Aug 16, 2022 - Economy

Exclusive: Morning Brew building creator program

Photo illustration of, from left, Sigin Ojulu, Emma Chieppor, Jack Appleby and Katie Gatti in a coffee mug.

Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photos: Sigin Ojulu, Emma Chieppor, Jack Appleby and Katie Gatti.

Morning Brew, the business media company that caters to millennials, has launched a creator program that allows independent personalities to work for the company full time while maintaining separate and distinct products and brands.

Why it matters: The program will help Morning Brew expand into niche areas, like personal finance, entrepreneurship and productivity, said Austin Rief, CEO of Morning Brew. It will also help the company continue to expand into business verticals outside of newsletters.

  • "We believe our audience cares about a lot of these niche topics, and we think the best way to cover those topics is to have a variety of different people, different points of view, who speak differently, all in the same ethos of Morning Brew, but maybe in their own tone and their own style," said Rief.

Details: The company currently works with seven creators, all of which are on Morning Brew's payroll full time.

  • Rief declined to provide details about how the creators are compensated differently from full-time reporters, but he alluded to the fact that they each have unique deals. "We want to understand how we can ensure that creators are incentivized to stay for a long period of time," Rief said.

How it works: Some creators, including Katie Gatti — a 26-year-old podcaster and personal finance writer — have brought their existing brands to Morning Brew to grow them with the support of Morning Brew's infrastructure.

  • Others, like Sigin Ojulu, are launching personal brands on Morning Brew's social channels.
  • Gatti said her newsletter, Money with Katie, has grown from fewer than 10,000 free subscribers to over 100,000 since joining Morning Brew in January. Her social following, she said, is four times larger. Her podcast hit 1 million downloads for 2022 earlier this month.
  • "It really comes down to Morning Brew's distribution," Gatti said. "If they have 4.5 million subscribers already, that's a lot of eyeballs that I can now get in front of that maybe I wouldn't have been able to get in front of before."

Between the lines: For creators like Gatti, the partnership provides support to be able to launch into new verticals that require cash investments upfront, like merchandise and events.

  • Gatti, as well as Emma Chieppor, the 25-year-old founder of Excel Dictionary, a franchise that focuses on optimizing workplace skills, have both launched merchandise lines with Morning Brew.
  • Gatti sells a line of Rich Girl clothing and accessories, a nod to her finance and savings brand, while Chieppor sells Microsoft Excel spreadsheet guides.

The big picture: Traditional news companies are struggling to strike the right balance between elevating their own brands and the brands of their journalists.

  • That tension has given rise to several news startups that are designed to give journalists more flexibility as creators, such as Puck, Semafor and more recently, The Information.

What to watch: Morning Brew is on pace to bring in over $70 million in revenue this year, up from $46 million in 2021, per AdWeek.

  • The company now has over 300 employees, up from around 60 when it was acquired by Insider in 2020.
  • It currently has around 4.5 million subscribers across 11 free newsletters. In May, Axios reported that the company now has over 1 million email sign-ups across its five business verticals.
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