For the past few years, I’ve been fascinated by the way classic newspapers handled the shift to the internet. Most of them handled it poorly and thought that simply copying / pasting their paper news would make it online… Their business model is broken, profits are thin and they still don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel.
What will happen to the old media?
This is where the problem stands; once you go online, any newspaper is as important as any other blogger. In fact, some bloggers are way bigger than some newspapers! This is where the problem is; there is no more entry barrier to publish content. I remember that when I was young, I wanted to become a writer. While growing, I realize how it was difficult to live from writing and decided to head toward the financial industry to assure a comfortable retirement.
In order to write; you needed an editor or a job as a journalist. Then, your destiny was held by a handful of major players. If you didn’t make the cut, writing for the local newspaper wouldn’t be as lucrative. But these days have changed as anybody with a strong personality and the ability to write can setup their blog for less than $100 per year. They can publish and share their stories with no marketing budget and they can even make money without having to setup a distribution network across the country.
Old media thought they would simply open their “dot com” window on the internet and occupy the same space they have in the “real world”.
The competition on the internet is as close to fair as it can get. We all have the same medium and it doesn’t require any background nor massive funding to start a website. This is why old media doesn’t compete against 5-6 major competitors but several hundred thousand bloggers without papers. Basically, anybody with an opinion can be a competitor.
The journalist by trade who is sitting in the same chair for the past 30 years now has to wake-up; anybody can pick-up “his” seat and he won’t even know it. Survival of the fittest; your experience and number of years worked at the same place won’t save you from the guy next door without any background or paper!
The first thought old Media had when they noticed a drop in their revenues was to charge for their content. We saw it with the Wall Street Journal at first, and more locally, the Globe & Mail is now charging to read full content online. I’m not too sure that it’s the right way to approach this new evolution in the industry.
On the one hand, not all newspapers charge for their content. Therefore, you better have a hell of an offer to charge readers. If they think they can read similar articles elsewhere for free, you won’t get many subscriptions. At the same time, you still have tons of specialized/niche sites covering the same topics for free as well.
I’m not convinced charging for content is the right answer. I think it’s a Band Aid on an open wound. The whole business model needs to be changed. Charging for content or posting an avalanche of ads will not solve the problem. Readers are looking for free and useful content – not a Nascar newspaper full of ads.
As long as old Media heads towards the classical way of making money with news, they will walk on the path to the cemetery.
I think there are others options traditional newspapers could use to make money online and survive the internet wave. I’m not a guru of any kind and don’t pretend I hold the key to success online. However, I believe there are different ways to make money online without upsetting readers.
Newspapers have 2 major strengths they should use to their benefit;
#1 They already have an audience.
#2 Google likes them and it’s easy for them to rank in the search engines.
Therefore, they already have the 2 things we, as bloggers, fight for since day one! This is how they could easily insert one or two “profitable” articles in their edition each day. These articles will be SEO optimized and include different type of advertising. It could be Adsense or affiliate links if the writer liked a product and recommends it. There is obviously a risk where the journalist may or may not cross the line of integrity by recommending a product with a commission attached to it.
Conspiracy theory fanatics will see the loophole and scream. But we already have the same issue with other bloggers anyways. Is Pat Flynn writing about Blue Host because he truly loves their hosting service or because he makes over $20,000 per month through his affiliate commission? Who cares??? I bought my hosting with Blue Host because I trust Pat, period. So why wouldn’t it be the same thing with your favourite columnist?
With such a large audience, there is definitely a place for side products such as info products, ebooks, paid newsletters for specific information. I think the main platform should remain free, but additions could be charged to readers. People are craving for more valuable info on what they search for. Since old Media has the resources, time and money to create side products, they seem to be in the perfect position to do it.
Once they track their traffic, they can see what are their most popular topics and columnists. Then, they can easily create products targeted to this audience.
Not too long ago, there was a big launch made by a French newspaper called La Presse. I actually like reading La Presse for free on my laptop and also on my iPad. A few months ago, they launched an app called La Presse +. At first, I wasn’t too convinced about the idea. I just thought that, once again, big media was wasting their money on a marketing exercise.
But now that I’ve gone through the app several times, I can tell you that I simply love it! The content is fun to read because you have more colors, images and they even include videos! Therefore, it’s more than a blog, it’s more than a newspaper and it’s even more than a TV show!
The only thing missing on this app is probably the ability to comment on any news live and discuss it with other readers. However, it has clearly changed the way I read a newspaper. Even if you don’t read French, just download the app to see how it works. It’s clearly amazing. I wonder if there is an equivalent in English, do you know any app like this one?
I am asking you, what is going to happen to old media? Are they going to die and other internet giants will create more content? It has already started… what’s next?Google+ Comments: 4 Read More
I’ve always valued multitasking over everything else. In my mind; if you are productive; do as many things as possible. As long as it is still effective; simply go for it! But I noticed that sometimes, focusing on one single thing is the best way to make it happen.
I’ve had this dream of having a membership website as part of my online empire for some time now. A membership site is awesome since it enables our ability to build a “real” company. By “real”, I mean that I have a product, something to sell; something that nobody can take away from me. On top of this, once you have a product, you have clients. And these clients can stick around for a while and there are no Google updates to take them away from you. You can build a relationship and be in direct contact with your customer. This is why I call it a “real” business.
I’m sure I’m not the first one to daydream about the number of potential subscribers multiplied by a monthly fee to see how much I could rack-up in a month. Imagine that you have 1,000 clients paying $15/month for your product. That’s $15,000 each month coming into your pocket. Your cost of goods sold is close to nothing since you have no building and no inventory to maintain. Even if you hire a VA to manage customer service, you will still net $13,000 per month out of the 15K…. wow!
As I just wrote, this is called daydreaming. I might reach that point with my product one day, but it’s not going to happen overnight… especially since I don’t have a product launched yet! Many people come up with an idea, fund thousands of dollars to create their product and keep it wrapped up in their basement on the shelf of the broken dreams.
It’s definitely not easy to offer something original, something that is not being offered a thousand times over already. Finding the right product, the right audience at the right price is an art all by itself. This is why I’ve brought my expectations to a much lower level. My goal is to reach the mark of 100 subscribers within the first three months and adding 200 subscribers each year. With such a plan, I will be making that $13K net in 5-6 years. I guess this is more realistic.
I have spent more than year thinking about my future product. About how I would offer added value to what is being offered on the market right now. Now that I’ve clearly defined my idea, I needed a lot of time to build the structure around it.
I started to work seriously on my special project about 6 months ago but it wasn’t going fast enough. I was working hard, sending tons of emails to my partner, doing research, etc. But, the results weren’t not coming my way. After 5 months, I had a very good idea of what my product is, but the structure wasn’t anywhere close to being in place in order to offer it.
When I came back from vacation, I decided to put almost all my attention towards this project. This is why I haven’t been writing much over the past week and why I’ve been delaying most other projects in my workflow. I kind of stopped my empire to focus on one thing.
This is how I was able build a structure and determine a deadline: I want to launch my project for December 2013!
By spending numerous hours in a row working on the same project day after day, I was able to think about all the “little things” that would make my product successful. I was also able to drive my partner crazy because I was sending 5 emails a day about this project, hahahaha! I was working on it mostly by night so he wakes up with a bunch of emails to answer. This caused a bit of confusion since I had the bad habit of sending more info each time without waiting for him to answer the first email… but this is the hype of brainstorming!
The fact that I was 100% focused on 1 project helped me to brainstorm to another level. Each day, I had a better idea than the previous day. The focus mode built a bubble around my mind where the only thing I thought of was this project. I have gotten more done over the past three weeks that I’ve done over the last 5 months! This is why sometimes focusing is better than multitasking!
Are you getting curious? Hehehe! You can register here if you want to be the first to know about it!
TFBGoogle+ Comments: 2 Read More
Being an entrepreneur is not always fun. Recently, I experienced the ugly side of having a business. It was probably one of the toughest moments I have had with my online company in the past 5 years. No… I’m sure, it was the toughest moment I have ever had.
Martin, mostly known as MD on this blog has been working for me for over three years. I first hired him for his passion and writing style that connects with my personality. I rarely meet people in the financial blogosphere who are a little crazy like me. This is why I have enjoyed working with Martin so much. He is always on top of things, ready to do more to help and is creative. Definitively, there was nothing wrong with his work. This is why it sucked so much to tell him that he won’t be working for me anymore.
This is when being an entrepreneur sucks; when things are not going the way you want. It’s been roughly 18 months that Google targeted link selling sites in the financial industry. It was no secret that back then, I was making tons of money from this industry. I even averaged over 10K/month for 6 months in a row with no indication of this slowing by any means. Then one day, it all fell like a brick on my head coming from the Empire State Building. Google started penalizing sites that were buying or selling links and it was more effective than a witch hunt.
In the span of 2 months, my private advertising business dropped by 70% and there was nothing to bring it back. I had to turn on a dime and work on another business model with my friend. We came up with several great ideas and saved most of our income. To this date, we are still in line to generate a 6 figure gross revenue. But the difference is that we don’t have much growth anymore and we are keeping it in the low 6 figures. Unfortunately, Martin’s work was directly linked to the private advertising segment of our business. Therefore, most of what he used to do that was highly lucrative for us isn’t generating much anymore.
I’ve personally struggled a lot since 2012 to thinking of a better business model to keep producing growth. When it comes down to my performance, I’m not easily satisfied. The status quo is synonymous of failure for me. Not showing a 20-25% growth of income last year was a total failure. In fact, for the first time in 5 years, we dropped by 4%. I just can’t accept that. Not while other website owners are still increasing their income.
The point is that we didn’t prioritize the right business model at first. That’s not a big deal when you realize it and you start working on something else. But this is not what we did. We let the company drift for a while thinking the business would come back by itself. The plan was simple: find other ways to keep our existing income streams as is and a better way for private advertising to come back like a tsunami. We kept Martin for this reason thinking that we could wait a while and still make money from this business later on in time. Unfortunately, this scenario never materialized.
We took life for granted a little bit too much for the past 18 months. After saving our income in 2012, we were relatively happy with the result and thought growth would come back in 2013. But it’s not. And the reason why is simple; because we are not fully invested in our company.
With the birth of my third child and my partner’s first baby, we completely stalled our involvement in the company and made sure someone else was paid to handle everything. But the truth about entrepreneurship is that it’s always rolling and you can’t sit on your couch for too long. The business changed quickly and we didn’t follow the parade. This is why we are now trailing.
By cutting an employee, we force ourselves to work more hours. This is the only way that we will get the real feel for our company back. We will be able to create a real direction and come up with better projects. We will become more hands-on and this is the kind of factor that will bring the business to life again.
I can imagine that it wasn’t Martin’s best day of the year when I had to tell him that he will not be working for us anymore. This was truly not a great moment for either of us. On his side, he lost a stable source of income. Since he was working on several projects, having a reliable source of income is always welcome. On my side, I put a friendship at risk and I have a feeling of failure. I failed to keep him on our team and failed to produce enough income to keep him on contract.
But this is a situation most entrepreneurs encounter on the path. Nonetheless, trust me, it really sucks.Google+ Comments: 10 Read More
Will today be another Groundhog Day?
Lately, I have been inspired by several success stories. I didn’t read about another dotcom mogul on the internet that I barely knew existed. I heard stories from a close relative who succeeded by taking the evil way of entrepreneurship. I’m using the world “evil” as in: if you start your business; you automatically leave the herd and stop being a sheep. If you are not part of the group, it must be because it’s evil, right?
A friend of mine recently started his own business and bought a new house.
A friend of my partner just sold a part of his business for $500K.
My sister-in-law’s neighbor sold his online company for a hefty pile of money.
Guys from my Mastermind group are simply amazing me with their plans.
It all happened at the same time, I heard about these stories one after the other and still, I’m sitting on the sidelines, watching the parade. I guess I’m just waiting to see if my conditions will hurt or not to move. I’ve given some thought about what is good or bad about my day job and the fundamental reasons why I can’t quit. I think I’ve finally found the answer!
Many times in my life I encounter people who invest in certificates of deposit. I once heard in a conference that investment risk wasn’t in the stock market but it was with certificates of deposit. The biggest risk was the fact that you can’t get enough return to sustain your lifestyle at retirement. Since certificates of deposit are fixed, there is no way for you to get a better return.
This is exactly what happens with my guaranteed paycheck. No matter what I do, I have the assurance that I will be receiving my bi-weekly paycheck deposited directly into my account. I don’t really have to worry about how my employer is doing as I know there is a lot of money in the bank account. Therefore, there is no stress to produce enough income to be able to pay myself from my own company’s bank account.
As with the CD investor, I know I’m limited by my potential return, but I’m happy with the meager raise I get each year. The security has a huge cost, but still, you are secured.
When you think about it; is it that bad to have a pension plan? To get a high paycheck every two weeks? To get plenty of side benefits such as insurance, employers stocks, etc? And, most importantly, is it that bad to be paid for a job that you like? What’s wrong with my cubicle? What is wrong with me?
I guess it’s not the end of the world. In fact, it’s a pretty good world by itself! However, the cubicle is still filled with things that suck:
- Corporate BS (you have to drink the Koolaid)
- You are set with a fixed schedule (not much flexibility)
- You are set with fixed vacation
- There are always some stupid annoying rules you can’t deal with
I know from the start that I’m not good with the corporate environment. I enjoy working with my colleagues but the lack of flexibility has always been an issue. It’s not surprising that I had to fight so hard to get my 4 day workweek schedule and that I try by all means to have a flexible schedule. So far, I can’t complain, my employer has been fairly open-minded with this part.
Still… there is something itching in the back of my mind… but as much as I want to work on my own, I am also terrified by the idea of generating my own income. The money won’t be coming from some kind of automated payment system; the money will be coming from my company bank account to my personal bank account. The fear of not producing enough income is terrible. What if I could not sustain my lifestyle? What would happen? These are the fears preventing me from jumping right now.
Have you ever had these fears? How did you deal with them?Google+ Comments: 9 Read More
Me: what are we invisible?
My friend: No wonder this bar is empty on a Saturday night.
This is an exchange from last weekend. I spent my Saturday checking out my friend’s new shop. His business is opening up this weekend and he was checking in on the construction. I was excited to see the progress. We decided to grab a quick drink next door after.
The bar was empty, which is very strange for a Saturday night and a Boston Pizza.
It took us forever to get a drink. We are pretty social guys. We talk to everyone. We are not rude. My friend is a lot older than me and totally respectful. So they weren’t upset with us. We weren’t being obnoxious.
The customer service just sucked.
The worst part is that my friend knows the owner and he’s opening up next door to this place. He doesn’t want it to fail, but he also appreciates great customer service. He told me that the service always sucks at this place and that he doesn’t think they’re going to last long.
I don’t know about you, but most customers really want exceptional customer service.
“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” — Bill Gates
It is everything to me. I would rather by a lower quality product if it’s guaranteed to come with better service.
I hate waiting, being treated like I don’t matter, or having someone on the other end that doesn’t appreciate my business. For us customers, there are so many options out there. We don’t have to go back to that specific place. When we don’t go back, we might even share our concerns with some friends. So not only do they lose the original customer, but they can lose many others that aren’t impressed with how they were treated.
On the other end, when I get treated well, I’m sure to come back. There’s a burrito joint near my gym that I almost attend religiously. They know my brother and I. The second that I call they already know what I want. I place the order, show up in 10 minutes, and pig out.
It’s funny how small things can go a long way in keeping or attracting customers.
“The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best but legendary.” — Sam Walton
It seems to me that it’s difficult to find great service these days. The world moves fast and people hate waiting.
You should never make people wait or feel like they’re not important when they walk in.
I bought my Macbook Air in Budapest, broke it in Puerto Plata, and got it fixed in Toronto.
Whenever I go to the Apple store I’m impressed with their customer service. They’re quick to help you, have great warranties on their products, and take the time to explain things to you.
The only dangerous part is that you might leave the store with something you weren’t planning on buying.
I do my best to respond to everything.
If you run a business, you should strive for flawless customer service.
Don’t ignore your customers so that you can pick up rocks on the beaches of Thailand.
I believe in amazing customer service. If you’re a blogger, please don’t complain about how many emails you have on Twitter. You should be grateful that these readers cared enough to read your site and send you a follow up email.
How important is customer service to you? Do you have any tips for improving the customer service experience as a blogger?Google+ Comments: 6 Read More
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