This is a follow up story for Content Intelligence Media. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 3 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
My name is Thomas Oppong, I am the founder of Content Intelligence media, a digital marketing company. I am also the curator at Postanly Weekly (curated tools for wealth, wisdom, and smarter living). Read my full beginner story here.
I’m a solo online creative professional and make about $7K/month from all sources of income (blog and newsletter sponsorships, courses, books, and Medium partner program) at the moment.
I used to make 30% more but sponsorships have been slow in the past year. My main source of income is Alltopstartups (small business resource site) sponsorships and partnerships.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?
I’ve been promoting the online assets I have already published on different platforms. Promoting books, courses, and my main newsletter (Postanly Weekly). I am trying not to do too much at the moment. I had four newsletters on the go in the last year. I stopped one, sold another for $10,500 (on Microns), and actively maintain two at the moment. My paid newsletter growth is still slow. Discounts and giveaways work best when trying to convert free subscribers to paid users.
Growth hasn’t been great in my main newsletter. So I’m exploring everything to get back to growth again. Cross-promotion works better at the moment. I have partnered with Refind for newsletter cross-promotion and am working with Swapstack to attract more sponsors for my newsletter. There are more businesses I could work with If growth doesn’t stall.
When you get stuck, double down on what’s working. More often than not, we look too far into great ideas and growth strategies. Sometimes the best way forward is to measure your inputs and do more of what’s already working.
I started a LinkedIn newsletter that quickly attracted over thirty thousand subscribers but I’m still figuring out how best to make it a money-making list. I use it to promote my content on other platforms at the moment.
Going forward, I will be experimenting with paid classifieds at Recommendo, The Browser, and Dense Discovery to grow subscribers. This year I intend to use Twitter threads to repurpose my content to grow followers.
What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?
Getting subscribers to buy my information products. I spend a lot of time curating and sending newsletters but a greater percentage of the people on my list still prefer free resources?
Going forward I intend to survey to find out more about how to provide exactly what they need and how much they are willing to invest in paid products. Affiliate links worked in the past but it’s not bringing in enough so I want to focus on premium products and attracting sponsors.
I started a new niche blog this year (Hybridwork Insider) to share resources on how to successfully navigate the new world of work. The goal is to make it a self-sustaining business.
I have invested in SEO to build traffic and attract sponsors and content partners. It’s ranking for the important keywords but it still needs a lot of work. Growth is stagnant at the moment. I intend to hire writers to write long-form articles that will do well on Google.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
Hone in on what you are good at. I’ve launched a lot of products. Sometimes I wonder if that’s a good idea. Promoting all of them has been a struggle. I like to start projects, test ideas, and learn on the go.
But looking back, I should have focused on a few essential products and done more marketing to get the message out to the right platforms. I am not investing in my main income source (Alltopstartups) enough.
Partnering with Refind has been a great move. It’s free and attracts subscribers to my main newsletter. Writing almost daily on Medium again is also a good way to attract subscribers.
I’m not making enough from their partner program but my income is growing by 15% every month. Payment for May was $1525. Consistency pays on Medium but it takes a lot of writing to make it. I used to make almost $10,000 in a single month in 2020. A lot has changed since then.
The aim is to make at least $2000 every month on Medium going forward. It’s doable and sustainable but I won’t make it my only source of income. When I was suspended in early 202, it had a lot of impact on my income. These days I’m careful about platforms I don’t own. No single platform should have that much power on your livelihood. The aim is to own my sources of income.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
Newsletters are the future. I intend to find better ways to grow my primary list. Content distribution is better when you have a good list. In the long -term I want to connect on a personal level with my audience, so I will be exploring sharing my best ideas on Youtube. I am in the process of creating short email courses on specific topics at the moment.
I will be creating more topics I’m curious about to help people dig deeper into the many topics I write about. I’m likely to sell my main business blog (Alltopstartups) in the next five years. I’ve had a lot of offers from reputable startup firms. But I want to make sure I’ve enough sources of income when I let it go. I’m more likely to stick to newsletters in the future.
What’s the best thing you read in the last year?
The Psychology of Money was a great read. Morgan does a good explaining the many strange ways people think about money. It’s a great read. The Almanack of Naval Ravikant is another book I found very valuable.
Sahil Bloom’s “The Curious Chronicle” is a newsletter I find useful consistently. His Twitter account is also a gem. The content at Psyche and Aeon is pure gold if you want to learn specific topics or dig deeper into habits for a good life.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
When you get stuck, double down on what’s working. More often than not, we look too far into great ideas and growth strategies. Sometimes the best way forward is to measure your inputs and do more of what’s already working. It’s a cheaper way than trying to invest in new systems and processes.
Hone your primary expertise and learn complementary skills that can make you indispensable. What are you known for? Dig deeper into your core skill before you dig wider to build a T-shaped career. The root is more important than the branches. A firm foundation will set you up for life.
Where can we go to learn more?
- 40 Short Habits That Have a MassiveReturn On Life
- 4,818 founder case studies
- Access to our founder directory
- Live events, courses and recordings
- 8,628 business ideas
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