I hope y’all are spending as much time outdoors as I am this summer! After so many months indoors, I’ve become obsessed with the sky. (It changes colors throughout the day! I dig it!) My other habits have changed too.
I’m more introverted and thrifty than before the pandemic. Plus, I’ve been trying rental fashion services, instead of retail shopping, while writing for publications like Glossy and The Juggernaut about how community-building has become an essential part of fashion marketing. For the rest of the year, I’m (mostly) taking a break from time-sensitive reporting to focus on Des Femmes. If you’re keen to get involved with that project, let me know. (Thanks again to my BTCPay patrons who commissioned these public posts until September!)
Why I’m shifting gears
A lot of people have asked why I’m making a gendered media product, a community-driven women’s magazine, especially when the majority of lucrative crypto-news consumers today are affluent urban males. The answer is: I think niche media has more sustainable potential, at least for entrepreneurial writers like myself, than mass media plays.
As career norms change (more freelancers and entrepreneurs, less newsrooms offering job security), it's increasingly important for people to develop complementary skill sets, like being both a programmer and a writer or a photographer and a chef. We’ll see more community managers and editor-curators, rather than a professional media class, writing about topics they may not be experts in and communities they aren't participating in. That’s why I sat down with two media entrepreneurs focused on women thriving in male-dominated sectors, both in sports and in the crypto trend of decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs).
What if, instead of seeing women as niche consumers, people recognized a market opportunity with nearly half the world’s population being vastly underserved by current products?
Take Just Women’s Sports CEO Haley Rosen, who launched her sports media startup in January 2020. Within one year, she built an outlet with over 41,000 newsletter subscribers and 750,000 podcast downloads, due, in part, to identifying an underserved market.
(Photo via Haley Rosen)
In the United States, women’s sporting events receive just 4% of all media sports coverage, according to a study by researchers at the University of Minnesota. This is bonkers if you consider young women’s participation in sports is growing exponentially and, subsequently, women make up a growing segment of sports audiences.
This fact was evident when I interviewed wrestling coaches in 2017. It is especially widespread in sports like basketball, which is proving to be an influencer marketing goldmine, with TikTok and Instagram masterminds like Kysre Gondrezick. Yet another study, of Los Angeles media networks, revealed less than 2% of local coverage included women’s sports. Rosen is tapping into the pent up demand.
“Right now we’re monetizing through ads, sponsorship and merch. We aim to move toward a freemium model with subscription options,” Rosen said. “Women’s soccer and basketball both tend to do really well for our audience..but people might come for soccer content then stay for surfing coverage. It all has room for growth.”
Next, she told me, her startup will expand to more video content, so people can watch games that aren’t featured on ESPN. Of course, we all someday dream that ESPN will also see the value in broadcasting women’s sports. Afterall, the National Women’s Soccer League games exceeded previous viewership records by nearly 300% in 2020.
By the time mass media companies recognize this business opportunity, Rosen plans to have developed such a deep competitive moat, through community-building, that the generic media giant won’t threaten her startup’s unique value proposition.
Likewise, HerStoryDAO founder Cyn Bahati is building a crypto art club specifically for black women. Instead of going broad, she’s honing in on an even narrower niche.
(Photo via Cyn Bahati)
“Our youngest member is 17-years-old. I’m 23-years-old. We have a lot of teenage members. We’re a very young DAO with nearly 10 members of our collective,” Bahati said. “For our first fundraising show, the Digital Diaspora, the artists got 30%. After splitting the revenue with other contributors, for marketing and administration, what was left was $25,000. Then we exhibited in the Super Chief gallery in Manhattan, an in-person NFT exhibit where 15 artists participated.”
Bahati is now treating her DAO like a job, encouraging members and fans to participate in both media creation and collecting digital art. It all started, during the pandemic, with a tweet. Many young women replied to the tweet, and they created a group chat.
“I saw a poem NFT by Latasha, a rapper who produced a spoken-word poem. But it was worth more than I could afford on my own. So I tweeted about that,” Bahati said. “The Gnosis treasury system [multi-signature crypto wallets for groups] doesn’t offer the ability to have conversations, so we use Notion and Discord and Twitter to organize. Sometimes we’ll use Clubhouse as well, to help organize that human layer.”
As for myself, I’m learning from examples like these, as I develop the scaling path for Des Femmes.
These two examples should be measured by different metrics of success. The sports outlet aims to grow and make money, while the DAO, at least at this early stage, aims to increase participants’ access to capital, both the ability to earn or spend more money on digital art. Both examples have a stronger community element than traditional media operations.
They’re also both growing slowly, less than 10 people working on each respective project, with fewer as full-time workers earning their primary income from the organization. I see that as a very healthy approach to sustainable scaling. Many of the media companies I’ve worked for scaled too quickly and collapsed because of it.
Over the next few months, while I’m focused on the print magazine, I’ll be doing some fun experiments, including an original short story. It’s a science fiction story with a bitcoin theme (I haven’t published fiction in six years, so I’m really nervous yet excited!). As part of that, I’ll be hosting a digital salon sesh on August 11 with novelist Libbie Hawker, where we will talk all about money and science fiction. You’re all welcome to join! Let me know if you have any questions about fiction writing that I should answer in August.
Until next time, take care everybody!