TechCabal's focus on newsletters and digests, instead of full blog posts


#1

First off, I am more or less becoming a Big Cabal Media fanboy, but I in no way work for them. I did a shoot with Zikoko a while ago, and may still do more, and I even tried applying to TechCabal as a writer one time, but apart from enjoying most of their media, I have nothing else to gain.

Now to my post.

TechCabal has shifted focus to newsletters, and at first I was like “Ah ahn, why stop improving a good site like theirs, and focus on newsletters? That doesn’t make any sense.”

Then I subscribed to their newsletters and would read them sometimes, and I also started reading Nir Eyal’s book Hooked, How to build habit formimg products. Around that time I also found out about The Hustle and finimize, and as a big fan of anything simplified and minimized, I fell in love.

What I read and learnt from Hooked, was how people built products that slowly became addictive. Competing businesses wouldn’t understand how it happened, so they lost, and their users would form so much of a dependency on it and wouldn’t even know.

With this in mind, I grew from opening my TechCabal newsletter twice or so a week, to everyday. And I noticed the same trend happening around me. A friend even told me he gets angry if by 7:30 the newsletter hasn’t arrived.

So with my knowledge of habit forming products, I wrote this post - How A Nigerian Media House is Using Newsletters to form Habits in Her Readers and shared with a couple of my friends. Some understood and agreed with me, some said I was giving them too much credit, some said yea, maybe the newsletter was good, but not that good, and some said my post needed more data, like their open rate and a heatmap, that 4k subscribers isn’t much unless they had a very good open rate of about 40 or 50%.

After hearing all this feedback before publishing, and then I publish the post with no like or tweet after what seems to be a day, I am beginning to wonder, whether I was wrong, and whether TechCabal isn’t really forming a habit with their newsletter.

So I am asking to fellow Radarians, what do we think of TechCabal’s focus on newsletters and digests, as against their previous kind of content.

And to the TechCabal team, why did you guys change your focus to newsletters? What made you change, was the site’s bounce rate getting high or what did you see? Has it been worth it? And what is your average open rate? Biko nu epp a fanboy out lol.

You can read my thoughts on the newsletter and why I feel it is forming a habit here.

Thanks.


What happened to Techcabal?
#2

I observed same today, was a bit worried when at 7:05 the newsletter hadn’t dropped. It’s become a habit now, checking my mail by 7 for new updates.

I’m not sure what the reason behind the change is but I prefer the newsletter.


#3

@sprime, You are definitely asking for AMA session with @seyitaylor and @lordbanks :slight_smile: :wink:


#4

That would be nice though, I have a few questions already in mind :sweat_smile:


#5

Thanks for the feedback :smiley:


#6

To contribute to your ‘research’:

I also read the digest every morning. Sometimes I even try to guess who the author is before hitting the byline. :grinning:

I like that it’s byte-sized (and contains some analysis), the way I like my news these days (check out Axios.com if American politics is your thing!)


#7

My guess is that niche publishing in Africa is super hard, so Techcabal have given up, but they keep the newsletter and summaries going as a labor of love.


#8

Naa @MikeOck they didn’t “give up”. Curated content with conversational tones is where news is heading these days. Especially with reduced attention span and information overload everywhere, reading so many 3-5 min long articles is a lot of work.


#9

Thank you for your feedback :slight_smile::+1:


#10

I don’t know if you can overcome your bias to see the writing on the wall. Just see the founders behavior on Radar itself. Seyi has one post in two whole months, and Banks’ input is stuttering as well. Add that to the fewer posts being written on Techcabal itself, from 10 per day to 1 per day. All that evidence but you want to tell yourself that it’s all part of some elaborate game plan?

Blogging is a brutal business with a very skewed earnings curve. At the top you have Linda and a handful of others raking in 90% of the available cash, while the other thousands of bloggers in the long tail can barely keep the lights on. The Cabal have moved on to greener pastures, be understanding.


What's happened to the Big Cabal?
#11

You hit the nail right on the head…especially for those in it for the money. The economics mighe not add up.


#12

I enjoy Finimize too. Would check out The Hustle.


#13

Truth be told. I loved the old techcabal. The one you’d go and get all the good news about the African tech space. The newsletter is a good model but I still find their writing style a bit boring. Maybe because it doesn’t yet have the sharp wit of the hustle.

I actually look forward to thehustle newsletters though. In the long run it could be a very good business model with a highly reduced running cost and great monetization potential.


#14

I really enjoy your point on the new model Techcabal is pushing their brand toward now, but is newsletter still the big deal for a media company in the era of social engagement. The recent uneffectiveness of Techcabal reminds me of Techloy decline in African Tech digital space months ago.


#15

TechCabal Newsletter: I came up with a method for detecting Newsletter written by Bankole and it worked well for me, from the first section of the newsletter I could detect Bankole from the humor not until Mobi picked up some of Bankole’s trait and then messed up my so called Algorithm

To the main point.
I feel the TechCabal newsletter is more of curated interesting Headlines expressed with humor. At some point the TechCabal site lost its vibe, most of their articles were pointing to a post on Techpoint or Techloy. The only exclusive articles were notice of AMAs on Radar. I think Zikoko at a time was heading downwards too until a new model was hatched, which is an interesting one by the way. My favorite was finding love on Twitter.

Forgive my typos if there are any, it’s one of the things you experience when you jump buses in Lagos.


#16

The digests are pretty cool, but I wonder if TC could do a little more like Quartz who have a daily brief but produce other content. Maybe more ‘Cabal’ posts as it was in the beginning?


#17

My scientific guess… There maybe some lowkey board tussle and it may be connected with their most recent investment. Hence their current focus on sponsored posts.

Also hw come no one mentioned disappearance of their staff from both posts and radar

For me Techcabal.com started loosing its soul when it started focusing more on sponsored posts… Instead of going out there to get the news like techpoint is doing now. There was a lot if Thngs happening… And techcabal would wait for say a Zoto or pay with capture to do a sponsored post before mentioning them. Anyway just my pointers


#18

I think old-timers here should have realised that BigCabal’s official policy on this is to keep mum for now. When they’re ready, they’ll tell us.


#19

@sprime Have you read this? Bigcabal Media phoenix


#20

Yes. What was I supposed to see?