You might have recognized the sudden surge in podcasting, personal newsletters and live video over the past couple of months. The recent events have certainly helped to spur this development, but ultimately the trend of “monetizing individuality” has been going on for quite some time now.
Everyone from superstars to half-forgotten former athletes, journalists, startup employees and Wallstreet analysts are participating in this new form of personalized media.
This trend is powered by “new media platforms” like Cameo, Patreon, Podio, Substack, and live video on platforms like Twitch, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook. The rise of these companies enable creators to build an audience around their persona or niche of choice and provide them with the tools to monetize that fanbase.
And there are thousands of creators already living this new reality. The fact that you can now provide exclusive releases, personal audio messages and live-videos to your most avid fans for $5 a month, means that with a couple hundred of subscribers you can already cover your basic costs (check out the artist Montreal for example who switched to Patreon after he couldn’t tour anymore because of the Pandemic).
I am personally also subscribed to a guy called Dave Gerhardt, who’s the head of marketing at Privy and previously Drift.
I pay $10 per month to get (in his own words):
- Podcast & Blog. This is my private podcast & blog, and the minute you join you'll get instant access to the backlog too.
- Facebook Group. Join our private Facebook group where you can connect with other marketers and share tips/tricks/marketing advice.
- Monthly Book Club. Each month we read, review, and discuss a classic marketing book (if you want, of course - you can just steal the notes we post after even if you didn't read it...)
- Monthly AMA. Each month we do an open AMA thread and then answer questions on the podcast.
- Monthly Live Q&A. Each month we do a live Zoom call to do Q&A and discuss anything you want about your business, marketing, ideas, challenges, and strategy.
He currently has 953 paying subscribers, that rakes him in a monthly bonus of $9k (if you subtract Patreon’s fee), in addition to his normal salary. I found Dave via LinkedIn, got real value from his free content and am more than happy to pay him $10 per month for the additional exclusive insights he offers me.
We’ve talked about this on a recent newsletter episode as well, when we went deep on what Li Jin from Andreessen Horowitz calls “the passion economy”, where she suggested that in todays environment we may be able to make a living off just 100 true fans. The above example is exactly what she has hinted at.
And whether you are a marketer, an artist, an educator, an interior designer, a CEO or a journalist, you can do the same.
What does this mean for the media world?
Ben Smith from the New York Times weighs in:
“Is this good news? The rise of these new companies could further shake our faltering institutions, splinter our fragmented media and cement celebrity culture. Or they could pay for a new wave of powerful independent voices and offer steady work for people doing valuable work — like journalists covering narrow, important bits of the world — who don’t have another source of income. Like the whole collision of the internet and media, it will doubtless be some of both.”
I personally love where this is going. It distributes the power of influence to the people and gives everyone a chance to be heard and to build a personal revenue stream around the topic or niche that they are already passionate about. And if you have something interesting to say and people are willing to pay you for it, then more power to you!