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Former Head of Growth at Morning Brew (3m+ subscribers), now running media consultancy. AMA!

Hi everyone 👋

I’m Jenny Rothenberg and I’m the COO of Smooth Operations (https://smoothops.xyz), a media consultancy I founded with my former Morning Brew colleagues, Josh Kaplan (https://twitter.com/JKaplan1) and Kinsey Grant (https://twitter.com/KinseyGrant).

While at Morning Brew I led the growth team. Our marquee product, the daily newsletter, amassed over 3 million subscribers and we launched several other products along the way: Marketing Brew, Retail Brew, Emerging Tech Brew, Sidekick and Business Casual.

Now at Smooth Operations, we help independent content creators operate and scale their businesses. Check out more about what we do here: https://smoothops.xyz/ and our take on the creator economy here: https://smoothops.xyz/content/creator-economy-thesis.

Happy to answer any questions about media, newsletters, podcasts, growth, anything!

https://twitter.com/jrothenberg_

  1. 4

    Congrats, Morning Brew is an absolute phenomenon! My big question is what did the team do to get those first 100 -500 subscribers? From the outside, it just looked like a magic rocket ship, but I'm sure it was a ton of strategy on in the inside.

    1. 2

      Thanks Rosemary! I wasn't with the company yet when they were getting their first 100-500 subscribers, but here's a thread from Austin Rief, Morning Brew's cofounder and CEO, on how they approached it: https://twitter.com/austin_rief/status/1337759194959712256?lang=en

      In short, they were still in college so went door to door at the business school, making announcements in classes to get their fellow students to subscribe. Was a great way to get in front of their target audience and make an easy ask - just write down your email address. Once they reached scale on their own campus, they spread this model with an ambassador program at other schools. The Brew U ambassador program is still going today and is a strong acquisition channel.

      Hope this helps!

      1. 1

        Thank you! I hadn't seen that story before.

  2. 1

    Hey there! I love your background and what you guys plan to do as a consultancy. I can create a really clean-looking website for you here is an example of what I made https://www.puzzlapps.com - let me know if you are interested!

  3. 1

    What's the best (read fastest) way to grow on Twitter exponentially? Do you have or know of good resources on the subject? Thanks :)

    1. 2

      tweet about bitcoin

      just kidding :)

      can't say i'm an expert in twitter growth but came across this list of tips from Josh Spector (https://twitter.com/jspector) and they're great: https://joshspector.com/one-sentence-twitter-follower-tips/

  4. 1

    What was one of your favorite growth hacks you guys implemented at Morning Brew?

    1. 1

      My favorite growth effort (admittedly wasn't the most lucrative) was a twist on our normal reader referral giveaway. We frequently run giveaways to encourage readers to refer their friends to the newsletter in exchange for one entry into a raffle for prizes like a MacBook or a trip to the Maldives. For back-to-school season in 2019, isntead of a raffle we gave away $1 to DonorsChoose.org, an amazing nonprofit that allows you to donate directly to public school classroom projects. Our mission was to educate and empower young business leaders, so being able to contribute to an educational cause - and grow our subscriber base out of it was super fun.

  5. 1
    • When it comes to launching a brand new content based product - what are all the things you make sure are in place before launch?
    1. 1

      Good question! Here's a loose framework we typically work off of depending on the nature of the content:

      • Audience: who are you creating this for?
      • Purpose: what is the broader goal of this content - from the perspective of the reader/viewer/listener? What do you want them to walk away with?
      • Product: how will this be delivered, in what format, at what level of depth. get into the nitty gritty of how this product will deliver on the purpose you've set out to accomplish for the audience you've identified.
      • Distribution: how will the audience come across this product? how can we best package and promote the content to ensure maximum discoverability?
      • Revenue: are there revenue goals associated with this product? How will they be executed?
  6. 1

    Hey Jenny,

    • As part of the growth team at Morning Brew, what are some of the tactics/strategies you learned there that you're now implementing at your consultancy?
    • Whats been your approach towards growing your agency? How does one go about starting one - is it as simple as having a great landing page/website and then leveraging your past experience during networking/cold DMs?

    Cheers and thanks for this AMA.

    1. 1

      Thanks Seth!

      #1. We're using a lot of what we've learned at the Brew to help out the creators we work with. We're helping them set up and launch new newsletters, optimize their growth tactics, and audit their content strategy and design.

      #2. Before ever officially launching, we all organically started having conversations with independent creators and got to hear what they were building, what their pain points were and where the opportunities lied. This helped us build our own understanding of how we could be helpful as well as building up our potential client base. My cofounder Josh is the king of networking and making friends in the industry and it's proven to be incredibly valuable.

      We also generate a solid amount of inbound from content we've put out over the years (like this Medium post I wrote a while back https://entrepreneurshandbook.co/engagement-beats-scale-inside-morning-brews-approach-to-subscriber-growth-60444bfaa9a3 and Josh's PodcastOS dashboard https://podcastos.gumroad.com/l/podcastoperatingsystem). This helps us get in front of the right people and build some trust. Then they find Smooth and reach out!

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