The podcast about how publishers create, distribute, and monetize digital content.
How Ash Read built Living Cozy, a product review site monetized with ecommerce
Ash Read didn’t launch a review website about household products because of some lifelong interest in home decor; instead, his interest came about simply because he was moving into a new house and needed to furnish it.
While it was easy to search for products listed on retailers like Amazon and Walmart, he realized that there wasn’t a good directory for the direct-to-consumer goods that are sold directly through a company’s website. So he created a database of direct-to-consumer companies and published it to the web. The audience feedback was so strong that he decided to build out an entire website dedicated to covering and reviewing D2C home products.
Ash launched Living Cozy in 2020, and over the next few years he scaled the site to over 350,000 monthly pageviews. What started out as simple product curation soon led to an in-depth review process and him hiring a network of freelance writers to review items like sofas and beds.
How did Ash manage to break into such a saturated market category that was already dominated by much larger websites? In an interview, we talked about his introduction to direct-to-consumer products, his clever use of search keywords, and how he coordinated the shipment of large pieces of furniture to reviewers all over the world.
How Dylan Bowman built Freetrail, a media outlet for trail runners
For most of his career as professional ultra marathoner, Dylan Bowman didn’t have much of an online presence, but in 2019, he suddenly found himself with a lot of time on his hands after he broke his left ankle and had to take a year off from racing. That year, he launched a podcast where he interviewed his fellow pro runners, and it pretty quickly became a huge hit.
It didn’t take long for Bowman to realize that the podcast provided a huge opportunity for his post-racing career, so in late 2020 he and a co-founder launched Free Trail, a media outlet that operates a podcast network, a YouTube channel, and even its own ultramarathon races.
In an interview, Dylan walked me through how he built the company, his monetization strategy, and why it represents the future of sports media.
How B2B publisher Skift scaled its business by diversifying its revenue streams
In 2011, Rafat Ali launched Skift, a B2B publisher that covers the travel industry. At first, Skift was mainly monetized with advertising, but Rafat quickly realized that scaling a B2B niche outlet required a diverse set of business models that included memberships, research, events, and advertising. He also acquired multiple other media outlets that operated in adjacent industries.
In an interview, Rafat walked us through this journey and explained how he managed to simplify the company’s value proposition while embracing the complexity of multiple revenue models.
We also spoke to Walter Frick, who ran the membership program for business publisher Quartz for nearly three years. He answered our questions about what motivates readers to convert into subscribers and what he learned when Quartz made the radical decision to completely remove its website paywall.
How Starter Story ditched recurring payments and built a $1.5 million information product
Patrick Walls is the founder of Starter Story, an outlet that’s published thousands of case studies on how entrepreneurs built successful businesses. At one point, he was selling upward of $50k a month in sponsorships.
But earlier this year, he not only stopped selling advertising, he also switched from recurring subscriptions to a one-time payment that gave customers permanent access to his content archives. The move helped him grow to $1.5 million in annual revenue.
In a recent interview, he talked about why he got tired of chasing sponsors and his motivations for switching from subscriptions to one-time payments.
I also spoke to Bradley Hope, a former Wall Street Journal reporter and co-author of the New York Times bestselling book Billion Dollar Whale. In 2021, he co-founded Project Brazen, a production studio that creates narrative nonfiction across podcasts, books, newsletters, TV, and film.
He answered questions about how he chooses narrative projects to fund and the process for adapting a single piece of IP into multiple formats.
How Casey Keirnan built A.M. Hoops, a basketball YouTube channel with over 400,000 subscribers
It used to be if you wanted to break into broadcast media you first had to start small – by getting a job as a correspondent at a local news station and then working your way up to bigger and bigger markets.
That’s the career trajectory that Casey Keirnan followed. He started out covering high school sports in small towns and then eventually landed a job at CBS Interactive, which was trying to create an ESPN competitor for OTT streaming. But after only two years on the job, Casey’s contract wasn’t renewed, and he feared he would have to go back to local news.
But then he launched A.M. Hoops, an NBA-focused YouTube channel that ended up being so successful that he replaced his previous salary within a few months. Today, it boasts over 400,000 subscribers and 264 million channel views.
In our interview, Casey told me about his slow climb in local news, why he struggled at his CBS job, and what inspired him to strike off on his own to start a YouTube channel.
How Philip Ideson built The Art of Procurement, a B2B outlet that covers a $6 billion industry
If you run any sufficiently large organization, one of the biggest threats to your business is runaway costs. The largest companies can use upwards of thousands of suppliers for everything ranging from software technology to building materials, and how much you spend on all these suppliers can be the determining factor over whether you’re profitable or unprofitable.
That’s why most large businesses employ procurement specialists – people whose job it is to oversee and negotiate services with outside companies. It’s not the sexiest job in the world, but it’s incredibly important, and it’s the reason why the procurement services industry is worth $6 billion.
Philip Ideson runs a media company that covers this massive industry. After spending 15 years as a procurement specialist himself, he launched The Art of Procurement, a news and information resource that caters to procurement specialists. Over the past seven years, he’s built it into a business that’s monetized through live events, sponsorships, and consulting.
In our interview, he talked about his motivation to launch the company, how he built his audience, and why he struggled so long to find a viable business model.