The Skeptical Informer 2013 number 9: Happy Birthday to Me

The IT Skeptic's Skeptical Informer newsletter for 16th May 2013.

The Skeptical Informer

Today, 16th May, is the 7th birthday of the IT Skeptic website - when the first post went up - and hence of the alter-ego character. Seven years serving the IT community!

Traditionally I use this time for a bit of history and introspection but I've recently done that twice already:

So instead I will reflect on one specific aspect of the IT Skeptic: future survival. When I launched the site in 2006, the GFC was nowhere in sight. Times were mostly good and I was optimistic of making my fortune on the wild fringes of the internet. Think Gold Rush without the cold and mud. I ruled out crime, spam, and porn, which was like ruling out every country on earth for gold-mining except Portugal. That left advertising, entertainment, ideas, and content. As I have since discovered, the internet has destroyed any perceived value in ideas or content. And advertising pays about $1 per thousand visitors per month. Maybe I need kittens, mentos-and-coke, a hot Asian dance, and kittens.

It is very hard to make a living on the internet.

So I still pay the bills through consulting, mostly here in Wellington. And I make a smaller proportion of my income speaking and writing - there is money in content if the format is one that people will pay for and if you have the brand to generate demand. The IT Skeptic gives me that brand.

For now. There is a rising tide of new voices, new personalities, crowding the territory. The big corporates are buying them up, badging them, and peddling them for free. The remaining amateurs are organising into syndicates. There was never enough for me to live off, now there is less every day.

So the IT Skeptic must find new ways to differentiate and/or new revenue streams. It takes several hours per day to maintain a social media presence; to keep up with the deluge of information and opinion; and to create ideas and content. Skep can't be a hobby: I have to make money off it in order to justify the massive time investment.

What of the future?

The IT Skeptic will work hard to remain differentiated, but that is a challenge. There are some amazing people out there (curse you all!). I have a detailed business plan. Watch this space for new moves, though in the longer term it may be a losing battle against such a multitude. I rate myself to remain a thought leader and an original idea generator but the competition is brisker every day.

As well as staying ahead of the pack, I look at heading out into new territories.

  • I think governance will be of increasing importance, so I've placed a substantial bet on COBIT. I need that horse to start running :)
  • There is also hope of Service Management appealing to a wider audience, though USMBOK has already staked a massive claim on that frontier, and all the activity I see so far seems to be IT-lead which brings all the current players along with it.
  • Geographically China beckons, and maybe India and Brazil, but each place has enormous challenges in offering value to their audience.

What's a poor Skeptic to do to make ends meet? All ideas welcomed.

(Actually, I'd quite like to do more than merely make ends meet: I'd like to tie the ends in a knot and gather up a few loops of slack. I don't see the economy getting better any time soon and the downside is still massive. Being an independent content provider is an entrepreneurial business, with massive risk that mostly goes unrewarded.)

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