The podcast about how publishers create, distribute, and monetize digital content.
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.
How Eric Newcomer built his tech newsletter up to over 65,000 subscribers
There’s a common criticism lodged against Substack that its model of paid subscriptions could never support original journalism, and instead it only caters to the kind of opinion journalism that can be churned out at a high rate.
Eric Newcomer is proving this criticism wrong. After six years spent reporting at outlets like The Information and Bloomberg, he struck off on his own and launched a newsletter that covers startups and venture capital. Within months of his launch, he broke several major stories about top VC firms like Andreessen Horowitz and Sequoia.
In our interview, Eric talked about his motivation to leave his job in traditional media, his monetization strategy, and how he manages to break major stories at such a consistent rate.
How Jay Shabat built Airline Weekly, one of the earliest newsletters covering the travel industry
When Jay Shabat launched his newsletter in 2004, he had absolutely no experience in journalism or in operating a media company. This was also long before the era when it became easy to distribute paid newsletters. But what Jay did have was a passionate fascination with the airline industry, and he leveraged that passion to build a loyal readership.
In our interview, we discussed how he found readers in a pre-social media age, his pricing strategy, and why he decided to sell the company in 2018.
Simon is brilliant and thorough. This podcast is full of value. Very important resource for people who want to get better at what they do.
The host is excellent
So are his guests. I really appreciate where Simon steers the conversations, the topics he chooses and how raw and genuine these talks are. I’d suggest every J school in the country to listen to this one (actually recommended some of my former professors..) while they all are pondering on where the journalism is headed, this podcast actually shows where it currently is with all the changing landscape of content production.
Questions are awesome.... the whole vibe is awesome
Great questions.... I like every episode so far....never heard of some these businesses until now....