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The 25 Most Innovative Digital Publishers

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by David Garland in David's Blog

Call it pushing the envelope.

Or as Seth Godin would say, poking the box.

It is no secret I have an obsession with innovative publishing and media. In fact, during a recent exercise, I went through many of my favorite conversations on the show and then wrote down common traits of what I liked about each one. On the guest side, I realized MANY of my absolute favorite guests are thought leaders and innovators in publishing and media. Doing new things. Trying different experiments. Creating a following. Dominating the changing media world we live in.

I wanted to give some recognition to a few (of many) today. Some you might recognize and others I hope you take some time to know. Online publishing is vast: blogging, video blogging, online magazines, news sites, newsletters, web shows…the list goes on (and is just beginning), but the good old-fashioned qualities of passion, persistence and execution can be found in each and every one of them.

In no particular order:

1. Michael Stelzner – Social Media Examiner

What’s innovative? The business model. Social Media Examiner’s bread-and-butter is virtual events. Right now, their two-a-year online conferences are bringing in well over $1,000,000 in revenue.

Conversation with Michael on how Social Media Examiner went from $0-$1,000,000+ in revenue in less than one year.

2. Ishita Gupta – fear.less

What’s innovative? The platform and topic. An elegantly designed downloadable magazine available online. And better yet, a really unique topic of challenging fear.

Chit-chat with Ishita on her big plans for fear.less and digital publishing.

3. Chris Guillebeau – The Art Of Non-Conformity

What’s innovative? With a name like “The Art Of Non-Conformity” there better be something different, and Chris delivers. His Unconventional Guides are being sold like hot cakes, covering everything from hacking world travel to dominating the world.

A chat with Chris on how he built his brand from scratch.

4. Robert Scoble – Scobleizer

What’s innovative? The tech evangelist is always moving blogging forward especially in his position as one of the pioneers in the industry. From interesting videos to breaking news, Robert exemplifies a one-man media source (really it is two-men, since he has a great camera guy).

Chat with Robert on emerging technology and blogging.

5. Gregory Ng – Freezer Burns

What’s innovative? The show itself. Close your eyes. Imagine creating an entire web show around microwaving and eating frozen food. Open them…and then check out Freezer Burns, because that is exactly what Greg is doing.

Conversation with Greg on his frozen food empire.

6. & 7. Kai Hasson & Nate Houghteling – White Collar Brawler

What’s innovative? Quitting your day job, creating a production company, becoming amateur boxers and documenting the journey online? I’d say that is pretty darn innovative (and entertaining).

A dual chat with both Kai and Nate discussing the White Collar Brawler web series.

8. Amber MacArthur – commandN

What’s innovative? I love how Amber shoots her commandN web show. Instead of a typical studio or office look, she is out in the elements in exotic Canada. Best part? No need for expensive lighting!

Amber on creating interesting shows and the life of a web host.

9. Jason Sadler – I Wear Your Shirt

What’s innovative? Jason’s business model is on fire. The idea is simple. You pay Jason to wear your shirt for a day and he goes wild and creates content around your brand (blog posts, videos, photos, live chats and more). In 2009, it was just Jason. In 2010, it was Jason and a friend. And now in 2011, there are five shirt wearers. Viva le shirt revolution.

I caught up with Jason to discuss I Wear Your Shirt.

10. Peter Shankman – Help A Reporter Out (HARO)

What’s innovative? Some still cry “You can’t make money with social media!” Tell that to Peter Shankman. Peter’s three-times-a-day email blast matching reporters with sources went from Facebook group to million-dollar-plus company faster than you can say “HARO”.

My conversation with Peter on how he built HARO.

11. Gary Arndt – Everything Everywhere

What’s innovative? Travel industry sound a bit crowded to jump into? Not for Gary Arndt who has been traveling the world since 2007 and sharing his experience and photos online. He even received some love from Time Magazine as he was named one of their “Top 25 Best Blogs Of 2010.”

Gary on the future of personal publishing and blogging.

12. Anita Campbell – Small Biz Trends

What’s innovative? Small business is hot right now, but it wasn’t always that way. Leave it to the brilliant Anita Campbell to take a love for helping small businesses online with the creation of Small Biz Trends. One of the most popular small business websites, Anita has scored partnerships with companies such as HP.

Anita on the story of Small Biz Trends.

13. Laura Roeder –

What’s innovative? Proof publishing comes in all forms and fashions. Laura’s weapon of choice? Her weekly newsletter “The Dash” which helps folks increase their online visibility. Short, simple and to the point.

A chat with Laura on how her brand has risen out of seemingly nowhere.

14. Steve Garfield –

What’s innovative? Your neighborhood online video expert is always trying something new when it comes to online video. From live shows on The Pulse Network to keeping his community updated on the latest video happenings, if it is on camera…Steve has it covered.

A fun talk with Steve on online video and his book Get Seen.

15., 16. & 17. Brian Halligan, Dharmesh Shah & Mike Volpe – HubSpot

What’s innovative? An online TV show. A blog pulling in millions of views a month. Webinars. A content empire. All created by a software company (yes, a software company!).

Interview with Brian on inbound marketing and Mike Volpe on creating awesome webinars.

18. John Jantsch – Duct Tape Marketing

What’s innovative? John was looking to make friends with people smarter than him and what better way than to create an interesting marketing podcast? Long live Duct Tape Marketing!

Chat with John on his latest book The Referral Engine.

19. Tucker Max –

What’s innovative? Tucker Max was looking for a book deal, but nobody wanted his drunken tales of debauchery. Did he give up? Nope. Instead he posted his best stuff on Not only did this lead to a book deal, but millions of copies sold and celebrity-status for someone once shunned by the publishing industry.

Conversation with Tucker Max on how he became a New York Times Best-Selling author.

20. Melissa Pierce – Life In Perpetual Beta

What’s innovative? The documentary-preneur. Melissa is on a quest to find innovators living an unplanned life. Instead of going straight to Hollywood, she picked up a camera and started publishing online.

Melissa sat down with me to discuss the project.

21. Josh Shipp – Hey Josh

What’s innovative? His own TV show, unique site design and passion for helping teens (and parents of teens). Josh has turned himself into a media machine.

A chat with Josh on building his unique brand.

22. Timothy Sykes –

What’s innovative? Ever heard this one? “You can’t make money from online content unless you have millions of viewers.” Tim has challenged that in the finance field and last year brought in 1.5 million…with just 2,000 viewers-who-became-customers.

Timothy on his content empire.

23. Scott Ginsberg – HELLO, my name is Scott!

What’s innovative? Sure, wearing a name tag EVERY DAY for the past 10+ years is innovative. But, what is really innovative about Scott is his use of online content. Besides his daily blog, Scott’s NameTag TV is must-watch business tips. And that is just the fringe of Scott’s media empire that ranges from books to a literal search engine of quotes.

A fun conversation with Scott on becoming The Nametag Guy.

24. Michael Hyatt –

What’s innovative? Honestly, his willingness to innovate. As the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Michael has become a highly influential blogger, change-maker and innovator in the traditional publishing space.

My chat with Michael on the future of traditional book publishers.

25. Kevin Nalty – Will Video For Food

What’s innovative? One of the coolest YouTube celebrities around (and one of the most-watched). No longer does Kevin work in corporate America as his YouTube popularity and partnerships have propelled him to video comic success. If you don’t believe me, Google “fart”.

Nalts on how he is making a living on YouTube.

Happy exploring!

And of course, who would you add to the list?

Image Credit: brooksmemorial

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The 8 step process to the successful with online courses + free gifts for attending!

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