The Revenue Pie

When we’re all so busy creating, is there anyone left to consume what we’ve produced? But if we cultivate a culture of consumption, it’s a far worse-off habit. Excessive consumption, the hunger to fill ourselves with yet more information.

So, isn’t it good news that more blogs are popping up than ever? The ease of publishing empowers this trend. Nevermind that some are inactive, doesn’t matter that some are merely reblogging what others have reblogged, which was in turn reblogged from somebody else. All it matters is that we’re all creating.

But let’s come back to the question: if everybody’s creating, how do we sift through the noise and get to what’s valuable?

It’s about people. People we follow have traits we admire, values that align with us, beliefs that inspire, voice that speaks to us and we treasure their perspective. Glenn Fleishman observes how the revenue model for publishing online has changed over the years. Moving away from the distracting adsense and banner, we’re now looking at less-intrusive ads (The DECK), sponsorship in the form of RSS and podcast. Particularly, the ease of producing podcast, accessibility and listenership makes it ideal to pitch for sponsors. I never knew podcast now makes up the bulk of Daring Fireball’s revenue. The rate for advertising and sponsoring his site is already pretty high, so knowing that podcast now ranks even higher is a little surprising (and enlightening).

It also shows that independent writers and sites have a chance to be sustainable in the digital age. Don’t lament early those early starters – Daring Fireball and Kottke, etc. It only shows that consistent writing and tone of voice, interesting content and the will to keep on going is vital to building an audience. Of course, luck do play a part too. In recent years, The Newsprint by John Ginter and Stratechery by Ben Thompson demonstrate it’s never too late to write. The Newsprint has seen a bit of changes – aesthetically and content wise. But the writing is consistent and it’s getting better as we speak. As much as I enjoy his writing and photography, it’s his diverse interests that sometimes made me discover things I normally wouldn’t have give a second look. Stratechery is a beast of technology analysis site. Ben Thompson’s writing is insightful and in-depth, so it’s never dry getting to the end of the (long) article. Like picking his brain, I’ve learned so much from him. Subscribing to his site cost $10 a month or $100 a year. It includes a daily newsletter that many have said it’s worth every penny.

That being said, I see a future of congregation of journalists, writers, and like-minded individuals coming together to form a publishing platform. Big names, those who already have substantial influence and followers will likely to stay independent and be their own brand. Paywall alone is not enough, unless you have something that the rest don’t. Statechery’s member’s update is one fine example. I’m eager to see how digital journalism evolves, given the myriad of quality writers out there. Experiment away, for this is exciting time ahead for publishers.