Bullet Daily Media Group, which operates The Bullet newsletter, has launched a boutique content agency called Newsworthy Co. The company has been quietly testing the service for the past year.
Co-founder and business development lead Joanna Track says that Newsworthy was created in response to the increasing challenge of monetizing digital publishing ventures, particularly via traditional sponsorship and advertising avenues.
“The media industry is fragmented at best, so consistently monetizing it was very challenging and generating enough revenue to keep it growing wasn’t predictable,” says Track, who launched The Bullet daily newsletter in 2016 and has grown it to two weekend editions and enhanced website-only content.
“We were looking for other ways to take our skillset and what we like doing and turn it into a more scalable business.”
A former Ogilvy & Mather account director turn serial entrepreneur who also founded the female lifestyle brand Sweetspot.ca in 2004 (the property was sold to Rogers Publishing in 2006 and closed in 2012), and online shopping destination eLUXE in 2010, Track says that Newsworthy arose out of frequent client requests for content.
The Bullet has amassed about 35,000 subscribers since its debut three-and-a-half years ago, but Track says it was becoming apparent that content, not advertising, would be the key to driving future revenue growth.
“We kind of had an ‘A-ha!’ moment, where [instead of] trying to grow the advertising side of the business, we started offering up our services as a white label solution,” she says. Newsworthy’s current client roster includes Cadillac Fairview, Investors Group and AdvisorSavvy.
Recent years have produced a sharp rise in the number of newsletters, as both entrepreneurial types and traditional media outlets alike look to address consumer appetite for short, snappy and easily digestible content, delivered via email.
However, Track says that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for general interest properties such as The Bullet to thrive and grow on advertising/sponsorship revenue alone, particularly in such a highly competitive environment.
“Given what we’re up against in the advertising media space, I didn’t really see a path to making that a scalable business on its own,” she says. “It would take a lot of financial backing and heavy-duty marketing in order to build a sizeable audience.”
Newsworthy currently creates content for mall operator Cadillac Fairview that covers its 19 malls across the country . Where the company’s content might once have been self-promotional, Newsworthy has created a consumer friendly element through articles such as “The top 5 trends for spring” that feature mall tenants and drive to dedicated landing pages. “We’ve sort of upped their game in terms of developing pure, authentic editorial,” says Track.
Sarah Spence, Cadillac Fairview’s senior manager of marketing communications, says that Newsworthy was instrumental in helping the company “reinvent” its newsletter content, “consistently coming up with creative, relevant ways to inspire and engage our customers.”
Newsworthy has also worked with AdvisorSavvy, writing a series of 50 SEO-driven articles—each ranging from 1,500 to 3,000 words—over the course of six months.
Bullet Daily Media Group relies on a full-time staff and a roster of freelancers for its content, with a specific focus on lifestyle-oriented clients. Track says the company is on pace to quadruple last year’s revenues, but about 80% of its total revenue will come via Newsworthy.
“It’s given us a much more sustainable, growable business,” she says. “I don’t see this becoming a $10 or $20 million business, but I want to make it an ongoing thing that feeds the team and grows big enough that we’re all doing what we love doing.
“A lot of startups want to be unicorns (defined as a privately held company with a $1 billion valuation), but we’re not looking for that.”