Adopt a Publisher’s Model for Your Creative Business
It’s time to shut the gate. While we’ve been trained to share our content and interact all over social media, the best gift we can give our creative business, is to build our own ecosystem and win our reader’s attention.
The new economy is all about attention.
As we’re bombarded with constant attempts from marketers to pay attention to their new products and away from whatever we’re doing now, attention is the one priceless commodity in short-supply.
Instead of jumping on the share-everything, social bandwagon, we’ll take our work inside the fence. This is a fence we own and control. We decide who comes and goes. We decide what we offer to our audience. And we choose the message.
Your customers buy you just as much (probably more) than the products you sell.
We can get almost anything from the internet. A deep Google search can uncover most of the secrets offered in most of the paid content. What we can’t get through Google is you. We buy your voice. We buy your story. We buy your engagement.
When you adopt a publisher’s business model, you not only own your customer’s attention, you also shut the gate from your competition.
Own Your Ecosystem
When you play on social media the social platform owns your following. If you make the slightest wrong turn, violate an ever-changing series of content policies, or hurt than wrong feelings and get publicly cancelled, if you play on social the platform owns your business.
That’s not to mean you shouldn’t use social, but we’ll use it to bring readers inside your ecosystem, instead of sending your best people away from your work (as most unassuming creators do).
Instead of forwarding your readers to your social media site, give a single goal to your social media: send everyone inside the gate and lock it tight.
You need to build an email list.
While your social profiles are important, think like a publisher and aim your content laser towards your ecosystem, instead of away from it.
No matter what kind of offers you make to your audience, whatever content marketing channels you use, or anything you recommend in public, sponsor yourself and your work.
You are your own best advocate.
Don’t waste your reader’s precious attention on convincing her to leave you for someone else. This means stop sending people to other people’s content. Stop taking paid sponsors. Stop taking your reader’s attention for granted and pointing her to some schlub down the street.
When you own the fence and you own the gate you become your best sponsor. This means you take fewer partnership deals unless you’ve got a great relationship with the other party. You stop working hard to build someone else’s audience.
Your YouTube Channel Points to You
There’s enough advertising on YouTube as-is. Instead of aiming your audience to someone else’s offer, or some sponsor’s products, sponsor your channel by your own work.
YouTube is a fantastic source of direct marketing.
Your viewers subscribe and return to your content because they love you. They want more of what you offer. They want to hear more of your stories. Many of them will buy what you offer.
Not only will you help sell more stuff if you sponsor your own content, your readers won’t feel like your videos are sponsored at all. I can’t stand sponsored videos. They make me question the honesty and integrity of the content right-away.
You can’t accept money from a company and also perform an honest review of their product.
But if you sponsor yourself, we’ll only look at you as the expert. We’ll see your videos as an extension of your paid work. And we’ll keep watching because we enjoy being inside your ecosystem. We might even buy some of your work.
Your Podcast is Sponsored By You
Like the YouTube strategy, stop taking ad sponsors for your podcast. You’re literally taking your reader’s priceless attention and sending it to the sponsor, in exchange for some cheap, one-time ad payment.
Instead, aim your attention laser at your own products and services.
Use the publisher’s model. You keep everything inside the ‘fence of attention’ and you don’t unlock the gate. Only the people you want inside are allowed inside. If someone wants to leave they must jump the fence or stand on someone’s shoulders.
Everything you do outside your fence is an invitation inside the fence, not the other way around.
A good podcast episode can last for years, with your listeners sharing your content through word of mouth. Why would you want to keep sending this attention to a company who paid you once for an attention funnel that lasts forever?
Sponsor your best work and keep everyone inside your fence.
Watch the Affiliate Offers
I’m on many email lists. One fatal mistake I watch happen daily, is how often well-meaning creators send their own hard-earned customers off to someone else’s email list.
The quick buck of an affiliate offer is enticing.
You can earn a lot of money as an affiliate. But be very careful as to how many affiliate offers you present and who you present them for. Every affiliate offer you make to your list is a chance to leak attention outside your fence.
The only affiliate offers I recommend are for external tools you don’t offer. Tools you use and recommend yourself. Never send traffic to people in the same space as you. It’s equivalent to opening your gate and letting your audience come and go as the wind blows.
There are some cases where affiliate offers will help increase your ecosystem.
If you have the opportunity to share your work with someone who serves more of the people you want to serve, and they don’t have a competing business, it might be a good idea to swap attention with each other. This is a symbiotic relationship and not one where they take attention from you.
The shared attention will go to both of you and you’ll simultaneously grow your lists together.
Build Your Own Voice
The main reason your audience will return repeatedly, is your voice. This includes your writing voice, your video presence, and your audio voice. The language you use, the stories you share, and your level of personal sharing all matter with voice-building.
Never try to be the next X.
There’s only one Steve Jobs, Stephen King, or Steven Colbert. You can’t be the second anyone. There’s only one choice and that’s to be you.
We all start by emulating the people we respect, but if you want to develop the publisher’s model, you’ve got to use your own voice and inject your personality into everything you do.
Build Your Email List Before You Need One
When you adopt the publisher’s model you also understand the importance of building your own email list. The best time to start your email list is before you need one. Email lists take time to grow.
Every email is a direct line to your customer.
There’s no middle-man of social media or some other platform that owns your traffic. You don’t have to pay for ads to reach the people who love your work. Email is like having a secret Bat Phone into the home of every person in your tribe.
When you own your email list you own your traffic.
Email is the last great frontier of direct marketing. When you build your entire business on the back of someone else’s platform you don’t have any control over your traffic.
- You can’t control the order your audience will get your message
- You won’t know if everyone got your message, even if you buy ads
- You compete with the biggest players in your space
None of this is true with email.
Everyone gets your email. While not everyone will open it, you control the order of delivery and you can track who opened your content. With email you have the attention and there’s no competition with scrolling.
If someone opens your email they’re inside your fence.
You want them to say inside your ecosystem as long as possible. Now, email alone won’t cut it. You want your reader to return repeatedly. If you want to sell your best work you might have to contact your reader dozens of times before she makes a buying decision.
If you want her to return you’ve got to use the power of infotainment.
Use the Power of Infotainment
Infotainment is the skill of using entertainment and teaching, wrapped in one lesson. Most people don’t like being lectured-at. We want the content you’re about to deliver, but we also want to have fun while absorbing it.
Think of infotainment as carrots covered in candy.
We get the benefits of eating the carrots, but we can’t taste them because of the candy. In this case, your candy is the entertaining story you tell, your unique voice, or the humor you weave around your teaching.
This isn’t straight entertainment, because you want your reader to get real value from your content. But you keep her attention with the entertainment part and you’ll keep her inside your ecosystem, because she’s here for more YOU.
August Birch is an author, email expert, and entrepreneur from Michigan, USA. As a self-appointed guardian of writers and creators, August teaches indies how to make more work that sells and sell more work once it’s made. When he’s not writing or teaching, August carries a pocket knife and shaves his head with a safety razor.