A variety of strategies and expectations remain, but online media conversations can’t happen in good conscious without at least a glancing mention of business sustainability.
On behalf of Technically Philly, I hosted the event with Tayyib Smith of 215mag.com and led the conversation, featuring a half dozen five-minute introductions from niche publishers seated in chairs amongst 40 attendees in the room, decorated wildly by lead sponsor Vitamin Water and featuring free samples of Heineken Light, which didn’t turn out to be half bad.
See below some of what I learned.
- 6-630pm: people arrive and grab their first couple beers. 6:30-7:30pm: our conversation and questions. 7:30-8:30pm: people chat, meet and grab another beer or three.
- Tayyib Smith, who helped organize the entire two weeks of #UncappedLive in his role at Little Giant Media, introduced the event
- I introduced the event’s purpose (getting indie publishers to know each other and sharing best practices) and talked about kicking off Philly Tech Week 2012 plans, a major revenue generator.
- Eric Smith, Geekadelphia co-founder, talked about the site’s role and its recent success with Philly Geek Awards.
- Shannon McDonald, the founder of NEast Philly, talked about developing partnerships and raising awareness in Northeast Philadelphia.
- Adam Schmidt, the founder and president of Drink Philly, introduced his work and spoke of their plans for expansion.
- Jon, the new editor of Naked Philly, shared the site’s unique collaboration between a real estate company and news site for development news.
- David Raible, the executive director of new philanthropy news site Generocity.org, talked about its plans to democratize nonprofit insight previously most often only known to wealthy donors and Generocity’s goals to scale.
- Talk business sustainability: Tayyib poked fun at himself for “blowing a half a million dollars” of investment on the (gorgeous) early editions of two.one.five magazine and asked to hear more about revenue plans. I gave my Technically Media spiel, Adam Schmidt talked about advertising and merchandise fueling Drink Philly and Erika Owens from the accomplished Public School Notebook talked about membership and foundation funding. What I thought was equally important was having Eric Smith talk about his preference that Geekadelphia remain a fun, labor of love, something he wrote about in his writeup on the event. The point was that even though Eric doesn’t want to make money, he understands it’s important to have that be a choice, not just an avoidance.
- Print still sells: Jimmy and Bob Smiley, the father and son team behind the Frankford Gazette, marveled that no one had ever approached them about an online ad after four years of work. After just two newsletter-like print issues to accomodate the neighborhood’s digital divide, “we already sold a $40 ad.” That’s not bringing on any full-time reporters, but shows what hasn’t changed for some.
- Print still has relevance: George Miller, the Temple professor behind music mag startup JUMP Philly, talked about nearing profitability by better paying print ads and being easier to be distributed, understood and shared.
- Different voices mean different audiences: Ashley Hahn, who recently joined PlanPhilly to help the built-environment news site launch a shorter-form blog, talked about the need to offer a different style than the site’s existing longform, detailed articles to attract a younger, more engaged audience.