Minal Bopaiah, Editor, Subscription Site Insider, Anne Holland Ventures Inc., Newport, R.I.
How did you come to this industry?
Circuitously. I was the international editor for Boston Metro. Then I decided on a different route and got a Masters in psychology. A job at Sesame Street followed that combined my experience in psychology and media, and I really saw the power of what media can do to change people’s minds. So I returned to journalism, where the nonprofit model was becoming much more common. But good intentions are not enough—even nonprofits need to apply some business sense. I’m happy to now work for Subscription Site Insider, which allows me to learn more about the business end of digital publishing while still letting me apply my knowledge of psychology to enhance my writing.
What is your job function?
I’m responsible for all content, writing and editing for the Subscription Site Insider and Paywall Times—and also researching and recruiting speakers for webinars and conferences.
Speaking of webinars, have you noticed that the Q&A part can often be as or more valuable than the scripted part?
Yes, it’s kind of like the business advice I’m giving—only a certain percentage of what I write about is generalizable to everyone. Then you have the specifics that every business deals with and wants answers to. So whether it’s content about foreign affairs, autism or cooking lessons, people understand what’s generalizable and what’s specific. That’s why Q&As are often much more useful.
How do you handle this in your writing?
I believe it’s best to show people HOW to think about problems. Because everyone’s problems will be different and the online media environment is constantly changing, you can’t really tell them WHAT to think. Of course, there are some best practices and common sense everyone should apply. Like don’t offer a free trial without requiring a credit card number at sign-up.
Do you get involved in the marketing end at all?
Not really. As a writer for a business-happy market, I’ve learned to focus on what I do best—the journalism side. I’m fortunate to work for Anne [Holland]; she has the marketing and business acumen. I appreciate how incredibly data-driven Anne is. There’s no sloshing in the dark here.
What has been most successful for you?
Case studies. They are time-consuming to do but our subscribers really like them. I conduct one every other week; the conversations can run from 1 to 1½ hours. Usually they are with the CMO, CEO or publisher and focus on their marketing strategy and other specifics. Our subscribers like them because they are seeing exactly how another company—a successful one—operates; they’re pragmatic.
Do you worry much about open rates and subject lines?
Well, yes, but we do pretty well with our subscribers; they’re usually very interested in what we have to say. My best open rates were for a case study on Foreign Affairs and a how-to for getting content on LinkedIn Today. As for the subject lines, I try not to over-think them. Name brand recognition always helps.
So this is a bit clichéd, but what keeps you up at night?
[Laughing] Nothing, really. I’ve found that a good night’s sleep is often the best way to solve a problem. But I do stress sometimes about having to constantly line up case study interviews. So, your readers should really email me if they want me to interview them.
You seem to be doing everything very well.
I’ve had to make the transition to the B2B niche. I had been familiar with B2C markets; your audience seems endless there. Here, it’s more limited. Your personal success is where you are writing content that you hope is useful to people—matching the nature of the content to the audience. Then you get a bit known and people start to trust you. I’m fortunate that I have the editing and journalistic skills to convey information in a reader-friendly way. And I have complete admiration for Anne’s business acumen. It’s good to work at a company where everyone can play to their strengths.
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