On this week’s episode of Media Voices, we hear from long-time publishing pro Sam Baker, co-founder of women’s site ‘The Pool’. She talks about what digital success looks like, content partnerships and why she’s launching a paid-for email newsletter.

Chris is away this week, so in the news round-up Esther and Peter chat between themselves about Chrome’s built-in ad-blocker, print redundancy risks from a digital shift at Trinity Mirror regionals, the good, the bad and the ugly of the latest ABC figures, foreign subscribers for US publications and a couple of interesting platform plays at the Guardian.’

We’re reading:

In our own words: Esther Kezia Thorpe

On paper, The Pool goes against everything that we think should work in a digital publishing site. It publishes just a few pieces of content, and releases them in timed ‘drops’ throughout the day to a schedule, print or radio style. To top it off, it targets younger women – a market arguably already well-served by more traditional media companies.

But every detail of the way The Pool works has been carefully thought through and meticulously implemented by founders Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne, drawing together years of research into not just what women want, but their daily habits and their relationship with both their mobile phones and the internet (there’s a difference…listen out!).

Talking to Sam on this week’s episode, one thing particularly stood out for me: her laser-focus on the audience. They drive everything, from the way ads are presented to the timing and topics of content. Most importantly, Sam is ready to adapt should her reader’s habits evolve again.

I’ll finish with a note on the audio. Sam warned me that the office might be pretty noisy, and as they’re all in one room, we tucked ourselves in a corner down the far end for this interview. I’ve deliberately decided not to try and edit out the hustle and bustle of The Pool’s team in the background as I think it really conveys the lively atmosphere that I experienced when I stepped in there.

Further reading: Key lessons from The Pool on getting to know your audience

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