Archives For Web 2.0

Trying Out Pinterest

February 9, 2012 — 38 Comments

So far I’ve managed to post a picture of a cat :)

MELBOURNE, Australia, January 26 (AEST) – Web content development company Nichenet Pty Ltd today announced the launch of its latest online property fortytwotimes.com.

The new site is named after the late, great Douglas Adams, who famously wrote that “the ultimate answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything” is 42.

fortytwotimes aims to write about life as we know it, from science through to tech, lifestyle, entertainment and travel, and the site aims to ultimately deliver “a good read.”

The site is edited by Duncan Riley, who has a long history in online publishing, having previously published The Blog Herald and The Inquisitr, written for TechCrunch, and was a co-founder of blogging network b5media.

Most recently he spent years developing The Inquisitr before selling it.

“There are many sites that aim to target a broad audience, but many of them lack when it comes to intelligence” said Duncan Riley in a statement.

“fortytwotimes aims to be a great read; a mix of interesting stuff, from science, tech, entertainment, life and even travel. We aim to deliver a site that is sticky because it is interesting, not just to a few, but because we deliver a broad range of posts that will appeal to many.”

ENDS

Contact
Duncan Riley
e: duncan@nichenet.com.au
t: +61 412844237

Planning Medacity 2.0

November 7, 2011 — 39 Comments

We’re over 3 months in with Medacity now, and although I still believe the focus and idea is a good one, without a round of funding and the ability to truly own the space, we’re not going well.

I believe we’ve done well, and we’ve had some good hits. But the overall traffic hasn’t been great at all. At least, it’s not growing at a sustainable rate.

It’s blogging: sometimes you hit well, sometimes you don’t. But when you don’t hit well, you know it’s time to change.

The Inquisitr (my last site) had 4 different templates, covered new areas then dropped them, and ended up a very different site to when it started. But I do know when I sold it, it was doing 8m pv on over 1.8m uniques. Change was part of that process.

And hence it’s time to change Medacity.

I’m consulting with the writing team now, but I’m thinking broadly that we’re going to move into tech (while still covering New Media), particularly startups and broader tech, but not gadgets.

I’m naturally disappointed the initial idea didn’t take, but when has any idea I’ve had (or many others for that matter) taken initially?

I think of Loic LeMuer and Jason Calacanis as my inspirations: two blokes who keep changing to try to hit that ultimate win.

It’s still early days, and I have the core of the same awesome writing team I had at The Inquisitr writing for me, a team that has already proved themselves from 1m to 8m page views.

I’d welcome your thoughts as to the direction we should head towards as well.

It’s been just over a month since we launched Medacity, and although it’s still very early days, I thought I’d share some thoughts on how we are going so far.

As per the headline, there is still a bloody long road ahead for the site.

I won’t give specific figures but I’m confident we’ll come in at 20-25k pv for this month at our current rate.

I’m really only counting this month vs the launch month due to something that happened at home that I won’t discuss, only that it was significant enough for me basically to be away from the site for several weeks: the timing was horrible, but it wasn’t in my control. That situation is partially ongoing, but it’s passed to the point that not only am I writing again f/t, but I’m also active daily in working out ways to drive more traffic to the site.

The team is going well, and we also added Steven Hodson to the lineup at the beginning of the month, bringing the writing team to four (including myself.) Bringing in Steven means that we have a constant stream of opinion writing as well as the general new media news.

If the lineup sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the same lineup as the three key writers at The Inquisitr (note, I haven’t poached them, as far as I know they are still all writing there.)

But this is a completely new focus for all of them, after working with all of them for the better part of two years (Steven might have been 2.5 yrs, but I know Kim and James came in early in the second year on Inq) I have complete faith in each of them as writers. The best sign of any writer is their ability to write about anything, and The Inquisitr was always a perfect test with its broad range of topic coverage.

My general feeling is that we’re getting the content mix right, but unlike when we launched The Inquisitr, we simply don’t have the same profile I had back then at launch, and hence we didn’t have a huge attention boost at launch. Couple that with the fact that we are writing very specific niche content that doesn’t have that broad range of appeal the content at The Inquisitr had.

Given the narrow content stream I think we’re going ok.

20k pv doesn’t pay the bills, and we’re running Adsense ads at the moment as well as we won’t qualify for any major ad network yet. But even on the few clicks we get, the idea that by running premium niche content is proving itself true: I’m not sure if Google allows me to talk about CPM rates but lets just say that I’ve never once seen higher CPM’s from Adsense before, and we’re doing rates 10-20x higher on Adsense than The Inquisitr ever did.

The only key now is to find the traffic.

I’ve said many times in the past that it takes a good 9 months to prove whether a blog will work (I know Jason Calacanis says it’s 2 yrs, but I disagree with that) and we can hold out for 9-12 months without any major dramas.

This is, in many ways, a new learning experience for me as well, and I learn more every day. Indeed that’s half the reason I’m doing the site: I love a new challenge, and Medacity was always going to be a challenge from the day I came up with the idea.

We even had our first major exclusive today. The mind boggles how many people will notice it, but it’s one of those stand out posts I love to write, and I sincerely hope that it does find a broader audience because I do believe I broke a major story.

I’m confident going forward, but there is a long road ahead.

Thx to everyone who has supported us so far. I’ll be back in coming months with the good, and (hopefully not) the bad about how the site is progressing

MELBOURNE, Australia, August 12, 2011 – Web content development company Nichenet Pty Ltd today announced the launch of its latest online property Medacity (medacity.com.)

The new site focuses on the latest news from the new media sector, covering big content (AOL, Yahoo, Demand Media and similar companies), video, audio, blogging, hyperlocal, mainstream media (where those companies have new media properties), service providers and aggregators.

The site will be headed by Nichenet CEO and Founder Duncan Riley, who has a long history in online publishing, having previously published The Blog Herald and The Inquisitr, written for TechCrunch, and was a co-founder of blogging network b5media.

“The idea of Medacity came about after I realized that no one in the market was exclusively covering the new media sector as a whole” said Riley. “Medacity seeks to fill a gap in the market by providing comprehensive coverage of the latest news and views from across the new media sector.”

“I started my online publishing career by establishing the very first site to cover the then new industry of blogging back in 2003 with The Blog Herald. In Medacity I have gone back to my roots with a site that seeks to chronicle the rise of the new media industry and age.”

Joining the Medacity team at launch with Riley are two Inquisitr veterans, James Johnson and Kim LaCapria.

“Medacity is an exciting project, it’s the first website to exclusively cover new media news and what new media could and should become in the future.” said Johnson. “With a team of new media veterans directing Medacity’s content I look forward to the industry being further explored, explained and exposed.”

Kim LaCapria added “I jumped at the chance to write about the space exclusively-
particularly during such a massive paradigm shift within the medium. The amount of relevant news on which to report seems to be increasing exponentially.”

ENDS

Contact
Duncan Riley
e: duncan@nichenet.com.au
t: +61 412844237

It won’t be a surprise to most readers of this blog that I’ve always created content primarily aimed at an American (well North American) audience, but in 2011 for the first time as I’m preparing my new site I’ve stopped to wonder whether it’s the best decision I can make..well, a little bit.

There’s two primary reasons why I’d express any concern at all about aiming a new site towards North America: the US economy and the exchange rate. We’ll get to that a bit later on, but I thought I’d brain dump the pros and cons of aiming for this audiences.

Rewards
Scale

The North American market offers far far more opportunities to scale a site, particularly in a niche vertical, vs a site aimed at a primarily Australian audience. It’s simple maths: 307 million people in the United States as a potential audience vs 22 million people in Australia.

This would apply to many countries as well, particularly the UK and Canada. This is not to say that there are not opportunities to attract a non-local audience to your content (Australia, Canada and the UK were 2nd, 3rd and 4th in terms of traffic for The Inquisitr) and there are a few examples of non-US sites attracting strong US audiences (Times.co.uk particularly comes to mind) but it’s easier to chase the larger market first and then supplement it with local traffic vs the other way around (particularly if your local site uses a local domain such as .com.au).

Costs

The sad but true reality is that it remains cheaper to run a site focused on a North American audience hosted and written primarily by those living within the United States than it is for an Australian site.

Hosting, while getting far more competitive in Australia (and I’m surprised regularly by some of the good offerings emerging in the local market) you still get a lot more bang for your buck in the United States when it comes to hosting.

The difference in running costs is  greater again. Minimum wages and taxation make it expensive to hire people in Australia and run a site. While contracting people in Australia is perfectly legal, you open yourself up to taxation issues if it turns out any of your contractors were working for you the majority of the time (they would be deemed full time employees) and subsequently administration becomes far more difficult (PAYG Tax, Superannuation etc etc..even payroll tax, liability insurance etc etc..). You simply don’t have that problem with hiring people in the United States, and any tax liability issues with a US based contractor falls on the contractor.

Writing for a US audience with US advertisers also means that you are exporting, which means a GST exemption on sales vs dealing with local advertisers and a local audience, which incurs GST.

Talent

One of the biggest advantages of running a US based site for an American audience is the ability to tap into an enormous, and most times affordable talent pool. This is not to say that talented, affordable writers aren’t available in Australia, but there are far, far more on offer in the United States.

The quality of applicants, let alone quantity that have applied for positions with me in the past (and even lower paying positions) will always stagger me. One of our very first writers at The Inquisitr has two Emmy Awards…for writing. I’ve had everything from out of work TV foreign correspondents through to senior people from the newspaper industry apply for jobs with me before, let alone a pool of new media bloggers with a wealth of experience with big US online companies.You simply just don’t get that in Australia.

You can hire some of those people to write for a site targeted at a local audience, but only if you’re primarily writing non-local content…which would in a way defeat the purpose of writing a locally targeted site to begin with.

Risks

US Economy

Everything I’m reading at the moment screams to me that not only is the US economy not in a good way, it’s likely to dip back into recession shortly, and maybe even worse. That said, the same economists predicting this outcome are often the same economists who failed to predict the GFC and last US recession, so perhaps they’re just playing it safe…but where there is smoke there is often fire.

The online ad market in the United States has never been as good as it was pre-recession (in my experience, even if sales are at a record high) due to several reasons, including the ongoing volatility in local markets, best represented by changing spends month to month. Another problem is one of supply and demand: there’s so much more content out there now that getting good, regular money for content is getting harder, and that’s more so a serious problem in the United States than Australia (indeed you’ll get far better CPM rates in Australia on most content these days…but you’ve got to scale it to match.)

That aside, a serious double dip recession has to see some sort of slowdown or decline in online ad spend; I’d suggest that like the last US recession that more money will flow out of old media than new media, but a downturn will affect all segments of the ad market, and that’s offers a serious risk to anyone targeting a US audience.

Exchange Rate

The exchange rate continues to be my biggest concern…by an old fashioned country mile.

The reality is that the US dollar has continued to decline against most world currencies, and even more so against the Australian dollar. I have to make far more now in US dollars to make the same amount I did in Australian dollars vs even 4 years ago.

To give you a rough idea
In 2007, I’d cash out US$5000 for around AUD$8000
In 2011, I cash out $5000 for around AUD$4500.

Before I even start, my rent is approx AUD$2000 a month (I live in a tiny 2bd apartment that doubles for my office) and utility bills (electricity/ gas/ water/ internet/ phone) add another approx AUD$500 a month on top of that again, and these figures continue to rise.

If the US dollar continues to drop, so does my income unless the site increases its income conversely to the drop in the US dollar…which it never does.

Conclusion

I’m unlikely going to change my mind and write primarily for an Australian audience (although like The Inquisitr, we will always have Australian readers) but in 2011 vs say 2007 the risk is far higher a concern than it was 4-5 years ago.

If you’re an Australian (or non-US based blogger) looking at a local market vs the United States market, I’d still recommend the latter, but the choice isn’t as clear cut as it use to be.

As part of the preparation for my next project, I’ve spent half a day looking at what’s going on in the New Media industry as a whole, so I can get a better grasp on the trends in the industry, everything from companies that are hiring (and likewise how they promote this) through to corporate announcements, site changes, and even design changes.

But there’s one thing that struck me: new media seems to be particularly bad at promoting itself.

Content is king, but likewise sites/ networks of a particular size should also be talking themselves up outside of the content itself. Some sites do; some of the bigger players have media pages where you can subscribe to media releases or a corporate blog. The content is varied, but it’s there.

But what struck me is how many don’t.

I’m not talking about small sites, I’m talking about big networks and big sites.

The likes of Gigaom, VentureBeat, Gawker and TechCrunch for example don’t offer site news pages. Mashable does…but there’s no way to subscribe to it. b5media (or B5Media as they’ve re-branded themselves) offer news page but with no way of subscribing to it, and I’m not talking about email (although that wouldn’t be a bad option vs none at all) but RSS as well.

That’s but a small cross section of names I’ve stumbled across today.

I can’t break glass houses without saying that I haven’t done it in the past either, but The Inquisitr at 8m page views a month was hardly a Mashable at 40 million page views. Perhaps I’m too old school in terms of PR: I’d expect large businesses to self promote and announce, where as the fact is that I’ve found it hard to even subscribe to feeds from NASDAQ listed companies.

There’s another post to be written on defining exactly what is a new media company, but I think I’ve just identified one difference where new media needs to catch up to old media in.

Note from me: this is our official press release today. Timed at 10am EDT US Time 23 May 2011 under embargo.

As follows:

Nichnet Pty Ltd is proud to today officially announce the sale, and final transfer of The Inquisitr (inquisitr.com) to new owners.

As per disclosure by Flippa.com, the final sale price was USD$330,000.

Nichenet Pty Ltd CEO Duncan Riley had this to say on the sale:

“I had to sell for private reasons in the end, which weren’t related to the running of the site (indeed it ran itself) but you get to a point where you need a proper break (one I haven’t had for seven years,) and the site has gone into good hands at a good price.”

“I do believe The Inquistr was worth far more, but the quality of the buyer and the fact that they kept on the writers, who are the real assets of the company (which they have proved time and again) was an important consideration.”

“It was a clear cash sale (without conditions and with no clauses for me to stay on) which was the deciding factor in me accepting the offer.”

“The Inquisitr has been my heart and soul for three years, and as much as it hurts me to be forced to sell it, I know it goes into good hands.”

The identify of the buyer has been withheld at their request.

Riley went on to say

“Although it was a quick sale and I believe it was less than it was worth, the sale once again proves the viability of new media. The sale worked out at roughly 30x net monthly after writers, which is a good figure in the after market, and compares well to old media sales.”

Riley said that he intended to take 2-3 months off before launching a new site that would not compete with The Inquisitr in any way, but would tackle a new targeted niche that he believes is not currently being met.

ENDS.

Just a quick note to Inquisitr fans and royal junkies: I’ll be live blogging the Royal Wedding tonight on The Inquisitr.

If you’re not near a TV, you can watch the royal wedding live online, or I’ll update this post later with the live blog link.

Yeah yeah, hassle away. But it pays the bills :)

It’s been a while since I’ve done an update on stats for The Inquisitr, but a great month is always a good reason to share. We’ve floated in the 7-8m pv range for maybe the last 6 months or so (maybe longer, I didn’t check) and with the exception of Feb 2011 where we were just below 7m pv (28 days… with another two days it wouldn’t have been an issue) we’ve done well.

The good news is that in March 2011 we finally broke the 8 million page view mark, and we’re getting closer to breaking the 2m unique visitor figure as well. Indeed, in many ways the unique figure is possibly better again.

Dashboard - Google Analytics

Dashboard - Google Analytics

The good stuff from the breakdown: the biggest post only accounted for 1.63% of the page views, and the biggest posts after that 1.44%, 1.32%, 1.26% and 0.96%. In the early days we often relied on a couple of huge posts to get us up, today the traffic is well distributed across many many posts.