The Hub+Spoke Content Strategy of 100k+ follower B2B creators
DX Tips from 20VC Host Harry Stebbings (100m+ Downloads) and Justin Welsh (~500k followers across LinkedIn/Twitter/Newsletter)
5 min read
Two tech industry podcasts crossed major milestones this week:
- Harry Stebbings' 20VC podcast just crossed the huge milestone of 100 million downloads. Not bad for 8 years of work!
- Syntax.fm, one of the biggest dev podcasts, just crossed 20 million downloads after 5 years.
In case you were wondering, 20VC has 2800 episodes for average 35k downloads per episode, compared to Syntax's 500 episodes for an average 40k per. These numbers of course have a strong recency bias: Harry replied that the first 1.5k episodes had 500 per episode, and the most recent 500 episodes had 250k per episode (!)
Big numbers are always inspiring for smaller creators, but as a student of all creators big and small I noticed a pattern - everyone converges on a hub and spoke model.
Two Views of Hub vs Spoke
Hub vs Spoke models aren't new - most people are aware of the Disney flywheel, drawn all the way back in 1957:
But they were on my mind because of a third podcast - KP's Build in Public pod with Justin Welsh, where Justin brought up how he runs his own personal media empire:
Sidenote: we'll focus on the exact content holotypes for devrel/devtools in a separate post, this post focuses only on distribution channels.
Harry's advice on reaching 100M+ downloads was similar:
Every piece of content is always born multichannel.
Now, what do I mean by that? Always repurpose content for the different channels. A video recording of a talk can be a podcast, turned into an MP3. It can be a Twitter thread. It can be a TikTok, it can be a media and so much more.
Always repurpose your content for different platforms. Not only will each platform start feeding into each other for acquisition perspective, but it provides security to you in case one channel does fade.
From Justin's point of view, it is important to note that it is less about "multi-channel distribution strategy", than it is about solving for creator burnout. The idea is that the "hub" - the newsletter - is the primary piece of content, or the topic of the week, from which you rewrite for Twitter, Linkedin, etc.
For completeness, the Syntax guys also discuss their content process here and specifically on podcasting here. Syntax is of course a Hub for both to #shamelessplug their courses in every episode, but also is a great revenue generating business on its own.
Something Borrowed, Something You
Another common learning among all professional content creators is the constant tradeoff between:
- "owned platforms" (where you "own" a direct relationship with a smaller number of highly engaged fans, you control the narrative/distribution completely) vs "borrowed platforms" (where you "rent" a large audience and reach some % of them where they are, and they are recommended your content via an algorithm optimizing for time on site rather than showing them your best stuff)
- "high signal to noise" (where you want to be known for a consistent track record of high quality) vs "authentic" (where you want to be a "real" human being - People follow People, not Brands)
This is something I have been recently observing as well, on the KP pod:
There is a spectrum of signal to noise management that (creators) at the high level should really should get really good at...
Ultimately you want to create one high signal to noise channel that new people should see first, and where your most distant followers can keep up.
When people first hear about you, they should get extremely high signal. (who you are, your shortform bio, what you offer to them - see post on Marketing Yourself)
Only when people are very familiar with you, should you give more noise, give them more of the behind the scenes, to build a closer relationship.
Putting the two preceding sections together, we arrive at the shape of a rather ironclad content strategy:
- Have a Hub that is high signal, on an owned platform: Newsletter, Podcast, Blog. Most professional operations should try to do one high signal topic a week (again, we will discuss topic choice another day), but if you take this as seriously as the top players, all of them move to 2x-3x a week on their Hubs (with exceptions at the very highest levels - MrBeast, WaitButWhy, and others at the top of their fields often take entire months off because they have permanent mindshare and quality starts to dominate consistency given a minimum viable consistency)
- Make Spokes that are more authentic, on a rented platform: Twitter, Linkedin, Insta, Twitch, Tiktok, etc. Show work in progress, poll your audience, engage in discussions, post memes, on a ~daily basis.
- Some alpha can be gained from treating other people's Spokes as your Hub: For example, Sahil Bloom and Julian Shapiro both treat Twitter extremely differently than most, going for very high signal and less authenticity, in order to grow (Julian does have a main site which serves as a secondary hub but is not active).
One topic I have studiously avoided above is where YouTube lies in the spectrum of Hub vs Spoke. For most devtools companies, YouTube is an afterthought, a dumping ground for conference videos and barely edited Zoom calls. For most individual creators, YouTube is a hub (because of the massive audience). I think the metagame is moving strongly in favor of YouTube, but not every devtool will fit (our study of the best DevTool YouTubes here).
How strongly do I believe in this strategy?
You're reading my Hub right now :)