JUNE 8, 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.

full tilt

Why Every Content Entrepreneur Should Think Like a Marketer

Want in on a little secret?

Content entrepreneurs are better positioned than any other type of entrepreneur for marketing success.

Why? Your business is all about content and audiences. And that’s what marketing is about too.

Think about it. An entrepreneur opens a bakery. In the early morning hours, they bake their products. In the later morning and afternoon, they sell their goods. And in between, they must figure out how to find prospective customers and bring them to the storefront to make a purchase. They are two distinct operations – marketing and running a business.

On the other hand, a content entrepreneur starts a newsletter. In the early morning hours, they comb websites to research story ideas. In the morning, they jump on social media to see what their audience is talking about and connect with them on those relevant topics. In the afternoon, they create the newsletter (i.e., product). It will be distributed and promoted through many of the same “research” channels where their audience already is. That’s marketing while operating a business.

The Tilt Advice

While we advocate a one-channel focus for your content business, we recommend a more-than-one-channel focus for your marketing. Go to where your audience already is talking and sharing about your business’ topic. Get a feel for the room, then start talking. But don’t talk all about yourself.

Reach out to others’ blogs, podcasts, video shows, etc. Learn who accepts guest blog posts or talks with guests on their programs. Then, make a pitch to be their guest.

Finally, be ready for this new attention. Use calls to action (CTA) to convert your new visitors, listeners, or viewers into free subscribers. And now you have an audience to market to for the long term.

– Ann Gynn

Read the longer story to learn more about marketing, tips to activate these suggestions, and how successful content entrepreneurs are doing it.

Parenting Podcast Finds Success with Dynamic Ads, Evergreen Content

Entrepreneurs: Amy Wilson and Margaret Ables

Biz: What Fresh Hell: Laughing in the Face of Motherhood

Tilt: Sticky bits of parenting

Channels: Podcast (4M downloads)

Marketing mix: Facebook (30.2K) TikTok (7.8K) Instagram (4.8K) Twitter (1.1K) YouTube (511)

Rev streams: Dynamic ads on podcast catalog, sponsorships, affiliate marketing

Our Favorite Actionable Advice

  • Make new money on old content: This duo can insert dynamic ads into any of the over 300 episodes created since 2016.
  • React to your audience’s needs: They added a toddler-focused podcast based on listener requests and they expanded their content to help families adapt during the pandemic, accelerating their growth.
  • Get to the point: Parents don’t have time to sit through the chitchat often heard in podcast intros. Amy and Margaret still do that, but listeners never hear that because it’s edited out.

Some of the Story:

Five years ago, Amy Wilson and Margaret Ables saw What Fresh Hell: Laughing in the Face of Motherhood as simply another version of blogging, an entry point to talk about the sticky bits of parenting. Today, it’s the center of their business.

“It feels great to be in a position to expand our company to a place where we are really helping moms, giving them good information and helping other content creators get their voice out in the world,” Margaret says.

In May, Amy and Margaret launched a new podcast, Toddler Purgatory, which covers the toddler years and debuted at No. 4 on the Apple podcasts parenting chart.

In the beginning, revenue came through affiliate marketing. The duo would get a cut when a listener used a show-specific code to purchase a product. By 2018, they started working with sponsors. And in 2019, they transformed their revenue model when they began building the show for dynamic insertion advertising.

Now they can add new ads to old episodes, whether they debuted five weeks or three years ago. “Ads get dropped in, sometimes different ads, depending on who is listening,” Amy says. “We still work with sponsors. We still record the ads. It’s always our voices on the ads. But we can insert them across our entire catalog.”

“Every month, about half of listeners to the podcast come to us through episodes that are more than a month old,” Amy says. “We find that once a listener gets really interested in a show, they might go back and listen from the very beginning, which is 300 episodes at this point. Once we were able to monetize the entire catalog, that’s when things started to grow very quickly for us.”

COVID only accelerated that growth as they began helping listeners navigate the challenges of pandemic family life. Thanks in large part to that programming shift, their yearly download number (1M) now has happened in six months.

“It turned our fans into super fans, and they never missed an episode because they are on this journey with us,” Amy says.

Their advice for content creators who want to make podcasts? Make it unique. Margaret explains: “What is the show that you’re not seeing that you wish you were listening to? What is the show you are uniquely suited to be the voice to create?”

– Sarah Lindenfeld Hall

All the Story: To learn more about Amy Wilson and Margaret Ables, the content entrepreneurs, and What Fresh Hell, the content business, check out the longer story.

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

quick talk

Caught on … Twitter

Resonance first. Reach later. By then, it’ll be easier.” – Jay Acunzo

things to know

  • Don’t go big first: Popular YouTube tech personality Linus Sebastian (13.5M) says he can’t rely on the “benevolent overlord” anymore. Now he publishes first on creator-streaming platform Floatplane, which lets creators have control over viewer subscription payments and more. The videos pop up on YouTube a week later. (BBC)
    Tilt take: It’s an interesting model – to see if fans will pay for early access to his YouTube videos. Floatplane, too, is an intriguing option that lets video creators have more control over their revenue streams.
  • Taxing business: Content creators often focus on the creative side, not the business side of content entrepreneurship like taxes, retirement, health insurance, etc. Catch.co is an app to help creators and others who need help with that. (H/T to Jay Acunzo)
    Tilt take: Entrepreneurs must get ahold of their money-related issues if they’re ever to succeed as full-fledged businesses.
  • Close your eyes: 70% of 3K U.S. adults who listened or watched digital media say they experienced at least some form of viewing fatigue. Of that group, 79% say it’s a contributing factor to why they listen to more digital audio. (Media Daily News)
    Tilt take: Even though the survey was conducted with Spotify, we think the results accurately reflect that audio remains a hot format. It could be time to think about how your content could work in listening mode too.
  • Snap the show: Over 400M now regularly watch Snap’s shorter, mobile-presented episodic shows regularly. Its Snap Originals programming uses A-list talent but also is looking to find rising stars to create content designed for the community. (Pymnts)
    Tilt take: 90% of Gen Z on the platform watch these shows, signaling an opportunity to video content creators targeting that community.
Tech and Tools
  • Really?: Android users could activate opt-out settings to stop ad targeting, but it didn’t do much. Developers could still access their data to build profiles or deliver personalized ads. But, Google says, later this year it will let “opt-out” actually mean their Android ad identifier data won’t be transferred. (Digital Daily News)
    Tilt take: Don’t be like Google. If you promise your audience something, such as data protection or to never sell their info, make good on it. (We’re sorry we even need to say that.)
  • Take this seriously: Ransomware attacks aren’t just reserved for oil pipelines. Never download or open anything if you don’t know what it is. But since attackers can still get through other security holes, follow this advice: Update, protect, and back up. (Wired)
    Tilt take: While the cloud has great storage space, we recommend adding an external hard drive to your data backup mix. You can easily connect the two systems so you can still access your content and other files if your cloud access disappears.
And Finally
  • Blue’s your color: If you’ve ever changed your mind about a tweet or do a lot on Twitter, you’ll be happy to pay for Twitter Blue. Launching in Canada and Australia now (about $3USD monthly), the paid service lets subscribers undo a tweet within 30 seconds of hitting “publish.” It also allows users to create bookmark folders and creates a “more beautiful reading experience by getting rid of the noise.” It’s expected in the U.S. later this year. (Twitter)
    Tilt take: You’ll forgive our eye roll for that last “benefit.” And we’re not sure a 30-second delay is all that great. But we do see the future value of paid subscribers for creators who want to add a revenue stream through Twitter.
  • First three letters of any business: ZenBusiness’ Ryan Pitylak tells content creators: “It’s never too early to open an LLC. The benefit of doing it upfront, before you’ve begun earning income, is that when you start tracking your revenue and expenses, everything will be clean.” (Newsletter Crew)
    Tilt take: The cost to create an LLC isn’t high. We like the option for several reasons, including the ability to open up a business banking account. It’s imperative not to mix business and personal when it comes to money.

we’re a stan for Drew Gooden

Remember Vine? Those six-second videos on the platform shut down by owner Twitter in 2016. Drew Gooden does. His Vine videos led to a content business in comedy. After moving to YouTube, his videos have garnered 426M views and the channel has amassed over 3M subscribers.

His take on Internet culture is not just funny, it’s great commentary. He illustrates that in his recent video I Bought Every Ad I Saw on Instagram for a Week. It’s earned over 3M views in a month. But Drew doesn’t just give his take on the modern media platforms. A week ago, he published I Watched One Episode from Every Season of SNL, earning 2.7M views in one week.

Drew also is active on Twitter (704K) and Instagram (545K). His YouTube channel has paid sponsorship deals with brands like Hello Fresh and Squarespace. He also has official merch.

Why we’re a Stan: We love Drew’s dedication to his craft. Some YouTube creators mistakenly think they can just put up a camera and talk. Though that appears what Drew does, it’s also clear he invests a lot of time to tell the story just right.

Just take the Instagram ad and SNL videos mentioned above. He does his homework, delivers an insightful yet humorous commentary, and edits it all into a professional yet approachable video.

This Insider mention of Drew also points out how well Drew “manages to explain the intricacies of how big creators lose their relatability.” Yep, being true to who you are and who your audience knows really is what brings success.

the business of content

This week on the Content Inc. podcast, Joe talks about 10 different strategies and tactics that will keep the content marketing ideas flowing.

In the latest This Old Marketing, Joe and Robert explore Donald Trump’s strange move to kill his blog, while Axios builds the model media blueprint.

the tilt team

Your team for this issue: Joe Pulizzi, Ann Gynn, Laura Kozak, and Dave Anthony, with an assist from Sarah Lindenfeld Hall and Don Borger.