📊 ClassNotes 003: Why big trends make bad bets

📊 ClassNotes 003: Why big trends make bad bets

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Trends are as likely to catapult a content business to new levels of success as they are to suffocate it out of existence.

It all comes down to understanding which are worth your time and how to manage them so they don’t end up exploiting you.

multi-colored bar chart on black background
The number of new members each community added in a calendar year between 2020 and 2024 (estimated).

In our chart this week, I wanted to show you the growth rate of a few of the fastest-growing subreddits.

For those of you unfamiliar with how Reddit works, just think of a subreddit as a niche forum. There are approximately 140,000 of them, and they can offer unique insights into trending topics, like AI for example.

AI (artificial intelligence) has been everywhere. Since the release of ChatGPT in November 2022, and the onslaught of derivative tools thereafter, there’s been a massive shift in focus. Millions of people jumped on this trend to start businesses, create content, and find ways to monetize the massive surge in interest.

So, it’s no surprise to see that the ChatGPT subreddit made the list of fastest-growing communities. They added over 2,000,000 members in less than a year and are on track to add another 1,500,000 over the next 12-18 months.

My question, then, was how did this stack up against evergreen topics and communities?

  • r/TodayILearned a subreddit dedicated to interesting facts and simple tutorials, gained 1,000,000 more subscribers than ChatGPT in the same window of time, and is on track to outgrow them again by another 500,000 in the next year.
  • r/NatureIsF*ckingLit a subreddit focusing on animal and plant photography, grew by the same margin as above.
  • r/Relationship_Advice a community providing help for both romantic and non-romantic connections, grew slightly less than ChatGPT since its launch but will make up for that by adding 400,000 to 600,000 more members than ChatGPT will over the next year.
  • r/EatCheapAndHealthy a budget-focused meal planning forum, followed a similar pattern as our previous example by growing slightly slower in the last 12 months and then slightly faster during the next 12.

In every case, evergreen topics grew as fast or faster than the biggest trend on the internet.

Here’s what this means for you.

👉 Evergreen topics make a great foundation for a business. Trending topics make for great accessories.

Evergreen topics are so powerful because they offer consistent demand over a long period of time. Trends are valuable for exactly the opposite reason — they offer an abnormal amount of interest over a short amount of time.

Do you see how one lends itself to a sustainable business model more than the other?

The key is to marry the two.

Build a business upon an evergreen base and periodically pull in trends that complement your focus. Here are a few examples to get you started:

  • Joshua Weissman runs one of the largest cooking channels on YouTube and released a video titled Can AI Beat Me in Cooking? He took the evergreen topic of food and incorporated the AI trend.
  • Graham Stephan is a pillar of the personal finance YouTube community who typically talks about credit cards, real estate, and budgeting (all evergreen). He occasionally covers cryptocurrency (trend), such as in The Tragic Downfall of the Dogecoin Millionaire.
  • My good friend Tas Bober primarily writes on LinkedIn about B2B marketing (evergreen). Last week with the launch of Meta’s new Threads app (trend), she wrote a post detailing what new users needed to know about it. That post ended up getting massive reach along with being featured on LinkedIn’s official news blog.

A trend-based business is like building your house on sand. The view might be great for a while, but a single tide change and it all disappears.


1. Use evergreen topics as the foundation of your content business.
2. Use trending topics occasionally to complement your primary focus.

Next week, I’ll show you a chart that explains why you might only be earning 30% as much money as you should be and exactly what to do to fix that.

— David

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