How journalists become one-person media brands
Underemployed: Patreon-funded writer
Self-employed: Successful substacker
Right now, there is a tremendous opportunity to become a one-person media brand, finding founders and companies with which you align and are excited by, and partnering with them.
I’ve come to this conclusion because I have to look at this the other way around: running a content company that helps tech companies and investors become media brands means exposure to the demand side of creating excellent content.
Increasingly, our clients don’t want in-house storytellers or journalists — they just want to work with journalists.
This could be unappealing. No self-respecting journalist wants their audience nakedly piggybacked on, having written a story over which they don’t have editorial control.
But this isn’t what’s happening. We’ve found that a) companies are comfortable with giving journalists editorial control over how they tell a story, and b) there’s no mention of journalists sharing content on their own channels. It’s quality and association that matters.
The journalists we work with have cottoned on to the fact something’s shifting. I’m sure secular changes — from growing suspicion towards traditional media to the rise of freelance — account for a lot of this, but there’s also something else: if businesses can get content in front of people they want to sell to and — crucially — people more widely because they have something interesting to say, why wouldn’t they partner with individuals who are content creators to do this better?
For a journalist, this means there’s demand for their skills and what they do, beyond traditional publications. And that building a personal brand isn’t reliant on crowdfunding yourself and tirelessly working social to ensure an income.
Why not find companies with which you have an affinity — to what they’re solving, how they go about it, a founder you admire — and work with them?
Invert the stale paradigm of advertorials, content marketing and media relations by capitalising on a positive-sum relationship to grow your brand and reach. Rather than the journalist being the tool, the subject matter is.
I’ve written before about how businesses will become media companies, and then education institutions — creating their own total addressable markets (a company selling to software businesses trains developers, for example). If you’re a journalist, able to tell stories, explain, investigate and share, the future looks bright.