In April 2012, we at Technically Media announced Ph.ly, a URL shortener that had a companion content strategy — a curated weekly newsletter sharing the three biggest pieces of local journalism or civic information. Over the next 18 months, I published the weekly newsletter as a side project and experiment. Here are a few things I learned before sidelining the project by 2014.
For any venture or project that reaches any remote level of success, there are surely failures that surround it.
By any standard, Technically Media is no more than a very small success, but before building that small business, I’ve had more than my fair share of failures. Being no stranger to rejection, I’ve tried my best to learn something from the handful of efforts (mostly other niche sites) that I helped launch around the beginning of 2009 in the hopes of finding a media venture of success — underemployed and without many opportunities.
Below, I share seven projects I tried launching before Technically Media, why they failed and what I learned.
Here’s something completely unoriginal: you’re going to get flat-ass rejected, crushing whatever self-indulgent perspective you have on yourself, and then you will go some place magical and it will change you.
Here’s my submission to the #jcarn FAIL blog ring.
In 2003, I was an involved and eager high school senior who struggled to focus and was a lot more interested in creative side projects than studying or school work. I thought it made me unique and valuable. Turns out, it just made me a shitty student.
I grew up in rural northwest New Jersey, where the population was made up mostly of either generational residents or the extended foam of the New York City white flight wave. My parents were the latter and my family all lived in or around the 67th ward.
I wanted to go to college in a big city, without following the footsteps of my classmates or returning to ancestral roots, so I applied to colleges and universities throughout the Eastern Seaboard. I am wildly involved, have decent grades and, come on, I’m a total hoot, I thought, these freakin’ schools are going to be fighting over me.
Until the very thin envelopes from universities started to come in.
A year after focusing strictly on business, the three of us at Technically Philly took a softer approach at BarCamp NewsInnovation 2.0, which we again sponsored and organized [Notes here].
The event was held today, April 24, 2010, again at Temple University.
Find video, our slides and presentation notes from our talk below.
Failure is not an option (it’s a necessity)
Five Stories about Failure
1. Ad Sales — “Until you have the right person, you are the right person.”
FAILURE: Wasted time, energy and resources. [Tried a half dozen commission-based sales people]
LESSON: We should have been selling ads ourselves.
2. Business Roadmap — “Don’t hang out with Brian. It’s depressing.”
FAILURE: We thought we’d be making money by month three.
LESSON: Double or triple the time your business plan will take.
3. Business Criticism — “To be honest, we’re not always sure what [Technically Philly is] trying to accomplish.”
FAILURE: Uh, we were criticized in a best-of issue.
LESSON: If you’re noticed, your work will be scrutinized.
4. Potential Partners — “I don’t see the point of meeting.”
FAILURE: Turned down an opportunity to meet with a key business leader.
5. Investment (sappy anecdote) — “Well, that wasn’t THAT depressing.”
FAILURE: We started Technically Philly (and said some silly things in front of important people).
LESSON: We’ve learned much, met many people and improved what we know in the space of journalism.
When we were asked for more embarrassing stories, we realized we should have also shared the story of our speaking engagement with the Women’s Press Association of Pennsylvania, in which no one showed except the organizer and former Philadelphia mayoral candidate Queena Bass. Or we could have told one of the half dozen times Sean has been under dressed when going to cover events.
It was a fun session with a few practical takeaways, we hope. If nothing else, it seemed well-received.
I have been pretty active developing my blogging skills. No, seriously, there are blogging skills.
So, when I saw that BNet, an online business news site launched in 2007 by CNet Networks, was looking for bloggers, I wanted to give it a go. I’ve been in talks with some folks there, who wanted me to start with some trial posts. Trouble is, I’m in Europe.
I did get one done before I left. However, it seems I missed their focus a bit. I got an e-mail from one of BNet’s editors yesterday, thanking me for posting but telling me the following:
We tend to avoid pieces about stock and commodities prices. Were more interested in the goings on inside Energy companies.
Backpacking in Europe these days keeps me a little busy, so I’ll try to figure this out when I return.
After the jump check what I submitted.Continue reading Failed post for BNet