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8 posts from May 2013

Micro-consulting projects

Last week's article about my search for new full-time or consulting work generated a lot of interest. It was also nice to see the resulting surge in views of my LinkedIn profile. Thanks to everyone who tweeted and help spread the word. I now have a few short-term consulting projects underway and several more longer-term ones are also being discussed.

I've spoken with quite a few prospective clients over the past week and it's clear there's a significant need for consulting help but budgets are tight; not exactly surprising given all the cost-cutting and cutbacks taking place across the industry today. I'm finding a lot of initial guidance can be covered by answering some questions, making a few initial recommendations, and, in some cases, connecting a client with one of my contacts or an industry solution-provider I know and trust. Many of these initial engagements can even be done in an hour or less.

That's why I've now decided to set aside 8-10 hours each week for micro-consulting projects. Each will be a one-hour engagement on the phone, via Skype or Google Hangout. These micro-engagements represent a smaller committment for everyone and can help validate a client's plans and determine their next steps.

Maybe a micro-consulting project is right for your needs. If so, email me so I can send you more details and get you on the calendar.


WANTED: New full-time job or consulting work

An announcement was made last week saying TOC is no more and that I'm out of a job. The former was disappointing news for the publishing community while the latter was a particularly troubling development for my personal community, also known as my family. I'm sad to be leaving a lot of terrific colleagues, including the amazingly talented and brilliant Kat Meyer, but I'm also looking forward to what's next.

I'm not sure what the future holds so I'm currently exploring both full-time and consulting work. With all the consolidation, downsizing and loss of institutional knowledge publishers are currently facing, I believe these next few years will offer plenty of opportunities for industry consultants. I also believe my publishing and technology background, which features a mix of editorial, business development and sales experience, shows I have plenty to offer.

There's one other aspect of my background that I feel is also a critical element every publisher needs to master: the art of community development. Kat and I (as well as the rest of the TOC team) worked hard to build year-round community engagement and an industry franchise by starting with something that was originally limited to a series of semi-annual in-person events.

Most publishers haven't focused much on community-building and engagement. I believe we were creating a community template publishers could have applied to their own businesses. The TOC plug was pulled prematurely, IMHO, but the community engagement lives on here and elsewhere, of course.

Btw, the goal of community-building isn't just to create a direct channel. That's one valuable outcome but it's clear some publishers simply aren't interested in direct channels just yet. Community-building is about giving your real customers, the people who read your products, a reason to engage with you and your content. It's about establishing a dialog as well as giving them a place to meet and share their experience.

One of my former colleagues liked to say that "community is the new marketing." Some publishers think that means they just need to have a corporate Twitter handle and offer a Facebook page for everyone to like them. Then they wonder why there's no return on that minimal investment. This is one of the areas where I can help.

There are plenty of other areas I can work with you as well, including: business plans, business development, product development, digital-first models, acquisitions, etc.

Am I right for your organization's needs, either in a full-time or consultant position? You'll be in a bettter position to answer to that question by reading through my archives here as well as visiting my LinkedIn profile.

Better yet, send me an email and let's schedule a phone call to talk about your specific needs.


Earned Attention: More than a stack of paper

As an industry I think we're getting weary of all the various "rich content" experiments and products floating around these days. I have to admit that most make me want to yawn and move on to the next item in my email inbox. Too many of them feel like a Frankenstein project where elements are grafted onto a traditional book and there's a giant bolt sticking out of the neck.

Every so often one actually grabs my attention. Ironically, the latest one is called Earned Attention. I first watched the video embedded below and was curious to learn more about it. Here's a quote from the video foreword that really resonated with me: 

Attention is the ultimate currency. It is the ultimate scarce resource. It is the only commodity that matters.

How true. And even more so in the publishing world these days. We're all talking about discovery and rising about all the noise. If you can truly earn the attention of your target audience you're clearly doing something right, and "earn" is the key word here. 

Here's another quote from the end of the video below:

A book that you never actually finish.

I'll bet that's a turn-off to a lot of people. Most of us just want to read a book from start to finish and be done with it. Every so often though you want the book to be a part of an ongoing stream of information. That's how I view Earned Attention. It's one of those products that should continue feeding your brain with more insight, long after you read the last word of the printed book.

I'm looking forward to digging into this one. My only disappointment is that the accompanying apps are for iOS only. As an Android convert I've decided this is the worst six-word sentence I've ever read:

Available for iOS (Android coming soon)

I see that sentence far too frequently. I guess I'll have to dig out that first-gen iPad of mine and see if I can use the app there.

Earned Attention case video from ENERGIZE on Vimeo.