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Who are you and what is your background?

My name is Jon Kingston, founder of Capital Employed Newsletter. My background is in entrepreneurship, mainly creating and growing online businesses.

What is your business?

The Capital Employed Newsletter is a subscription based newsletter where we interview emerging fund managers to discuss their favorite stocks. We also have a free bi-weekly newsletter which is a compilation of investment ideas from both professional and private investors.

What was your professional situation right before starting the subscription site?

I have been managing my own business since 2011. This business manages a portfolio of websites in different niches. Unfortunately, because of the pointless COVID lockdowns, the revenues of the business got hit in 2020/21. I wasn’t sure when the lockdowns would end and with a young family to support, I decided to try a few different ideas.

How did you get the idea to start this particular business?

It really began out of a passion for investing in stocks. I am a keen public equity investor and use the cashflow from my online ventures to invest in mainly microcap stocks from all corners of the planet. I am always seeking new stock ideas, and Capital Employed scratched that itch.

I also found many financial podcasts were too long and very few focused on the microcap part of the markets. I felt there was a gap in the market for a podcast which could be 20-minute bitesize episodes where investors could get straight down to business and discuss their favorite stocks, instead of pontificating about macro events.

What was the major challenge you faced in starting or scaling it and how did you overcome it?

The hardest challenge was being a complete nobody in the investing world, but luckily a few professional investors liked the idea and agreed to come on the show. From there the guestlist snowballed.

Another challenge, which is still ongoing, is finding the time. Once the lockdown ended my primary business bounced back, so my focus has had to go back to that.

What was growth like over the first couple of years?

The growth was actually quite slow. It probably took about 40 episodes to get over 1,000 downloads per month. Podcasting also takes a lot more time, effort, and money to produce.

For this reason in early 2023, I decided to pivot to a newsletter format with written interviews instead of audio. Since then the publication has gone from 1,500 newsletter subscribers to just over 4,400 today.

What was your specific strategy for growing it and how did you implement that?

Most of the target audience are on Fintwit (financial twitter) or Substack. So I focused on these two channels. The substack recommendations feature has been a real game changer as a number of well-followed Substack writers recommend the Capital Employed newsletter.

How much money is the business making now and what is the revenue mix?

I only started monetising the newsletter in February. The revenue mix comes from three areas – paid subscriptions, sponsorships, and publishing a quarterly report called Bargain Stocks Rader.

If I include my own time the newsletter barely breaks even [Editor’s note: Jon is including his own salary as a business expense here, so his business provides at least a moderate income already.]. However, it is going in the right direction and has new paid subscribers joining every month. It’s really about scaling at the moment. Once the publication reaches a certain level of readers more revenue will be generated from advertising/sponsorships as well.

If you were advising someone on starting a similar company today, what would you tell them is the key area to focus on and which strategy should they use to address it?

I think narrowing the focus on solving one particular problem for one particular demographic is important. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, just see what people enjoy and then make it better than the rest, evolve it. Branding and good copywriting is a key part of this.

For the audience building I would suggest focusing on one or two specific channels, whether that is YouTube, Substack, SEO, etc. Don’t over stretch yourself in the early days trying to be everywhere all at once.

What’s next for you?

The plan is to continue growing both free and paid subscribers. I’m planning to launch a paid advertising campaign soon. Perhaps in the longer term I will relaunch the podcast.

I don’t have much time to go full steam with the publication so the idea of taking the brand to a certain level and then selling it could be an option. We shall see, for the moment I am enjoying managing the letter and seeing the project finally gaining traction.

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