood of your business – they’re the people who engage with you, your content, and each other to ultimately sustain and grow your business.

An audience is a transactional relationship. A community involves mutually beneficial relationships.

If you’re in business for the long haul, a community will make that possible.

Tilt Advice

1. Detail the reasons for creating a community. What does your business want to achieve? What will community members get from it? You must account for both the business and the audience’s goals when creating your community. Otherwise, it won’t work.

Use this information to write a mission statement for the community.

2. Determine admission criteria (if there should be). Do you want anyone who can access the site to be allowed to participate? Or do you want the community to be a subscriber-only benefit? Can community members invite others to join?

3. Establish community guidelines. It’s better to establish operational and behavioral parameters, along with the ramifications if they’re violated, before a problem arises.

4. Pick a primary community platform. Look for a platform that your community could easily use (or is familiar with) and lets you achieve the reasons for creation, such as a Facebook Group, Twitch, Slack channel, Discord server, etc.

5. Start building the community. Potential community members will likely check it out before they decide to interact or join. You want to make sure there is something for them to see.

6. Go for launch. If possible, create an exclusive private launch to entice your subscribers or dedicated audience members to check it out. After a week or so, open it up to a wider group.

7. Live in the community. You don’t have to bring a blanket, but you should make time to interact in it a couple of times a day. Plan topical questions or interactive posts.

8. Assess success. After a month or so, look back at your goals and see if you’re achieving them. If not, troubleshoot the potential problems, but don’t give up.

9. Let the community drive. You know it’s a success when the members, not you, assume informal control. They start conversations, point to new opportunities, and clear up misconceptions new posters may have. Your role can take a backseat (or at least the passenger’s side in the front seat).

And that’s how a community differs from an audience. You’re not just growing numbers; you and they are growing a new environment that’s good for them and your business.

– Ann Gynn

To learn more on how to do it and some caveats, read the longer story.

content entrepreneur spotlight

Food Blogger and Her Team of 6 Create Affordable Plant-Based Recipes

Entrepreneur: Toni Okamoto

Biz: Plant-Based on a Budget

Tilt: Affordable plant-based recipes

Primary Channel: Instagram (484K)

Other Channels: Facebook Page (224K), Facebook Group (84K), blog (200K monthly views), podcast

Time to First Dollar: A few months

Rev Streams: Ads on site AdThrive, three cookbooks, e-books, brand sponsorships (most successful stream of income), and brand recipe development

Our Favorite Actionable Advice:

  • Listen to your audience: An advocate of plant-based eating, Toni heard from many people concerned they couldn’t afford to eat that way and pivoted her content.
  • Listen to your supporters: Toni took the advice of a friend and CEO who helped her develop a SWOT analysis for her business and set a three-year annual income goal.
  • Listen to Toni: She says you shouldn’t expect an Instagram post to go viral or become an overnight success. Show up every day to play the long game.

– Bonnie Azoulay

To learn more about how she pivoted from a hobby blog to a content entrepreneur and more, check out the longer story.

Know a content creator who’s going full tilt? DM us or reply to this email.

quick talk

Caught on … The Startup

“Creators who lean heavily on algorithms to make a living need to tread carefully.” – Nick Wolny

things to know

  • Brands like creators: More brand social strategists are doing more deals with micro-creators (less than 10K followers), believing the value is in the quality of content they produce. (Sprout Social)
    Tilt Take: It’s about quality work over huge audiences. Build your business with content that stands out from the rest.
  • Billions in YouTube app: App Annie’s new report says YouTube’s iOS app has taken in $3B from in-app purchases since 2012. Why? Paid channel memberships and premium subscriptions. (tubefilter)
    Tilt Take: As audiences become accustomed to paying for content on YouTube, it won’t seem as big of an ask if you launch paid subscriptions for videos.
  • Little blue bird wants to know: Twitter Community is asking mods and admins what options they’d like to have for people to join their Twitter-based communities. Three options start the list: open to all; invite-only; by request. (Twitter Communities)
    Tilt Take: We like that Twitter wants to give community moderators options on how to set up their communities. It allows the creation of private and public communities.
  • Righting writing: Author Allison Trowbridge will soon launch Copper, a social media platform for authors to market their books and connect with their readers. (Forbes)
    Tilt Take: A specialty platform like this can be helpful for authors (and readers), but it will take a lot of great marketing to foster must-be-on-Copper thinking.
Tech and Tools
  • Trim your nails: A YouTube video with 100K views in one day went to 3M+ in one week. What changed? The thumbnail. Among the tips: go bright, bright, bright; minimize elements to three or less; use text (three to four words at most). (Paddy Galloway)
    Tilt Take: Don’t assume it’s the content that isn’t working. Look at the elements promoting the content to tweak first.
  • Pay for Pinterest: PayPal may soon buy Pinterest. It’s expected to be the biggest acquisition of a social media company, breaking Microsoft’s $26.2B purchase of LinkedIn in 2016. (Reuters)
    Tilt Take: Pinterest’s format and its 400M active monthly users make it an ideal choice for an e-commerce play.
And Finally
  • Face this: Facebook may be kicked out as the parent company as reports say Mark Zuckerberg wants a new name for the corporate brand to match their transition to a metaverse company. (Vanity Fair)
    Tilt Take: Well, it is confusing when referring to Facebook the brand vs. Facebook the social platform, but we don’t think that’s why they’re considering a name change.
  • Hacking YouTube: The technique used by hackers to compromise thousands of YouTube creators in the past couple of years? It all starts with a phishing email that appears to be from a real service with an offer to collaborate. (Wired)
    Tilt Take: Don’t be so overjoyed by an offer to collaborate that you mindlessly click on the link. Look at the sender’s email and even visit the site first.

we’re a stan for JaLisa Vaughn-Jefferson


JaLisa Vaughn-Jefferson grew her online empire while working in IT. She quit her day job in 2017, eventually quadrupling her Instagram following. This year, she’s already earned $700K.

She focuses on sharing beauty, style hauls, and her husband and adorable newborn with her 295K Instagram followers and 50K YouTube subscribers. Campbell Francis Group pitches her to brands like Macy’s and Pampers. Today, her team also includes a full-time assistant and project manager and contracted video editor and photographer.

Why we’re a Stan: JaLisa recognized building a business isn’t necessarily best done solo. By hiring and contracting her team, she can focus on her priorities and bring in more brand opportunities that resonate with her audience.

– Shameyka McCalman

To read more of JaLisa’s story, check this out.

the business of content

the tilt team

Your team for this issue: Joe Pulizzi, Ann Gynn, Laura Kozak, Marc Maxhimer, and Dave Anthony, with an assist from Bonnie Azoulay, Shameyka McCalman, and Don Borger.