💎 8 hidden gems from Content Inc. : Joe Pulizzi's book dedicated to content entrepreneurs

Mar 12, 2023

I’ve been following Pam and Joe’s Pulizzi work around content marketing for many years now.

I read each of Joe’s books.

Each of them helped me learn from my “content mistakes" with my own Content Inc. business back in 2009, in France.

Each of them helped me achieve afterward, several successes, and good money - all this always with lots of passion and fun.

But I have to confess… weirdly, the first edition of Content Inc. didn’t shake me up as much as his previous books did.

For the very first time, I was not fully convinced by Joe’s ideas.

At the time, the Content Inc. model's first version looked like this.

Courtesy of Joe Pulizzi - Content Inc. Version #1.

While reading it, to me, something was missing:

“Ok, 6 steps to build your content empire. Monetization at step 5. Nice!

But the guy is Joe Pulizzi. The founder of CMI. The owner of the one event that brings thousands of content marketing folks and technologies together and makes tons of money with this one thing (and so many others).

It’s easy for him to wait several years until he monetizes his content machine.

But if this book really is for entrepreneurs, then he forgot to answer the one question that makes the whole thing actionable: between step 1 and step 5, how do you make a living?”.

Yes, I was not fully convinced.

But that was before.

Before Joe’s exit from CMI in 2017.

Before Corona…

Before Content Inc. Version #2 which now officially looks like this.

Courtesy of Joe Pulizzi - Content Inc. Version #2

I’ve had the opportunity (and pleasure) to read the preview of Joe’s second edition of Content Inc. and I recently interviewed him as my first guest at Marketing Leaders.

And I changed my mind.

If you heard the interview you’ll for sure understand why.

But to wrap it all up, here are some hidden gems from Joe’s incredible book - and interview.

#1. Content Inc.: The Financial vocabulary

Nowhere in this book, you’ll find the VC’s speech toward entrepreneurs willing to start their business and raise money which usually goes (sort of) like this:

Oh. Lovely business. Really. But sorry, we don’t do mom & pop business. We’re unicorns builders.”

Content Inc. 2nd edition will :

  • Teach you how to reach financial freedom - not billions. How to get money as a means to offer your beloved ones and yourself, a better quality of life - not as a purpose in itself to add zeros on your bank account (even if ultimately you do too!!! which is probably one of the coolest parts of the book - For more on that read p. 287).

  • Comfort you: yes! your passion for content (I should have said your “content sweet spot”) can be turned into a million dollars business without having you choose between money or control (or both!).

  • Put an end to your doubts: yes! you’re right to believe that each of your blogging evenings has a real value that can translate, at a not-so-distant time, into real big money in your bank account.

In Joe’s words:

Content inc tells us that there is a better way and a better model that lead to a better life for entrepreneurs and business owners”.


Once you read this book you simply think: It’s doable!

Joe even takes the bet:

“If you execute this model and deliver desirable information consistently to a specific audience, 5m$ in 5 years is most certainly within reach for anyone in the world”.


#2. A content business is always a teamwork

Feet on the ground.

When you’re not 20 anymore, building a business (any business) from scratch is necessarily teamwork. Your spouse is your secret “behind the curtain” weapon to reach your business goals (among others).

In each chapter of this book, you’ll go deep into the 7 steps of the Content Inc. model.

But the foundation of each of them, the common core of all the achievements, present on every single page of this 323 pages book is … his wife, Pam Pulizzi.

An entrepreneur with a family who wants to go the distance needs a reliable spouse and a peaceful house.

I believe successful entrepreneurs should point at this more often.

Joe does.


#3. Record. Repeat. Remove.

As a content entrepreneur, I’m pretty sure you’ve heard this one from friends, family, or coworkers like a million times:

Come on! forget about all those bloging/podcasting/youtube stuff. You’re loosing your time. Focus on your job (or even - find a real job!) spend more time with your family, and get some sleep”. 

Now if this sounds familiar, Joe has a pure gem for you: The 3R’s.

Simply put:

  • Record: Document your desire.

  • Repeat: Every day, morning and evening, review your goals.

  • Remove: Clear away the garbage that is stopping us from accomplishing our desires.

The third one is my favorite…: Words have a creator power on our beliefs, emotions, and thus, our ability to do. Make sure to be surrounded only by those who use positive ones. Runaway from the others.

Which R do you like the most?


#4. It’s all about the newsletter economy

Most of the hundreds of (awesome) case studies from this book are pieces examples of content businesses built on platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, or else.

Ok so… now for anyone who is a Robert & Joe listener’s podcast, that’s when you say to yourself: WHAT???!!!!!!😱 

I mean, you know... The guy has a few mantras. Some of the most famous are;

  • Brands should acquire media companies”,

  • Audience first”,

  • The only valuable metric is a subscription”.

But on top of all, at the very top of the list, you have and always have had this one 👇👇👇.

Courtesy of PNR - This old marketing Podcast.

So? How come so many Content Inc examples are built on rented land???!!!!

The answer lies in Chapter 13.

In this one, it’s all about the one metric “that drives the model”: subscription.

The Content Inc. model only works if you can build a loyal audience of subscribers over time. Period. this means regardless of where you build your base as part of the Content Inc. model, you still need an email offering. Now’s the time”.

Here we are.



It’s ok to build your minimal viable audience on any platform.

BUT… at some point (and rather sooner than later), YOU NEED AN EMAIL OFFERING!!!

#5. Audience first. With transparency, please.

Practice what you preach.

The content of this book is no different than what the author seems to be as a person in his daily life: giving it all to his audience.

But with a premium!

Incredible transparency and unreserved willingness to share every single secret behind his success to enable others to achieve theirs at one of the most critical parts of growth: the exit.

I was a corporate lawyer for several before falling in love with marketing and I’ve never experienced such transparency from a business owner when it comes to his exit strategy and closing deal.

I was amazed at how deep he went to describe all the steps of CMI’s selling process (p. 275).

Not only the up and down/back and forth. But also all the legal stuff (the offering memo, NDA, LOI, even the buyer’s emails!!). He gives it all 😧 !!!

Transparency leads to trust.

Since CMI, anyone working “in Content” knows Joe Pulizzi as a person of trust.

Now we also know that the Content Inc. model is trustable too.


#6. Entrepreneurs initiate

Whereas he could have taken a long sabbatical and focused on being a full-time novelist, Joe got back in the game of launching a business from scratch, with everything that usually goes with it 👇👇👇…

He stepped off the stage of Content Marketing World.

He is no longer wearing his legendary orange suit (at least, not yet).

He’s back to the entrepreneurship arena, and not the easiest…

The one from content entrepreneurs: those where you need enough patience, humility, and ability to question while looking at your data and numbers (audience, engagement, and all the stuff that sometimes doesn’t make your day…) by starting over at zero and thinking:

Okay… we’re not there yet. Long road ahead. Let’s do this - again!!

In a way, it’s easy to launch a business when you have no other (financial) options.

But when you actually do... That’s a real choice.

When I graduated from Business School, one of the best teachers we had made an incredible graduation speech about entrepreneurship on how taking risks was a skill anyone could achieve, not a talent that some have and some don’t.

He concluded his speech with this sentence:

“ Entrepreneurs initiate. That’s what they do for a living. It’s not a matter of money. It’s a mindset. You can learn to become one. You just need to want to”.

This book was a good reminder.


#7. An 8th step in the Content Inc. model? 

Rand Fishkin named it: create content for the amplifiers.

On their path to success, one of the major triggers that led the content entrepreneurs in this book from being absolutely unknown - to known, was at some point, an interview or a sharing from the local newspaper or national media.

It’s obvious in most of the case studies:

  • Andy, the Chicken Whisperer: Once the Local CBS affiliate did an interview with Andy, then picked up by Atlanta’s major newspaper, from there Andy grew the Chicken Whisperer platform into a book, a magazine, and a radio show.

  • The absolutely genius weather daily report of Jack Martin’s CEO of Action Roofing whose report is so famous that it’s often commented on the local news stations.

  • The founder of SectionHiker.com blogged for three years until he was ranked in Adventure-hankies as a top hiking and backpacking blog on the internet.

  • The same happened with Michael Symon, the best-known celebrity chef from Cleveland. His business boomed once he appeared on Iron Chef America and then, the Chew (a daily syndicated talk show on ABC).

We could also have added Eric Bandholtz and its Beardbrand or Rand Fishkin and Moz for whom the Newsweek interview at the very start of SEO was a game-changer for the company.

Could that be another step of the Content Inc. model? Or should we save it for a potential 3rd edition of Content Inc.?


#8. The content entrepreneur rises

Meanwhile, Content Entrepreneurs finally get their own “lean start-up”.

And that is purely awesome!!!!

For those who skipped Eric Ries’ MVP, now is your chance. Here comes the MVA (Minimal Viable Audience).

“By focusing on building an audience first and defining products and services second, a person can change the rules of the game and significantly increase the odds of financial and personal success. I believe that the best way to start and grow a business today is not by launching or pushing products, but by creating a system to attract, build and retain an audience. Once you’ve built a loyal audience, one that lives you and the information you send, you can most likely sell the audience anything you want”.

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