So…what *is* Smooth?

Preparing to explain it to our families for the millionth time

Hi, everyone! There’s a running joke in the newsletter biz that whenever writers don’t know what to put in the top of a newsletter, they write about the weather. The email version of “how ’bout them Yankees?” 

I have realized lately that my weather is Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce. I tried to write so many other intros to this week’s edition, but all I kept typing was an incoherent string of pop culture buzzwords: “travis taylor kiss argentina guy on the chiefs.” I am who I am.

—Kinsey, cofounder and head of editorial

So…What Does Smooth Really Do?

Me just vibing post-Thanksgiving dinner as my mom is fighting for her life trying to understand what a content creator is

Many of us on the Smooth team are heading home for Thanksgiving this weekend, and as sure as there will be Stove Top stuffing at the Grant family table, our parents will ask us again what we do for a living. Because your family being totally clueless about your job? It’s as universal to the startup experience as suddenly getting really into Twitter.

So today, we’re sharing two important things:

  1. An explainer of what Smooth does, inspired by the conversations we’ll surely have next week at Thanksgiving

  2. A compilation of the things our families think we do that we do not, in fact, do

What is Smooth Media?

Officially, we’re the platform for next-gen media businesses. What that really means: We are a services company with three core offerings (see below) for ambitious and intelligent creators looking to scale their media businesses.

Our offerings:

Revenue services. We serve as creators’ full-stack brand partnerships (revenue) team. From creating media kits to securing campaigns with targeted brands to building out engaging and multimedia B2B partner content, we team up with both creators and B2B advertisers to build compelling campaigns that reach and resonate with the very best professional audiences.

  • How I’d describe that to my parents: Lots of creators make money through advertising. We help creators who work with B2B advertisers to secure and execute marketing campaigns for these brands, effectively monetizing their content in sustainable and creative ways. Aka slinging ads (and events and branded content and social media campaigns and…).

Content services. We work with creators to develop, publish, and manage premium editorial content. Our primary channel is our first love, email—because we continue to see enormous value in owning your relationship with your audience (which is really only possible via email). We work intimately with creators to build out their content universe, then we expand that universe (read: use high-end, utility-driven, and entertaining content as a top-of-funnel means of getting more readers).

  • How I’d describe that to my parents: We work closely with creators to develop and run the text-based content side of their growing media businesses. Aka writing killer, super creative newsletters (but soon more than just newsletters 👀).

Fractional COO services. We provide creators with the operational support to grow the business of their creativity. We step in as an extension of creators’ teams to offer strategic guidance and provide excellent operational know-how that allows creators to think for the long-term and optimize their processes.

  • How I’d describe that to my parents: We know creators are businesses and we know businesses need operators, so we step in to serve in that capacity for creators who 1) might not be ready for a full-time COO and 2) should spend their time doing their highest-leverage work—being creative. Aka running sh*t so creators can go make cool content.

So that’s what Smooth really, really does. We’re currently a team of 10 full-time (and many part-time) experts in creativity, strategy, and relationship management, and we’re super excited to accelerate and build on all this in 2024. Also, yeah Mom and Dad we are legitimate enough to offer health insurance for our employees.

Now that you know what we do, please enjoy this sampler of the many things our families have, at various times, thought we do:

Kinsey: My family is in on my long running bit in which I refer to myself as a girlboss. Unfortunately, the bit is becoming all too real and I do often find myself thinking about ROI, deliverables, and power blazers. Anyway:

When I asked my fiancé (Seinfeld fans rise up) to describe my job, he said: “media mogul.” Marriage material!

Ali: On my first day at Smooth, Kinsey had released an episode about the ethics of porn. So I came home from day one and when my parents asked me how it was…I explained that I spent the day learning about porn monopolies? That’s show biz, baby! 

Luckily, they have recognized that our business (and my responsibilities, thank goodness) have evolved since then. Although my dad did recently try to show me this “cool new AI creator” he found who happened to be…Matt Wolfe, a creator we’ve worked with for months. Win some, lose some.

Jenny: My experience can and should be summed up in this Tweet.

Thanks for getting to know us a little better. 🙂

  • Karlie Kloss has acquired i-D magazine. I’m into it—she’s got the fashion and cultural expertise and i-D likely needed a buyer.

  • I’ve seen this shared by a few people in the media space and I don’t totally agree with all the points made, but I’m curious what y’all think: Is newsletter winter coming?

  • Crypto news outlet The Block sold a majority stake to Singaporean VC Foresight Ventures in a deal valuing it at $70 million.

  • The NYT has surpassed 10 million subscribers.

  • Jezebel is shutting down, and the media response has been captivating: I read this by Brian Morrissey and this from Dirt back to back, and the two couldn’t paint more different pictures.

#digibuzzcodevoxious is a term we coined back in our Morning Brew days—a portmanteau of Digiday, BuzzFeed, Recode, Vox, and Axios. Obviously, the year was 2018 and the interest rates were zero. But still, the sentiment of “interesting media trends and news” remains. So the name stays.

Some days, WeWork is great. And other days, WeWork is this—left unerased in a conference room for us to gasp at:

A balanced diet

Thanks for reading! I’ll be back next week with a very special edition of Smoothletter. See you then.