This question came in last week from a publisher looking to start up.
Let’s jump in… in order to get to 5000 subscribers you need to do 2 things very well:
- produce exclusive “can’t get anywhere else” content
- produce content your audience “can’t live without“
What subscribers will pay for
Let’s take a look at a few examples of publications that are exclusive and satisfy both these needs:
- Pittsburgh sports: If you’re a Pittsburgh Pirates, Steelers or Penguins fan, it’s a big part of your life. You want the best information about Pittsburgh sports and you want to feel a belonging to this community. You might subscribe to DKPittsburghSports.com
- If you’re into tea, and I mean into the finest teas in the world, then your daily tea drinking life requires you have access to the best information on Chinese tea.If there’s no reliable source for high end tea information then a new publication such a TeaJourney.pub that is importing articles written in China, translating them to English, and revealing the best sources and the best education about tea may become critical to the enjoyment of your day-to-day tea and tea-social life.
- If you are a parent in a small town in New Hampshire then the need to know what’s going around on in your community becomes critical to your day-to-day life. And yes, my wife subscribes to the digital Valley News here in NH.
These examples satisfy both items: exclusive & can’t live without content.
OK so let’s go back to the question how do I get to 5000 paid subscribers?
The way to get there is to start with a “minimum viable product”… right now. You can start small and fast. A one person operation can get things rolling and produce something that their readers are interested in. Starting with a basic blog that tackles a specific need or pain point for your reader will ultimately help you grow faster, with better content, and more engaged readers.
So what happens when you do this?
- you get feedback now, not later
- you get to learn things from your audience such as what are your most popular articles and what other sites they hang out on (that you should also hang out on)
- they leave comments on your articles revealing what they like (and don’t) that you can turn around into better articles
- they send you email with longer questions and suggestions about your publication
- they connect with you so you can interview them and create podcasts or webinars
- the mistakes you make early on won’t sink your publication
- if needed your later Kickstarter/money raising efforts will be more successful because of what you have learned
- you will produce better content sooner from your feedback loop
And as a bonus you will move faster than your competitor, to become the number one source in your niche.
Starting with a minimum viable product (EG: a news style blog) will let you get to know what your audience wants faster. This will help you deliver exclusive content your readers can’t live without and help you grow faster towards your one year goal.
Take a look at DKPittsburghSports.com who started with just himself and a blog… and hit 20,000 paid subscribers in just over a year.