Monday, April 06, 2009

Monetizing Content - The future of media

Newspapers are going out of businesses. Top bloggers are abandoning their industry-leading blogs as not worth the effort financially. Information wants to be free. The outlook for content and journalism is pretty bleak, if the media reports are to be believed.

I think the future is ours to make. Here's my two cents for the media people to think about.

1. Education is a very very profitable industry.
2. Journalism as supported by advertising and subscriptions is failing.
Think about it.
I'll add a third point of departure for my suggestion.
3. The classic concept of education, running from K-12 followed often by college, sometimes by advanced degrees, is pretty out-dated. There's huge opportunities for new models of education.

Rather than proceed with a macro-industry meta-discipline analysis, I'll switch to the mode of some personal advice.

If you are a journalist or blogger with a good following but a shakey business model, pay me $700 and in a three hour one-on-one seminar, I'll teach you how to keep doing what you love (assuming that's journalism or blogging), build your following, and make it into a solidly renumerative business with control in your own hands.

Sound impossible, keep reading.

Actually, I'm kidding about the $700 and the seminar. I'm too busy to do that. Although, now that I've opened up the question, it might make a good business. Here's what I'd teach you in that seminar.

1. You have an audience that admires you. They listen to you and they read from you. They think you know more than they do about something of interest to them. They read you not because they want to click on ads, they read you because of your expertise and writing skills.

2. In your fans eyes and hearts, you are a celebrity.

3. If they had a chance to learn directly from you, to take a course, many of them would like to. Not all would but many would.

4. My point is that while your routine blogging and journalism might not make enough for you to live on, you can supplement it by selling your expertise in courses to your following. This will deepen your relationship with your audience and allow you to repurpose your expertise as courseware. Frankly, writing and teaching are very closely related. Not identical but they are close.

5. Todays tools for pulling together courses using public domain or cheap learning management system and online community sessions makes the creation of these mini courses practically available to anyone. It's not quite as simple as blogging yet but within maybe 12 months, with a little effort from the right groups, it could be made that easy.

6. Depending on your following and their level of involvement with you, you should structure an online or in-person course in which you charge them a significant amount of money and they get to interact directly with you. How about:

A three week $199 course for groups of twenty with two one hour sessions each week each plus email etc. This could gross $4K each time it runs and could run 12 times per year. That's $48K of revenue. Or, how about charging $499 per student? Or $999? Selling courses at these prices in the abstract sounds very hard. But, if you have a following who already admires, respects, and follows you, I think that it's likely that there is a significant demand from your audience for more than just your regular writing.

A friend of mine (kenny) had asked me a few days ago to write up something about how journalists should get into training. I had intended to write this but then forgot until I looked at my email today. From a group who "gets it", the search engine marketing group, I got an invite to have them train people at their next show. Are they expecting people to pay up? Check out these rates: Workshops $1,345/$745 Cost 8:00-5:00pm. If I had more time, I'd write up about the seminars and conventions that the NYT and Economist seem to run sometimes. And how colleges are beginning to wonder if the future of education is not so much a four year involvement but a lifetime opportunity to sell education to someone.

Journalists and bloggers should think of their writing efforts as the media and rather than accept lots of other advertisers selling things that your audience doesn't care about, sell them what they want. More from you. Cut out the middleman. Journalists should be educators with education being the profit center.

just a thought.....john


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