Wednesday, March 04, 2009

There's always a market for quality content

One of the first TWITs I listened to also happened to be the best one I have heard yet. TWIT 133 consisted of a panel discussion with and about Jonathan Coulton. I had never heard of him before, but the discussion about niche markets was fascinating and informative.

He quit his job as a software engineer to be a singer/songwriter instead, and now he makes more money doing that than he did as a software engineer. The "crazy" part about this is that he offers a lot of his content for free from his web page. He allows people to use most of it in derivative, non-commercial work (license). This is counter-intuitive to most people. What is also counter-intuitive is that people buy banana, robot, and monkey gifs on his site as a way of donating money. The point is that if you create quality content, somebody will pay for it. The trick is finding your niche. Coulton's niche is the tech nerd (Code Monkey is one of his more famous songs). I am having a hard time explaining. Check out his site and listen to TWIT 133.

Also, I think I saw him in Atlanta when I was flying back to Utah from my job interview at BAE a year ago. The airport was pretty messed up due to some ice (I was delayed for a number of hours) otherwise I think I would have got an autograph or something. It would have been a little awkward, since at the time my only exposure to him was TWIT 133. Don'y worry, I now have the whole year of Thing a Week.

Let me be clear: this is not a get rich quick scheme. At first I thought this was a new dot-com bubble. Maybe it was, to some extent. However, the bubble burst in October. Producing quality content that someone will pay for takes a lot of hard work, talent, and time. I do not have the time to put in the work, so my blog remains cluttered and not updated. However, many people I know have the time or have talents that are more easily shared over the internet (e.g. writing).

Speaking of writers, TWIT 184 talks about the death of print media. It is just not cost effective, especially with devices like the Kindle 2 coming out. One journalist I know had his local branch shut down this past year, and another newspaper employee I know was laid-off this week. If you have relied on printed media to publish your work in the past, I would highly recommend listening to TWIT 133 and TWIT 184. Then start self publishing on the web as much as you can. Create your own brand. It is worth something to the right people, and the right people are out there.

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