Digiday Vets launches subscription-based content service in a new field of journalist-consultants


The internet is full of newsletters, endless Twitter threads, SEO-based white papers and blog posts that claim to be resources for marketers and organizations investing in content and subscription businesses.

But, deep down, most tips on how to create content aren’t written by a respected writer in the space. And that content is often its own form of lead-gen marketing.

This opportunity inspired the launch of Toolkits, the strategy and media consulting firm co-founded by Jack Marshall and Shareen Pathak, respectively former Managing Director of Subscription Products and Director of Editorial Products at Digiday.

Marshall and Pathak have done consulting work for Toolkits LLC over the past year, but this month the two released the Subscription Publishing Toolkit, a resource for content-creating companies by subscription.

The content production industry is gaining visibility lately.

Until a few years ago, many companies viewed content production as work for young, low-level employees, who posted unsigned articles on blogs or social media, Marshall said. “This is no longer enough. CEOs and senior executives really see the need to invest more in content from a quoted “journalism” perspective. “

In many cases, copywriting or content production roles are now seen as the face of the business and an important part of recruiting and thought leadership, he said.

Besides digital media or news publishers, agencies, tech companies, brands and even sports leagues “are borrowing the habits of journalism” to create adjacent media operations, Pathak said.

For news editors, the questions can be more complicated. They don’t just want more audience and exposure. A news organization must juggle its commitment to subscriptions with losing potential new readers and ad inventory when readers are blocked by a paywall. Or they need to decide if the newsletters are more valuable as a paid subscription or as a free signup to earn more email and sponsorship ad revenue.

“Everyone is trying to figure out what that balance looks like,” Marshall said.

The new publishing toolkit addresses common subscription issues, such as password sharing, subscriber onboarding, and SEO strategies for paid content.

Unlike former ad technology practitioners who turned independent consultants, Pathak and Marshall are former advertising journalists. They are not system integrator type consultants, Pathak said, but the Toolkits team bring their experience spanning the ecosystem to help make supplier decisions. Two other Toolkits guides consist of “choosing between server-side or client-side paywall technology” and “evaluating paywall providers”.

Marshall and Pathak are hardly the only two former copywriters to capitalize on their experience to switch to the world of the consultant.

Former Digiday president and editor Brian Morrissey left last year and now has a newsletter subscription called The Rebooting covering media business models. Mike Shields, who has held senior copywriting positions at Adweek, Digiday, The Wall Street Journal and Business Insider, is now a communications consultant. And Zach Rodgers, until earlier this month the editor-in-chief of AdExchanger, also left the newsroom for independent advice.

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