Jimmy Daly wasn’t sure his company would make it through 2023. Like many businesses, Superpath struggled to navigate the uncertain economic climate, the explosion of AI tools and a slowdown in marketing demand across industries.

“I was just banging my head against the wall so much, and none of it was working,” recalls Jimmy, the company’s co-founder and CEO.

Jimmy has been very open about the burnout he experienced in 2023, the intentional time he took off from the business, and the changes he came to realize were necessary. This year, he’s happy to report that Superpath came out on the other side, and he’s feeling optimistic about what it means to be a content marketer in these times. 

Read on for why communities should focus on connections over original content, where new marketers should put their efforts and why a clean slate can be an exciting thing. 

People Join Communities for Connection, Not Content 

A key discovery last year for Jimmy was that people join the Superpath community to meet other people, not to consume content. 

A major change Superpath implemented last year — partly in response to the economic climate — was to paywall a portion of the community. After four years without a paywall, that ruffled some feathers, but Jimmy knew that maintaining the group without one was impossible. At that point, there were 16,000 members, and 500 to 600 new members each month. The company had no way to effectively moderate or onboard that many people. 

The paywall also forced Jimmy to think deeply about what value Superpath provides and what motivates folks to sign up (and pay) for a community. What he realized was that people wanted to make valuable connections. You can go almost anywhere for content, but making meaningful connections is more difficult.

Superpath still puts out content you can’t find elsewhere (see Jimmy’s thoughts on content libraries), but Jimmy’s focus has shifted. Instead, he’s looking to create peer-to-peer engagement opportunities that let people learn from each other. 

“Because of our position as a community, creating that much content is actually a disservice to members because they don’t really need to know what I think,” Jimmy says. “There’s hundreds of other people with different experiences and POVs. The most valuable thing is to crowdsource knowledge from the people in the group.” 

Today, Superpath has free and premium plans. Jimmy finds that a smaller paid community is attractive to marketers who want a safe space to be vulnerable and ask questions, while the larger free group can still converse and share resources in the main channels.

“If I were a new marketer, I would not be investing my time heavily in learning to write. Obviously it’s important, but I think multimedia is already huge and will continue to be important.” ~ Jimmy Daly

Why Writing Shouldn’t Be the Focus for New Marketers

When Jimmy got into content marketing years ago — you might recognize him from his time at Animalz as vice president of growth — most marketers were taught to run the playbook. It was OK for one company’s content to look like another’s; in many cases, that was preferable.

Today, the world has done a 180. Companies need to differentiate themselves, which means that new marketers must build an entirely different skill set than what was needed a decade ago. 

“If I were a new marketer, I would not be investing my time heavily in learning to write. Obviously it’s important, but I think multimedia is already huge and will continue to be important,” Jimmy states. “So I would be learning: How do you direct a video? How do you interview someone for a video testimonial? How do you edit it? How do you export it? How do you chop it up and share it? How do you distribute it? Same thing with audio and podcasts.”

The modern marketer also needs to know more than content. “I would also be thinking about data, and how I can get good in Excel or Google Sheets. Can I learn to use Looker? Can I write SQL queries?” Jimmy continues. “I think the next generation of content marketers are also gonna be really good data analysts.” 

The Future of Content Marketing as a Clean Slate

With all of the challenges that 2023 brought, things haven’t returned to “normal” in marketing. It’s possible they never will. 

Jimmy still feels like this is a great time to be in the profession. The skill sets you’ll need to succeed are changing (see above!), but he’s noticed a growing demand for freelance marketers and agency models, which is encouraging. 

This is a prime opportunity to think about what creative energy we can bring to projects. How will we differentiate our work? How will we break free from the playbook model that’s run the show for so long? 

“A clean slate can be hard, but it’s a chance to really kind of flex your content muscles in new ways,” Jimmy says. “I think there’s this potential new era of content marketing that is a little slower, more thoughtful, more creative, more differentiated — and that, I think, can be a ton of fun. And I think it can be a continued, lucrative profession for the people who pursue it.”