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NoahK

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I'm feeling pretty good after finishing UNSCRIPTED a while ago.

Instead of wasting time playing a mobile game, I thought I'd take an idea through a CENTS Evaluation as part of the first step of Kinetic Execution described in UNSCRIPTED . (If you haven't yet, go read it.)

This would be my first CENTS evaluation ever, and an opportunity to get some initial thoughts down. Yes, there is a ton I don't know. Yes, I am winging it.

I am also being intentionally vague in describing what the idea is, and what niche it's in. I will say it is not a blog, though a blog could be attached to it, and would be useful to demonstrate the content's value.

It isn't, but might be compared to, a library of original stock photography. There are a lot if similarities. (So, if you want to execute on a library of original stock photography, be my guest.)

CENTS Evaluation

Control:
There are no primary dependents for execution. This idea will be executed with my own content on my own website. Other channels may also be used, but none will be necessary for its continued existence. There will also be no necessary secondary dependents.

Entry:
At base, entry barriers for this solution are creating a website and the ability to search and filter each unit of content in a variety of ways. I am not personally very knowledgeable about how difficult this will be, but these by themselves are probably not the best castle walls.

They might be strengthened by the grind of building up the content to the point where this idea becomes an impressively valuable resource. Will anyone else be willing to generate and organize hundreds and eventually thousands of specific pieces of content? Maybe not, but even so, I feel like this may be one of the weaker areas in the CENTS equation. No competitors in the space that I can find.

Need:
I probably haven't defined all the value attributes within the industry, but some include quality content that is easy to use on a website that makes it easy to find what you're looking for. Another is price, as I want to make the content itself available for free.

This is meant to be a go-to time-saver for a niche audience that would use this content over and over as part of their process. Their process can be painful and time-consuming, and this is meant to address that need, quickly and easily skipping one of the pain points in thier process, an easification tool or shortcut.

A weakness in this area is that this niche activity isn't essential for life, and those who would find it most useful are probably a niche of a niche. This is not an idea that will change the world.

A strength is that the people in this niche can border on the fanatic, and the niche itself can be strongly tied to self-identity. If I can create a truly valuable resource, I believe it will be used and organically shared like a productocracy should.

As stated above, I want to make the content available for free, but only for non-commercial use, and am strongly considering using the word FREE in the core of the brand and the name of the site.

I'm thinking the primary revenue model would be generated from ads on the site, based on traffic. Traffic could be enhanced by a blog and forum, though these are not the primary product.

Secondary revenues could come from an ad free subscription to the content, donation channels for voluntary support of the content and continued content creation, and perhaps licensing the content itself for commercial use.

Edit: Additional revenues could also come from a free mobile app connected to the same content, ads on the app, paid ad free options, and maybe in-app purchases if any fit the concept.

Time:
Once I build the site and content, it is separated from my time. It will be there providing value whether I'm there or not. There will be an initial time investment to generate the content and create the site, but that investment should be producing evergreen results.

Scale:
There are a lot of existing mediums, channels, and partners that can reach my target market, and many are free to use. This idea scales based on users and traffic. Paid promotion is an option, but isn't intended to be necessary. Scale shouldn't impact cost or supply. The content is informational and imperishable, and still there whether one or a million people use it.

That's it for a first pass. Any feedback or thoughts would be appreciated. I'm sure I've got blind spots and am fuzzy on points.

I don't know if this will be useful to anyone else, but it's been a help to me.

I'm glad I did this rather than racking up virtual game points that mean nothing and help no-one.

Anyone else going to do one?
 
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MJ DeMarco

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A weakness in this area is that this niche activity isn't essential for life

But there is definitely a need.

I've thought about similar businesses in the past because I think they meet CENTS. And frankly, I can't stand Corbis and Gettie.
 

NoahK

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Thanks MJ, this is a big encouragement and good to know I'm in the CENTS ballpark.

After reading Zellot's thread here, I'm going to take a bit more time making sure there aren't any competitors before heading into the Soft Proof.
 
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NoahK

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A few hours of researching for a competitor tonight offered a surprising bonus.

Channel Research:
After spending some time searching keywords to discover if there were any direct competitors executing on a similar idea, I discovered that there isn't anyone doing exactly what I am wanting to do, i.e. meet this need overwhelmingly on an ongoing basis by providing a website.

However, I did find a company that ran a recently successful Kickstarter campaign offering 100 pieces of similar content in a bundle.

They were able to raise roughly $16,000 with over 400 backers less than a month ago.

Very encouraging numbers demonstrating NEED for this content.

Instead of bundling and selling my content, I'm still planning on making it available for free online, which should be a nice value skew. They were valuing their bundle at $15.00.

I was also able to download a free sample of their content that they were offering on their website, and plan to use it as a benchmark for my content, with a goal to meet or exceed the quality. I am already confident I can make my content more visually appealing than theirs.

Based on their numbers, offering an initial 100 pieces of content looks like a pretty good place to start, and then continue to add from there.

Even though this feels like some Soft Proof, I still have plans to ask the market directly and measure the response I receive before heading to the next step.
 
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NoahK

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"No battle plan survives contact with the Marketmind"

Soft Proof:
Spent time today after work reaching out to some forums where my target market congregates. This was my original plan for Soft Proof.

I researched six different forums and put a post on each, offering three to five pieces of free custom tailored content for their personal use, explaining that I wanted to sharpen my skills and save them some time in the process.

Received my first response within an hour!

Hopefully more to follow.

I plan to get feedback about the content, specifically for ways to make it more useful, or if there are any aspects they prefer to see that are missing. I will also be sure to ask if they would be interested in more content in the future. This may be the start of a contact list to notify when I am ready to launch the full site.

I do have a few questions:

Do you think six forums is enough? Should I keep looking?

How long a period should I wait and record responses to measure Soft Proof?
 

NoahK

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Soft Proof Update:

So far today, one of the posts has generated a total of 9 responses with requests for 34 pieces of content.

Seems like I have my work cut out for me now! I had to close the post to future requests so I can focus on delivering these first 34.

There was also an interesting wrinkle that developed. Another user on the thread jumped in and started providing his own content to meet the requests of the users, (low barrier of entry!) Their content was rushed, and I certainly plan to offer a higher value, but I wasn't sure how to take this.

They mentioned that they love the idea, after the fact, and they wanted to participate too. I didn't make a big deal about it, but encouraged them to make their own post while I worked on my own list.

I'm still wondering if this is enough Soft Proof, or if I should keep testing even after fulfilling these requests.

I'm also excited to fulfill them! It will be a good opportunity to ask the users what value skews they want to see in the content.
 

NoahK

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Soft Proof Update:

I delivered the first 5 pieces of content today. I'm hoping to get a good response to them, but we will see.

On to the next five!

Monetization Idea:
I also had another idea about monetizing the content. A free mobile app could be developed that gives access to the content, also displaying ads and the opportunuty to purchase ad-free viewing. There may be other in-app purchases if they make sense.

I will add this to the CENTS evaluation above.
 

JJ

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"Scale shouldn't impact cost or supply". Please elaborate on this...

I work with a similar site like you describe (content library).

Once the content is created and site setup, how will you get traffic? If you can create a productocracy and people just share your stuff then awesome.

But it might take some/a lot of trial and error to discover what content and which channels are producing. For your content, would it make sense to also explore alternative types of SEO for traffic sources (not sure of the proper name for it)? For example, optimizing content for image searches as opposed to standard search results.

Also, think of Adsense as your last resort for income - like I've tried everything else and couldn't figure it out so at least I get a few pennies per click. Will you sell ad space directly to your customers?

Ad revenue is something, but personally I hate having all of my revenue tied into hoping that people click away and leave my brand.
 

NoahK

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"Scale shouldn't impact cost or supply". Please elaborate on this...

By that, I meant that once the library of content is built, additional users wouldn't add to the cost and supply of the content. If the library has 100 pieces of content, they'd all still be there no matter how the traffic scales, and though I could invest more time increasing the amount of content, I wouldn't have to replace it.

The cost of maintaining the website would also not increase with every user, from my understanding, which is limited. There'd have to be massive interest to overwhelm the site.

Maybe that's naive of me. I completely admit that I have a lot to learn. Most of my professional experience is as a graphic designer and illustrator, print rather than web, as an employee as well as a freelancer.

The ideas I've had tied to that skillset have failed the CENTS evaluation, especially in the area of separating my time from income.

Also, think of Adsense as your last resort for income

That's good to know. After I have a better understanding of how things work, the project might change dramatically from what I think I need to do.

Alternative revenue to Adsense would be preferable. My original idea is to make a pool of free resources that provide real value, and somehow receive value in return from the traffic it draws. Adsense seemed the most obvious way, though maybe it's not the best one.

Maybe it would be better to have a subscription model, with a portion of the content for free but the majority accessed by subscription.

I think I'd still like to avoid that, but we'll see.

I work with a similar site like you describe (content library).

As you're farther down this path than I am, I'm sure you know a lot that I still need to learn. Thank you for taking the time to comment, and any further suggestions are really appreciated.
 

JJ

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Cool Noahk, keep at it.

and somehow receive value in return from the traffic it draws
There are a lot of proven business models, I would highly recommend researching around and choosing 1 to go after then all of your web design/development can be focused toward achieving it efficiently.

Brace yourself for a cliche, but if it don't make dollars it don't make sense.
 

NoahK

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There are a lot of proven business models, I would highly recommend researching around and choosing 1 to go after then all of your web design/development can be focused toward achieving it efficiently.

Thanks, JJ. I've started doing some more research.

I've found an interesting article written around 2015 about free image libraries shifting to a different business model that offered free periodic packs of content by e-mail, and offered subscriptions for premium content or larger collections.

I also found another web article discussing the library website business model. That site offered several downloadable handbooks I am going to read through, and seems to geared toward subscription website publishing.
 
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NoahK

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I wonder if looking at Giphy would be at all relevant to your concept.

Giphy: How it Works and Makes Money

Thanks, JJ! That's an interesting article, and they certainly have an amazing concept. Tens of millions of users a month is incredible.

The article says, "Giphy hasn’t generated any revenue to this point. It does not charge any money for the use of its apps. It is currently operating off the $20 million of venture capital money it has raised over the last two years."

So that's how they are making the "free content" work for now, though the article says they are looking to change that.

Right now, I'm working on the second set of content. No word yet from the guy I sent the first set to.

Edit: I did get a response for the first set. Just a quick reply that I "did a really good job" and thanks, but it feels good.

I've read through several of the white paper handbooks I downloaded earlier, and they had some interesting ideas.

It might be possible to offer curated sets of content with some extras as a download on the site as premium paid content. Even if the core content is in the library, it might be an additional value to have them grouped and well presented.

Do you have any thoughts about what constitutes solid soft proof?

Anyone else that has had "soft proof" experience?
 
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JJ

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Do you have any thoughts about what constitutes solid soft proof?

Anyone else that has had "soft proof" experience?

It sounds like you have it with examples of forum responses and Kickstarter data. Next step would be a market simulation.
 

NoahK

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It sounds like you have it with examples of forum responses and Kickstarter data.

Thanks again.

I thought so, but I didn't want to be overly optimistic and see something that wasn't there.
 

NoahK

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Soft Proof Update:

I delivered the second set of five pieces requested during my soft proof, and contacted the person receiving the third set. I'm looking forward to seeing if there is any positive feedback.

I also asked the first requestee if they would use a website with similar free content as a resource. They responded, "yeah, probably." I'll be sure to ask this again of each person getting the soft proof content, and see what they say.

Next step would be a market simulation.

Isn't a market simulation just another type of soft proof?

Wouldn't the next step be drafting a Process Path?

I've been doing more research about free content and free library websites. Most seem to also present paid products or paid services, and don't solely rely on advertising revenue.

I'm going to take some time to create a potential list of content-related paid products that offers value to my niche, and use that as a basis to help inform my Process Path. Curated sets as a downloadable purchase seems like a good starting point.

I also need to start researching the best way to build, or have built, a site that will do what I need it to do. It is essentially a bunch of single pages for each piece of content, that can link to other content pages, and be searchable by certain keywords. Eventually, there will be at a lot of coordinated pages.

If anyone has any advice about where to start looking about this, I'd love to hear it.
 

JJ

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Isn't a market simulation just another type of soft proof?
When you gave your content, has there been a transaction? Did someone actually buy it, or give up their email in exchange?

Maybe a landing page promising to email 5 pieces of content or content bundles a week for subscribers? Then you can deliver the resources and build your library at the same time. If you linked back to a download page from the emails then you could find out what content is being consumed.
 

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Why are there no competitors?

17600692.jpg
 

NoahK

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When you gave your content, has there been a transaction? Did someone actually buy it, or give up their email in exchange?

Just the time they spent requesting and replying to me.

Maybe a landing page promising to email 5 pieces of content or content bundles a week for subscribers? Then you can deliver the resources and build your library at the same time.

Thanks for this idea. There may be a way to create a landing page version of the website that can get things started sooner.

Why are there no competitors?

Hi, loop101. There are some solutions out there for providing this type of content to the niche, but none of them are a content library website, which I think will be an easier and more valuable product.
 

NoahK

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Or you can use Mailchimp for free too

Thank you again! I spent some time looking at Mailchimp, and it looks like a good option.

Now, I need to come up with a free download to offer.
 

NoahK

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Soft Proof Update:

I've delivered the third set of content to the person that requested them, contacted the next on the list, and received some good feedback on the second set. "This is excellent, great work!"

I'll continue fulfilling these commitments and build up the initial content for the library.

Market Simulation:
I am going to be writing up a process path for the creation of the mailchimp landing page, and the free pdf I will offer for people who sign up. It will be a bundle of the first 10 pieces I've already created, that will eventually go into the library.

Prototype Website:
I also found a great article to help with the process path and prototype of the website.

As I said before, I am not in the free stock photo niche, but it is a very comparable model. This article is about a free stock photo site called Unsplash, and how they grew.

How side projects saved our startup - Crew Blog

I believe I can use Unsplash as a model to present content to my niche. It looks like a Wordpress site would work.
 

JustJoshing

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Hey mate, thanks for your message and great work so far here. Sounds like we have similar concepts going - content library website with a high value skew. I used Squarespace for my landing page, but only because I had an existing website already paid for that wasn't being used. For free options you can look into Weebly (or bum off someone who uses Leadpages).

For marketing, Instagram is a good place to start, but you are limited to 1000-2000 follows + likes every 24 hours. I'm also doing targeted FB ads with decent success and tweaking as I go. Good resource on PPC advertising from FLF. If you're looking for free traffic and feel ready, you can try Reddit - just know that people on Reddit will eat you alive if they sense you're advertising rather than giving.

As far as offering content for free vs. charging, I plan on offering both. On the one hand I want to give away free content so anyone and everyone can benefit from our products. On the other hand our free giveaways will be a small appetizer compared to the entire library of content available to paying customers. When they see the value in the products, they will pay. To increase conversion rate I plan on using this brilliant $1 opt-in strategy outlined here.

Look forward to following your progress!
 

NoahK

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Hey mate, thanks for your message and great work so far here.

Thank you too! I'm also following your thread with a lot of interest. You're a few steps ahead of me in the process, If I find anything that works for me I'll be sure to share it.

The "1$ Opt-in Strategy" video was really interesting, so thank you. I will probably be looking at some of his other videos as well.

I'm really struggling right now with giving access to my content away for free, or as a subscription.

I'm honestly not sure how to monetize this effectively, but my gut is telling me to keep it free to access. I can still do that while building up an e-mail list.

I think there's something to how much people like supporting something that is useful and free.

Still winging it, but learning a lot in the process.
 

NoahK

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Taking a stab at this:

Market Simulation/Soft Proof Landing Page Process Path

Purpose: To see if anyone will offer an e-mail address for present content, and interest in future content.

(1) Content Creation (Free Download)
- 10 Pieces of Content Created
- Research Creative Commons.
License for Personal Use
- Graphic Design, Theming, and
Branding for Download

(2) Landing Page Creation
- Domain and Hosting
- Siteground
- E-mail Address
- Logo, Design, and Branding
- Wordpress
- Wordpress Theme
- Copywriting
- Mailing List Management
- Mailchimp

(3) Launch
- Marketing Channels
- Facebook
- Instagram
- Twitter

Notes: Is this all? What am I missing?
 

NoahK

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Soft Proof Update:

I've delivered the fourth piece of content and received a good response. "Nice work and thanks for [the content], I have so many ideas of how [to use it] and you [added features] I hadn't even considered. I especially like the [specific feature]."

I also heard back from the person who requested the second set about whether they would use a free online resource of similar content. "Most definitely, in addition to making my own [content], I frequently use online resources similar to that."

Market Simulation/Soft Proof Landing Page Process Path Update

After some further research, and reading these two articles, (Wait but Why article, Patreon article) I am considering using Patreon as a minimal Market Simulation to test the Soft Proof and interest in a separate website.

Does anyone have any experience with Patreon?

Advantages -
- Free unless patrons subscribe/Patreon gets a 5% cut plus money transfer fees.
- Can possibly fund creation of a full site
- Simplifies the Process Path

Updated Market Simulation/Soft Proof Landing Page Process Path

Purpose: To see if anyone will subscribe for present content, and interest in future content.

(1) Content Creation
- 5 Pieces of Free Content per Month
- Research Creative Commons License for Personal Use
- Graphic Design, Theming, and Branding for Content

(2) Patreon Page Creation
- Patreon Account
- E-mail Address
- Gmail
- Logo, Design, and Branding
- Copywriting

(3) Domain
- Register to lock it down for a future site

(4) Marketing
- Facebook
- Instagram
- Twitter
- Lens
 
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NoahK

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Market Simulation/Soft Proof Landing Page Process Path Update

(3) Domain
- Register to lock it down for a future site

Just registered my preferred .com for one year for $1.17. This was a special offer, but I should be able to transfer it for free to Siteground later.

- E-mail Address
- Gmail

My first choice of e-mail address was taken in Gmail, but I was able to make one that will work. This will be temporary as e-mail will be switched to @mydomain eventually.

(2) Patreon Page Creation
- Patreon Account

Created my Patreon account. Now I need to brand it, add copywriting, rewards tiers for subscribers, goals, and initial content.

(4) Marketing
- Facebook
- Instagram
- Twitter

Signed up for a Facebook page, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. I need to add branding and copywriting to these. I will also use Lens after I launch the Patreon page and figure it out.
 

NoahK

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Market Simulation/Soft Proof Landing Page Process Path Update

- Logo, Design, and Branding
- Copywriting

After a bolt of inspiration last night, I knew how I wanted to start the copy on my Patreon page, and it opened the floogates for the rest. I do need to refine the end, because I haven't completely decided what the reward tiers will be yet.

I have no idea if it's compelling as far as copywriting goes. I like it, but I'm just shooting from the hip at this stage.

I also finalized my logo and added it and a banner to the Patreon page. I will be continuing the branding through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other marketing channels as well as the content itself.
 

NoahK

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Market Simulation/Soft Proof Landing Page Process Path Update

I've redirected my domain to point to my Patreon page, that way I won't have to change the website name later.

The Patreon page is ready to go. It includes $1 and $5 per month subscription tiers (at the $5 tier subscribers get a vote of what kind of content is created next), and bonus content releases when the $25, $50, and $75 month marks are met.

At the $100 a month mark, I will create and launch the online content library.

I've been trying to decide between releasing 5 or 10 pieces of content per month, and decided on 5. Since this is in addition to my freelance work, I need to make sure I don't overpromise and underdeliver.

I'll also be releasing single examples of the content on social media and other channels to bring vistors to the Patreon page.

This should show whether there is a real market interest or not.

All I have left to do is finalize the first example of bundled content and add the logo and other branding to some of the social media channels.
 

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