APRIL 26, 2022

Welcome to The Tilt, a twice-weekly newsletter for content entrepreneurs.

In this issue:

full tilt

Why and How To Launch a Free Community for Your Creator Business

For years, I repeated the same mistake in my content business. I resisted opening a free community. In 2021, I went down the inevitable Web3 rabbit hole and joined far too many communities on Discord. Inspired by them, I finally launched my community and realized how wrong I was to wait.

Let me help you avoid my mistake by explaining my concerns, why they were unfounded, and how free communities can help content entrepreneurs.

My reasons for resistance? It would take too much time with no revenue possibilities. I didn’t want my community to see us fail. Why would somebody join our existing paid community if they could do a free one?

All these fears proved unfounded. Here’s what happens instead when you open a free community:

Your community starts small, so you can spend 30 minutes or less each day interacting with them. Post a discussion prompt, answer a couple of new replies from the previous day, and invite a knowledgeable user for their input. As the numbers go up, your community will require more work. But at that point, it will be easier to envision how to monetize and justify your increased effort.

Every interaction is a kind of a survey. You can share a piece of content from you or another entity and ask for members’ thoughts. Post a poll to make it easy to give feedback. Learn about members through their spontaneous interactions. Get a deeper understanding of what’s important (and not important) to them as members grow in their trust of the community, so they feel safe to share.

Make it a testbed for content and more. Bounce ideas off of them, such as potential blog post topics, podcast guest suggestions, questions for sources you’re interviewing, etc. By involving your community on the front end, you take out some of the risks for your content creation. You know that at least the core of your audience will like it. They even had a part in developing it.

But community input shouldn’t stop at content. You can test ideas for a course, find beta testers for a product, or get their opinion on some key parts of your online presence (such as the design, tools, features of your site).

A free community is the best shortcut to turn lurkers into engaged members who convert into paying customers. If you’re on the fence about launching a free community, I hope my experience has convinced you to start one. The potential benefits are far greater than the risks.

Alberto Cabas Vidani

Get Alberto’s advice on how to set up your free community.

tilt shout-out

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content entrepreneur spotlight


Entrepreneur: Charlie James

Biz: Nonbinary Cowboy

Tilt: Sketch comedy

Time to First Dollar: 6 months

Channels: TikTok (346.9K,) Instagram (8.7K)

Rev Streams: Merch, creator fund, book

Our Favorite Actionable Advice:

  • Look for inspiration in unexpected places: Charlie’s clothing one day inspired their successful TikTok storytelling about how a little frog on a lilypad lives.
  • Lean into audience reaction: It’s not a laugh or silence but metrics that let Charlie know what’s working with their TikTok comedy.
  • Realize creation time and success are not necessarily related: Charlie’s found success usually comes from the video content they hasn’t spent hours creating.

– Kelly Wynne

Read more about Charlie James aka Nonbinary Cowboy.

Know a content creator who’s going full tilt? DM us. Or email [email protected]

quick talk

Caught on … Twitter

“I strongly believe the reason most YouTubers quit is because they compare their chapter 2 to somebody else’s chapter 237. Top % creators don’t appear overnight.” – Trent Haire

things to know

  • Value aud(ience): “While not every influencer will double as an effective entrepreneur, the triumphs … offer a universal marketing lesson: Selling stuff works when you internalize your audience.” (Ad Week)
    Tilt Take: We love to see Ad Week recognizing the value of creators’ audiences and its recommendation that agencies and brands mimic their paths to success (i.e., don’t rely only on social.)
  • 10 years from now: A MarketCast study found 24% of creators surveyed expect to be self-employed but doing something other than content creation in 10 years, and 11% say they’ll be in a regular job. (tubefilter)
    Tilt Take: Short-term success can happen without a lot of planning. Long-term success requires a business strategy. (Though we think a 10-year-in-the-future question seems like a lifetime given all that can change.)
  • Follower numbers: Linktree’s creator survey determines expertise level based on the total number of followers. Experts (4M creators) have over 100K followers. Pros – 10K to 100K followers – total 41M. Semi-Pro total – 1K to 10K followers – total 139M. Recreational with 1K or fewer followers total 23M. (Linktree)
    Tilt Take: Follower counts seem like an unhelpful (i.e., silly) way to determine a creator’s expertise.
  • Email please: Kajabi’s survey of its creator customers found email is their main marketing tool, with 66% sending a welcome email. (MarTech)
    Tilt Take: If you earn a person’s email, they deserve a welcome explaining what they can expect, along with a thank you.
Tech and Tools
  • Original boost: Instagram is tweaking its algorithm to highlight original content in its Reels tab, feed, etc., more than reposted content. (Tech Crunch; h/t Matt Navarra)
    Tilt Take: As big fans of creators creating original content, this is good news.
  • Top shelf: YouTube’s launched a Shorts shelf on its Trending page. Viewers will see the most popular shorts in their location. And Shorts won’t be appearing in trending results. (Social Media Today)
    Tilt Take: Think location, location, location if you want your YouTube Shorts to get discovered.
And Finally
  • IP transfer: HuffPost’s Emmy Gray and Claire Fallon didn’t have the intellectual property rights to their Bachelor recap podcast, Here To Make Friends. But when they lost their jobs, the casual newsletter they had started became a lifeline connection to their audience. (Poynter; h/t Crozema in Tilt community)
    Tilt Take: Never sign a contract as an employee, creator, or entrepreneur without understanding how its intellectual property is treated. Speak up if it’s not what you want.
  • See and hear: Spotify’s letting all creators in the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and UK do video podcasts. (Spotify; h/t Roberto Blake)
    Tilt Take: Giving your audience the option to watch as well as listen can be a great way to make a better connection.

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 Angelina Kaminski, Alberto Cabas Vidani, Kelly Wynne, and Don Borger.