I’ve been publishing Abernathy for more than two years now, and in that time I’ve met a number of publishers looking to make a similar difference in the world. One of the challenges that I see new publishers grappling with is how adjustments are made, especially related to how publications make money. I can certainly relate, and I’ve got an evolving revenue model to prove it.
But one of the things I did before launching that continues to benefit the publication and how it’s received was deciding at the outset what it was, what it wasn’t, and what it stood for. We decided, for example, that we were selling sponsorship and impact rather than subscribers and page views. This informs the kind of articles we publish and the data we’re happy to share with sponsors. I’ve left a lot of money on the table by not writing listicles and selling ads, but I’ve gained so much more in the process.
Having a point of view and exploring event production has changed the nature of the conversation with sponsors. Not just because there are new offerings to sponsor, but also because of the conversations with attendees and subscribers about the ongoing journey that I’m privy to as a result. Yes, it’s helpful to know how black folks consume media and that we have a trillion-dollar buying power, but what’s invaluable is understanding the worldview of the black software engineer who feels like giving up every day because of his company’s culture.
He’ll share things with me that his HR team wouldn’t think to ask, and I can create editorial and offerings and events that address those needs. The macro—strengthening and expanding the pipeline of underrepresented folks working in tech—is informed by the micro. Producing hyper-targeted events and crafting experiential workshops is exponentially easier with a lens into the nature of the challenge we’re up against.