This is a follow up story for Content Intelligence Media. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 1 year 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, trading as AllTopStartups (startup resource blog). I am also the curator at Postanly Weekly (resources for learning better, working smarter, and tools for life).
My main income is from blog sponsorships and ads. Other sources include Medium partner earnings, course sales, book sales, Amazon Affiliates, and paid newsletters.
I started as a blogger but over the years, income diversification has worked really well for me. No single source of income is guaranteed, so I keep an open mind and do more of what’s working. Writing online has attracted a lot of opportunities for my business (book deals and income opportunities).
Monthly income has dropped because my earnings on Medium have since for the past three months. So monthly earning is at $8K at the moment, mostly from the small business blog (Alltopstartups.com). I made almost $15K a month for a year since my last feature until three months ago. I’ve had to double up on what’s working to maintain momentum.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
I’ve been writing books, writing more personal growth essays on my personal website, and growing my newsletters. I experimented with a paid newsletter on Substack. So far I’ve made almost $12K (all time) on Substack but I’m rethinking the approach. At the moment it demands too much time I could use elsewhere and make more than I’m making on Substack. I may focus more on my small business blog since it’s the biggest earner at the moment.
Find out everything that could go wrong and focus on fixing those loopholes before they become bigger problems in the future. What's not working could save your business from its eventual failure. The sooner you can change and adopt a better growth strategy the better.
I want to acquire another small business blog to increase earnings from sponsored content. I have also launched a job board to attract more traffic organically. I intend to monetize it later in the year.
A lot of my clients have been asking for opportunities to publish on other blogs I own, so an acquisition will be a good fit. I’ve also launched 10 books on personal growth. I intend to expand my sources of income to double sales and that will mean hiring at least a freelance assistance to help with all the sales pipelines.
I recently started using Faves, a new curation platform that will help me grow my newsletter (Postanly Weekly) subscription. It looks promising, so I will keep sharing my favorite tools and essays I am reading with the audience I’m building. Medium used to be the biggest source of subscribers. That has changed.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
Don’t put all your earning sources in a single basket. This is by far the biggest lesson of the year. I made a lot of money on Medium in the past year. But that changed at the beginning of the year. They suspended my account and I had to start over. Never forget that you are only renting space on other people’s platforms when you publish content on a site you don’t own, so always build your own. Invest in your own domain and play the long game -publish great content for as long as possible.
Newsletter sponsorship or a newsletter as an income source is still an experiment in progress. Knowledge of what your audience wants or expects should always inform your choice of product or partnerships.
I partnered with Pocket to grow my personal growth newsletter. That worked really well. And I also invested time in newsletter swaps. So far it’s going pretty well. Instead of spending money on ads, I asked a few influencers in the same niche to recommend my newsletter to their audience, whilst I do the same for them. It’s a brainer. And it works. I will be doing more of that in the future.
I have also launched a newsletter on LinkedIn (Career Growth Insider). The growth is amazing. It has attracted over 27K subscribers in about 8 months. I use it to promote new essays. Consistent writing has worked really well for me. Instead of writing once or twice every week, I write every day. It’s time-consuming but it works. I write first thing in the morning before I respond to emails.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
Small business advice blog acquisitions in the future. It falls in line with what I do. I have thousands of marketing agencies who are ready to publish content on other sites. So minimal investment acquisitions will help increase earnings. I still intend to expand my partnerships to grow my newsletters.
I have deliberately maintained a small business for a very long time. But in the next five years, I will be hiring more people to grow content publishing platforms. I will also be publishing more books in the startup advice niche. Startup lessons work well. I’ve tested it and I will be repurposing some of my best essays as ebooks.
In the short term, I will be hiring small business writers to write industry guides and ebooks, and startup reports in a few years. The bigger goal is to interview founders and feature their lessons and advice for young entrepreneurs. Something like Mixergy but condensed or shorter with quick takeaways.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
Seth Godin’s The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly? And Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? Have made the most impact on my perspective about building a lasting career in any field.
The experiences and life stories of great minds can inspire, motivate and encourage us to take the right action and step towards what we want in life and career.
That’s why I also invest in biography and autobiography books.
I am currently reading Einstein: His Life and Universe and Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson and Hidden The Hidden Habits of Genius: Beyond Talent, IQ, and Grit—Unlocking the Secrets of Greatness.
The next biographies (and autobiographies) I will be reading are A Promised Land by Barack Obama, Surely You’re Joking, Mr Feynman! by Richard Feynman, Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, and Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, by Ashlee Vance.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Measure. Measure. Measure. More often than not, we look to external sources for growth opportunities and forget that what we are already doing could be the source of even more traffic or income. So, measure what’s working and double down on those. And then spend less time or resources on strategies that are not working. If social media doesn’t bring traffic, focus on generating optimized content. Refine your approach to growth. Keep an open mind about growth strategies.
Winning is overrated. Learn more from your failures. Find out everything that could go wrong and focus on fixing those loopholes before they become bigger problems in the future. What's not working could save your business from its eventual failure. The sooner you can change and adopt a better growth strategy the better.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Yes. Freelance small business writers and freelance assistants to maintain my job board.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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