JULY 16, 2021

Welcome to The Tilt, a twice-a-week newsletter for content creators who want to be or already are content entrepreneurs. We talk aspiration, inspiration, revenue, audiences, tech, trends, and more to help your content business thrive.

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Be Epic!

Joe Pulizzi

full tilt

Get Interactive: Quizzes and Similar Content Engage Audience, Help Your Content Business

You used to hate them.

Your teacher walked into the room and announced a pop quiz. Ugh! You didn’t want to take it. No one likes to take a test when they haven’t prepared.

But on social media and other digital channels, you gladly take that pop-up quiz to see how well you know NFL trivia or to learn which TV character you’re most like.

As a content entrepreneur, quizzes and similar interactive content can serve a dual purpose. Your audience will want to more actively engage with your content. You also can use the results for market research on your audience.

Another reason? People like them. A lot. Here’s some proof: 96% of those who start a Buzzfeed quiz finish it; 88% of marketers say interactive content differentiates their brand; and at one point, 82% of people exposed to a quiz in their newsfeed engaged with them.

Do you want to ask questions of your audience to engage them?

If yes, read on.

If no, may we suggest learning more about the difference between paid content creators and content entrepreneurs?

The Tilt Advice

Since you selected yes above, let’s get into a few details around the what, why, and how.

How do you figure out the best topic? Best format? Make an educated guess. (You know entrepreneurs never get away from doing homework in this life.)

Start small. Pick one format and one topic. Do variations of them several times. Evaluate the results.

Some questions to consider:

  • Why would my audience take time to answer questions? Do they want to be entertained? Do they want to test or confirm their knowledge? Do they want to express their opinion?
  • What topics would help them achieve that goal? Which of those topics also would help us better understand our audience?
  • What format would work best? Will a Twitter poll be sufficient? What about a five-question quiz?

There’s one more question: How will the audience see or receive their results? Will they see the results of the broader group? Do they need to?

HubSpot shares this list of the top 20 quiz creators (including theirs). Some are better designed for wider-view surveys, while others are more helpful for quizzes where you want to show personalized results instantly.

Pick the best quiz option based on your goals and budget.

And one more thing: Don’t trick your quiz takers, leading them through the quiz only to find they must provide their email to get the results. Tell them that upfront. Even better? Don’t require an email.

– Ann Gynn

Learn more about quizzes and see examples of Q&A engagement options for you to consider. Read the longer story.

Early-Stage Content Entrepreneur Ben Palmer Attracts Audiences with Accountable Comedy

Entrepreneur and Biz: Ben Palmer

Tilt: Holding people in online conversations accountable

Channels: TikTok (1.7M), YouTube (25.5K), Patreon (303), Facebook (35K)

Rev Streams: TikTok, merchandise, live shows, Patreon, Cameo

Our Favorite Actionable Advice

  • Promote what works for the business: Ben includes a link on all his distribution platforms to his Patreon subscriber program.
  • Diversify your revenue: Though his big audience is on TikTok, Ben does more than rely on the TikTok Creators Fund. He’s also on YouTube, Patreon, Cameo and sells merchandise.
  • Don’t expect to get rich quick: Even with his success to date, his digital revenue streams don’t pay all the bills, but he’s working hard to get there.

Some of the Story:

Though some may not appreciate his style or message, over a million flock to Ben Palmer’s TikTok account to see how he holds “netizens” accountable for their words and beliefs. Using dry humor, he advocates for equality by infiltrating controversial Facebook groups to spread awareness.

It’s skyrocketed him to audience success, gaining 1.7M followers since he started his TikTok account in November 2019. He earns some income as a member of TikTok’s newly established creator fund.

Ben’s popularity grew after he posted a video about his response to a Facebook comment complaining to Target about its new restroom policy for transgender people.

One of Ben’s favorite ways of monetizing his content business is his Patreon account. “Most of the people who sign up for my Patreon signed up from seeing my content on Facebook. I attach my Patreon link to every piece of content that I post. So if it goes viral or gets a big reach, my link is going to be right there with it,” he says.

“That has been my most effective way of earning income. Regular monthly subscribers. In exchange for their support, I share extra content with them, host livestreams, movie nights, and game nights.”

Ben jokes about the strength of the social media algorithms in his business. “Attract millions and millions of people. And then some more. And then don’t piss off the algorithms,” he says. “They are the almighty determiners of whether or not you will be successful.

“No, but honestly, I would say that if there is a will, there is a way. So if you really care about making a career out of your creativity, you will do anything it takes. You may try different things and see them fail, and you may find something that works best for you.”

– Kelly Wynne

All the Story: To see the Target video, learn about the response from the Chick-Fil-A CEO about a fake Pride logo, and hear which platforms he hasn’t found that helpful, check out the longer story.

quick talk

Caught on … The New York Times

COVID was an inflection point, where the industry and creators more generally started becoming more of a creative economy.” – Chris Cox

things to know

  • Billion-dollar bet: That’s what Facebook and Instagram are doing as it pays over $1B to creators in the next 18 months in an invite-only program. Creators can earn money using certain features, such as regular livestreaming, and earn bonuses for signing up for their ad programs. (The Hollywood Reporter)
    Tilt Take: It’s unclear who will be invited. Those who do take advantage of the big bucks program should use it to grow their audience and other revenue streams that will last long after 2022.
  • Pay for content: “The idea of direct monetization is finding support from unlikely quarters … Gaming and a pivot among social media platforms from pure ad-based models are normalizing paying for exclusive content or directly supporting your favorite news.” (What’s New in Publishing)
    Tilt Take: Um, it’s not unlikely to The Tilt community. That’s how you build your content businesses.
  • Forgo the fake: Buying fake Instagram followers boosts your numbers, but it hurts your analytics and credibility. That’s what Hootsuite found in an experiment to buy followers. (Hootsuite; h/t GeekOut)
    Tilt Take: Yep, follower counts aren’t the be-all, end-all. It’s what’s behind those followers that really matters to your business.
  • TikTok overtakes YouTube: App Annie’s 2021 State of Mobile report finds Android phone users spend more time on TikTok (24.5 hours a month) than YouTube (22 hours). And that difference is expected to get bigger. (tubefilter)
    Tilt Take: Building your business strategy requires knowing where your target audience consumes their content. You must pay attention to viewing trends and preferences.
Tech and Tools
  • Fleets disappear forever: Twitter’s challenge to Snapchat – Fleets – is leaving Aug. 3, only months after its debut. Why? It didn’t attract new users to the platform. (USA Today)
    Tilt Take: We love the fun of Twitter’s tweet sharing the news: “we’re removing Fleets on August 3, working on some new stuff. we’re sorry or you’re welcome.”
  • Shopify for the Mighty: Investors are ponying up the dollars for Mighty Networks, a platform designed to give creators and brands a dedicated place to start and grow communities. It wants to do for digital subscriptions and payments what Shopify did for e-commerce, according to its CEO. (Tech Crunch)
    Tilt Take: Increasing investor interest for a platform like this is a positive for growing interest in the overall sector, from tech tools to the content entrepreneurs themselves.
And Finally
  • Reach for podcast stars: Co-founder of travel brand Kayak launched a new podcast discovery app, Moonbeam. It gives searchers two-minute previews with clips that can be chosen by the podcast creators. (Martech Vibe)
    Tilt Take: Podcast search is an ongoing challenge for even the biggest platforms. It’s good to see a new venture, particularly one that lets podcasters get more involved in the direct promotion of their shows.
  • Talk behind the stage: Clubhouse released its new direct messaging system – Backchannel. It handles one-on-one and group chats behind the scenes. (Tech Crunch)
    Tilt Take: When we did the Content Inc. book tour on Clubhouse, we used a Discord channel to talk through live logistics. It’s good to see Clubhouse make that unnecessary.

we’re a stan for Alexandra Botez

Alexandra Botez has turned her mastery of chess into a full-time content business.

Having learned the game from her father at the age of 6, Alexandra went on to win her first national tournament by age 8, according to CNBC. She kept up her interest in chess through college, where she began streaming games on Twitch. It wasn’t long before her channel took off, and Alexandra started to earn money, mostly from subscribers and direct donations.

After graduating from Stanford University in 2017, Alexandra worked for a startup. Although it wound up failing, Alexandra was already making enough money from her Twitch chess content to make a viable career.

Today, Alexandra is a master ranked 27,631st among the World Chess Federation’s over 100K active players. She and her sister Andrea, who became her streaming partner in 2020, have over 867K followers on their Twitch channel, BotezLive.

According to CNBC, the sisters earn income from numerous sources, including sponsors, viewers, ad revenue, and a salary from the global esports company Team Envy, which recently signed the duo.

Why we’re a Stan: Alexandra earns an income from her streaming comparable to the top chess professionals, a remarkable achievement for a player not ranked in the top 20K. It is a greater accomplishment still when considering the adversity facing women in the world of chess, where male grandmasters outnumber female grandmasters 50 to one. She also cleverly created a business with multiple revenue streams, so she isn’t reliant on Twitch subscribers.

the tilt shout-out

Are you building a sustainable, audience-first media company? Curious about what other media companies are doing? A Media Operator is a 2x per week newsletter that digs into business strategies for successful digital media companies. Subscribe now.

the business of content

Listen to this week’s Content Inc. podcast to hear an in-depth interview with comedian Michael Jr. about his content-driven business, his mission statement, how he focuses on serving an audience, and his keys to content creation success.

In the latest This Old Marketing, the boys discuss their rants and raves including Joe’s comments on the NIL movement that is just starting, and Robert complains about the fear being caused over the “quitting crisis.”

the tilt team

Your team for this issue: Joe Pulizzi, Ann Gynn, Laura Kozak, Marc Maxhimer, and Dave Anthony, with an assist from Kelly Wynne, Leo Bonacci, and Don Borger.