One of my stated niches is 'web strategy' and I've written a couple of posts on this subject. However strategy is one of those things that is better practiced rather than preached. I could write a whole bunch of articles on strategy, but the only way for someone to be credible on this topic is to execute a strategy - and preferably be successful at it! It's the same for web design. If you're going to spout theories on website design, then you better make sure your personal website is spiffy and professional-looking. You can get away with not practicing what you preach in programming (just claim you're an architect), in usability (ever seen Jakob Nielsen's website?) and in Knowledge Management (in the real world KM is an oxymoron). But in design and strategy you need to back up your theory with real-world evidence. And this is one of the reasons why I started a topic-focused blog.
Lights, Strategy, Action!
In order to explore the art of strategy, I've decided to openly discuss and publish my strategy for my new topic-focused blog called eBook Culture. I'll be doing this in a series of posts here on Read/Write Web, starting with this one. Today I'll outline my high-level goals for eBook Culture, and in my next post I'll review some successful examples of topic-focused blogs by other bloggers. After that I'll get stuck into the nitty gritty of my ongoing strategy for eBook Culture. All the while of course I'll be implementing my plans.
btw eBook Culture is only a couple of weeks old and very much a work-in-progress. At this point I'm building up the 'eBooks as social media' theory, via a bunch of quickly-written posts. By itself, that's unlikely to appeal to the masses. Pretty soon I'll start publishing practical things (how-to's and introductory articles) and introduce some basic web services.
Part 1: My Personal Goals for eBook Culture
So what are my goals for eBook Culture? Well actually they're closely related to my goals for Read/Write Web and blogging in general. In approximate order of importance, here is what I want to achieve with eBook Culture:
1. Explore the niche world of eBooks. I see eBooks as an extension of my read/write web philosophy, plus they combine two of my core interests: books and computing. Learn by Doing is a maxim that I live by, so a topic-focused blog gives me the opportunity to dive into eBooks as a specialist interest. At this point in time I'm not an eBooks expert by any means. But as I build up the new website, I'll learn more and more about its sole topic - eBooks. Hopefully I'll end up loving eBooks as much as I love working on the Web!
2. Build up a weblog community of eBook users. I'm not looking so much at folks who are already sold on the idea of eBooks, although it's important I attract existing eBook experts to my site so that I earn their respect and patronage. My aim is to convert a whole bunch of new people to the world of eBooks - myself among them!
3. Prove to myself and future employers or customers that I'm able to successfully implement a web strategy and build a social media website. If I can provide eBook Culture with compelling content and useful, easy-to-use services - and along with that build up a community of people who regularly visit the website - then that alone would be an achievement to be proud of. But frankly it also has to benefit me - and to that end if eBook Culture achieves the above, then it'll be a very powerful addition to my CV or portfolio.
4. Earn some money and potentially grow a business. You may wonder why this is only number 4 on my list of goals? Well actually I'd love it if I could eventually earn a good living out of eBook Culture. To achieve that though, I'd need to make some sacrifices and devote myself full-time to this venture. I'd need to actively sell my ideas and plans to business people, a la Nick Denton. While I may well attempt this in the future, the time isn't right for me to do it now. Even though I won't be giving up my day job just yet, it is my goal to earn some money out of the site - certainly more than the pennies I earn off Google ads at Read/Write Web. I'll provide more details on this when I get to the nuts and bolts of my strategy for eBook Culture.
Summary of my Goals
So my goals for eBook Culture are mainly to explore eBooks (learn by doing), build up a community of eBook users, prove to myself and future employers/customers that I can successfully build a social media website, and make a few bob on the side.
An ideal payoff for me would be to land a job doing the same kind of strategy / social media work for an organization, or become skilled enough to offer my services as a consultant, or use my experience as a springboard to launch other business ventures as an independent.
First I have to do it.