AUGUST 10, 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.

full tilt

What Motivates Content Entrepreneurs to Keep Going

“Never being told again what to wear.”

We chuckled at that six-word response to an open-ended question about motivation in our recent report, The Unconventionals: 2021 Benchmark Study on Content Entrepreneurs.

Out of the hundreds of answers, his was the only to mention wardrobe, but his sentiment certainly is shared. That’s not surprising, given freedom was the most frequently picked option (78%) in a question on the benefits of content entrepreneurship. Right behind freedom? Pursuing their passion, cited by 73%.

Those themes resonated in the open-ended answers on motivation that hundreds of content entrepreneurs took the time to share. They are inspiring, illuminating, and fun. We selected some to share from successful content entrepreneurs who are bringing in revenue to support at least one person.

Which of these resonate with your motivation to start and grow a content business?

1. Making a difference

“Serving others with the content is my prime motivation. When people tell me that my ideas have made a difference in their lives, I feel successful.” – Business; Boomer in business four to six years, earning revenue that can support one person

2. Providing for audience and family

“The information I’m sharing wasn’t out there when I started, and I really struggled trying to figure out how to do what I do now. I’m bridging that gap in my community. My husband also lost his job. I am the sole provider for our family, which includes five kids and one on the way. Leveraging content allows me to be the stay-at-home mom and entrepreneur I need to be.” – Arts, crafts, DIY; Millennial in business one to three years, earning revenue that can support one person

3. Being in charge

“Not suited to work for a boss. I need to BE the boss. Content helps me to create change, support people, have influence without utterly boring board meetings with annoying people. And because I love it.” – Business; Boomer in business four to six years, earning revenue that can support multiple people

4. Building an original

“Building something big that has never existed before, bringing people together, and making them happy.” – Business; Gen X in business four to six years, earning revenue that can support multiple people

5. Winning

“I contribute my gifts to a community of over 10K, all while living a lifestyle that allows me to take care of my own health needs and be there for my family. The evergreen nature of my content allows us to continually reach folks, and we are still earning an income on content we created over 10 years ago. Win-Win-Win.” – Lifestyle; Gen X in business at least seven years, earning revenue that can support multiple people

6. Looking at these numbers

“My bank statements and Google Analytics.” – Science and technology; Gen X in business at least seven years, earning revenue that can support multiple people

7. Leaving a legacy

“Being a woman, knowing the struggle of poverty and having nothing. Having five children and wanting to create something more not only for me or them but a legacy. I believe that I can do so much more and help other women do the same.” – Fashion and style; Millennial in business at least seven years, earning revenue that can support multiple people

– Ann Gynn

To check out seven more motivators and discover what’s spurring some new content entrepreneurs, read the longer story.

What’s your motivation? Share on Twitter using #contententrepreneur and be sure to tag us @TheTiltNews.

Food Blogger Caters Her Content to Kosher Community

Entrepreneur: Shushy Turin-Shine

Biz: Cooking in Heels

Tilt: Kosher recipes ideas for the Jewish community and her enthusiastic personality

Primary Channel: Instagram (33.4K)

Other Channels: Blog (500 subscribers)

Time to First Dollar: Two years

Pricing Growth: $50 in the beginning; now $150 per IG story w/o recipe and $450 w/ recipe

Rev Streams: Brand partnerships, sponsored blog posts, recipe development (including one consistent supermarket client), product ads, consulting for other food bloggers

Our Favorite Actionable Advice

  • Create an editorial calendar: Shushy designates days of the week for themes like experimental kitchen on Mondays and recipe sharing on Wednesdays.
  • Get it in writing: She’s been burned, so now every deal she does involves a contract.
  • Charge for reuse of your content: Brands that want to use their Instagram sponsored content on their blogs, websites, etc., pay more than the single post rate.

Some of the Story:

Shushy Turin-Shine began posting kosher recipes to her Instagram account in 2012. She was also in nursing school. In existence only two years, Instagram wasn’t a big destination for food bloggers and brands. Still, she gained many Jewish followers looking for Kosher recipes for holidays, Shabbat, and everyday dinners.

“My dad bragged about me to his friends, and they knew who I was,” she says, explaining the moment she knew she was a success. In 2015, she expanded to a blog, Cooking in Heels, where her Instagram followers could find her recipes. That same year, her Instagram page grew exponentially – going from 8K to 20K. Today, she has 33.4K followers. Shushy, a mom of three and a full-time nurse, spends her content business time developing recipes and other food-related content.

Shushy didn’t intend for her Instagram content creation to become a business. But in 2014, food brand Sabra offered to pay her $50 to create a recipe using their hummus product and advertise it on her page. Shortly after, they invited her to a conference with other recipe developers and people looking to hire recipe developers to create sponsored content. Even with her strong brand and follower count, she doesn’t plan to quit her day job any time soon. She loves her nursing job. Even so, she remains committed to publishing consistently.

Shushy shows up almost daily for her Instagram followers. She plans her content in advance and works only with brands that she’s interested in. “Be consistent. I have an experimental kitchen on Monday, ads on Tuesday, recipe sharing on Wednesday, and other things that people look forward to – kind of like episodes,” she says. “Don’t overdo it. Just show up daily.”

She also encourages fellow content entrepreneurs to respond to messages. “And don’t forget to post reels and spread the love to others to make yourself more visible,” she suggests.

– Bonnie Azoulay

All the Story: To learn how Shushy negotiates with brands for her content, check out the longer story.

quick talk

Caught on … Twitter

Play-to-earn as a model is just beginning to develop. Our kids will be shocked we spent all those hours playing video games and never earned anything for it.” – Alexis Ohanian

things to know

  • Popularity adds up: YouTube starts the payout this month from its Shorts Fund. Creators of the most popular brief videos could earn up to $10K a month. Eligibility? Original videos, not tagged to other platforms, in 10 regions, including US, UK, India, and Brazil. (The Verge)
    Tilt Take: You can’t sit back and watch the money roll in. Market, market, market your channel to get the numbers YouTube rewards.
  • Nonprofit option: Socially focused content creators might want to consider going the nonprofit route, which could bring in grant funding. That’s the route one creator-led community took. (Better Marketing; h/t Sarah Mitchell)
    Tilt Take: Creating and operating as a nonprofit has its own set of challenges, but it’s a worthy option to consider if you’re on that kind of mission.
  • TikTok wins gold: Clips of the Olympics surged on the platform. Gen Z tuned in for the more personal (goofy dorm room competitions in Olympic Village) to first-to-show coverage (screen captures of Simon Biles’ decision-making vault) on TikTok. (The Washington Post)
    Tilt Take: The Olympics took what you’re doing, and we’ve been talking about, to a global stage: Individual creators can build their own media companies and attract audiences.
  • Put a pin in it: Pinterest lost 24M over the past three months as the global vaccine rolls out and stores reopen. But take out the pandemic surge and Pinterest is steady in its long-term growth trajectory. (Social Media Today; h/t tl;dr marketing)
    Tilt Take: Context matters when it comes to your analytics. Don’t celebrate a big jump or wallow over a drop without digging deeper to understand the potential factors involved.
Tech and Tools
  • Facebook decides: In a longstanding battle, Facebook disabled the pages and personal accounts with NYU’s Ad Observatory project. It was analyzing data volunteered by Facebook users to understand the 2020 election and other public-interest topics. Facebook didn’t want to face the potential consequences of privacy-related violations. (Platformer)
    Tilt Take: Regardless of the specifics around this battle, it’s one more reminder that Facebook makes all the calls on its platform. Never build your content business solely on a third-party platform.
  • Getting personal: Creator accounts on TikTok are now being converted to personal accounts as the platform simplifies its account choices to personal and business. Creators will have access to the same tools, analytics, Q&A, etc. (Adweek)
    Tilt Take: It seems like an administrative thing, but this news opens the door wider to more TikTokers looking to turn their creations into a content business.
And Finally
  • No vacuums: “As online fandom transforms storytelling, it is also revealing a fundamental truth: The lone writer in a garret, disconnected from the world, was always a myth. No one creates in a vacuum, untouched by the demands of the marketplace and the cultural conversation of the moment. From tales told and retold around fires to those filmed, spun off and rebooted in Hollywood, storytelling has always been a communal process.” (The New York Times; h/t Martin Lieberman)
    Tilt Take: Yes. Storytelling is a communal process. The only question: Are you listening to your community?
  • Red carpet premiere: The first movie debut on Facebook happens Aug. 19. Moviegoers pay $3.99 to see the premiere of Outside, a documentary on the 9/11 museum construction. Tickets are sold through Facebook’s paid online event feature used by the distributor. (Axios)
    Tilt Take: The unique distribution model furthers opportunities for film creators. Another bonus? 100% of revenue from ticketed events like this will stay with the independent creators until 2023.

we’re a stan for Stevin John (aka Blippi)


For today’s toddlers, Stevin John’s Blippi is an unsung hero. He does education and fun, mixing field trips and repetitive speaking exercises to them develop fundamental skills.

Stevin John created the character with his nephew in mind after imagining new ways to educate young children. He soon learned he had to tweak his content in order to appeal to a secondary audience. He told K-Swiss Radio, “My target audience is 2 to 6 year-olds, but their parents are just as much of a target audience. They need to approve it. If my content annoys them, they aren’t going to let their child watch it.”

Some were turned off by Stevin’s alter ego, who they thought was too animated. After the first year, Stevin toned down the character’s energy, and the channel grew. He now has over 13M subscribers and earned $17M last year, securing the eighth spot on Forbes’ 2020 high content creators earners list.

Why we’re a Stan: Realizing he had two demographics his content had to cater to, Stevin evolved Blippi’s character to work for both. That led him to a lot more subscribers who propelled his content business to big success.

– Shameyka McCalman

the business of content

In this week’s Content Inc. podcast, Joe talks about how John Rockefeller celebrated one day every year over all others, and teaches us why content entrepreneurs need to celebrate this date as well.

In the latest This Old Marketing podcast, the boys kick off the show announcing NFT marketplace OpenSea’s big revenue move in the last few weeks. Is Robert coming around the idea? Joe thinks so.

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.