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Most people don't click on social media links. Here's why that's bad

Just about everyone’s experienced a scenario like this: you read a highly-nuanced article on a topic you find interesting. You then decide to share it on Facebook. Within minutes, a Facebook friend leaves a comment arguing with the premise of the article, and it’s immediately obvious that this person hasn’t actually read the piece in question. In fact, the vast majority of social media users will interact with content without actually clicking through and consuming it. One study from...


How The Hustle reached 1 million email subscribers

Sam Parr never set out to launch a media company. A few years ago, he was fresh from selling a company he had founded and was looking for something else to do. He decided to recruit about a dozen entrepreneurs as speakers and hosted an event he called Hustlecon. The event was a success, and Parr expanded it into a media website that published daily content. But while the site generated some viral hits, Parr eventually became convinced that the email inbox would produce a much more...


How Slate built a live events business around its most popular podcasts

While it seems like every publisher, from The New York Times to Vox, is making significant investments in podcasting, one could argue that Slate was the earliest to invest in the medium. It launched the Slate Political Gabfest -- a panel show with three regular hosts -- all the way back in 2005. Since then, Slate has debuted dozens of new podcasts, which collectively generate millions of downloads each month. And starting in 2009, shortly after President Barack Obama’s inauguration, it...


This webcomic artist has 1 million fans on Facebook. Here's how he got them

Chris Grady didn’t know much about the webcomic world when he launched Lunarbaboon, a semi-autobiographical comic about family and parenthood. But shortly after launching the comic, he started sharing it to Reddit, and suddenly Lunarbaboon was being seen and shared by tens of thousands of people. Flash forward a few years, and Lunarbaboon has over a million followers on Facebook. Grady generates $1,500 a month on Patreon and has launched several successful Kickstarter projects related to...


Why Quartz launched a newsletter that dives into obscure trivia

Would you read a 1,300-word newsletter about garden sheds? What about a 1,400-word piece on lettuce? A little over a year ago, the business-focused publication Quartz made a bet that you would, launching a daily newsletter called Quartz Obsession. The aim of the product? Take the most mundane topics imaginable and -- through narration, numbers, and quotes -- prove to the reader that these topics are not mundane at all. Unlike many publication newsletters that simply round up links to...


Inside the social media strategy for The Financial Times

Recently, an industry website called The Drum reported that The Financial Times, the London-based business publication, is projected to hit 1 million paying digital subscribers by next year. This is impressive, not just because only a handful of publications have hit this milestone, but also because The Financial Times has done so while maintaining a hard paywall. Unlike companies that use metered paywalls like The New York Times and Washington Post, The Financial Times hits users with a...


He pioneered early online advertising. Now he’s doing the same for AR

Long before Facebook started generating billions of dollars on self-service native ads, Henry Copeland had invented a self-service native advertising platform for blogs. And he was building early content management systems for newspapers well before products like Wordpress would go on to power much of the internet. These days, Copeland is focused on augmented reality, and he think that today’s AR products are the equivalent of the blog advertising widgets he was developing in the early...


This Boston business publication charges subscribers $695 a year and is sustainable

If you follow the digital media sector, you’ve likely noticed that advertising as a business model is on the wane. With the Facebook and Google duopoly sucking up just about all the advertising money flowing online, publishers have been forced to find alternate revenue sources to fund their content. One such source: subscriptions. More and more publishers are rolling out subscription and membership programs, and many have been successful. One such success? Innovation Leader, a small...


It started as a one-man personal finance blog. Now it generates millions in revenue.

In 2010, a college dropout named Kyle Taylor launched a blogspot account. He was taking on odd side jobs in an attempt to crawl his way out of debt, and the blog was a way to write about lessons he learned on making and saving money. Traffic was scarce, at first, but over a period of years the blog slowly gained an audience. Eventually, brands started approaching Taylor about publishing sponsored posts, and revenue for the site, which was called The Penny Hoarder, quickly grew. Flash...


How unemployed college students launched a thriving tech news site

When Christopher Wink graduated college in 2008, he had no intention of launching a media company. He just wanted an entry level journalism job that would allow him to work his way up within the industry. But back then, when newspapers were hemorrhaging revenue and announcing mass layoffs, there weren’t a lot of journalism jobs to pass around. So, out of desperation, he and a couple other college friends launched a Wordpress blog called Technically Philly. It covered the local tech scene,...


How Facebook’s Newsfeed changes are affecting European publishers

Back in January, Facebook made an announcement that shocked the publishing world: It was tweaking its Newsfeed algorithm so there would be less emphasis on Facebook pages and more focus on what your friends were sharing. Reach for Facebook pages was expected to plummet, and publishers that had grown addicted to Facebook’s free referral traffic girded themselves for an all-out decimation of their businesses. But while there have been some clear victims of the algorithm change, the actual...


Why Fortune 100 companies are launching their own podcasts

It’s impossible to know which company launched the first branded podcast, but one of the earliest well known examples was GE’s The Message. Produced in collaboration with Panoply, The Message was a science fiction documentary that generated millions of downloads and a rabid fanbase. Ever since GE’s runaway success with the medium, other major brands have waded into the podcast waters, with large companies like Walmart and Goldman Sachs launching their own shows in recent years. But what...


How an obsession with right wing media spawned a booming newsletter

Will Sommer grew up in a conservative household and garnered an early interest in Rush Limbaugh and other right wing media figures. When he went to college, his politics changed, but his obsession with conservative media never went away. In late 2016, that obsession paid off. Sommer was one of the first reporters to write about Pizzagate, the conspiracy theory that a DC pizza parlor was the home of a child sex ring. After a man was arrested for firing a gun inside the restaurant, his...


How this web designer became the Nate Silver of healthcare reporting

Back in 2013, the Obama Administration rolled out a new version of, with disastrous results. It was the public unveiling of the Obamacare exchanges that would allow anyone to buy health insurance on the open market, and yet the website was almost impossible to navigate without encountering errors that would prevent you from signing up for insurance. At the time, Charles Gaba was running a freelance web designer business in Michigan and writing for the liberal blog Daily Kos...


This guy built a $1 million business on top of the Gmail API

Every year we get new articles questioning whether “email is dead.” With the proliferation of social media and messaging apps, it seems only natural to ask what will replace a decades-old electronic messaging system that really hasn’t changed much in all the years we’ve used it. But email has remained resilient, and it’s even experienced a renaissance of sorts lately. In the wake of Facebook’s algorithm changes that are designed to hurt content providers, more and more publishers are...


How publishers monetize their newsletters with paid subscriptions

There’s no question that newsletters are on the rise. Legacy publishers are constantly launching new newsletter products. Quartz’s Obsession newsletter, for instance, picks seemingly random topics and goes deeps on them. Vox’s Voxcare newsletter, a favorite of mine, covers new developments in healthcare policy. But we’re also seeing a number of media startups that are producing newsletters without corresponding websites. The Hustle, a business-news oriented newsletter that has over 500,000...


How artists illegally pay their way onto Spotify's playlists

With over 150 million users, Spotify has the ability to launch the careers of previously-unknown music artists. It does this by featuring these artists on its playlists, which are maintained by a mixture of users, Spotify staff, and algorithms. Playlists count for half of all listening on Spotify, and getting your song listed on a few of the most influential lists, some of which boast millions of subscribers, has the ability to thrust you onto the Billboard 100 charts. Several rap artists...


Influencer marketing has a huge fraud problem

The influencer marketing industry is estimated to generate $2 billion a year, with $1.6 billion coming from Instagram influencers alone. That number is only set to increase, with 39 percent of marketers saying they plan to increase their influencer marketing budget this year. It’s now pretty much impossible to open up Instagram or YouTube without seeing #sponsored posts popping up from your favorite stars, from Kim Kardashian all the way down to food Instagrammers who only have a few...


How Think Progress generated $500,000 in donations after Trump was elected

Think Progress was founded in 2005 as an offshoot of the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank. What started as a bloggy website has grown into a fully staffed news organization that employs beat writers and conducts investigative reporting. The site has generated real impact, most recently when it published a list of companies that had established corporate partnerships with the NRA. Activists seized on the list and used social media to pressure many of these companies...


Remembering the blogosphere before the rise of Facebook and Twitter

Technorati rankings. Full RSS feeds vs partial RSS feeds. Blogrolls. The Techmeme leaderboards. Blogspot vs Wordpress vs Typepad. If you were a blogger over the mid-aughts, these were just a few of the things you might have obsessed over as you catapulted blog post after blog post into the ether, hoping someone would notice and provide you precious links and send even more precious readers. Back then, the internet felt huge, but the number of actual content producers was tiny compared to...