Interview: Thousand Faces Club

I was interviewed recently by Thousand Faces Club for their newsletter: Morning Rush.

“A bi-weekly newsletter to discover new creators & our analysis on creator economy and internet trends. Read by 1,800+ creators.”

A deep dive into my content entrepreneurship journey and building The Shift newsletter for indie creators. Read online.



The ’23 Unsung Content Entrepreneurs

An estimated 50 million people are operating in the creator economy as of 2023, but most attention goes to the 1% who make big bucks and have audiences totalling over 1M.

So called ‘middle-class creators’ – those earning money from a content business – get ignored.

So, The Tilt has launched the Content Entrepreneur Awards with its first class of Unsung Content Entrepreneurs. They did a callout in their newsletter and socials, asking their readers for nominations. Meet the shortlist.

It features creators of all ages from around the world covering diverse topics. Some great people here to connect with and learn from.

The top Unsung Content Entrepreneurs will be announced and celebrated at Creator Economy Expo, May 1-3 in Cleveland, Ohio.  

I nominated Marianne Lehnis, founder of The Green Techpreneur, and am delighted she made the shortlist!

It would be fun to turn this into a #CreatorChallenge and follow the journey of a small cohort, over the next 12 months.

Team up with a couple of other newsletters in the space, interview them all and share on our platforms for wider reach.

Where are they now, and where do they want to be this time next year? Set some goals and accountability. Check-in regularly and share any asks/offers…

Then interview them all again next year to see how far they’ve come…

…and turn the interviews into an ebook: The Creator Business Book to share ahead of next year’s CEX. A book is a brilliant business card and goody bag merch!

Most awards are a one-off event, which is a missed opportunity, IMO. Why not share a creator’s journey, problems, solutions, and learnings over a year or more?  

Others can come on board and join the challenge… keeps us all motivated, working towards shared goals, and builds a deeper connection.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.”

So, let’s get this challenge started!

Interview #1 with The Green Techpreneur coming up in the next issue.

Let me know if you have any questions for Marianne or the other nominees, and if you’d like to join the challenge.

Good to put yourself out there and enter as many awards as possible. IPSE has just launched its Freelancer Awards 2023 – few new categories. And the Publisher Newsletter Awards has been extended till 5 May.

Get entering! If it’s free, you’ve got nothing to lose.

Teens and chatbots…

Julieta and her mates have been playing around with Snapchat’s new AI chatbot.

‘My AI’ is pinned to the app’s chat tab above conversations with friends.

It’s powered by the latest version of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, but some key differences exist. You can name it, design a custom Bitmoji avatar, and bring it into conversations with friends.

So far, mixed reactions, and it’s raised some privacy concerns.

You don’t have to interact with it, but you can’t remove it unless you pay for Snapchat+, their premium service. It says it doesn’t know where you are, but if you ask where the nearest pizza place is, it tells you exactly where you are.

It’s less formal, a bit chattier than ChatGPT (we had both tabs open to compare responses), and has an attitude… didn’t like it’s new name: “KittenWhiskers”. Named her “Curious” because she asks so many questions.

We asked Kitty to name the 50 states of the US, and it refused, saying, “I don’t think that’s a good use of your time.” Had to ask three times and eventually got an answer.

Teen verdict: “Everyone is playing with it now cos it’s new, and it helps with homework, but we might not be bothered in a week….”

Well, it’s teaching them prompt engineering, which is a valuable skill. They will be using these tools in the future, so why not learn about AI together, talk about it, and help shape it.  

The Shift Hot 5 🔥

Introduction to content design course is back on FutureLearn. Next iteration – a free 4-week course. Learn how to apply user-centred design methods to enhance your digital content and comms. Register here.

Creator Economy Summit takeaways. 400+ people in LA last week at The Information’s annual event. Search #creatorsummit on LinkedIn to see some insightful recaps and thoughts on the state of the creator economy.

The “magic no 39” – if your podcast episode is downloaded 39+ times in the first week of going live, it qualifies as among the top 50% of all podcasts worldwide! Top tips from Chris Phin on how to make money from podcasting (article + replay).

Passionfroot Guides for Creators – how to price newsletter ads, podcasting checklist and more to come. Really like their #TechForGood ethos and service – doing a demo of their backend OS that helps creators manage their financing and workflows in one place. More of this to come…

Great piece by Simon Owens on why the Creator Economy “middle class” does exist. I don’t like the framing of a “creator middle class” either – good to query the definition. Creators aren’t employees, they’re small businesses/entrepreneurs.

And businesses take time to build, which is why these studies should have minimum requirements for inclusion and take a long-term view. A creator career is definitely feasible, though. Send him your thoughts.

Enjoy the Kingy Thingy! 👑


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Going all in on LinkedIn

Stay ahead of the game in 2023 with 7 LinkedIn updates

I’m going all in on LinkedIn this year – posting and engaging on one platform daily to save time and stay sane. LinkedIn is the granddaddy of social media – celebrating its 20th birthday in May!

Mind-blowing to think it has over 900 million members in over 200 countries and territories. That’s a lot of eyeballs on your posts 👀

LinkedIn is seeing a lot of in-app activity due to the Twitter storm and layoffs. I’ve heard many people talk about doubling down on it this year, so it’s helpful to know what’s happening.

LinkedIn has announced 7 new updates coming in 2023 – more help for creators including:

• Creator analytics – see your top-performing posts and what’s working for your audience

• New features to make newsletters more discoverable

• The Focused Inbox to help with spammy sales pitches and random InMail

• Tailored job collections for casual browsing – curate your wishlist: mission-driven startups, remote jobs and travel inspo

• Post-scheduling and the ability to edit submissions afterwards. Hurrah! It’s been a long time coming.

Great to see them going all in on newsletters when Meta and Twitter have dropped their newsletter programmes. 36K+ newsletters published on the platform (still needs a directory and the ability to download your subscriber list).

They have big ambitions for newsletters. Will we see a TikTok-style creator marketplace with AI ads?

Just reading Jack Appleby’s piece on using LinkedIn (not Twitter) to build your career personal brand. He posts daily and copies and pastes his tweets (it works!). No need to overthink it.

LinkedIn posts have a longer shelf life and decent organic reach, and it’s the place to be for B2B marketing. It’s also been a reliable source of work for freelance projects over the years.

I agree with him that building your career personal brand on a site linked to your CV makes sense. Your profile page is your sales page/lead magnet!

I’m also keeping an eye on the LinkedIn for Creators page and the Creator Weekly newsletter for content opportunities, including the next round of the Creator Accelerator cohort. How did the last batch do? I will find out – be good to hear their insights.

I get all my social media news from newsletters to save time and monitor trends in one place (using Inoreader for RSS – a fantastic tool, you can add newsletters).

1. Jack Appleby’s Future Social – the latest on social media strategy, the creator economy and more.

2. Social Media Today – the latest news, trends, and tips (a relaxing read, no annoying pop-ups).

3. Matt Navarra’s Geekout – a range of resources for social media managers (and geeks!).

4. Nicole Tabak’s Social Media Detox – thoughts on life and self-care for content creators. Creator burnout is real.

5. Daniel Roth’s Creator Weekly – a resource for creators on LinkedIn: what’s trending and which creators are making an impact.

6. Jaskaran Sain’s The Social Juice – he is rocking Reddit with his roundups on r/socialmedia and his subreddit r/marketingcurated.

7. Lucy Hall’s Digital News Roundup – a special session on LinkedIn at the Digital Women Live Conference on 22 March.

I do social strategy for clients and don’t always have the time and energy for personal updates. I’ve simplified my process – pick one platform to focus on. Separate accounts so I don’t have to follow clients from my personal one. Pomodoro to block time – constraints help! Different phones for work and me.

I write all my posts in a Word doc a week ahead and get sign-off from clients. I can sign my own off on Fridays 😉 Need to spend some time curating my feed to have a useful and inspiring timeline.

As Tim Ferris said, “The person who curates better information feeds gets better thoughts”. 

Go on little adventures! It can be mundane, so it helps to work in different environments and, ideally, do it with others. It will lead to better quality posts than doing it on the fly and trying to squeeze it into the workday – save that for the interaction.

You can help each other learn new tools (LinkedHelper is highly recommended!) and amplify each other’s reach.

It helps to remember that it’s ‘social’ media and not just about numbers and data. It’s about engagement, connection, and conversation. One conversation can change everything! 

I was listening to Derek Sivers’ podcast (he doesn’t do social, he’d rather read a book), and he said “business is about helping people.” Yep. When did it get so complicated and time-consuming – data, analytics, automation and planning tools?

Let’s keep it simple, have fun and stay sane. More time to read books, be in nature and do the important things in life.

r/LinkedInLunatics – a subreddit for insufferable LinkedIn content. Now celebrating 200K subs and launching its own Discord server. Meet the LinkedIn characters… Beware deep rabbit holes ahead 🕳 🐇

🔥 The Shift Hot 5

Thinking Forward 2023 report (We Are Social). Digging deep into the many-tentacled thing social has become. The way we explore the internet and discover content is evolving. Platforms that de-centre creator profile pages have grown dramatically. We’re moving towards sites like Substack that enable collective authorship.

How reading fiction can make you a better person (Big Think). Instead of walking a mile in someone’s shoes, try reading a chapter of their book. Research shows that fiction helps you neurologically relate to other people’s experiences. Better social interactions and the ability to read the room. Never trust a man who doesn’t read fiction.

Having trouble with that phrase? Try this…(The Freelance). DeepL has released an online writing tool that it says goes beyond the usual spelling and grammar checkers. It can help you improve your writing by “syntactically reformulating” certain phrases and jargon-stricken sentences. Currently free in beta mode.

YouTube shares its creator economy trends for 23. How creators have become mainstream entertainment and why creator-driven content is winning the streaming wars. Creator and journalist Jon Youshaei explores this phenomenon on the streets of Los Angeles in his ‘Creators vs Celebrities’ series.

Every is launching a new kind of conference, Thesis, in partnership with Interintellect. 20+ writers with the most exciting ideas on the web present 15-minute talks and host intimate salons that explain their big ideas in simple terms. 25 February in New York. Online everywhere.

Thoughts, questions, or topic suggestions?

Get in touch. I’d love to hear from you! Email

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The blueprint for building your 7-figure newsletter business

Learn from some of the top minds in the creator space 🔥

Here’s an inside look at how 7-figure newsletters make money from

It’s packed with lessons they’ve learned from growing their email list to 2m+ readers and millions of $$ in annual revenue.

And the wisdom of many other successful newsletter publishers – from Morning Brew to Axios to AppSumo and more.

The goal is to demystify the newsletter business and teach you what works through a visual method they call ‘The Newsletter Engine.’

How to stand out, grow, profit, and influence like never before.

Thanks to Ethan Brooks, lead researcher, for your hard work on this. It’s an absolute gem! 🤗

It was meant to be a premium report for Trends subscribers, but the project was shelved when they got acquired by Hubspot.

Hubspot doesn’t need the money, so it’s now FREE for you to download here, in glorious PDF chapters – part 4 is just out.

I heard about it on the Content is Profit podcast (fun, high energy!) – listen to the 3-part interview with Ethan here. Scroll down recent episodes, and you’ll see them all.

One thing Ethan said blew me away: size doesn’t matter.

He mentioned a niche newsletter that’s turning over 6-figures with a 1K audience. 

Farming? Nope. Fish? Nope.

It’s a newsletter for photo booth business owners. There can’t be that many of those!

The riches are in the niches. You will be the trusted source when “these people don’t have that many options.”

Good to start with content strategy. If you don’t have good content, nothing else will happen. Storytelling, personality, research and reporting. Your brand needs a heart and a soul to move hearts and souls – and to inspire and empower readers.

There’s no growth hack or pricing strategy that can overcome bad content.” 💯

Know your niche and audience value (and get to 10K subs!!) before you even think about paid growth strategies.

Thanks to the Trends team for making this free and accessible.

What else? I’m working on my content diet because Inbox Hell. 30K emails 😱 I can’t get out of the abyss – calendar invites, press releases, newsletters, random links I send myself.

Send me your tips and I’ll include them next time – just found a fantastic tool that might save me!

I’m setting up a website for TS. Substack is great, but it sucks re SEO. I don’t see many Substacks on Google search. I want to get everything on to my own site and build my content library. SEO, search, opportunity.

As Joe Pulizzi says: “Don’t build your content house on rented land.

Speaking of Joe, he’s offering a fantastic discount for the Creator Expo Show (CEX) in May. I have an affiliate code, but his deal is much better – you can get $200 off via his newsletter here.

I’m buying a virtual ticket, but next year it has to be in person. The magic happens in the room 💫

Keep moving!

Nika 🙂

🔥5 things to know

What’s inspired me this week.

Submit your publication RSS feed to the Google Publisher Center. It’s an interface that helps publishers submit, manage and monetise their content in Google News through Subscribe with Google. Speaking of search and SEO – just done it.

Learn how to build an email list – a proven system for getting 1K+ subscribers from Brian Harris at Growth Tools. The strategy around newsletters and some promotion tactics. Long but worth it. A little challenge for the next eight weeks!

Read newsletters for newsletters. Yes, it’s meta, but if you run a newsletter, there are a growing number of places to find out what’s happening on Planet Newsletter—roundup from Paul Metcalfe, the founder of Lettergrowth and Newsletter Blueprint.

Join YATM Creator Day 2023 at Lighthouse, Poole, on Thursday 27 April. A day for direction focused on your content and message. Audience building, personal brand, creativity, biz growth and cheerleading. This time others are paying for (most) of it 😉

Collaborate with Scott Britton, a tech entrepreneur who has just set up Creator Experiments on Substack. He sent me his newsletter growth experiment and would love your feedback and help. And some quick wins to help you reach more people.

Thoughts, questions, or topic suggestions?

Get in touch. I’d love to hear from you! Email or DM @nikatalbot

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