Leveraging Passionate Audiences

This Mequoda System Operator has an audience that is fostering its own online community

Note: This is part four of a five part series on the Mequoda Publisher of the Year nominees. You can tell us which new Mequoda System is best serving its audience by clicking here to vote.

One of the greatest blessings that an online publisher can hope for is a highly engaged and enthusiastic audience. A passionate audience reads more, buys more and participates more. And if there is one audience that has passion, it’s knitters.

Interweave launched the Knitting Daily email newsletter and Mequoda Internet Hub on June 12th and the response has been phenomenal. It’s generated 67,000 editorial subscribers and 71,000 promotional email subscribers in three months. Every post generates dozens of comments and the number often breaches into the triple digits. Five emails a week are sent all over the world, from the U.S. to Estonia, from Australia to Germany.

That’s something we’re really accomplishing with the hub. We’re reaching a brand new and a much bigger audience online that we were ever able to with print,” said Knitting Daily Integrated Media Manager Bruce Hallmark.

Prior to launching Knitting Daily, the craft media company Interweave mostly had a “if you build it, they will come” approach to online publishing, Hallmark said.

The previous site offered Interweave’s books and magazines, distributed free knitting patterns, offered free editorial content and was fairly successful, Hallmark said, “but we really kind of maxed that model out…we never really did anything proactive as far as capturing those people’s names and addresses, or doing any sort of community building.”

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But after launching the Mequoda Hub, subscribers came pouring in and many of them wanted to contribute to an online community, as illustrated by the volume of comments generated by each post.

Website’s Offerings

Many people are attracted to Knitting Daily Editor Sandi Wiseheart’s blend of personable writing style, life stories and love for knitting, which has “absolutely poured gasoline on the fire and built out the hub fast,” Hallmark said.

Wiseheart’s passion for knitting comes through her posts and is reflected back by the Knitting Daily audience.

“We’ve been a little surprised at the enthusiasm of the readers. Sometimes all it takes is me asking a single question in a post and I’ll get 200 comments, and they’ll talk back and forth to each other in the comments. It’s pretty clear they want a forum, so we’ve been looking into that.” she said.

Knitting isn’t a craft to many enthusiasts. “They consider it part of their hearts, part of their lives…when we give them a post at Interweave that shows them that we understand that…that we get what knitting is about and that it is not just a technical craft, then we are touching their lives, and that is what makes people want to respond and have a conversation,” said Wiseheart.

Knitting Daily contacts its audience five days a week, with the three editorial emails sent on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and two promotional emails on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Many subscribers are attracted by Knitting Daily’s free knitting patterns . One example was an Icelandic Shawl that generated about 20,000 downloads in one week. “They just completely went crazy and all we did was mention it in the post and have a free pattern,” Wiseheart said.

Knitting Daily has three paid products: magazines, books and seats to a fiber related event called Spin Off.

The website and the email newsletter recently started advertising, but Hallmark expects that to remain a small contributor to revenue.

“Ten percent is a reasonable guess for the next year or two. And that is a total guess…but I know it’s not going to be 50 percent,” Hallmark said.

There are plans for greatly expanding Knitting Daily’s offerings in the future. Soon the site may have an ecommerce section, a forum, a retail advertising directory (similar to what you’d find in the back of a magazine) and digital editions of Interweave’s magazines.

Going forward online, Knitting Daily will be the branding focus for what attracts people to Interweave and shows them all the products the publisher offers.

“Knitting Daily seems like a pretty easy thing to remember from a URL point of view and I think that gives us a really marketable, straightforward toehold out there in the online world,” Hallmark said.

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