Here’s a note I just sent to an new project inquiry – a potential customer seeking to create a national-class ad-revenue content website around a particular niche topic. I applaud his entrepreneurial spirit, but I really need people to do their homework – this is 2012 – you don’t create a money-making website today by hiring a designer or developer and spending a lot of capital on an intricately-designed customized site. You do it by having something to say, being willing to get your hands dirty by learning the available, free and public tools of contemporary publishing, and by DOING. We love designing websites and brands – good design is the foundation for good product. But just as in manufacturing or media enterprise, no amount of design, marketing and branding will make up for the absence of a legitimate, quality product. Shutting myself out of a great opportunity? Maybe – but you can’t do business in China without at least getting a little fluency in the language, manners, and culture. You can’t do business on the web without also putting yourself into the environment and learning the language. It’s a fundamental truth and I wouldn’t be an honest person if I didn’t point that out….. read on. >>>>>>
Thanks for the note. I have reviewed your comprehensive document.
Here’s the skinny. Fundamentally what you seek to do (technically) is pretty simple – it’s a blog – there are many examples of very successful, monetized blogs out there (boingboing.net, huffington post, salon.com, etc) – All of these entities have found a voice and an audience within their sphere of interest that is substantial enough to generate revenue from an advertising-driven model. All of them also got traction in the earliest blush of the internet. Today’s web is a different story.
We don’t currently manage a lot of ad-driven sites – our focus is primarily on the role that the web has to drive our client’s brands and the overall strategic approach to integrating evolving social media and public tools towards generating traffic and creating customers. The sites we build measure success in hundreds or thousands of visitors. In order to begin to monetize a site like you describe requires 100’s of thousands to millions of visitors monthly. In this day and age of the web, aggregating those kinds of eyeballs requires intense technical and creative engagement, as well as significant capital investment. I often tell people to imagine what it would cost to open a national chain of retail stores and use that $$ financial model to understand that the web is little different. It’s a pay-to-play environment now to a large degree.
We would be happy to help you with this but I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that the best thing you can do is fire up a wordpress blog tomorrow, a facebook page and a twitter account and start doing the work of publishing and broadcasting content. Design is mostly irrelevant in this space. Choose a template that works for you and go – the doing is all. No advertiser or sponsor will touch you until you have some metrics to show them – anayltics results, facebook fans, twitter followers, etc. Working with a web developer at this point is actually likely the worst thing you can do – you will need to have native fluency in the tools – which frankly is easy to come by – a couple of days of frustration and you can master all of these. Without core fluency, a developer or agency will just be taking your money.
I am sure you will encounter many experts who tell you otherwise, and that you should focus on developing your brand, your design, and getting everything perfect before “launch”. They are wrong. The web is about you publishing today, not 6 months from now, and discovering that everything you want to do in your business plan is literally a couple of clicks away.
We’re the wrong agency to work with on this – you need to look at federated media properties – the people behind the largest independent ad-driven sites in the world: http://www.federatedmedia.net/
Take a look at their stable of publications and you will see what state of the art is – blogging like your life depends on it every hour of every day.
Thanks for the inquiry.