Please tell us about your business.
I’m a writer, podcaster, and consultant who went out on my own about 7 years ago after a 20-year career working in journalism, marketing, social media, and the entertainment industry including my last job which was running digital media and marketing for The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and The Oscars for about 6 years.
My For The Interested newsletter is the engine of my business – I’ve published it for 7 years and currently have 36,000 subscribers.
How do you make money?
I have multiple revenue streams including:
- Consulting with creative entrepreneurs to help them grow their audience and business
- Ads in my newsletter
- Skill Sessions (which are sold as individual products and an annual subscription)
- Inbox to Invoice group coaching program which helps people use their newsletters to get clients
About 60% of my annual revenue comes from consulting and 40% comes from my other products.
What works to grow your audience?
My newsletter is the engine of my whole business and most of my consulting clients and product buyers come through it.
I’ve published a lot of content over the years – blog posts, podcasts, etc. – and people often discover the newsletter through those.
In recent months I’ve also used Sparkloop to grow my audience and that has worked well.
I’m also very active on Twitter and that’s a good source of audience growth for me as well.
I also run a Newsletter Creators Facebook group which attracts new people to my world every day.
What has been your most popular content?
It varies, but here are my 20 most popular blog posts of last year.
Here are a couple of tweets that performed well recently:
- How to trim the fat in your newsletter
- What I’d do if I had to launch a Twitter account from scratch
Have you had any major inflection points on your creator journey?
After about four years of publishing my newsletter as a weekly newsletter on Sundays, I added a daily one-paragraph edition.
That proved to be very popular and gets massive engagement which also made my ads much more valuable.
I get more clicks on a single link in a weekday edition than I get on all 10-15 links combined in my Sunday editions.
How did you get started?
I’ve had various newsletters and blogs for years – my first blog was way back in 1999.
But in 2016 I collapsed the three different newsletters I was running into one which became For The Interested and have stuck with that ever since.
Initially, the newsletter was much broader – designed to help people improve at their work, art, and life.
Over time, I niched down to focus on helping creators and then eventually to my current focus on helping creative entrepreneurs grow their audience and business.
With each time I niched down, it got more specific, more targeted, more valuable, and ultimately more successful.
How much content do you produce each week or month?
I publish 6 newsletter issues a week – 5 one-paragraph dailies and a longer Sunday edition.
I publish 1 Twitter thread a day and a couple other random tweets most days.
I publish one I Want To Know podcast episode a week which goes on all the podcast platforms and on YouTube. On YouTube, I share the full episode and 3 separate shorter clip videos from the episode.
I used to publish one blog post a week for years, but I’ve scaled back on that and now only publish sporadic blog posts.
How many hours per week do you spend on the business now?
This is my full-time job, but I certainly don’t work 24/7.
I don’t really track it, but I’d guess I work about 30-40 hours a week.
I repurpose and repackage a ton of my content, so I don’t really think about it as separate.
Do you have any employees or assistants?
I have one part-time freelancer who helps me with logistical stuff.
But I do all of the content creation and creative work myself. She does things like help manage logistics for my ads.
What are the key apps, software or tools you use in your business?
I use ConvertKit for my newsletter, Workflowy to manage my To Do List, notes, etc., and Stripe, ConvertKit Commerce, and Gumroad to handle sales and payments.
I use a Square ecommerce site to handle my ad sales and payments.
If you were starting over today, what would you do differently?
Not sure I would change much because it’s all an evolution, but a few things I probably would do sooner:
- I would have launched ads in my newsletter sooner.
- I would have launched the daily version of my newsletter sooner.
- I would have launched my Skill Sessions sooner (instead of my initial efforts at paid subscription products).
I’ve also talked about how I’d build a business from scratch if I were starting today in this excerpt of my podcast.