You don’t want to waste your time and money building a product no one will want to use or pay for. So, first get out of the building and talk to your customers. But there’s a world of difference between talk and action.
Robin Good's insight:
To build a new business online, it may prove quite effective to develop minimum viable products of the services your community is asking for, before moving all of your resources and money to build a full-featured and complete version.
Vladimir Blagojevic has curated a selection of seven useful minimum viable products that have been already created, as to provide an inspirational reference to anyone wanting to embark on the same journey.
"A minimum viable product is “that product which has just those features and no more that allows you to ship a product that early adopters see and, at least some of whom resonate with, pay you money for, and start to give you feedback on”.
For each one he has provided a good description of the real-world example, a screenshot and good story-description of how the minimum viabe product was put together.
Trendwatching.com, a web magazine devoted to analyze, research and report about upcoming consumer trends, has released the Consumer Trend Canvas (inspired by Alex Osterwalder's).
The free CTC has been designed for anyone interested in looking deeper into the innovation and business opportunities available by looking into the specific traits of new consumer trends.
The Consumer Trend Canvas per se is nothing else but a printable PDF framework that contains instructions, tips and examples as well as a full-page structured canvas that help you analyze any possible consumer trend.
"An easy-to-follow framework that will help you not only unpack and understand any consumer trend, but also help you apply it to launch successful consumer-facing innovations of your own."
Do Paywalls Change the Engagement Equation? - The Huffington Post
Jake Batsell seems to think so, saying that while advertising-driven models of digital journalism aim to maximize page views, when news organizations introduce online subscriptions "it reconfigures the benchmarks for success."
Which leads to the question: What are online readers willing to pay for digital content?
It's one of those complex issues troubling publishers, editors and reporters who have to worry about producing enticing content to compete with the plethora of digital fare, and, ensure the success of their revenue streams.
Paid Digital Content: The Journey Begins, a report by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), uses case studies to explain successes, failures and transitions news organizations are experiencing in attempts to get readers to pay for what they consume.
The launch of eBook subscription service Oyster has set the proverbial cat among the pigeons in the publishing world. Publishers and authors are frantically trying to work out just what on-demand ...
Robin Good's insight:
From the original article by Mark Mulligan: "Subscriptions are clearly the best product set media companies currently have for monetizing the consumption era.
For the music industry they continue to raise as many questions as they answer, but for books they might just be the ticket to genuine digital prosperity."
Here's a few reasons why:
Book Subscriptions Offer a Much Clearer Path to Additive Revenue than Music - because books take longer to read than a CD does to listen, authors and publishers should see greater revenue margins.
Per-reader value versus per-title value - If an author or publisher is simply think in terms of 1 sale becoming 1 rental then it is a net-loss scenario. But if just over twice as many people read the book then it is a net-gain scenario. The more people that subscribe and the more that read more books – theConsumption Quotient -the more likely that subscriptions will become additive rather than substitutive.
The author also suggests that the book industry has a key advantage in that it can learn a lot from the mistakes already done by the music subscription industry and can avoid repeating them by paying attention to a few key elements such as:
The Business Model Gallery is a growing database of curated business models canvases gathered from a diverse set of companies operating in different sectors.
For each company you can analyze its updated "business canvas" in which you can see at a glance the key value propositions, its partners, revenue streams and all of the other key business building blocks.
Business models can be easily searched, filtered and compared across specific building blocks you are interested in.
Coming up are also a PDF and PowerPoint export option as well as a dedicated iPad app.
A free trial is available and pro plans start at $9/month and go up all the way to $29/mo according to the number of features you want to use.
My comment: The Business Model Gallery offers a truly excellent gallery of valuable business models which can be extremely useful for anyone studying, researching or working on creating a successful new company.
Furthermore this is a great living example of how, curated collections of best of breed examples, are going to have a go as very useful business services in the coming months and years.
From the official site: "Vourno.com provides journalists (Vournos) with the tools to raise capital for the creation and production of quality, newsworthy content and gives the public (Pubs) the ability to directly fund, share, watch and rate those stories."
Successfully funded projects are produced and premiered on the Vourno online network.
Here's how it works:
1. Video journalists (“vournos”) propose a video story they want to create (“Video is where everybody’s going,” Verdirame said).
2. Members of the public (“pubs”) browse the stories they want to fund and help publish it by donating. They can also pitch their own stories they want to see published for a vourno to pick up.
3. Vournos gather enough funds from pubs to pay for their salary, equipment, travel expenses and any extra team members they may need (editor, videographer, etc.)
4. The vourno gets a certain amount of time to complete the story and publish it on Vourno’s website for all to watch and share for a week before selling it elsewhere.
5. More popular, original and in-depth reporting will get more play on the website, and more sharing means more revenue through advertising — which eventually will be shared by vournos and pubs.
The U.S. newspaper industry has lost more than $40 billion in ad revenue in the past decade — over half of that in the last four years alone — and Google’s ad revenues are now more than twice what the industry pulls in.
Robin Good's insight:
From the original article by Mathew Ingram on Paidcontent.org: "...ad revenue falling off a cliff about a decade ago, hitting a brief plateau in the mid-2000s and then free-falling over the next several years.
...The speed with which billions of dollars in advertising revenue simply evaporated over the past decade is incredible.
...Of course, all of that advertising revenue didn’t simply disappear overnight. So where did it go if it wasn’t going to newspapers? It went online, naturally — and the second chart shows the biggest beneficiary of that exodus: namely, Google."
Intruiguing hypothesis and data correlation. Must read. 8/10
Andrew Chen asks why we are so bad at predicting successful startups. He writes: "...we’re all so bad at predicting what will work and what won’t. I’ve written about my embarrassing skepticism about Facebook, but hey, I’m just a random tech guy.
For the folks whose job it is to professionally pick winners, the venture capitalists, they aren’t doing very well either.
It’s been widely noted that the venture capital asset class, after fees, has lagged the public markets- you’d be better off buying some index funds."
In his view, much of the disappointing results are due to the "generic startup advice" being offered online. He writes that generic principles cannot be effectively applied to all situations. And he is right.
But more than anything Andrew stops at analyzing what are the kind of people who often provide such predictions and strategic advice:
"[There are] two categories: hedgehogs, who view the world through the lens of a single defining idea and foxes who draw on a wide variety of experiences and for whom the world cannot be boiled down to a single idea."
"...Silver clearly identifies as a fox, and contrasted his approach to the talking head pundits that dominate political talk shows on TV and radio. For the pundits, the more aggressive, contrarian, and certain they seem, the more attention-grabbing they are.
Rather similar to what we see in the blogosphere, where people are rewarded for writing headlines like “10 reasons why [hot company] will be killed by [new product].” Or “Every startup should care about [metric X]” or whatever."
"The solution to all of this isn’t easy- to be a fox means to draw from a much broader set of data, to look at the problem from multiple perspectives, and to reach a conclusion that combines all of those datapoints."
"Over my 5 years in Silicon Valley, the biggest lesson I’ve learned from trying to predict startups is calibration. They talk about it in the video above, but the short way to describe it is to be careful with what you think you know versus what you don’t."
The Startup Knowledge Base is a curated content archive focusing on startup topics. All content included has been reviewed, vetted and tagged as to provide only the cream of the crop.
This resource has been created for two groups of people:
those who are new and need to get up to speed quickly.
those who are experienced entrepreneurs and want to stay of top of their game.
The objective behind this free project is to provide an easy path to learn what needs to be known for a startup without being sucked in by the latest article or hype. Attention has therefore been given to quality content independently of its published date.
From the original site: "We've screened the web's best startup advice, summarized, categorized, and tagged it for you."
210 articles covering a time span of five years, completely summarized.
All original articles and authors are properly credited.
Free / pay with a Tweet or FB post or donate something.
Thanks to Marty Zwilling on StartupProfessionals for distilling some of the key traits that have made Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google such uniquely successful companies.
From the article intro: "According to many technology pundits, including Phil Simon, in his book “The Age of the Platform,” these four exemplify the rise of platforms with applications as a business model, rather than a single product or service. Whether you believe his conclusion or not, you can learn a lot from the lessons he offers on how to build a competitive business model today."
The article provides ten key principles utilized by this "gang of four" to reach their broad business success.
Here my favorite four:
1) Act small. “Bigness” and all of its attendant problems – bureaucracy, politics, infighting, and the like – put any business model at risk. Bureaucracy and excessive democracy kill speed. Shake organizations up often to avoid stiff and inflexible management structures.
2) Be open and collaborative. Startups as well as large companies must be open to all sorts of new ventures, partnerships, and offerings. Make application programming interfaces (APIs) open and freely available to developers, partners, and consumers.
3) Move quickly and decisively when spotting a niche. Don’t confuse patience with inertia. Waiting too long means that an opportunity may disappear permanently – or someone else may beat you to the punch. Temper expectations, but make the bet.
4) Use existing tools. It’s time consuming, expensive, and simply unnecessary for every company to create its own tools and base functions (planks) from scratch. By using outposts, businesses increase serendipity, exposure, and cross-pollination.
Voomly is a subscription platform that can help you turn your expertise or reputation into a business. You can create a newsletter, an educational series and offer…
Robin Good's insight:
If you are looking for an easy-to-use subscription platform that allows you to easily sell your know-how or expertise, by sending periodic email messages or pre-scheduled autoresponders that deliver your goods, Voomly has everything you need.
Powerful messaging platform with private Q&A
Automatic subscriptions and billings
You keep 90% of every sale, no hidden fees
Voomly is an email marketing and distribution platform paired with the opportunity to create a personal offer page and to manage all administrative issues automatically.
Budi Voogt has recently updated his excellent musician's indie guide to digital distribution for independent musicians containing lots of useful information and good advice.
He covers most everything you need to know, from which are stores that matter to the types of payment deals available and their pros and cons as well as the different distributors options you have and their contract terms.
My comment: If you are an independent musician looking to better understand what options you have available to sell and distribute your music online, check this guide out.
Google has made public a new service built on top of Google Hangouts and which allows qualified users to deliver online coaching and mentoring sessions on just about any topic. Either for free or for a fee. Google will handle payments and keep 20% of the compensation you receive.
From TheNextWeb: "Google is currently testing Helpouts — touted as “a new way to connect people who need help with people who can give help, over live video, anytime, anywhere”.
The new service will be tied into Google+ and it’s basically Google Hangouts: not with friends, but with teachers."
"The curator is getting more cred for recognizing good content than the creator is for making good content."
Robin Good's insight:
Tara Hunt, has an interesting article spotlighting the fast growing importance that curators are gradually gaining on the Internet and on the subsequent need to find ways for properly compensating original content creators.
She writes: "...while creators are necessary and amazing, curators are the ones raking in the dough.
I was alerted today by a friend that a video that Carlos and I made for Vine that had become super popular (over 118,000 likes + 77,000 Re-vines) was featured on a Facebook page called Best Vines and making its way around (with over 230,000 likes + 46,000 shares). The page owner lifted the content off of Vine and reposted it on his own page (no credit back to the original). This page has over 6.2M likes.
Now, this video of Ridley took us all of 30 seconds to make and we had no idea it would ‘go viral’, but for people like Will Sasso who appears to make it his full-time gig to make entertaining, engaging content on Vine and other places, this would probably be a bit of a violation.
The curator is getting more cred for recognizing good content than the creator is for making good content."
And she is definitely right.
But as she correctly points out, there are already effective solutions in place, such as the YouTube authorship claiming facility which allows for original creators to digitally mark their own creations while giving full permission to curators to leverage and re-distribute them. This YouTube approach is the one that makes it possible for content creators to receive a share of the advertising revenue coming to YouTube, even when their clips are curated and played back on other sites.
The opportunity is there, not just for textual content, but also for video, music, photography and all of their sub-categories to be curated and monetized for the benefit of everyone.
The Atlantic launches this week a paid, weekly curated selection of its best stories called the Atlantic Weekly.
From AdWeek: "The Atlantic Weekly will collect the week's best stories from TheAtlantic.com, The Atlantic Wire and The Atlantic Cities, as well as selections from its In Focus photo blog and an article from the magazine’s archive (reproduced as it originally appeared in print), reformatted as a magazine for the iPad and iPhone.
...will cost $1.99 for a single issue. Readers can also subscribe for $2.99 a month or $19.99 a year."
The reason for choosing this new direction sums up to this confession from editor in chief James Bennet: "Our concern has been that some of our better [online] pieces can get lost during the week, and that we’re not serving our readers as well on the weekend when there is time to lean back and digest a good idea."
"...will users pay for a magazine filled mostly with content that they can access for free on the Web?"
Pivotshare helps media creators and publishers sell their digital video content direct to their audiences, on our platform or your own site.
Robin Good's insight:
Pivotshare is a web service that allows any author or independent publisher to create a professional-looking video venue where to showcase, organize and (optionally) sell access to video and audio content.
Video channels created on Pivotshare will have a personalized URL such as robingood.pivotshare.com, and you can further brand the channel with your selected profile picture or logo and your favorite background.
Video channels can be displayed as "showcases" or "libraries" depending on the quantity of material you have available, can be embedded on any web site and can be easily viewed across all types of screens and devices, from desktop to mobile.
On Pivotshare you can upload directly .MP4, .MOV, .SWF, .FLV, .AVI, and .MP3 files and organize them into discrete collections. You can add names, descriptions, relevant tags as well as decide how you want to make this material accessible.
You can for example let everyone see freely certain content, while at the same time making a "tip jar" facility available and setting your preferred minimum tip level. Or you can decide to set a "monthly subscription price", rather than a "rental" or "purchase" fee.
"What if news organizations confronted the reality that nearly all media will be 'social media' a decade hence?
Robin Good's insight:
If you are wondering what the future of news may really look like, my advice is to give a very good read to this fantastic article.
In it, Nicco Mele and John Wihbey report the sad state of the news industry and illustrate the facts that indicate an alternative, high-value path that can be taken for the future. The tracks are already there, paved by some pioneering orgs and by a bunch of small individual personalities on the web.
This article distills the very own business and development approach I have been using since 2008, when I have decided to move away from depending on Google-based advertising revenues and toward the creation of a service dedicated specifically to develop information-based micro-businesses focusing on individual personalities.
Here, from a ton of interesting content I have excerpted 10 key thoughts that stand out for me as being fully representative of the new model that is emerging for the future of the news business (curators, subject-mater experts, individual with a real expertise read closely).
1) ...terrifying signs of the decline of the news industry.
...three of America’s most esteemed papers for sale — The Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune, and the Los Angeles Times...
2) News revenue remains overwhelmingly dependent upon advertising, but the radical connectivity of the Internet has greatly diminished both the scale of newspapers’ reach as well as the value of advertising.
3) What if journalists became like your doctor, dentist, or teacher — people who provide a valuable service to you, and whose name, voice, and personality are more intimate? ...The question then becomes how to create a social presentation layer that wraps around news — preserving the integrity of the product but updating its interface to fit with human behavior in the digital age.
4) Without an identity, much journalistic content will increasingly be swept around the Internet in an anonymous blur of sharing and finding through networks, with little regard for the source or the labors taken to produce that news.
5) ...re-design the newspaper to be a platform for talent across multiple media. ......what if news outlets decided to flip their model, so that the editorial staff was not subservient to the brand, but the “brand” became a platform for talent?
6) ...outlets, like Boing Boing, are making money largely based on the brands of several smart, interesting personalities. Many of the “blogging networks” are built around aggregating traffic across different online personalities. One could name dozens of examples where a single blogger or news personality is driving substantial traffic. ...we’re already likely to see a “new dance between top talent and media brands,”... “If brands are successful at assembling enough talent,” ... “they’ll succeed because they provide easy entry points for us consumers.”
7) The future of news organizations is a lot of [diversfied] revenue sources — maybe as many as 30 or 40 — and none of them account for a substantial stake of the organization’s income.
8) In March of 2008, Kevin Kelly famously put forththe theory of 1,000 true fans as a potential future for music. Find 1,000 dedicated enthusiasts willing to pay you $100 a year for your music, and then you don’t have to worry about selling albums.
9) Why are more journalists not doing the same — and creating more kinds of editorial products to sell — while cultivating a paying fan base?
With the decline of trust and loyalty in large institutions, it is increasingly hard to imagine people in the coming decades subscribing because of loyalty to an institutional Big Media entity. Yet it’s easy to imagine them wanting to fund several people whom they trust to bring them information they care about.
10) ...research to date shows that the average news consumer is a creature of habit, circling back to the same two to four big websites to get their news. But this will not continue in perpetuity... “Elite” news consumers — ... already organize their consumption this way, around key Twitter and RSS feeds, following lists of personalities they like or admire. The broader public will ultimately begin to shift in this direction.
Shoplocket is a web service, available since over a year, that allows anyone to sell products online in a very simple and straightforward way.
Here's is how it works. You first enter details for the product you want to sell, and select from a variety of designs for your web listing. The "sale page" is now ready to be published on the web and to be easily shared on all major social networks.
Finally, as orders roll in you get free automatic notifications inside your email inbox.
Other key features include:
Analytics See how many times your product is being viewed. Always know where your sales are coming from.
Cross Platform Compatibility Embed ShopLocket products anywhere you’d embed a Youtube video including sites based on Facebook, Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress, Posterous.
Templates choice ShopLocket comes packed with a variety of styles for you to choose from.
Shipping & Taxes ShopLocket gives you the option to configure shipping fees and add a tax rate.
Product Variants Selling tshirts? We let you add a product variant (For example: Size, Color, Style etc)
Inventory Tracking Option to turn on Inventory Tracking and publicly display quantity remaining.
Timed Deals Option to turn on an Expiration Date or Countdown.
N.B.: Shoplocket keeps only 2.5% of your sales price, while PayPal and Stripe both charge 2.9% + 0.30cents for each sale made through their platform.
"Gumroad makes selling stuff as easy as sharing stuff."
Robin Good's insight:
If you are looking for additional or alternative ways to sell your digital and physical products online, I suggest you give a good look to Gumroad, which allows you to securely sell any product (ebook, video, recordings, etc., as well as physical items), accepting all major credit cards and keeping 95% of the earnings for yourself.
Gumroad, which has been available since more than a year, makes it very easy to set up a "sale pages" for each one of your digital products. You just provide a title, a description, an optional image and the price you want to charge. You can upload any sort of file from your computer as long as it is not larger than 4GB.
For the price, you can chose any price between $1 and $1,000, but you can also chose to let users establish their own, while setting only a base price starting reference.
Gumroad charges 5% + 25¢ of each transaction. For example: If you sell a digital video for $10, you keep $9.25 and Gumroad gets $0.75.
Gumroad also allows you to launch special discounted offers, by sending selected customers to a special URL or providing them with a special discount code to be used on the official sales page. In addition you can also set a maximum number of discounted items to be sold before the offer auto-expires.
N.B.: a) If you want to sell a physical album, T-shirt, or other physical product Gumroad allows you to collect full shipping information for your buyers.
b) International sellers are all welcome. Gumroad is supported in 190 countries.
POPexpert is a very cool new web service which allows anyone to promote and offer his expertise as an online consulting service, while being able to manage customers appointments and reservations, private video sessions, as well as all payments.
The beauty of the service, is in the ease with which you can curate a professional-looking profile in a matter of minutes. I particularly appreciated the attention that was reserved to providing relevant features to make one's own public profile as credible and professional as possible. To help experts provide "social proof" of their supposed know-how POPexpert in fact provides an editable profile page in which one can list and showcase websites, articles, books, video clips or other content material that can demonstrate one's own abilities as well as selected endorsements from your LinkedIN contacts.
But the story doesn't end here.
On the same "profile" page that POPexpert lets you easily build, you get an integrated public appointment calendar in which you can set available days and times and your clients can book available slots.
Finally POPexpert integrates a full one-to-one video conferencing feature allowing you to meet with your scheduled customers and to see and hear each other, while being also able to text chat and to share any image or URL needed.