Made a flying visit (in and out of DC in under 6 hours) to the NEPA show(www.newsletters.org) yesterday. Wish I could have stayed longer, but an insane editorial schedule here precluded that. Quick notes:
- Email is finally on the table for the print newsletter publishers, mostly as a marketing tactic. I spoke with half a dozen publishers who were mailing hundreds of thousands of emails per month to their usually-very niche markets. The real success seems to be on the ancillary products front. You can sell free email subs reports, videos, event tickets, audio conferences, etc. The subscription sales front is a harder pitch than a one-off to a free list.
- Everyone at the editorial roundtable I attended seemed to be focusing on how to get more from a tight editorial team when you can't hire more people and the content bar is constantly rising. When I said, "Oh my problem is hiring people who can write solid, detailed business how-to content quickly and concisely for online publication, I'm looking for several and I'm in hiring hell." Everyone started sputtering.
The editors around the table definitely thought I was a clueless jerk. "There are so many good people looking for work! I turn them away!" said one. "I find the problem isn't with the writers, it's with the training the publication gives them," noted another.
Afterwards though, a few people on the publisher-end came up to me individually to say, "You are right, you know. It's almost impossible to find really good newsletter writers. There are lots of would-bes, but few home runs." I felt a lot better.
- Entrepreneurs are on the rise again. I met about eight people who had quite their jobs and were busy working on a print subscription newsletter launch scheduled for this summer. They were all very niche, and deeply passionate about their topic. Often from the expert or editorial end of things, rarely do print newsletter founders come from the marketing/management end of things.
- We definitely need a group who can talk about company management issues for successful independent publishers at the 3- 6-year mark with $500k-$3 mill sales. Several of us agreed the problem is less what to do about marketing or editorial, and more about managing cash flow, legal, admin, launches, etc. In other words, running a growing company.
I'm talking to folks about founding some sort of "Successful Sophmores" group of publishers, let me know if you're interested.
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