Foundr Magazine publishes in-depth interviews with the world’s greatest entrepreneurs. Our articles highlight key takeaways from each month’s cover feature. We talked with Lauryn and Michael Bosstick about building The Skinny Confidential and their media empire. To read more, subscribe to the magazine.
When Lauryn and Michael Bosstick talk about the companies they’ve founded, The Skinny Confidential, HIM & HER, and Dear Media, they don’t talk about year-over-year revenue or MVPs. What they do love to talk about is the community they’ve built over the last 13 years through their blog, their spin-off podcast, and their podcast incubator.
To start, they didn’t research new verticals for opportunities to monetize. They didn’t look for whitespaces in various industries.
Instead, their success started simply because Lauryn didn’t want to shell out 800 bucks to join a sorority.
In 2011, Lauryn was in college and looking for a community. When the sorority came knocking, hand outstretched, Lauryn turned to blogging instead, asking herself the questions every entrepreneur asks: How can I create this and do it better?
“At the time, bloggers were blogging about what they were wearing and their nail polish color and their mascara brand.”
“And I was like, ‘Wait, how can I do this and not just make it about me? How can I make it about other people, too? I want their secrets and tips on the blog.’ And that’s how the Skinny Confidential was born.”
Lauryn blogged seven days a week and spent two hours each day responding to readers’ comments. Yet, she didn’t make a penny off the blog for three years.
What she was doing was building a community, listening to her readers, and creating a space for conversations and connections.
Since then, she and her husband, Michael, have spun off a podcast, The Skinny Confidential: HIM & HER. She has published a book, The Skinny Confidential’s Get the F*ck Out of the Sun, and launched a skin care line.
From the podcast, Michael has grown a podcast incubator, Dear Media, which focuses on women’s voices and narratives.
A focus on community and audience has helped Lauryn and Michael build brands with incredible popularity. The blog garners more than 2 million impressions per month, and the podcast currently boasts more than 90 million downloads.
HIM & HER: Expanding Their Community
The Bossticks launched HIM & HER six years after the blog. In each episode, Lauryn and Michael share their perspectives on various topics and bring on guests from all walks of life, from health gurus to employees of the Bunny Ranch, a legal brothel in Nevada.
It was born from a need to connect with the Skinny Confidential community—and a night of margaritas.
“I started to see that the audience was craving more intimacy, and so did Michael,” Lauryn says.
“And so we were drunk in Cabo off margaritas, and he said, ‘Let’s launch a podcast.’”
It was a crazy idea. At the time, podcasts were only beginning to catch on, and no one really knew if there was a way to monetize them.
Like the blog, it was a labor of love first and a revenue stream second.
Also like the blog, they focused on their core audience. They are always tuned into what kinds of content their audience wants. They listen to feedback and incorporate questions that come from listeners.
This is a strategy Lauryn sees a lot of companies ignoring, to their detriment.
She uses a bar analogy to illustrate. “You see a lot of young guys go to a bar, and they get fascinated with a girl that they are pursuing, and they focus on that. And then all of a sudden, there’s another pretty girl standing there, and they stop focusing on the one that they were interested in. They go to the next one. Then there’s another one, and they go to that one. I think people do this in business too much. They start to develop a customer base or community, and that community starts to get a little bit vested, and [then they’re] like, ‘OK, got them, no more focusing on them, no more catering to them, I’ve got to go get someone else.’”
Lauryn and Michael host the show eight times every month, and they’ve never missed a show. Each show explores topics that directly address their audience’s interests and pain points, which means they cover a variety of topics.
“So it really started with us providing the content, not necessarily from what we wanted to talk about but from what they wanted us to talk about,” Michael says. “And over the years, we’ve maintained that really close connection.”
They keep a close eye on analytics not only from the podcasting channels but from social and email, as well, to get a good read on the guests and topics the audience is responding to.
“I think so many podcasters make a mistake, where they don’t put the audience first,” Michael says. “They either put themselves first or the guest or the brand. We really put the audience first and know that by doing so, they’re going to support us in return by listening and sharing and growing.”
Launching Their First Product Using the Power of Community
Like the blog and the podcast, the Bossticks were deliberate in their first product launch: a face roller that reduces swelling.
The idea came to Lauryn after she had to undergo double jaw surgery, a procedure that left her face swollen for three years. Her only saving grace was an ice roller she found on Amazon for $10.
When she blogged about it and included it in her store, it became a top seller.
“I noticed that my community was obsessed with it because people wake up swollen all the time—you’re hungover, you have puffy eyes, you go on a plane, you get puffy. People are puffy, and no one was talking about being puffy,” she says.
Lauryn did find flaws with the roller and so decided to launch her own. It took four years and several conversations with her audience before she had a product she was ready to launch.
She gathered a target group of users and talked to them daily about the development of the product. From there, she launched a Facebook group and grew it to 60,000 women. She posted pictures of her product and development and solicited feedback.
The ice roller sold out twice in the first two months after launch and became the first product in a skincare line with a cult-like following that includes the first facial razors and shaving cream for women.
“It’s like the ice roller on crack,” she says. “It’s freezing cold. Guys love it. Grandmas love it. Dogs love it. It’s just everything you want to wake up to because it freezes the shit out of your face and makes you just tight and gets rid of the puff.”