Media Entrepreneurs Need to Differentiate Themselves

SunLit Story Time co-founder Patrick Kelly told students Wednesday to differentiate themselves if they pursue an entrepreneurial media venture.

“Focus your energy on what differentiates you. Outsource everything else,” he advised.

Kelly and his wife, Susie, spoke to advertising and public relations classes at the Texas State Round Rock Campus about the Austin-based publishing and podcast company they launched in August.

Their Los Angeles-based daughter, Megan, hosts and produces the podcasts, which feature “feel great,” short-story fiction. She appeared to the Round Rock classes via video and encouraged students to sign up and listen every Monday.

As for the rest of the division of labor in this family project, Patrick Kelly, a former tech CFO who has authored four mystery novels, serves as editor. Susie Kelly, who has worked in television production and corporate communications, handles marketing and social media.

Initial social media efforts have focused on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. In addition to the SunLit website, listeners can find the podcasts on iTunes, Stitcher and YouTube.

The SunLit tagline: Making the world a better place one story at a time.

Patrick Kelly explained that he used to submit short stories to literary journals.

“I found the process depressing. Most of the stories are depressing,” he said. “And the feedback you get is zero.”

The Kelly trio decided to change that business model.

Their “fair value proposition” to writers includes clear guidelines, an eight-day response time and feedback when they decline stories.

They also pay $100 per accepted story, although the co-founders are quick to note they are self-funded and are giving themselves six months to make the venture financially viable by attracting sponsors.

Two months after launching, the podcast has so many story submissions that the co-founders have subscribed to Submittable, software that manages the podcast’s submission process.

The operations side is “pay as you go,” Patrick Kelly said, noting a list of mostly monthly, “walk-away” subscription services the podcast uses. These include Docusign for rights agreements, Podbean for hosting audio files and sending feeds to YouTube, Squarespace for website design and hosting, among others.

“Outsource as much as possible,” he emphasized.
Susie Kelly noted that the business has expanded from the Monday podcast to include a “read-only” story on Wednesday. And there are plans for “Feel Great Friday” that will include videos as well as research about the healthy impact of a “feel great” story.
There’s power in storytelling, she concluded.

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