Big Tech Battle a.k.a. David vs. Goliath

We all know the story of David versus Goliath. David, a lowly shepherd boy without any armor, battles the mighty gargantuan warrior, Goliath. It’s the classic underdog story. David wins by being nimble, staying out of striking distance of Goliath’s sword, and defeating Goliath by shooting the giant with his sling.

What can we do as niche publishers to stand our ground?

When faced with losing market share to the behemoths – Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple – what can we do as publishers to stand our ground?

Here are three strategies to consider:

1. Don’t fall into the quantity over quality trap.

Stay away from producing clickbait! Many online publishers are overly-focused on traffic and page views, so they often scrap quality content in favor of flashy, buzzy, clickable content in order to boost those figures.

Focusing on clicks more than substance is a weak spot where publishers can hit the Goliaths of the industry—hard. Sure, it may feel awesome to get a zillion page views on a piece you’re proud of.  However, it’s more important to deeply engage a reader and make them loyal to you, your site, your publication, and your email list.

The only way to build this loyalty is to create high quality content that solves a problem for your readers, within a brand surround that appeals to their emotional needs. Do you help them become a better woodworker by instilling confidence? Do you help them become a more effective CEO by instilling focus? Figure out how you can serve your audience, and then it’s as simple as giving them what they’re asking for.

2. Be nimble across channels.

Another advantage publishers have is the ability to be omnichannel: print, online, social media, and, especially, in-person. Most publishers can mix and match platforms to deliver on their value proposition, while each Big Tech company is mainly gated within itself (although it is admittedly a gigantic gated area!). For example, publishers can use print to inspire, online channels to educate, and in-person events to build a community. If you’re relying too heavily on just one channel (ahem: print), then you are not taking advantage of your advantage. It’s time to diversify.

3. Stop giving so much stuff away for free.

Finally, don’t forget to charge for the value you are creating. You may not have the scale to “make up for it with ad sales.” Advertising is simply not strong enough to be a stand-alone revenue stream anymore. But if you create emotionally-charged content that delivers results for your audience, they will pay for more. And once you have an audience that sees your value for what it is, you can scale. You can move them up your product pyramid to more profitable revenue streams that benefit your bottom line as much as it does their knowledge.

So get out that slingshot, and take aim at Big Tech!

An earlier version of this article originally appeared here.


Rob Ristagno is the CEO and Founder of The Sterling Woods Group, a firm that builds new revenue streams for media companies and publishers. He is an expert in direct monetization of content. Prior to creating The Sterling Woods Group, Rob served as a senior executive for several niche media and e-commerce companies. He most recently was the Chief Operating Officer of America’s Test Kitchen, considered to be the gold standard in the niche media world for building diversified – and often digital – revenue streams.


Niche Media has the best events, education, and training in media! Our super niched-out events & content give target-audience publishers in the B2C, hobbyist, B2B, city & regional, and association markets the tools they need to build revenue, audience, and more.