Hello and welcome to the first appearance of Uncapped Research.
Over the past few years we have seen the resurgence of independent creators. From private classes to niche superuser groups and social media channels. Content is continuing to push towards the specific and rely less on scale for success, opening the door for small-time creators. As the 1000 true fans trope soldiers on it has never been a better time to start a content business. General media companies don't instill the loyalty, trust, and reader empathy that a passionate creator can.
A common point that seems to resonate with many: If you have $10 to spend, would you rather pay your favorite author directly, or the Washington Post? As major media companies continue to announce layoffs, there will almost certainly be an uptick in talented writers trying their luck as free agents.
Helping support independent content creators is why Patreon, GoFundMe, Kickstarter, and Buy Me A Coffee exist. They obviously seems to work well.
Education in the open
In a way, that is why this newsletter exists. Uncapped Research is an transparent testbed. A place to write in-industry content about new topics as I learn it, while still having fun. The website, uncappedresearch.com, will remain the primary source for in-depth material, but this email will lower the barriers for sharing and engagement.
The kicker. None of this works without money. I have watched many thousands of internet products launch over the years. From this there are two distinct camps emerge when you bring up money.
Monetizing an existing fanbase. Those that want to build trust and provide content for a long time before release. Only after finding what they deem a critical mass of success will they consider adding payments.
Those that add payments day one. Often offering a feemium payment model.
I have yet to see any meaningful data that shows one method is better than the other. Rather the process just needs to be thought through from the start. Basic principles still hold. Are you solving a problem? Are you have existing channels for exposure? In part I am curious about this myself, and will be transparent with this newsletters creation, promotion, monetization ––in the most meta sense possible.
Monetization has been a hot topic during the quarantine so far. But it remains to be seen just how this will all play out. People have a finite amount of time to devote to the edutainment-style content newsletters typically provide. When talking about asking for money there are always questions that arise. It is a good idea for anyone looking to start a content play to have answers to these questions lined up ahead of time.
- There is already too much free content for me to consume, what makes this special.
- I might pay $2/mo, but no way is it worth the same as Netflix for me.
A Matter of Ownership
I considered sending this through Substack, a now-popular newsletter publisher that is betting on the recent monetize your
self niche craze. A quick look at the Substack homepage shows politics, news, curation, and personal blog types are all represented. Niche focused content is a win-win for most producers and engaged readers. It allows for deeper analysis into narrow topics rather than forcing SEO optimization for traffic. This works as newsletters and creator-led groups are supported more by people who like who the creator is, than what the content value is. With ad revenue slipping, ad blocking on the rise, and advertising prices increasing there has never been a better time to consider a focused group.
Moreover our attention is oversubscribed, leading content creators to focus more on channels that are already visited, such as social media and email. Most people check their email and socials daily. A fancy content website? Maybe weekly. These channels will continue to move from purely advertising to more native, bite-sized content plays such as Thingtesting, which monetizes a 40k+ following though paid access to the close-friends feature on Instagram. In 2020 More sites will start to make content that can work on both a native site and mobile.
Examples of monetized newsletters.
A stereotypical argument made from indie-hackers.
- Start charging right away.
A nice summary of the players and opportunities in the newsletter content space.
- Get to 1000 subscribers then turn on monetization
A great breakdown of how smartly crafted bundles can actually increase revenues for all the respective independent creators involved.