3 Lessons from our Early Start on the New Year
New Year’s came early for Niche Media this year. Yep… back in July we started digging in… taking a clear-eyed look at ways to build our business strategy to better support our awesome community of publishers. (That’s right… here’s looking at you, kid.)
Over the past 6 months, I’ve had incredible conversations with many of you. Talking about what’s exciting (and challenging) about this crazy business. Here’s what I heard:
- Almost every publisher is struggling, to one degree or another, with developing online strategies & systems to support their business and meet the needs of their audience.
- We’re all looking for new ways to develop more targeted content and programming specific to segmented audiences in our niche.
- We’re working new revenue streams we wouldn’t have dreamed about 5-10 years ago.
- Finally, while we’re building our teams and our revenues for NOW, we’re also planning for the future – the future of publishing and our own futures.
We hear you. And we’re right there with you — making some big changes to our online programming; looking for ways to better support YOU while also building our revenues; and expanding the Niche team (we’ve more than doubled our staff over the last 6 months!!!). It’s exciting stuff. And you’ll get to hear a lot more about Niche 2017 in the coming weeks.
We’ve put in a lot of good, honest hard work so far — and there’s more to come! Thinking back over the early start to our new year there’s 3 big things that jump out at me.
1. We Make a Team, We’re Number One
Yeah, yeah. Sounds like an after-school soccer team cheer. (You know… where post-game orange slices are the highlight of the game and everyone’s a winner?) But this team stuff is serious business: Your people are your path to revenue growth.
Let me say it again, as it bears repeating: building your team and developing a culture of performance are the single most important things publishers can (and, I’d argue must!) do to drive revenue growth.
Our brilliant friend Don Harkey at People Centric Consulting says it best: culture isn’t about potlucks or ping pong tables. It’s about creating a business environment in which your most valuable asset – your team – is pointed in the same direction, working toward the same goals. The company culture that you build and instill in your team is as – if not more than – important as any new program or initiative you might launch in 2017.
As Niche Media grows, we’re thinking about this a lot. We’re a small tight-knit team. We love our work. We love working together. And we believe that work should be fun, fulfilling, and provide meaningful help and support to the publishing community. Those core values will guide every single decision we make as we expand so that we keep what’s great about Niche, well… great.
2. Better Living (and Revenue Growth) through Systems
I know, I know. You almost fell asleep reading this one. Systems, she says? Seriously? Systems aren’t the reason we went into publishing. Systems are boring!
Here’s a little secret though… Systems are the decidedly non-sexy backbone on which your entire publishing enterprise is built. And you need good ones, built on cost-effective tools, to really drive the most revenue out of your business.
Niche Media spent the past 6 months revamping almost all of our back office systems — from email service provider to database to websites to new health insurance offerings. I’m not suggesting you do it the way we did. Our approach was to rip off the bandaid on deferred systems maintenance, taking a “let’s just white knuckle and get it all done at once” way through. The business will be the better for it at the end of the day, but there’s definitely been personal pain and suffering along the way.
If I had it to do over again I might have taken a staged approach (rather than doing everything, all at once, really fast). But now that we’re almost to the other side I’m here to tell you that it’s ok. Be unafraid to tackle those big systems projects in 2017! You can do it! There’s a ton of awesome solution providers out there with tools and technologies to support any size publisher (and any size budget).
3. Niche Your Niche
We’ve said this a lot over the years. But, just because it’s overplayed doesn’t mean it’s not spot on: To build new revenues, look closely at how you might subdivide your audience to develop hyper-specific content and programs to meet the needs of specific segments.
For us (and by extension, for you!) that has meant looking at what niche publishers might need at various points in the life of their publishing business. New magazine launches need different information and support than established brands. Digital-only publications have a set of ad sales challenges distinct from Publishers looking ahead to selling their business need access to different resources than family-owned operations working through succession planning.
We’ve really taken the “niche your niche” adage to heart in building out our new programs for 2017 — listening to what your pain points are and working to provide information and solutions to help you grow. At the risk of ruining the grand reveal, I’ll stop there but we’re *hugely* excited about what’s next for Niche.
It’s a wild, wooly, fascinating publishing world out there — our goal is to be there to support you with strategies and support and training at every step.
More about Rebekah: Rebekah Darksmith is President / Fearless Leader of Niche Media HQ and leads a strategic expansion of Niche Media in order to more broadly serve the niche publishing community. Her 20-year career in publishing spans consumer; B-to-B; and scholarly and academic publishing. Most recently, Rebekah held a dual role within the University of California Press. As Deputy Director she developed strategy and oversaw operations for all revenue-generating functions within the organization – marketing, sales, rights and licensing as well as fundraising. As the Executive Director of the UC Press Foundation, Rebekah was responsible for driving philanthropic support for UC Press by partnering with its Board of Trustees, overseeing committees, and administering a $15M endowment.
Niche Media has created super niched-out events specifically for magazine publishers for over 12 years. We’ve helped pave the way for the era of boutique events that connect specific audiences and provide great educational, friendly and super-fun environments! Check out the all new Super Niche, March 27-29, 2017!
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