Though we are still going through all the wonderful responses from the survey we are currently running about your thoughts on our business for it’s first 6 months, one of the pieces of feedback I have seen popping up consistantly is the fact that we need to start running a few more “How To” style posts on the blog and in the magazine. So I thought I would kick things off.
Starting a blog and magazine has been a little up and down for me. My back ground is in sales, I like the chase, going in for the kill and adding the dollars to my total of billed business for the month. As we know there are a number of different sales cycles out there, long ones and short ones. However I would like to add a new one “really f#$%*@ long ones” – you see one of the things that I quickly realised is that in the competitive world of publishing, blogging and content unless you have the eyes – you don’t get the dollars.
A couple of months ago I was lucky enough to have a chat with the elusive Dorothy Polka – founder of the infamous Polka Dot Bride blog. One of the things that she said really stuck with me, it was the fact that for the first 12 months she never monetised the business at all. It made me ask myself – do I believe in what I am doing? Am I willing to sacrifice 6 months of expenses to grow readership and get the readership I need to get this business profitable? Of course the answer was Yes.
Our First month in April when the site launched, we had 144 unique readers online, that increased slightly to 1500 odd unique readers for the first issue of the magazine online. Now 6 months down the track in November we are clocking over 260,000 hits a month and over 8,000 unique readers a month. We have just had to move the site to it’s own server as the host of the site couldn’t cope with the bandwidth constantly being chewed up every 48 hours. This month we are already tracking to be close to 10, 000 unique readers by January 2012. I am amazed everyday when I look at the stats, and my team and I have been able to assess what “sells” well in regards to our content by the amounts of hits and pageviews we are receieving on articles.
We are now in a position where we can and will make money on advertising and sponsorship within the magazine, and it is an exciting place to be in as we head into the new year. I knew exactly what I was willing to lose in terms of cash and I have met that goal with a little to spare. I know my strengths are in sales, I love the game and am ready to hit the phones hard post New Year. I have set myself the goal to be profitable in 8 weeks.
So How do you get people to read your blog or magazine or content driven business? Here are my top tips on getting people to check out what you are doing each day.
1. Producing Content takes Stamina and Commitment
No seriously, it is nothing for me to be sitting at my laptop at 1.30am in the morning writing and posting articles up for the next day, I usually plan ahead as much as I can with profile pieces over the weekend and schedule these in to the back end of the website, it makes the process easier. If you don’t have new articles everyday and interesting content that nobody else is covering – no one is going to read it. Sure sometimes myself Startup Smart, Anthill and Dynamic Business may run the odd same story on our sites, but it is rare as we all focus on different aspects of small and startup business, ours being principally based on profiling the entrepreneurs behind new businesses.
Consistant Content is the best way to go, I commit to producing at least 3 articles each weekday on the site and one 24 page A5 magazine each month, I know what I am capable of at the moment we are a small team of myself, a PT journo, our designer and a photographer. Growth is planned, but don’t overwork your resources, as it diminshes the impact of the content you deliver.
2. Strategic Partnerships
As I said to Jack Delosa on Monday morning on the Eagle Startups radio program that I co-host, a talk he gave at a March Unconvention is what prompted me to go and seek out relationships that I could leverage to push our content and brand out into the marketplace. Vistaprint was our first one, where they Advertised in our magazine for free in exchange for them getting the word out about our magazine to their database of startup and small business customers, perfect match. We partnered with Flying Solo at their Small Business September event as well and they contribute to the monthly magazine. Recently we have also set up a partnership with NSW Trade and Investment that is mutially beneficial for us and their programs for Young Entrepreneurs and Startups. These types of relationships give what you are doing not only eyes, but street cred. Street cred that makes it easier to sell advertising.
3. Social Media
This helps to build a community, and one of the things that I have come to realise fast, is that if you don’t have community input on your content and see what those you follow you at the start are searching for then you won’t meet their needs and you will lose them as a customer.
If you are producing content on an industry, it is in your best interest to become the scene queen of that segment. Make sure that the influencers in that industry know who you are and what you do. That is the only way to build street cred that enables you to become an influencer yourself.
Don’t mistake producing content to being different from selling. Check in with what the audience want to buy and make sure you sell that to them. Losing eyes means you end up losing dollars.
by Mat Beeche [founder, Shoe String Launch]