8 Tactics to Build a Multimillion-Dollar Publishing Business
You may not know the name Sharon Rechter, but if you're a Facebook user, I can almost guarantee you've seen one of the videos produced by her media business, First Media. The company, run by Rechter and her husband, is a multi-platform media company that creates content and experiences that "spark creativity in women and moms everywhere." Their listicle and "lifehack" style videos targeted to women receive more than 900 million video views per month. It was recently announced that the company's top Facebook publisher, Blossom, created the most shared video on Facebook of all time with 11 million shares and 347 million views. Blossom was also named the top seven Facebook publisher by Tubular Insights, and First Media's other publishers, such as Blusher and So Yummy, are not far behind in views and shares.
Related: 10 Laws of Social Media MarketingFirst Media evolved from the couple's first venture, BabyFirst, which is the leading commercial-free 24/7 network for young children and their parents. Founded in 2004, BabyFirst and its apps and programs are now part of the First Media umbrella, and it's broadcast in more than 120 million households in over 35 countries.
Prior to BabyFirst, Rechter served as the vice president and head of operations for The Israeli Network (the Israeli television channel in the U.S.). Rechter calls herself a "recovering lawyer" and prior to television used her knowledge to head the strategic planning department at GNS Advertising in Israel.
Oh, and did I mention she runs her team of 90 employees with her husband and they have four children under the age of 10?
I was excited to meet at the First Media headquarters in Los Angeles and ask her about succeeding in broadcasting, creating viral videos, balancing her founder responsibilities and her roles at home and more. Whether you're a podcaster, author, YouTuber or content marketer, you'll enjoy these top eight lessons I learned for starting and building a successful content creation machine.
1. Turn your disadvantages into advantages.
Resourcefulness is one of the most common traits among the millionaires and celebrity influencers that I interview.
Rechter had to deal with being in the "boys club" of television years ago. She called her father during one particularly rough meeting and he encouraged her to cry, saying that no one could resist a woman that was crying. Rechter did not take his advice, but the conversation made her stop and think.
"It was interesting, because it gave me perspective that what others may perceive as a weakness ... we can actually play it as an advantage. I look at it, as that, as women, we have not less opportunities, but different opportunities, and it's up to us to grab them."
Rechter realized that the company's audience of young moms also loved content that was not parenting or baby related and its Facebook pages were born. Push yourself to stop making excuses and find a way to work with what you have, right now, where you are. Personally, I use the fact that I'm not yet a famous multimillionaire like my fellow talk show hosts as an advantage because I ask unique questions and viewers feel like I truly "get" the just-starting-out perspective.
2. Forge a path to get where you want to go.
Professionally, Rechter knew where she wanted BabyFirst to go and began pitching investors according to that vision. Personally, it has been said that Rechter is a woman who "has it all." She doesn't disagree, and explained that the secret is to master your time. A frequent traveler, she does miss family events, but she can schedule them in such a way to never miss a field trip or recital. How does one get to that point?
"I master my time. One should pick, not their next job, but their path. What is your path? Not today, not tomorrow," she shared. "Work [toward] your path that eventually will put you in a position, where you're paid enough, and given enough flexibility to manage your time."
Figure out your end goal and work backwards, creating a path to get there, and then start executing one step at a time.
3. Be open to opportunities.
The couple did not have children when they launched BabyFirst. So, how did the couple come up with the idea? They, like other visionaries I've interviewed such as Seth Godin, Simon Sinek, James Altucher and Jon Acuff, are "noticers." They had new parents over for dinner and noticed the couple had brought many blankets, gadgets and a DVD -- a DVD the couple believed would make their child smarter. Surprised, Rechter and her husband started researching to discover that early childhood education and entertainment was an $800-million industry with very little supervision."Anybody could take a video of a puppy, put classical music, and claim it was educational," she said. "So, what Guy and I set to do, was offer really good, educational content, supported by the top experts, and make it accessible to consumers for the less than the price of a baby DVD. That was our mission."
Years later, BabyFirst became First Media because content that was not baby-related started to perform well on Facebook. Again, they noticed the opportunity and took action, deciding to branch out into different verticals for their audience.
How many times have you thought, "that's a good idea" or "there's an opportunity here" and let it slip by? Rechter and her husband not only heard an opportunity, they did the research, created a vision and mission, raised funding for that mission, and are still going strong after over a decade.
4. Give your audience more of what they want.
Rechter lights up when she talks about the First Media audience and the systems in place to listen and respond to that audience. "We read each and every comment, each and every feedback. We analyze it, and we listen." If you're a content creator, Rechter says your focus should be on what gets shared the most.
"What we're most proud of, honestly, is our share rate. We 100 percent rely on people loving our videos, and sharing our videos," she said, explaining that all of their views are organic. "If you don't share a video, it won't become viral. To us, it's bigger than that. It's about a woman saying, 'I love this. I'm gonna tell all my friend about it, all my friends about it.' How rewarding is that, for us content creators?"
5. Find distribution partners.
One of the keys to the growth of The Pursuit is due to my connection with Entrepreneur Network. Writing articles and creating video clips for distributors with platforms much larger than mine helps me to secure my amazing guests. BabyFirst succeeded because Rechter started securing distribution right away and it is now distributed through Dish Network, Time Warner, AT&T U-Verse, etc. If you want to find distribution, Rechtor says, make sure you approach those channels not with your goals, but rather how you can provide value. She gave an example.
"Every time we pitched a cable operator, the idea behind it was what can we do to help you in your goals? We once did a cable deal that was about a cable company wanting to feature their technology. So, we developed an app, where children can actually feature their art on TV, with the Baby First characters."
Sure, she concedes, content is king, but to be successful you also need to understand what motivates your distributors really well. Ask yourself, what would make them do -- and renew -- a deal with you?
6. Prove your concept.
When trying to get BabyFirst funded, Rechter decided not to produce a lot of content and to instead focus on the development of the content ideas. Development, she explained, is very labor intensive, but slightly cheaper to do, while production is much more expensive, but requires less thought.
"We did a ton of development, and almost no production. [It was] enough to show our providers what we would deliver to them but [done with] very little money," she recalled. "Then we went to investors and said, 'Don't give us money up front. Give us a little bit of money for the development, but guarantee us that, if we get you the deals we think we can get, you'll immediately give us more.'"
This is another piece of advice that my guests often give. For example, before you launch an online course or product, send out surveys and pre-sell spots to test the idea. If you want to launch a new blog or podcast, research to see if there are potential viewers and readers ready to consume what you want to create.
7. Stay agile.
If you want to build a platform around your content, Rechter's best advice is to publish often, assess, pivot, rinse, repeat. First Media lives by some powerful advice she was once given: If you're releasing a product that you're not completely ashamed of, in a year you'll release it too late."You'll never know what to do, before you try. Put one video out there. See what you did good. See what you did bad. Do another. Work fast, because if you work fast, and you make mistakes, you'll have enough time to fix them. And, really don't be afraid to put yourself out there. "
She went on to explain that part of agility is "throwing away" what everyone else is doing and focusing on your own work. You also need to build resilience, since you will most definitely "get slammed in your face."
"You say, 'Bring it on.' If you do that, over and over and over again, and you constantly focus on what is really your mission, I think people will listen."
8. Choose work you love.
You may have heard it before but it's worth repeating: You have a much better chance at becoming a killer content machine if you love the subject matter of your content. You have a much better chance at building a media company if you actually love creating, writing, shooting and editing. To turn that company into an empire, it will help if you love managing, planning, leading, etc.
"[My husband and I] aim at [a First Media-free day] once a week. Sometimes it happens. It's more likely to happen once a month, because the truth is, we love what we do. When you love what you do, it's part of who you are, and it's part of the fun."
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