David Elikwu speaks with Josh Spector, a newsletter publisher and an audience and business growth strategist.

He helps creative entrepreneurs to grow their audience and businesses and he also writes a great newsletter called For The Interested.

We talked all about, so many great frameworks for shipping great work and finding the right audience, creating work that you are proud of and being able to create work consistently in a way that doesn't lead to burnout.

๐ŸŽ™ Listen in your favourite podcast player

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๐Ÿ“น Watch on Youtube

๐Ÿ‘ค Connect with Josh Spector:

๐Ÿ“„ Show notes:

What led him to the entertainment industry [4:46]

The building process of my newsletter [13:33]

How people think about the value of their creations [15:30]

A lot of people are afraid to start [20:31]

Not enough people do things [21:42]

The gap between those who produce and those who consume [23:12]

Building a newsletter from scratch? [24:49]

Your audience is an asset [32:52]

Not monetizing his platform for four years [34:46]

The problem with advertising [36:44]

How Josh started running ads [39:07]

The stepping stones to growth [44:08]

Strategic audience growth [50:30]

Your bio should not be about yourself [52:10]

Provide specific value to a specific audience [53:54]

Why people fail to niche down [56:21]

The constant evolution of challenges [1:00:32]

What successful creator-entrepreneurs do [1:05:32]

๐Ÿ—ฃ Mentioned in the show:

51: A moment of honesty โฑ๏ธ: https://www.theknowledge.io/issue51/

Hollywood: https://www.hollywood.com/

Connected Comedy: https://connectedcomedy.com/

A Person You Should Know: https://apersonyoushouldknow.com/about/

Ann Friedman: https://www.annfriedman.com/

James Clear: https://jamesclear.com/

Substack: https://substack.com/

Full episode transcript below

๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿพโ€๐Ÿ’ป About David Elikwu:

David Elikwu FRSA is a serial entrepreneur, strategist and writer. David is the founder of The Knowledge, a platform helping people think deeper and work smarter.

๐Ÿš€ Career Hyperdrive

Career Hyperdrive is a live, cohort-based course that helps people find their competitive advantage, gain clarity around their goals and build a future-proof set of mental frameworks so they can live an extraordinary life doing work they love.

During this course, you will make the leap from 'going with the flow' to actively crafting your journey. And youโ€™ll join a community of ambitious peers who will hold you accountable for betting on yourself.


๐Ÿงญ The Knowledge

On The Knowledge Podcast youโ€™ll hear from the best and brightest minds in business, entrepreneurship, and beyond. Hosted by writer and entrepreneur David Elikwu, each episode features in-depth interviews with makers, thinkers, and innovators from a variety of backgrounds.

The Knowledge is a weekly newsletter for people who want to get more out of life. It's full of insights from psychology, philosophy, productivity and business, all designed to help you think deeper and work smarter.

Website: theknowledge.io

Podcast: plnk.to/theknowledge

๐Ÿ“œFull transcript:


Josh Spector: Followers and audience growth is not a goal. It's a tactic to achieve a goal. So a lot of times people come to me and they're like, I want more followers. How do I get more followers and I'm like hmm, what are you actually trying to accomplish? And sometimes I'll even say to people, tell me what your goal is, what you're trying to accomplish, and don't use any online, social media terms, right? So I think you always want to start with that and then work backwards and go, how can I use social media, content, audience growth, et cetera, to accomplish that goal?

David Elikwu: Hey, I'm David Elikwu. And this is The Knowledge. A podcast for anyone looking to think deeper and work smarter. In every episode I speak with makers, thinkers, and innovators to help you get more out of life.

This week, I'm speaking with Josh Spector. He helps creative entrepreneurs to grow their audience and businesses and he also writes a great newsletter called [00:01:00] For The Interested.

We had an incredible conversation. Honestly, I feel like I personally learned so much from this. I was the creative entrepreneur he was helping and we talked all about, so many great frameworks for shipping great work and finding the right audience, creating work that you are proud of and being able to create work consistently in a way that doesn't lead to burnout.

Josh is great, he told me all about his background in Hollywood and in comedy and everything that he's been doing as he helps entrepreneurs to scale their creative work.

So you can get the full show notes and transcript at theknowledge.io. And while you're there, you can get my newsletter. Every week, I share some of the best insights and ideas that I come across from psychology philosophy, business and productivity.

So, if you're interested in seeing the very best that I have to share, you can get my newsletter at newsletter.theknowledge.io. You can find Josh on Twitter @jspector and if you love this episode, please do [00:02:00] share it with a friend and don't forget to leave a review because it helps us tremendously to reach other listeners just like you.

I think you've always been in the content space, which I find really interesting. And so I'd love to dig into some aspects of your background and figure out how you got to the point where you are at now.

And then we can talk maybe about a lot of what you do, which is helping people to, well, you're scaling your newsletter giving people advice, creators to scale their newsletters and scale what they do as well.

Josh Spector: Sure. So first of all, thanks for having me on. My, what I do now basically is I help creative entrepreneurs grow their audience and business. And there's two main ways that I do that. One is as a consultant. So I work with some people individually and then the other is really through my newsletter, which is called For The interested.

It is a, it's kind of two newsletters in one. It's a daily are on weekdays I send a one paragraph and sometimes only one sentence a newsletter and then on [00:03:00] Sundays I send a longer one. it's it's a blend of original content and blog posts. I create as well as curated content with a real emphasis on specific, actionable stuff.

So really things that, with everything I share, I try to think about, I aim for valuable, not just interesting. So it's the kind of stuff where, what can someone do after they read this article or watch this video, or listen to this podcast clip. I want them to be able to consume it and then actually put it to use to grow their audience or business. I've been doing this full-time both the newsletter and consulting for about six years now. Prior to that, I had a career of about, it's crazy to say this, but almost 20 years. I live in Los Angeles. I worked for a variety of entertainment industry internet tech, media companies, and journalism.

So I've done a little bit of everything. I worked at a [00:04:00] PR agency. I worked as a journalist for the Hollywood reporter covering the film industry. I worked in marketing at new line cinema. I worked for a startup comedy website, and most recently, or before I went full-time consulting, I ran digital media and marketing for the academy of motion pictures and the Oscars, for about five and a half years. And then continued to take them work with them as a consultant after I left. I ran digital media for about nine Oscars broadcasts, And so kind of a blended background. And even now it continues where I'm a creator, I'm a creative entrepreneur myself, but I also help creative entrepreneurs with marketing and audience growth in business.

David Elikwu: Man, that's a stellar background. I'd love to know what drew you to this to the entertainment industry, because I mean, a big part of the, the span of your career was in that field, whether it's as a journalist or as a content and marketer, what drew you there in the first place?[00:05:00]

Josh Spector: So I always loved entertainment, I love pop culture, I studied journalism in college. When I first went to college, I thought I wanted to be a sports writer, then I went to University of Maryland right outside DC and got really into politics and thought I wanted to become a political journalist.

And I actually had an internship, like kind of a full-time internship for a semester where I covered Congress and covered the Supreme court, which if you want to be a political journalist, this is, that was like the greatest thing ever. And I hated it. So I realized this was right around the, I think it was like the second semester of my junior year.

So I realized, all right, well, I don't want to be a political journalist, but law and entertainment. So I was like maybe, maybe an entertainment journalist, that led me to come out to LA, which led me to sort of, you know, my first job was in PR and then, sort of went from there. I think what's interesting and where, you know, I graduated college in 97.

So the internet was around, but social media [00:06:00] wasn't really like, you know, obviously it was very sort of early on. I think my first, the first blog I started was in like 99 or 2000. So you couldn't even YouTube wasn't around, like, I don't even know that you could easily upload photos back then. So it was a very, it was a very different, a very different time, but I think the real turning point for me, or sort of the connection between entertainment industry to digital social media stuff was I had a production company with a friend of mine and we were trying to develop TV shows and movies and stuff, not successfully, but trying to develop them.

And I wound up getting into producing live standup comedy shows in LA. And in doing that, I got to know this was probably like 2006, 2007. So it was like the MySpace era and got to know all these up and coming comics who were just starting to like post [00:07:00] on my space and just starting to make videos and like YouTube was new.

And, what I realized all of these talented people were starting to create stuff. We're starting to post it online and I started a blog, just curating the best of the funny stuff that I saw these people making. And what was really interesting, the sort of tipping point moment for me was during the day I was, you know, my partner and I, and his production company were trying to get meetings with comedy central development executives and trying to, you know, pitch stuff and couldn't get anyone to pay attention. And then I found out that those same people who wouldn't take meetings with us, we're sourcing talent from the blog. And it was like this, like this huge light bulb moment of like, oh, this internet, social media stuff is in the round. Like it shortcuts the whole system. And now, now this, you know, with where the world has gone, this all seems obvious.

Right? You see people all the time building huge social [00:08:00] media followings and building their fan bases and getting opportunities. But like, this was, that was not a thing back then, right. So, but it was such a light bulb and I was like, wow, this is really interesting that I can't get the traditional way of the entertainment industry, the gatekeeper system and everything else.

I can't get anyone to pay attention to me, but I put this stuff online and people are somehow finding it. That was sort of the first moment that I really realized, okay, there's something here. And I think from that point on my career, even though I continued to work in the entertainment industry for a while, it really started to shift more into digital, more into build a direct relationship with an audience, with a fan base, whether it be entertainment, content, or business content, and ultimately my own stuff.

You know, my newsletter is the engine for my entire business now, right. I've done zero outreach to get clients. They all come to me because [00:09:00] they've seen my newsletter or they've seen my blog posts or word of mouth from a previous client, right. So in some ways the very preliminary lesson that I learned all those years ago, I had just continued to sort of iterate on and obviously the world has changed and shifted in this direction and the tools are better. And you know, and, and I've learned as I've gone, but that's sort of the, that's sort of the transition.

David Elikwu: I love that, and I think so much of what you said connects to something that I talk about a lot, which is this idea of being able to generate serendipity. And the more that you put out on the internet, putting things out there, just create opportunities without you having to interface or without you having to do any more work.

And funnily enough, exactly what you were saying with me, because it reminded me of one example that I have is that I write my newsletter in a very similar way. So I have my newsletter that I write and I like speaking. And so I often occasionally get booked to speak at you know large companies or, or different places.[00:10:00]

And it's so funny that right at the beginning, I used to actually have to, I still do pitch to speak, but, you know, I used to have to like really hunt people down and have to pitch. And you have to prove that your ideas are worth sharing, but funnily enough, you know, I remember having to do that at the beginning.

And then even just in the last year, I've done two talks now where someone has seen something that I've written on my newsletter and said, can you talk about this? And so so now I don't even have to, I remember this talk that I did. It was that this this huge company, I did it for their whole London office and I spent probably like two months trying to, first of all, figure out what, what I'm going to talk about and then boiling down the ideas, trying to figure it out, pulling the script together, pulling the slide together. Whereas now I take a newsletter that I've done. I'm attaching slides to the ideas. Obviously it still takes some work, but you know, I've already proven that I can think about this idea and now I just have to be able to deliver it.

And it's so interesting how, by being able to build this body of work, you can turn it into, into different things.

Josh Spector: Yeah, [00:11:00] It's funny. Like one of the things I, I think about individual pieces of content. A blog post, a newsletter, a podcast episode, a video, even all the way down to a tweet, right? Each one is like a stock or an asset that you can buy and the only cost is the time it takes you to create it. And it can potentially be infinitely valuable.

Right? I have blog posts that I wrote years ago that I took maybe a couple hours to write that are still getting me new client leads, still getting me new newsletter subscribers, who then buy my products or courses or whatever. And it's, you know, it's really interesting now just like stocks, they won't all work.

Right. You'll get more value from some than others, but the, that value, has the potential to compound over time. And I think a lot of people, when they are creating stuff, they think about it, their assessment of whether or not it worked, their [00:12:00] assessment of the value of that piece of content. They're looking at way too short, a timeframe, right? So they write a blog post, they put it out, they go, oh, it didn't really get a lot of clicks or it didn't really lead to anything, but they don't realize that. Especially if you create something that's relatively timeless, which almost everything I create is evergreen. I don't create content that is tied to sort of news or, you know, Twitter announcing some new feature. I'm not writing about that because it doesn't matter. I'm more likely to write about here's how to, you know, here's clever ways to use your pin tweet, write something that is going to be just as relevant. Here's how to provide value on Twitter, that's going to be just as relevant years from now as it is today.

And that's very purposeful, right? Because I understand that extends the value window or the window in which I can get value from that content. And I think when you think about it like that and approach it like that, it changes both how you feel [00:13:00] about sort of the success or failure of a creation.

And you understand that I'm not limited to how many people read this blog post today or this week, right. And it just over time, it, it compounds in value.

David Elikwu: Yeah, I, that resonates with me so much. The analogy that you gave of a piece of content being like a stock is sensational. I'm definitely going to be boring that and making making note of it, but that that's such a brilliant analogy. And I think it's so accurate, like you say, because what it's really about is this power of compounding.

And I was actually just thinking about this earlier today with so. In the process of building my newsletter and as it's evolved and lived a few lives over time, even though it's only a few short years, years, old, and some of that growth has been hampered by lack of consistency at the beginning. But even in the most recent iteration, so previously I started it on Substack and I'd moved it to its own platform right. At the end of last year, because [00:14:00] I was like, you know, I really want this to be able to grow and become its own thing. And I was thinking of how to build and scale it. And so I was like, okay, first step is moving to its own platform.

And then the other thing is actually being able to generate SEO because if I'm honest, my personal newsletters and essays that I write are just generated purely by self-interest and an interest I think of people, but they're not SEO friendly, they're not, I'm not doing any of the tactical stuff with that.

I just want that to be what I want to write. But then simultaneously I was like, okay, let's also write articles that are such a board that do provide clear, concise answers in a way that will be discoverable. And it's interesting because. It's something that you do and well, at least in my experience, the impact is not immediate.

I did not immediately reap the benefits of that straightaway. It's not like I write this article and suddenly thousands of people are coming from Google every day to visit it. But what I'm noticing is that now as of this month, for example, suddenly, well, it's been growing over time, but I think [00:15:00] suddenly there was a big jump where the very first articles that we put on the site in November, December are now suddenly getting a thousand plus organic just from Google clicks a month.

And that is, you know, but it's taken that time to warm up or whatever it is that happens on Google, but I can see how the value of that now compounds over time, just because of something that I did six months ago. Now it's growing, it's growing, it's growing every month. And now the amount that is compounding every month, it's starting to grow massively.

Josh Spector: Well, I think also the way that people think about the value of their creations. I think a lot of times they just think about it in terms of traffic and traffic is great and valuable, but creating stuff, even that doesn't get a lot of traffic can unlock other value. And this goes to this sort of you're creating assets.

Like I, one of the things I say to people a lot of times is like, you know, don't think about it as you're creating content, thinking of it as you're building a content library. Right? So you're building a collection [00:16:00] of resources that you can use in a variety of different ways. So for example, I might write a blog post that let's say it doesn't do very well. It doesn't, meaning, I shouldn't say that. It doesn't get a lot of traffic, it's not even after years, SEO is not work. Like there's no, it's just it, right. I created it and sort of, it didn't go anywhere. But three years after I created it someone on Twitter or someone emails me. And they asked me a question and I happened to have already written this blog post, which answers their exact question. And I'm able to send it to them as opposed to trying to answer their question, or as opposed to getting on a call with them or whatever I'm able to go. Hey, here is this thing that I wrote three years ago that nobody seemed to care about, but it is exactly the answer to what you want to know, and that person reads it and it sure enough is exactly what they want to know.

And they see they're able to access my expertise, my [00:17:00] thought process, and they turn back and go. That was amazing. Can I hire you? Can we do a consulting call? Can you help me with whatever? So that post, that was a total flop and never got any traffic three years after I wrote it gets me client. Which arguably could be more valuable depending how you define value, but could be more valuable to me then another pose that gets a ton of traffic, but doesn't lead to doesn't actually lead to anything.

The other piece of the value that I think people miss is, and I'm a huge fan of a huge believer in consistent production of content, right? So I publish my newsletter every week for six years. And now for the past, whatever six months or whatever, every weekday as well, a short version. I've written a new blog post basically every week for the past six years as well. When people create content sporadically, you don't even know what it means to work, right? [00:18:00] So they post something. And by the way, this is also true with social media, right? Whether it's tweets or Instagram posts or Tiktoks or whatever you're doing. If you're only posting stuff sporadically, you don't really even know where the baseline is for you, right. So you might put something out and you might go, oh, it got a thousand views, that's awesome. What a hit, but you don't know if a thousand is actually good for you or not, right. Whereas if you posted, if you post, for example, if you post three pieces of content, the only thing you have to measure is those three pieces of content.

So you don't really know what worked, what didn't, you're just comparing, maybe all three were bad. So the one that you think was good, wasn't actually good. It's just that, you know, the baseline is low, right? The more you produce the better you're able to judge and assess what actually resonates with people. Because especially when you're starting out, you don't have a huge audience anyway. So it's, you know, it's tough to gauge. So I think [00:19:00] that's the other thing of like, understanding that even if you create stuff that doesn't quote unquote work, it's giving you another data point so that you're able to identify even the small fluctuation of like, oh, when I talked about that thing, let's say Twitter, for example, right.

Maybe you don't have a big following. You don't get a lot of engagement. The difference between something that gets five replies and two replies is sending you a signal. And the more you put out there, the more you start to understand, Okay. that's that idea is resonating. Maybe that's the idea that I should turn into a blog post, or maybe that's the idea I should tweet more about, right.

Like, but you need to take shots. You need reps, you need to put stuff out there in order to get that data as well. Like there really is no such thing as a flop because. Even if something flops, you're still getting a valuable data point.

If you analyze your stuff, which is the other thing lots of people don't do is they don't [00:20:00] actually take a step back to strategically look at like, and think about like, why do I think this thing worked? Why did this not work? You know, when you, when you're producing a volume of stuff, you're able to go. I notice when I do this, it tends to work better than when I do it this other way. So all of that stuff is value that I think people don't think of because they're caught up in traffic metrics or likes or whatever,

David Elikwu: Yeah, I absolutely agree with that. And even just on the ending point of what you were saying, I think a lot of people are also afraid to start and they're afraid to start because they're afraid to fail. And just like what you were saying. I think. People, ultimately they still want to be good. Right? The whole point is that you want to be able to say that you're good at doing X, but the whole point is it's just like increasing your batting average.

There's the analogy that I use. You can't have an average if you don't have something above and below the line, right? There's no, if you only do something once, how do you know whether [00:21:00] that's good or bad, you have to keep doing it and figure out based on where the other balls hit. You know where your average is, what does good look like?

And once you figure out what good looks like, then you can figure out what great looks like. And you can figure out a way to grow and expand from there. But if you don't even take enough shots to get those initial data points, then you're not going to be able to grow in the way that you would like to.

And I think you will end up just being hampered by whatever activity that you've done, even if it was good, you won't necessarily know until you've continued to put things out there and continue to develop. And like you say, also being able to learn from the things that you have done and being analytical about that.

Josh Spector: I was just gonna say, as far as the starting, you know, I also think it seems really simplistic, but it's very true. Not enough people do things. They talk about doing things. They think about doing things. They ask people about doing things. They learn, they buy courses and stuff. They learn about doing things. All of this stuff. But the vast majority of [00:22:00] people, aren't actually doing things. And it's really the only part that matters, right. And a lot of times when I have conversations with people, it's interesting because they're asking me whatever it is, right. How do I get more clients? How do I get more followers? How do I do this, that or the other? And I'm like, well, what are you actually doing? Right, right. Like, like start doing it. Like you're not going to get more Twitter followers by tweeting once every two weeks.

It's just not going to happen, right. Like, you're not going to grow your newsletter by occasionally posting a newsletter. And you're not gonna grow your newsletter by spending three months trying to figure out what, which email service platform to use. Like they get bogged down in all the tech and all that anything. And like, it just go do things and you'll figure it out as you go. And, and also it's a huge, competitive advantage. Like most people don't, it's a mate. Like it seems so simplistic, but most people [00:23:00] aren't actually doing things.

David Elikwu: Yeah. And that's a huge thing, like on Twitter, you're on Twitter, I'm on Twitter. It's so interesting. How, as much as people complain, I think there's a lot of people maybe they'll copy other people or whatever it is. There is still this huge distance between people that create and people that consume.

And the people that create is such a small number compared to the people that consume compared to everyone else. And it's crazy when you think you see people on Twitter with, you know, 10,000, 20,000, 200,00, 2 million followers, all of those people you don't see because they are not tweeting. So many of those people that are not actually creating anything, it's such a small number of people that create.

And so many people feel daunted by the people that have the huge followings, not realizing that all of the other people are, you know, they, are out there. They're just not creating anything. And sometimes it's just about you stepping into the void and starting to create something that allows you to start generating that inertia.

Josh Spector: Yeah. And I forget what the exact stat is and I'm probably going to butcher it, but [00:24:00] basically it was some version of, you know, essentially like on social media platforms, right. 90% of people do nothing. They just consume, they don't engage. They don't like they don't retweet. They don't, they just are passive consumers. That's 90 percent, right. And I think another 9% don't create, they don't post, but they might reply. They'll like, they'll share. They sort of engagers, but not creators. And like 1% are the only ones that. are actually creating and putting stuff out there. So, just by doing that, even if you're creating garbage, you've already put yourself in the 1% of people who at least have a chance, right.

A chance to improve a chance to get better, a chance to learn. Cause you just, you're not gonna, you know, you're not going to learn, but without doing that.

David Elikwu: So, what were the early days, like if you build in your newsletter in your platform, because one of the things that I'm interested to know is, did it feel like a pivot if you were doing maybe more entertainment oriented stuff, and you were working at the comedy [00:25:00] business previously, was that, did it feel like a pivot or was it a very natural transition where you were able to scale almost seamlessly?

Josh Spector: So as far as the newsletter goes, it's certainly evolved. So for years, like I said, my first blog was in 2000 or 1999. And for years I would just, number one, blog anonymously. I was not comfortable sort of being out there, whatever. Number two, I would talk about all sorts of stuff. Like it wasn't really to provide that like again, back then, it was very different also, but it wasn't tied to any sort of business goal.

It was just like what a lot of people do even now with newsletter is like, just whatever I feel like writing about and whatever, right. And what would happen is I would start these blogs stick with it for three months or six months and then bail on it. And then I'd start another one. And the same thing when newsletters, right?

Like very sort of start and [00:26:00] stop for years. Then I, when I had worked for this comedy startup website, which wound up failing, and then I went out on my own and, before I went to the academy of motion pictures, there was about a year where I sort of worked sort of started consulting basically. Full-time. And what was interesting about it was at that point, I had never really used these, What I had learned or what I believed I had learned about sort of how to grow audiences. I never really used to grow my own business, right. So I was like, all right, here we go. Let's see if all these things that I've been telling comedians and doing to help grow traffic at this comedy website. Like, let's see if I can do it to myself. And at the time I was focused on basically helping comedians use social media and marketing to grow their audience. So I started a site called connected comedy and literally I was blogging every day. It's interesting. Like, it's very similar to what I [00:27:00] do now, except it was very hyper, like comedian focused.

Whereas now I'm more broader, or like creative entrepreneur focused. So I started blogging every day and I had a newsletter with that. I don't even know that I, it was more an email less than a newsletter. I mean, technically it was a newsletter, but I would sort of just send out whatever blog post I had or whatever.

And you know, and it worked and I was getting clients who it's funny because when I started it, I thought my initial clients would be comedians who I already knew. And what happened was it was comedians from all over the world who had just found me through the blog posts and whatever. So again, another lesson of like, oh, this, you can put content out there and sort of build a business on this. It doesn't just have to be like people that, you know, quote unquote in real life and whatever. So that I stuck with for sort of longer than I had. And that was the first time, you know, one of the first times that it was really, I was the face of it. It wasn't really anonymous. Like it was much more quote unquote [00:28:00] professional. So I had that going and then I went and got the chance to go go work for the academy, motion pictures. And I did that, but I kind of kept connected comedy on the side for a little while as I was doing that. So I had that, I had built, you know, an audience of probably a few thousand subscribers to that, newsletter slash blog.

Then a couple of years later, I started another thing called A person you should know. And it was a daily, like brief profile of like, what's funny, in retrospect, I now see it was like all creative entrepreneurs, but at the time I was just like, oh, it's interesting people that are sharing their expertise online.

So I wouldn't interview them, but I would go find a bunch of their best stuff. And just sort of in this very like six or seven sentence thing with a bunch of links, like, here's a snapshot of who this person is and what they think and check out this article they wrote, or this video or this talk, they gave whatever.

And I did that again for about a year and a half or so, and that [00:29:00] had built an audience. So I had a couple thousand connected comedy subscribers. I had a couple thousand a person you should know subscribers. And I was starting to blog more personally on my personal site. And so by this point, I already knew that like I was a big believer in email lists and newsletters and the way to reach people.

So I had a list there that also had a couple thousand subscribers. So I got to this point, and this was around six years ago, around the time that I left to go full-time consulting on my own. And I had these three lists, all of which were good and successful, but there was like no real overlap. So when I wrote a blog post, I couldn't really share it with the connected comedy audience.

If it didn't have anything to do with comedy. I mean I could, but it didn't make sense. I had a person you should know, which is all about featuring other people. So it didn't make sense to share my stuff, right. And then I had my own list here and I was like, number one, it was just unwieldy and weird. But also I was like, I'm not really doing connected comedy anymore, even though I [00:30:00] still sort of have this thing, a person you should know, I was sort of starting to phase out a little bit.

And like, so there was this weird overlap. So what I did is I collapsed all three less. So I was like, let me see if I can streamline this and collapse all three lists into one list. And what would a newsletter look like that could potentially cover all three of these audiences? I knew some people would leave, but I was like, you know, what could I do?

So I came up with this format that basically initially was very broad and I didn't even really have a name for it at first. I think I just called it like, 10 ideas worth sharing or something like that. And it was just 10 sort of links and summaries. And my idea was I can throw the comedy stuff in here. I can throw the person, you should know stuff in here. I can throw my blog posts in here, whatever. So I did that. And so when, when that started, and that's what it became for the interested, when that started, I probably had [00:31:00] maybe 7,000 or so subscribers from the three lists. And I would say over time, you know, maybe half of them eventually bailed.

Cause it wasn't, you know, it wasn't a fit for wasn't the same thing they had signed up for. So I wound up with about 4,000. And so that then after a couple months or whatever, I came up with the name For The Interested. It became that, and so from that 4,000 it's gone and evolved in over time. I niched down more to sort of create, you know, originally I think my original tagline was, it was like, ideas to help you become better at your Art work and life. So very broad, but as sort of improvement thing. So those early issues, you know, they might've had something about how to get a better night's sleep. They might have had, like, it was much, there was this sort of creator type stuff, but then there was also the kind of general self-improvement stuff.

And I eventually honed into really being audience and [00:32:00] business growth tips for creative entrepreneurs and which very much aligns with my consulting and the work that I do. And, you know, cause at a certain point I was like, I'm not sure why I'm sharing all this self-improvement stuff. Like that's not really what I want and even who I want to attract. Like, not that there's anything wrong with it, but it just didn't align with my ultimate goals. So yeah, so it started with around 4,000, but again, that's misleading because that was years in the making to get to that point. And, uh, now I'm at about, just under 19,000. So,

David Elikwu: Awesome. And was it always intentional that would feed your consulting and being able to get clients and generate that side of the business?

Josh Spector: It was, I would say sort of, so I always value. I always viewed from the very beginning and this probably goes way back to like anything, like I always viewed having an audience is a huge asset, right. So even if it wasn't directly, like I [00:33:00] want to get people and have them hire me to do this, that or the other, I always understood that this would be a really good, valuable thing to have, right. I did not use the newsletter and really still to this day, I did not really promote my services in it at all. So it was not that I didn't set out going, I need clients, let me go get a newsletter to get clients. I view it as its own product. And I get clients because they read it, they read my original blog posts.

They sort of go, wow. I like this guy seems to know, I wonder if he can help me. So it was partially intentional, but I wouldn't say I always viewed it as its own product and for years, but I think probably the first four years I did not directly monetize it at all. I have since built a solid ad business around it, so it has become a source of revenue, but that was never the point for me.

It was always about build an [00:34:00] audience that I have a connection to. And that will create all sorts of other opportunities, whether it be clients, whether it be products I can sell, whether it just be a network of people and opportunities. So that's sort of how I thought about it. It was not sort of promotional driven at all.

David Elikwu: Sure you mentioned not monetizing it for the first four years. And I think that is a huge question for a lot of creators, even for myself, part of, you know, moving from Substack was in the back of my mind, I was thinking, you know, how am I going to be able to turn this into something that is worth the energy? Because that being honest, it's not, so much being able to get the money from it. It's the fact that this has taken a lot of time. It's taking a lot of energy. If people are asking me to do more, if I'm going to do more, how am I going to be able to make this some kind of profitable enterprise? So you're not monetizing your platform at all for that four years. Would you characterize that as a, was that intentional? Was that a mistake in retrospect? So if you were to go through that process again, was that something that you would now [00:35:00] change and do differently? Or how would you approach that?

Josh Spector: Yeah. So I do think I would do it differently. I think there's a couple of different threads here to sort of talk about this. So first is on the one hand I say, okay, I didn't monetize it directly, whatever. That is true, but I was getting clients from it. So it was so while I didn't sort of do it for that, it's, you know, in terms of sort of a justification of it, I knew that most of the clients I was getting were coming through this, the other thing that I think is a huge advantage of having a newsletter is the clients that I was.

When you get a client who comes through your newsletter or through your content. They know, they're a good fit. They already see, they know how you see the world. They're attracted to that worldview. It's very different. If I were to just randomly do cold outreach, if I were to make a list of companies or people that I want to work with and go, Hey, I do such and such.

So let's hop on a call and let me show you how I can help you. Even if I [00:36:00] quote unquote, sell them and they hire me, we may or may not be aligned. They're just going off of that initial whatever. Right. But when I have people hiring me who have been reading my newsletter for a year or two years, it's very like they, I know they're going to resonate with my approach and outlook on the world.

So that's another huge advantage of, sort of having that. So on the one hand I wasn't monetizing at all. On the other hand, it was sort of the engine of all the money I was making. Right. So that, that part's a little misleading, but in terms of direct monetization, really advertising sponsorship, I would do it sooner.

I had, again, another tipping point. So for years for probably the first three or four years with my newsletter. And even before that, I was strongly anti-advertising in general for everything, for everything, right.

And my take was, I thought that, there's misaligned incentives when you go a sponsorship [00:37:00] route, right? Because now you're no longer doing what's best for your audience or your readers. You're kind of doing what's best for your sponsors. You don't have to, but the lines, the line certainly can get blurry at that point. Right. So I thought most products that are advertising driven make the product worse by nature.

Right? They're interrupting people there whatever. So I wanted nothing to do with it. And then one day, again, like four years into my newsletter, I got an email from one of my readers and she was a, therapist who worked with, who specialized in working with creative people. And she said that she had run a classified ad in there's a woman named Ann Friedman who writes a newsletter. And she said she had run an ad and Ann Friedman's newsletter and it was the best like Marketing she's ever done. Right. And I guess there's a lot of creative people that read it and she's like, I got clients [00:38:00] and leads and it was the perfect type of people. And she said, do you know anyone else, do you know any similar newsletters where I could buy ads?

Like I love to do more of this. This was amazing. And I said, no, you know, I don't know, maybe I gave her some suggestions, but I don't, you know, I don't know, even though I knew that I had that audience, but again, in my mind, I'm like strongly anti ad at that point. But so I started thinking about it and I was like, thinking about that specific example, right? Because here was a reader of mine who bought this ad, wanted to reach these people that are in my audience. It was super, hugely beneficial for her. And I was like, the people that she's getting, like the people, hypothetically, the people in my audience, it's probably beneficial for them. Like they're looking for a therapist who understands their type of people or whatever.

So it sort of made me think about all right. Well maybe because I think in my mind, I had always thought advertising like big [00:39:00] brand sponsors and it's obnoxious and whatever, but I was like, all right, well, I don't know. This is sort of different. Like I had never really thought about the people in my audience that might want to reach the other people in my audience, right. So I surveyed my audience. I sent them a, I think it was like a two or three question survey. And I said, the first question I think was if I had classified ads, basically in my newsletter, I had to be anyway, it was like, if I had classified ads in my newsletter, I think it was one question. Would you want to see them?

Would you potentially want to buy one or you don't want to, it would be annoying. You don't want them right. Over 90% of the people who responded few hundred people responded over 90% said they would be curious to see them, or they might want to buy one. And I was like, I was shocked now, again, obviously not, everyone's going to answer the survey, but I was [00:40:00] shocked that 90%.

But here I was thinking, ads are going to annoy people and it's bad for them. 90% of people were like, I'd be curious to see them and, or would want to, to them. And I think there were, I don't remember the percentages, but there were probably 40 or 50 people who said they might want to buy one.

So with that, I was like, all right, well, this seems like it's worth, at least try it. Right. And I come, this seems brilliant in retrospect, but I completely stumbled into it. I realized I had just surfaced 40 or 50 people who might want to buy. So before even announcing it, I started reaching out individually to those 40 or 50 people and basically said, Hey, I think I'm going to launch this, haven't announced it yet, you said you might be interested. I priced it very purposely, very low. It's funny, this is actually a lesson from like my comedy producing days, right. With live shows. So if you, if you're producing a live show and let's say, you think you can sell [00:41:00] 50 tickets, right? You're better off doing that show in a venue that holds 30 people than a venue that holds 70 people. Because when it sells out, even if, you know, you can sell 50, let it sell out, let it be a hot ticket because now you're creating the branding of the show is this is a hot thing, right? And I think a lot of people don't think that way. They're like, if I can sell 50, I want to make sure I sell 50. So I priced it low. It was $50. And I get five slots, I think in each newsletter. And I reached out to these people who said they might want to buy. I wanted to try to make it like a no-brainer for someone to try this. You know, my audience, I think at the time was 15,000 subscribers or something, you know, it was a good deal, like 50 bucks.

So I sold out, I think like the first three or four issues before I even announced they were for sale. So when I announced it, people saw it as a hot product that people wanted. [00:42:00] So literally from the beginning, I basically sold out every issue for the two years or whatever that I've been running it. And I went from $50, an ad to 65, to 80, to a hundreds and now 200, and probably going up again soon.

So knowing what I know now, I absolutely would have started doing that earlier. I don't know at what point I would have started, but my, I have completely flipped on the like, advertising is bad for your audience. Like, people love my ads. They find them super valuable. It's been a nice, you know, it's been a common, nice revenue stream for me.

So yeah, I would have started it earlier, but I would have, but I am really glad even though I stumbled into it, the way that I started, it worked really well. And I think that sort of system, like when I talk to people, I'm like survey your audience, see who might be interested. Your it's a, it's an end around the surface, some initial potential buyers.

[00:43:00] Now, by the way, this is not the only way to do it. There are other people that go and you can go find big brands and I'm starting to sort of expand into some of those bigger sponsorship conversations. But for me, up to this point, most of the ad buyers are coming from my audience. I'm not doing sales outreach, so I'm probably leaving some money on the table, but the trade off is it's been easy for me to do without spending a lot of time and effort. That's a very long-winded answer, but hopefully it helpful.

David Elikwu: No, I love it. And you dropped that, that gem in there about the, the comedy writing example, which is sensational, not comedy writing, but you know, selling out a comedy show. I love that.

So the other question I wanted to ask is, kind of coming off the back of that not so much to do with monetization, but I'm interested to know what you think of as the key levers for being able to grow a newsletter or being able to grow an audience in general. Because just as we were talking about before, this is really for a lot of people, whether they're creative entrepreneurs or even people kind of maybe at the stage that you are, where you're [00:44:00] looking to pivot from, what is your day-to-day job into being able to create this presence for yourself online.

You know, how, what are some of the levers that you think that people can use to start being able to grow?

Josh Spector: Sure. I would start here. I don't think that audience growth. I say this about social media a lot, and it's true with sort of any of these things, right? Followers and audience growth is not a goal. It's a tactic to achieve a goal. So a lot of times people come to me and they're like, I want more followers. How do I get more followers and I'm like hmm, what are you actually trying to accomplish? And sometimes I'll even say to people, tell me what your goal is, what you're trying to accomplish, and don't use any online, social media terms, right? What are we actually trying to do here? So I think you always want to start with that and then work backwards and go, how can I use social media, content, audience growth, et cetera, to accomplish that goal? I think one of the biggest problems people have is they're [00:45:00] missing that alignment, right? Without that alignment, they inevitably wind up frustrated because one of two things happens either they struggle to grow an audience because it's not, it's just sort of random, right? Like it's not connected to anything or they grow an audience, but it's not actually impacting the goal that they want. So they go, I don't understand I'm doing all the things right but it's not, it's not working for me.

So one example I use another, another comedy example is I had a conversation with with a comedian and I was like, well, what is your, what is your actual goal here? Like, you know, he had come to me and said, I want more followers. I'm like, all right, well, like, forget that. What are you actually trying to accomplish? What's the goal? And he said, I'd love to get cast on a sitcom. It's like, all right, perfect. What do you think is if we're talking about how do we use social media to get you cast on a sitcom? What is going to get you closer to it? Having 10, 20,000 random people following you or 50 casting directors and showrunners, [00:46:00] obviously casting direct 50 casting directors and showrunners. So the question is now, how do you use social media to get 50 casting directors and showrunners to follow you? That is going to be a completely different approach than how to get 20,000 random people, right.

I can be posting funny cat videos and random stuff all day and it'll work. But none of those people are going to hire if my goal is to get clients or, you know, sell pro like my goal is to attract creative entrepreneurs who want to grow their audience and business sharing cat videos is not going to do anything, right. So I think that's the first thing is starting with like, what is your actual offline goal? And the way I think about is like, so what's your goal? What are you trying to accomplish? Then you think about the next question is who do you need to reach to accomplish that goal? Right? Then the question is, what do those people value?

This is the other mistake people make, they assume, well, I'm just going to go [00:47:00] share my expertise. But if your expertise, like a perfect example of this is let's say that you, let's say, you're you see this all the time. Let's say you have a company that designs websites for restaurants, right? The content that that person typically puts out is nuts and bolts content about web design, but their target audience, restaurant owners don't give a crap about the latest WordPress plugins, right? So what they're going to attract is other website designers, and they might build a big audience of that, but it's not going to move the needle because if that's an alignment problem, right, what they should be doing is talking about, for example, restaurant growth, restaurant marketing, that's going to attract restaurant owners.

And that is where, so your, so again, that third question is, what's your goal? Who do you need to reach to accomplished that goal? What do those people about you. And how can you provide [00:48:00] that value to them in your content, your social media, your newsletter, whatever, most typically for free that's going to attract them. And then you can, you can do that. So in the example of like the restaurant designer or a restaurant website designer, they should, if they were starting a newsletter, if they started the restaurant marketing or restaurant growth newsletter, they're going to attract restaurant owners, see that, and that is a no brainer for them to subscribe.

They won't because typically what those people will do is they like, oh, web design weekly. And it's like, they're not, the restaurant owners don't care, right. But if you do that, and so then a lot of times the question I get, will they go okay? But like, I'm not an expert in restaurant marketing. How am I going to do the restaurant marketing newsletter? I know about web design and that's where curating content comes in. You don't have to be an expert. You just have to understand how do I find which is not that difficult through Google. I actually have a, I do these skill session, workshops, and I [00:49:00] did one call it the content compass. And it's basically how to find it's a system to help you find share-worthy content. So you don't have to be an expert. So if you're that web designer, you find interesting, valuable content about restaurant marketing, growth articles and all that kind of stuff, videos, whatever you share that in your newsletter, you're attracting restaurant owners who are your target audience. They start to perceive you as at the center of that community. And who do you think they're going to hire when they want someone to do their website?

The other thing that will happen is by doing that, you're going to learn a lot about restaurant marketing by default, just by finding these articles. So now when you're having these conversations, you're going to be able to speak their language because ultimately, why do they want a website? They want a web. To help drive sales to help, you know, whatever. Right. So it's going to help you be better at what you do. You will acquire some expertise. You don't have to be an expert, but again, that's the, the biggest thing with audience growth. Ultimately it's like that [00:50:00] alignment. You need to grow the right audience.

And again, if that's, if you're the website, if you're the website designer, you don't need a million followers, you just need a handful of restaurant owners to be like, oh, that's the, that's the guy that, you know, my web designer runs the restaurant marketing newsletter or whatever. That's how I would think about it very strategically. And by the end, I have found that in most cases, it's not that that's all that hard. It's that it's a mindset. And most people don't approach audience growth in a strategic way. They're focused on how do I get more followers? What do I tweet to get more followers? think about it the opposite way, right?

How do I use these tools? How do I use these platforms to get the people I need to accomplish? The thing that I want? And in most cases, people don't need nearly the size audience that they think.

David Elikwu: That's a really strong point. And I think even, going a step back to something that you touched on [00:51:00] earlier. I think it's this idea of starting with empathy and starting from a point of what do people need, not what I want and what, you know, just the level of status. Cause a lot, a lot of it is just that, what are you going to do if you have 50 million followers, if they don't do anything and funnily enough, you see that, right? You see these some influencers, that have maybe tried to then monetize their brand or try to launch something off the back of it. And it turns out that most of those people were dead. Like most of those people were not actually doing anything.

They are not engaged. They don't actually want anything from you. So again, going back to what you were saying, it's like, what do you really want? Do you, if your end goal is to be able to sell something to this audience is to be able to leverage your brand or to leverage something else that you need to maybe start cultivating that from the beginning.

And so it's not about just the gross number of followers that you have and the total size of your audience or your awareness or anything like that. It's really about, you know, what's the core and not just what you want to deliver, but what do people want from [00:52:00] you or, and or what do people want in general and how can you maybe service that need.

Josh Spector: Yeah. And it's true on a macro and even on a micro tactical level. Right? So one of the first, a lot of times when I'm talking to people, I'll take a look at like their, let's say their Twitter bio or Instagram bio or whatever. And I'm like, this seems counterintuitive, but your bio is not about you, it should not be. When people are looking at your bio, they saw something, they don't care who you are, that's the truth. They care about them, not you. That sounds cynical, but I actually don't think it is. I just think that's human nature. When someone's looking at your bio, they saw a tweet of yours or something that made them interested or curious. Who's this guy, who's this woman, right. They're looking at your bio. And what they're actually trying to do is decide whether or not to follow you. And that decision is based on what is in it for them, saying you're a website designer. Like just keeping that example of the restaurant thing. Right? I share tips to help you [00:53:00] grow your restaurant business versus I'm a website designer who designs restaurant websites. The restaurant owners are way more likely. Right? My bio does not say I'm a consultant. It is entirely based on them Right. I help creative. I share, I don't remember the exact words, but basically it's like, I help creative entrepreneurs grow their audience and business. If I'm a creative entrepreneur, I want to grow my audience and business.

I'm at least going to check it out and consider it. Right. And I think that again is a super micro tactical thing, but it's indicative of what you're saying and the empathy, and sort of thinking about it from the audience perspective, it's all about how you're providing value to them. And that's what is ultimately going to get people to connect with you.

And the other thing I'd say about that is, you know, my answer sort of all the time with any form of content or whatever is, you want to provide specific value to a specific audience. This is the [00:54:00] other place that word specific is in there twice for a reason. This is where this is the mistake people make, right?

The value they're offering is very general right? The audience they're offering it to is very general, right? The more specific you get, the more perfect you get for someone as opposed to being okay for everyone, right. And so, and again, I speak from experience like at the beginning of my newsletter was like, ideas that help you get better at your work, art and life.

Like that's everyone, you know, that that's everything and everyone. And when you compare that to I help creative entrepreneurs grow their audience and business way more specific, and you know, and much more effective. So I think that's the other, the other piece. Most people, when they look at their thing, they'll see it's a little generic.

David Elikwu: Yeah. You're even making me think about mine. Because [00:55:00] that was going to be the next question I was going to ask you is, you know, how important do you think it is to to niche down and have a super specific offering? But I think you've maybe answered a lot of that because I think, like you say, for a lot of people, they want to start big and they want to serve as many people as possible and they want to reach as many people as possible.

And I think that leads to having maybe a vague offering and not exactly knowing what it is that you stand for and what people should refer to you as, and I think one of the, so I have a course actually, which is about career building. One of the examples I use is, you know, being able to say what label is on your tin. And so, as an example, so this came from, you know, hearing overhearing a conversation, where someone is like, oh, I have a friend at work who's. And what do they say after that? And I think it's a basically like that before for whatever it is that you're offering. Like, what is it that you want people to be able to say, and to refer to you as, and very often it's never going to be a vague, it's never going to be as vague as what [00:56:00] you say it is.

Right? The thing that people say is not, oh, I know someone that talks about ideas.

It's I know someone that like very specifically, you know, helps me with this thing, or talks about this thing and this is why they're useful. And so I think having that reverse engineering helps with this the specificity there as well.

Josh Spector: Everybody, struggles with niche understandably so. I think one of the things that can help is the reason why people push back and get weirded out by niche is because they think in terms of only, right. And they're always worried about, I don't want, but I can help this person and I could do this thing.

And I don't want to exclude that, right. They're thinking niche in terms of, if I say my niche is this, I'm saying, this is the only people I'm going to help and the only thing that I'm going to do, right. I think it's helpful instead of only, you want to think about niche in terms of ideal, right? My choice, my ideal audience is this. The ideal [00:57:00] transformation or service I want to help people with is this. Not only, I might do some other stuff. I talk about a dartboard, right? You aim for the smallest you aim for the bullseye, the smallest circle. You still get points if you land outside, right? No matter how narrow your niche is, no matter how narrow your ideal audience is, you're still going to wind up doing some other stuff.

Other people are still gonna find their way to you, that's okay. It's not only it's ideal, but by picking a narrow sort of ideal, all it makes you stand out, right? You avoid the generic stuff. Like you're aiming for the ideal. So one of the another exercise that I think is really helpful here is I'll tell, I tell people, whatever you, whatever it is that you do, right?

Let's say you're, you offer a product or you want, let's say you want clients, right? And I said, you're going to do a presentation to get clients and I'm going to guarantee you a hundred people are going to show up in this room to see your presentation. You can have whatever a hundred you want. [00:58:00] They can't be people who know you and they can't be famous people. Who do you want? And the answer to that is you're not going to say, oh, I don't care. Right? And your mind either, you're gonna, you're going to want the people who either are most likely to hire you or buy from you or that you're best able to serve or that you most want to serve. So you're going to have an opinion.

Do you want men or women, do you want college educated or not? Do you want older, young, do you want people with a lot of money or people with no money? Like whatever it is, right. Do you want parents or single people or whatever, right. Do you want people that already have a newsletter if people haven't started a newsletter yet?

Like you're going to, when you do that exercise and you go, who would be the a hundred people I'd want in that work? That's your ideal audience and that's who you should be aiming. That's your niche. That's who you should be aiming at because when you aim at that, that's who you're going to [00:59:00] attract. If you don't aim at an ideal, because you're worried about excluding people, you're just going to get whatever, right?

Like, it's funny, like as much as people will push back against, I don't want to narrow down, or I don't want to niche down. If I told them they were guaranteed, you know, let's say someone was like, okay, I could work with 20 clients a year. Right. If I said, well, if you're guaranteed to get 20 clients, you would have a preference.

You wouldn't go send me anybody. Right. Like you would have a preference. So like, let's just aim for that. So that way you attract the ones you most want, not just whoever happens to show up at your door, right. So I think that's the thing with niche. And I think that's where that's a subtle mindset shift.

That makes a huge difference. You know, if you realize, like you're not excluding, you're just, this is, this is what you're aiming for. This is the bulls-eye and aiming for. I know I'll still get some other stuff.

David Elikwu: Man, I love this. You're really you're dropping the gems. [01:00:00] It's fantastic. So I want to respect your time. So I still had two questions I want to asked, so the second question is going to be, maybe as a kind of wrap up with summation, what are some of the biggest obstacles that you see people face creative entrepreneurs face?

Like what if, if, you have to look out for anything, what are the things that people should look out the pitfalls to avoid, but then maybe he's taking a step back from that I'd love to know, maybe from your perspective in this journey that you've been on over the last 20 years or so, what are some of the things that you found most difficult, because I think you share a lot of fantastic lessons I'm really interested to know. Are there any of them that you maybe had to learn the hard way or have they all just come as revelations from the journey.

Josh Spector: So, I mean, that's a good question. I think the way I see it is it's a constant evolution and it continues, right. So everyone has maybe their own [01:01:00] set of challenges. But I think people see, people see people who have had some level of success and they don't see what came before it, you know, they don't necessarily understand, for me, I went years not being comf, like I said, not being comfortable, posting blog posts in my own net, not sharing my own stuff on my social media channels because I was somehow uncomfortable. I think in some ways, having this split identity of like, especially when I wasn't doing this full time, why I have this job, I'm the guy that works for the academy.

It feels weird to share these blog posts that I'm writing about this other thing, you know, like, so for, so that has, and I see this with lots of people like that is a process you get more and more comfortable, and it's a thing that it's a journey that I'm still on. I don't do a lot of video. I mean, I'll do in podcast interviews and stuff, but like, I don't have a YouTube channel.

I'm doing much more of it, I'd [01:02:00] say in the past year or two. And that, that is changing my business, right. These skill sessions or video workshops that I do on zoom. I don't two, three years ago. I don't think I would have done that. It would have been, you know, I did an entire newsletter course called the newsletter accelerator.

It is all written content because I didn't want to do video. So I think there's a trajectory, another example of the trajectory for me was I'd say up until a few years ago, probably 95% of the revenue I made was from consulting. So I had an audience, I had whatever, but really from a business perspective, all my money was coming from consulting over the course of the past two years, that has shifted to about 60, 65% consulting and 35, you know, 35, 40% ads in my newsletter, products, steps, that kind of thing.

Right? Like non consulting. That's a massive shift and that's, that's [01:03:00] purposeful, right? That's a direction I wanted to go, right. I didn't want to just be a consultant. I wanted these sort of other revenue streams. And I think my guess is over time, that's increasingly where I'll head. Like at some point maybe that'll shift where the consulting is actually the smaller part.

So I think, you know, none of that comes easy. You know, every, everything is stop and start, you know, my skill sessions, which I offer people can check them out. If they go to joshspector.com/sessions, I offer it as a subscription. So every once every two months I do a new video workshop on a specific thing.

So like the most recent one was the newsletter booster. It's a system to grow your newsletter in five minutes a day. Right now I offer them as an annual subscription. And I also offer them as indeed for individuals sale. Right. So if you don't want to subscribe to all of them, you can just buy the one. I've done three so far. The first one I'd push people towards the subscription in [01:04:00] general. So I haven't done a ton to sort of promote the individual sales. So the first one as an individual product sold like seven copies. The second one is an individual product sold like 10 copies. The third one, the newsletter booster, which just came out has made, has had about 85 sales in the first five days. I got more strategic. I learned how to message it. I, I learned how to sort of package it and sell it. And that in a micro level is a perfect example of doing things, learning from reps. You don't come out of the box and okay, it sold seven that's. All right, we'll get better. We'll figure it out right. The next time it's like, oh 10, this time I go from 10 to 85 and counting.

And I'm like, okay, now I'm starting to figure out how to sell the individual versions and also some of those I've added an email so that when people buy about an hour after they buy and they get an invite, if [01:05:00] they want to upgrade to the subscription, I'll refund them money. So some people did. So it's not only selling individual, it's selling subscriptions, but all of that, nobody sees.

Right? So they, first of all, they don't know the sale numbers. So they assume that everything I do is working and when they don't know, I sold seven, they're like this, guy's got a big audience. He must be killing it. He's, you know, he's whatever. Right. They don't know. I sold seven on the first one. They don't, until I talk about it, they don't know that I sold 85 of the third, right. So I think there's everybody has these struggles.

I think another thing that people don't realize is most people that have built large sort of create large successful creator type entrepreneur, businesses, audiences, whatever. They have leverage relationships with other creators and entrepreneurs, way more than most people realize behind the scenes. Like, there'll be people that are like, I don't understand. My tweets are just as good as this person. Why does that [01:06:00] person's go crazy or whatever. It's like, well, that person has other people sharing it. I mean, you know, I, for example, like with the newsletter booster, I just, yesterday again, this is me sort of iterating and figuring out how I go.

I just reached out to like 10 other newsletter, the 10 other newsletter creators that I know that I have relationships with said, Hey, would you mention it in your newsletter? I'll give you a free access to it. And now they're doing it. So what people on the outside don't know and they're doing it both because I gave them free access to it.

But also I have a relationship with them. I have a newsletter I've linked to them before I've driven them traffic. Other people will go. They won't see that they'll just go, wow, Josh, his product is being mentioned in all these newsletters I subscribe to. They don't know that there's a behind the scenes relationship there and conversation.

Right. And I think how would they know that? I didn't know that years ago, again, this is something that I've learned. Like [01:07:00] I was that guy looking at other people and going, wow, I don't understand like, why is that person stuff everywhere or why? You know, I don't, I feel like my stuff's just as good as theirs and, you know, so I don't know if that exactly answers your question, but I guess it's just to say that like the struggles are there for everyone you just sort of learn as you go.

David Elikwu: Yeah, I love that. No, that definitely answers my question. And I think those are such great lessons. And I think that in some ways answers both of the questions, because I think so much of that is also going to be what most creative entrepreneurs go through as well in terms of learning these lessons as you scale.

And I think one of the interesting things is that in some ways the complexity grows as you scale, but some of the principles are still the same. So if you can get the principles right in the mindset, right then that can help you as well.

Josh Spector: Absolutely. And I think also the idea there is no it's an infinite game, right? So the goal is to be able to continue [01:08:00] playing the game, right. I think some people look at me like they're like, oh, if only I, you know, there's lots of, I have 18,000 subscribers. That's a lot, but there's plenty of people that have way more than me. There's plenty of people that make way more money than me. Like, like there's, you know, this idea that like you're ever going to get to a point where it's like, oh, if I could just get there, then it no, like, and I think adjusting your mindset to be like, I just want to be able to keep doing this right. And keep sort of improving, you know, improving.

The other thing I've learned, that again, I think people don't realize or don't think about. So I, my newsletter works really well. I have a great audience, people, people like it. But growth, so for example, like when I sent an email to 18,000 people, you know, I'm going to have just like any email you send, right? I'm going to have 20 to 30 people unsubscribe, no matter how good it is, right. You send 18,000, 20 people unsubscribe. That's not bad, but it's still 20 [01:09:00] people unsubscribed. So, I'm sending six emails a week, so I'm losing 120 plus subscribers a week with a successful newsletter. And what that means is I need to add like 500 new subscribers a month just to break even. And that's something, especially once I started sending daily, right. That's a sort of hidden cost. So like my growth, grow, but slowly, right?

Like I might add a thousand new subscribers and I'm adding new subscribers every day. I might add a thousand new subscribers in a month, I'm losing five or 600 and not because the newsletter is not good, but just because once you get to those numbers and I've seen I've seen James Clear actually talk about this and he's on a whole other, on a whole other level.

But like you can imagine, you know, he was like, when you get to a certain point, it becomes almost impossible to grow. Because you're losing so many subscribers with every email, it's like how many new subs or, you know, and I don't remember [01:10:00] what James Clear has on his list, but if you think about it, right, if someone has a hundred thousand subscribers, I mean, again, I'm at 18,000 and I need 600 new subscribers a month just to break even. So I think that's another thing that people don't see. . And certainly for me, I think I thought like growth would come, you know, growth would continue like this, and I've now started to realize, alright, it's just much harder to grow than it used to be. Even if I'm getting lots of new subscribers.

David Elikwu: That makes a lot of sense. Wow. I love that.

Josh Spector: You're always going to have challenges. They're just going to be new and new and different ones.

David Elikwu: Yeah, exactly. That's that's the truth. Ah, Josh, thank you. So, so much you've shared like, oh, a cornucopia of wisdom and I think I will be taking a lot of notes and I'm sure everyone listening to this will be taking tons of notes as well.

Josh Spector: Cool. Thanks for having me. It was fun.

David Elikwu: Thank you so much for tuning in. Please do stay tuned for more. Don't forget to rate, review and subscribe. [01:11:00] It really helps the podcast and follow me on Twitter feel free to shoot me any thoughts. See you next time

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