Your content tilt is the area of little to no competition on the web that actually gives you a chance to break through the noise and be relevant. Your tilt makes your content business so different that your audience notices and rewards you with attention.

But how do you discover (or refine) your content tilt? We’re sharing stories from content entrepreneurs about how they found theirs. Read on for Marshall Atkinson’s first-person story.

Marshall Atkinson

At Content Entrepreneur Expo in 2023, I was hit by a bolt of inspirational lightning. If you were there, you may have heard me exclaim, “That’s it!” 

I was laughing to myself at the amazing idea that washed over me while listening to a speaker on stage. But let’s rewind a little bit to tell this tale.

Consulting as the starter

I’m a business consultant for the decorated apparel industry. My customers are small business owners who print T-shirts and embroider work shirts for businesses, teams, churches, and rock bands worldwide. I won’t bore you with that.

One of my goals from attending CEX was to look into starting a newsletter for my consulting business. I wanted to know how to set it up, when it should be published, how to get readers, and, of course, how to monetize the effort.

Finding my content tilt

CEX presenter Brian Fanzo went to great lengths to show off the work he had created in a new tool called Midjourney AI. As it happened, I had been goofing around with it, too. As part of my T-shirt industry background, I was a former art director. Art creation is my jam.

However, Brian had taken AI-image generation to another level. I was mesmerized. He showed image after image, displaying a wide range of visual ideas. You could tell he was having fun with Midjourney and was hooked.

Midjourney uses an artificial intelligence platform to convert the user’s word prompts to images. Images start as random noise, and the prompt words are converted to a math algorithm to transmute the random noise pixels into whatever your prompts suggest. For example, the prompt words blue, horse, and cartoon would produce four variations of a blue cartoon horse. 

Because Midjourney starts with random noise, images can not be duplicated or repeated. Check out these examples. They took less than a minute to create:

It sounds easy until you stop and think the image results are entirely based on your vocabulary and how well you understand how to use Midjourney. It can be incredibly frustrating and amazing at the same time. 

I think I like it so much because it is the art version of golf. Just as you think you have the hang of it, you shank one into the trees.

Remember when I said I wanted to start a newsletter for my consulting business? Brian wasn’t even off the stage when I thought, “What professional graphic designers need is a newsletter to educate them on how to use Midjourney. Let’s reduce the friction of getting good results. THEY NEED THIS.”

From my seat, I Googled “Midjourney newsletter.”  

There wasn’t one. Zero. Zip. Nada.

It was my ‘holy cow’ moment. I exclaimed, “That’s it!” Anyone around me must have thought I was odd.

That night, I wrote my business plan for the newsletter in my hotel room. From then on, I was on a mission. 

The next day, serendipity showed up again. The CEX organizers set up themed tables for lunches. I sat at the newsletter table with nine other people. All of them used ConvertKit for their newsletter platform.

Research over.

Launching a newsletter

I launched the Midjourney Experience newsletter. I already had a mailing list for drip marketing and social media – about 15K on all channels –  so I announced it to them. I decided to publish weekly. Subscriptions are $12 per month or $100 per year.

Forty-three people signed up the first week, immediately making the project revenue positive (a little over $4K). I invested in a website and a ConvertKit expert – the best decisions I made. 

Operating a newsletter

Setting up the newsletter took some organization and thought. I needed to decide how it should look and feel, so I created all of the segments. Now, I have two virtual assistants who contribute articles, help with the videos, and push out the marketing.

I keep a simple spreadsheet for topic ideas. Each edition has four segments, and we schedule the content using a combination of surveys, active listening, and direct questions. We want to be relevant and timely.

We add ideas as we grow. Since the beginning, we have created videos to explain Midjourney creation techniques. We publish them on a YouTube channel that helps drive subscribers. Our latest work is editing these videos to use as Instagram, YouTube Shorts, or TikTok.

Lately, we’ve added a private Facebook group for subscribers as well as affiliate marketing to help expand subscriptions. Also, we’ll experiment with an open office hour for subscribers in the newly opened private groups forum on the Midjourney platform.

Realizing the potential

The newsletter is helping creative professionals in many countries learn to use Midjourney. It has also opened up speaking opportunities for me, and I have been teaching individuals and groups about the tool that many recognize as the best among the many AI-image-creation tools.

Last month, I published my 52nd edition of the newsletter. That’s right. One year. 

We have 352 subscribers and are growing. Though some may say that’s not a lot, it brings in well over $30K a year and only takes me about two hours a week to assemble (thanks to my VA team).

What do you think is the most thrilling part for me? Now, if you Google “Midjourney Newsletter,” my creation ranks right at the top – without me paying for sponsored links.

One of my favorite sayings is, “You must be present to win.” I seriously doubt I would have had that eureka moment sitting in my office. It only happened because I made the trek to Cleveland with an open mind and heart.

Looking for more ways to use AI in your content business?  CEX 2024 has a whole track dedicated to AI.  Purchase your digital pass today to learn how AI can up your content entrepreneur game.

About the author

Marshall Atkinson is one of the most popular thought leaders in the decorated apparel industry.  Focused on delivering practical education that clarifies effective change, he shares best practice tips on many platforms, including Success Stories with Marshall Atkinson, a podcast sponsored by S&S Activewear, Jerzees Adventures in Apparel Decorating, a YouTube show sponsored by Jerzees, Stahls’ Heat Press Transformation, a YouTube show sponsored by Stahls’, Q&A With Alan & Marshall, a weekly live show sponsored by GSG, Midjourney Experience, a weekly newsletter for creative professionals using Midjourney, blog articles, books, including Price for Profit, the leading book on pricing for screenprinting, and Shirt Lab Tribe, a decorated apparel industry mastermind group.

Marshall lives and works in Mesa, Arizona. He frequently contributes to industry magazines and is a popular trade show educator. He was recognized for his industry education contributions and was elected to the Academy of Screen and Digital Printing Technologies in 2020.