Lessons from Media Personalities

The media industry is changing fast.

Here are 10 things I’ve learned from my favorite media personalities.

1. Create a language: Treat your audience like a friend by adding special phrases and inside jokes for your top fans. Don’t just create content — create a world.

2. Be consistent: The Internet rewards people who are prolific. Tyler Cowen has published a new blog post every day for 15 years. Seth Godin has now published more than 7,000 blog posts. By doing so, they’ve both built relationships with hundreds of thousands of people.

3. Intelligent audiences are under-served: Patrick O’Shaughnessy does a lot well, but this is #1. Don’t cater to the masses. Publish the highest quality information you can. Smart people crave smart ideas, and if you make it, incredible people will contact you.

4. Curation: Google isn’t as good as it could be. It’s polluted with advertisements, and high-value niches like health and technology are gamed by the world’s top SEO marketers. There’s a huge market for trusted individuals who curate top-tier information so people don’t need to.

5. Build a Personal Monopoly: Every person I’ve gotten to know is unlike any other person I’ve gotten to know. The Internet rewards people who stand for something and offer something that nobody else has. Be weird. Be one-of-a-kind.

6. Build a habit: I was an early subscriber to Web Smith and Ben Thompson’s newsletters. They sent emails every weekday. Reading their work was my first professional habit. Likewise, I send emails every Monday and Friday. Trust builds when your audience knows you won’t miss a day.

7. Monetize somewhere else: Traditional media is struggling because their monopoly on distribution has disappeared. But media companies have attention, which they should redirect to investments, merchandise, and online courses. Media is a means to an end.

8. Influencers first: On social media, people want to follow people — not companies. Before the Internet, brands gave credibility to individuals. Now individuals increasingly give credibility to brands. People come for their favorite influencers and stay for the media brand.

9. Build an ecosystem of influencers: Jim Barksdale once said: “There are two ways to make money: bundling and unbundling.” We are in an unbundling phase. Creators are now leaving big brands, but bundling will return — creators will bundle their content into joint subscriptions.

10. Email Newsletters: 5 years ago, people thought email was dying. But email is stronger than it’s ever been. Make it easy for people to sign up for your main newsletter, grow it with low-friction marketing funnels, then launch new theme-specific newsletters. The money is in the list.

Sign up for my free writing course if you want to learn more.

You’ll learn about Personal Monopolies, the Netflix Principle, and how to build your email list.