I’m a little late to publish this, but I wanted to share a little bit about the past year for us. As many of you know, 2018 was an incredible year of growth for Big Slate Media. As a young company, we started off the year crawling (ya know, like a baby) and now, we’ve learned to run – full sprint!
When I originally purchased the company in 2017, we were a digital marketing company doing exactly what you’d expect: websites, SEO, AdWords and of course, video. That’s what we branded ourselves as, and that’s what our clients expected from us… or so we thought.
Within the first quarter of 2018, just about all of that changed. In taking a hard look at the market and listening to the needs of our clients, one thing was clear. Content is the missing piece for almost every marketing plan.
There are plenty of talented strategists, PR companies, and visionary marketers out there (especially in Knoxville), but who’s doing the dirty work? Who’s making the content they are strategizing? We were. We just didn’t know it.
After looking at our books and list of projects, it was clear. We are a content creation agency. The first and only one in Knoxville as far as I know. Over 80% of our business was video production, copywriting, and content management. THIS is what our clients need from us. #pivot
Q2-4 were insane. We broke sales records month after month, produced beautiful, creative and high-quality content and started relationships with some amazing clients. Saying we’ve been blessed is an understatement.
Having been involved in a dozen or so startups, I’m no stranger to the perils of owning a small business. However, I’ve not been a part of one with this much growth this fast. To keep the ship pointed in the right direction during the rising seas, it took immense dedication from the crew. Lucas and Jess, along with our network of freelancers, have put in early mornings, late nights and busy weekends. Additionally, we’ve all grown in our skill sets greatly by watching after hours YouTube videos, online classes and being mentored by generous sages of the industry. Growing pains are a real thing, but this team has pushed through them with unbelievable perseverance and joy. We could not be where we are today with this incredible team!
In October of 2018, the time came to start looking for an office space and room to grow (beyond my living room). ProMedia had recently sold their building to a friend and I fell in love with their beautiful 2500 square-foot cyc studio near Maryville. This sparked a vision for a collaborative, affordable studio space for content creators of all types. A place for not only photographers but for people to self create for YouTube or other platforms without having to purchase a bunch of gear. A place where they could just come in, and hit record.
After a month of trying to wheel and deal and come up with a way to justify buying a 7500 square-foot building, God made it clear that it just wasn’t what he had planned.
One night, in late November, I had made peace with the fact that the building wasn’t going to happen and that God had something better in mind. Literally, the very next day, I learned the warehouse across the street from our current home office had been bought. After talking with the new owner and hearing the details, it was amazingly clear that this was the next step. So, in December 2018, we began construction on an 1800 square-foot studio and office space. Creating the creator studio I had envisioned and new offices with plenty of room to grow.
During this growth, we discovered a deeper appreciation for Knoxville and the mindset of the creator community here. There’s a feeling of collaboration and optimism here within the production community that just doesn’t exist in a lot of places. To help further this, we decided to bring this community together through starting an organization called KnoxMedia, which recently had its first mixer with more than 70 people in attendance.
Late in 2018, I began meeting with local production companies in hopes to bridge the gap between the one-man freelancer and the area giants like Jupiter Entertainment, North South and of course, Discovery. Many people don’t know that Knoxville is the 5th largest production city in the U.S. By bringing these people together, we strengthen the collective power of the industry in our city and promote the collaborative mindset that sets our city apart.
2018 was an incredible year for us and I can’t thank our team, clients and partners enough for their trust and support. We’re already kicking butt in 2019 and I just know we’re going to continue making incredible content and growing our team.
Jonathan Halley, President | Big Slate Media