Who wins? John Mulaney or Louis CK

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Our next big Orange Effect Foundation fundraiser, A Night at the Races, is November 3rd.

Not in the area and can’t make it? No worries. You can still support the cause!

All the horses for the 10 races (that’s 100 horses) need names. For $20, you can name a horse. Just click on this link and go to the lower left-hand page to “name a horse”. If you buy five horse names, I’ll send you an electronic copy of my novel The Will to Die (for you or a friend). Thanks in advance.

CEX Call for Speakers

We are actively looking for new speakers for CEX 2024 (now dubbed as “The Event for Content Entrepreneurs”). CEX will by May 5th to 7th at the Renaissance Hotel Cleveland.

If you’d like to speak, please apply!

Two Business Models

Dave Anthony, who I’ve worked with at CMI and now The Tilt for well over a decade, sent me a link to a video with John Mulaney on Hot Ones. If you are not familiar, Hot Ones is the celebrity wing-eating show where they ramp up the different levels of heat in the wings.

And if you are not familiar with John Mulaney, I can’t help you. No seriously…our kids turned us on to John years ago. Super funny comedian.

At the end of Hot Ones, John is making a pitch to watch his new Netflix Special, Baby J. Our family saw it live in Cleveland, Ohio before it was on Netflix. I recommend it. Mostly safe for work (I think). Anyway, while he’s asking people to watch it, he says.

“I hope you check it out, because that means it will get streaming ratings that I will never get any information on.”

So funny and true. John took the check and Netflix keeps the data. Nothing wrong with this. Right now, that’s the world comedians like John deal with. We don’t know how much Mulaney made on the special, but reports are about $3 million plus.

Now let’s pair Mulaney with Fereed Zakaria. Zakaria is a global political journalist for CNN. If you travel the world, you’ll see him on most screens in airports. In this video, Prof G and Zakaria are mostly talking about the conflict in Israel. At the 40-minute mark, Prof G asks him about his own personal career ambitions and business model outside of CNN. He says this [edited]:

“I want a place where I can have maximum impact, not the place where I can make the most money. If I have to choose, I want an open platform that anyone can access versus a closed platform where you have to subscribe to me, because then I’m only getting my groupies…my fans…”

My point is, here are two creators making the decision for maximum impact (I think this is true in Mulaney’s case) instead of maximum revenue and access to customer data.

Let’s look at a similar case for a comedian. Louis CK, before he got into all that trouble, sold his standup special “Live at the Beacon” direct to consumers in 2011. From reports, he sold enough $5 tickets for this to generate over a million dollars in 10 days and then over $5 million a month later.

Let’s take the $5 million number for a second.

Divide $5 dollars into that and you have one million people. So, Louis CK makes, theoretically, more money than Mulaney on this one special, but to significantly less people. Mulaney’s special was the number one show on Netflix for weeks. Netflix has over 200 million subscribers. The special was most likely watched by well more than 10 million people.

This is perfect for Mulaney. He can use that reach to build more fans and then sell tickets to more shows.

But for Louis CK, he has customer data of 1 million people. He can build an entire content business around that data.

It’s two very different content business models. Both are good. I believe the better model is Louis CK’s. BUT, your goal may not be to create the best long-term business model where you need customer data to survive and thrive. If your goal is, as in Zakaria’s, maximum impact, you need to sacrifice the control, the data, and maybe the money.

The reason I broke this down for you is that you can make a choice as a content entrepreneur. I know a ton of content creators who are blasting out on every platform for maximum impact. While they are getting speaking gigs and thousands of views, they sometimes struggle with the business model.

I also know a ton of content entrepreneurs who target specific groups with specific offers, sell things directly, have spreadsheets of customer data and create a repeatable business model that works. In many cases, they aren’t as well known as the former, but they don’t worry as much about their financial future.

So my question is, which one is yours?

The No-Click Social Strategy

October 3, 2023 from Axios

Social traffic to websites has dropped off a cliff (see this week’s newsletter image). Of course, this has been happening for a while, but it’s so much more pronounced. In just three years, traffic from social sites to media brands have gone from 120 million clicks to 20 million on Facebook, and from 60 to 20 million on X.

Because of this, there is the start of a movement going on. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it’s a serious move away from big tech. Basically, how can creators and content marketers survive and thrive WITHOUT relying on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, X, TikTok and Amazon?

There is no perfect answer (yet), but the successful content creator of the future seems to have:

– A robust and growing email newsletter
– A podcast that keeps fans loyal and wanting more
– A website where products are sold directly and not through third-party sites
– A few key partnerships with brands who are willing to support the creator with multiple projects.

Now, I believe in this with all my heart…but…there is still an opportunity to leverage social, without links. The business model for Threads, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and X is to keep you on their site. If you leave consistent, compelling thoughts on these platforms without linking to anything, you will be rewarded with viewership. If you link to ANYTHING, you will be punished with literally no visibility.

So, in order to make X, LinkedIn and Threads work for me, I’m vowing NOT to link to anything for the time being. I’ve been testing some of this out on X. If I post a couple thoughts that get some traction, but then post something with a link, everything gets knocked down. The longer we can go without linking to something, the more visibility you will have.

That’s the game we must play. You probably already knew it.

I was under the impression that you could insert a link here and there and it wouldn’t hurt your personal algorithm. I now believe I was wrong about that.


– A robust and growing email newsletter
– A podcast that keeps fans loyal and wanting more
– A website where products are sold directly and not through third-party sites
– A few key partnerships with brands who are willing to support the creator with multiple projects.

Those four are the key to your business model…but social can play a role…but you must play by their rules…and that’s the no-link social strategy.

I’ll continue to play this out and report back in a month or so.

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"The Definitive Guide to Doing Content Marketing Well" - Dharmesh Shah, Co-Founder, Hubspot | Get Joe’s New book Epic Content Marketing
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