I was thrilled to hear the news that The Hustle has been acquired by HubSpot.
It’s a win – win. “Good business” as they say.
I’m happy for the team at The Hustle. Companies are built by people and the people at The Hustle have always impressed me.
I don’t know Sam well, but we’ve had some good chats. Steph Smith is a rockstar and probably one of the most valuable employees in the entire tech ecosystem. Ethan has always been so helpful and nice to me and Trung is without a doubt, the best follow on all of Twitter.
Note* – When I see new tweets from Trung, I literally make an announcement to my wife and we read it out loud together. True story.
Ultimately, this acquisition can be defined in one word.
You want to know what The Hustle did to put themselves in this position?
Lesson 1 – Collect Emails
The Hustle has social media accounts, but the social accounts serve the sole purpose of promoting the newsletter.
Sam is smart and he knew from the very beginning that collecting email addresses is the most valuable form of audience building.
Do you think HubSpot would have had the same interest in acquiring The Hustle if most of their audience was built on LinkedIn? It’s hard to say, but I doubt it.
The email app is still the most widely used app on our phones. In addition, email is a one-on-one relationship with each subscriber. Emails feel like it’s a message that is sent directly to me (you).
This is the holy grail. Don’t let notifications and retweets trick you into thinking that there is anything more valuable than permission based email addresses.
Collect emails from people who want to hear from you, and it’s virtually a guarantee that you’ll succeed.
Lesson #2 – Great Writing is Still the Mecca
The Hustle has the best writers in the business.
They are funny, direct, informative and most of all, they focus on serving their audience.
Copywriting and story telling are the most valuable skills in business / marketing / audience building / branding, and I would argue, in life.
Good writing is so powerful that we hardly even realize how much of an impact it has on us. Almost everything we buy is a result of good copy. Almost everything we belong to is a by-product of the story associated with the group or the tribe.
These are fundamental elements of humanity. We can never escape the excitement we feel when we read great copy or the FOMO we experience if left out of an opportunity.
It will always pay off to become a better writer. Learning the influence of persuasive language is a super power.
I always appreciated the sales copy they wrote in their sales emails to grow the membership of Trends . Maybe I’m just a copy nerd, but I value the art and the beauty in the 5 or 6 sentences that read as though someone is talking to me.
If it seems like something was was “written quickly” that usually means it took days to write.
Also, not to diminish the researchers on the team. I don’t want the research content to go under the radar, but for me personally, the copy and the story telling is what always stood out.
Lesson # 3 – Own Your Assets
Everything The Husle published was also published on WordPress. Even their membership site was built on (what I believe to be) Memberpress.
There are so many products and social media companies that make it easy to start a business or create a brand. But nothing will ever replace the value of having ownership over your digital assets.
No matter what bullshit Facebook pulls, or who Twitter decides to cancel, The Hustle will always have a direct line of access to the loyal fans and followers that they serve. They own their email list. They own their content. They own their processes.
I can not over emphasize this. OWN YOUR ASSETTS!
Don’t build your brand on Twitter, instead use Twitter to build your brand.
At Copyblogger, we have been preaching this message till we’re blue in the face, and it is always worth repeating.
The Hustle used social media to promote their brand, but they always understood that the brand wasn’t built on social. Rather social was a distribution network to grow their email audience.
It’s not to say that you shouldn’t use social media. In a lot of cases, I would argue that Facebook still outperforms many community products by nature of the network effect that Facebook creates.
The engagement rates on Facebook groups is much higher than if someone built a community on Circle. Social media is a great tool and it serves a great purpose.
But the point remains.
The Hustle always maintained complete ownership over their digital assets which means they were never in jeopardy of having their business crushed by an algorithm update or some other event.
To say again, I’m thrilled for the team and what they have accomplished.
From an alignment standpoint, I think HubSpot is the perfect company for The Hustle to partner with. The opportunities ahead are endless.
I, alongside the rest of you, got to watch as Sam and his team executed and maintained focused and consistency over the course of years.
What they have earned is well deserved.
That’s how you do it. Fuck yeah!