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Where to Go From Here…

A few days ago I wrote a post asking for feedback about what I should be writing about. In hinsight, it was the best thing I could have ever done.

In all, I heard from over 50 different individuals; some posted a comment, most sent me an email, a few even pick-up the phone and called me. The entire experience was both eye-opening and very rewarding – to know that people are actually reading and value what I have been doing over the last three years here on Smith On VoIP is beyond what I imagined.

Where to go from here…

I took some time to compile all of the feedback I recieved from everyone and below is what YOU suggested as the what this site should be about.

  1. In-depth analysis of industry news, events and happenings – Don’t just report the news, show why is it important.
  2. How-to’s and guides- Continue to produce guides on how to buy, configure and or install VoIP product and services.
  3. Product and service reviews – Have the most comprehensive collection of VoIP product and service reviews
  4. Reseller centric posts – There aren’t a lot of resources available for VoIP VARs.
  5. Industry direction – Where is the industry heading? Who is taking it there, etc?
  6. Interviews – Get the insights from prominent people within the industry.
  7. More interactive features – Thoughts on this include a forum, job board and other tool

Business Versus a Hobby…

This site has always been a hobby – something I did because I had an opinion and wanted to help others. It has never been about money or traffic or fame. At the end of the day I lose money ever time I spend time on this site. There is little direct revenues and very little in-direct revenues generated since I am not a consultant or own a firm that could sell services back to the readership (I would get paid the same at my job with or without this site).

Yes, my “status” has risen within the industry and I have met a lot of people because of this site, but at the end of the day it has yet to make my wallet any fatter – and it takes away free time from my family, friends and my day job duties. As recently as two weeks ago, I was on the verge of shutting down Smith On VoIP because the value of the site was disproportionately distributed – the readers were getting more value out of the site then I was by a substantial margin.

This was something that was very apparent from your feedback.

So, faced with a decision to shutting this site down or continuing on with a new focus on the premium content you want, I had to find a way to increase the value I recieved from this site. One reader had an idea…

Make the site subscription based.

If readers were consistently talking about the value they recieved and where asking for more premium content (which is going to take even more of my time to create), make them pay for it…

…and that is what is probably going to happen.

The site would no longer be a hobby for me – it would be run like a business.

Right now, I don’t have a ton solidified, but I do know that within the next sixty days, I am going to try and move the site  to a monthly/yearly subscription model  (parts of the site will remain free, but the majority will require a subscription) and work will begin on delivering to you more of all seven of the things you want from me. It estimated that the cost for a subscription will be $5/m or $50/year. Look for more on this as progress is being made.

What do you think? Would you pay? If not, why? If so, is the price too high, too low? What are your thoughts on the below?

This is now a business – you are my customer.  Let me know how I can provide more value to you.

Garrett Smith

Garrett Smith is a Technology Marketing and Sales Professional

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Jordi Nelissen

    Garrett, my short answer is “I’ll be happy to pay for a subscription”. What follows is obviously the longer answer.

    You’re stuck with a dillema. Typically I see 3 ways to earn money from the value you generate:

    A. Advertisement. That’s what you are doing now but it somehow might hurt your credibility because your readers – including myself – expect neutral position. And hey you can’t bite the hand that feeds you …

    B. Subscription. That’s what you are planning to do because I will guarantee neutrality of the content. I am willing to pay and get access to the content you generate, but I fear that not everyone is willing to do so and in the end you might see your site traffic decrease dramatically. So you’ll need to find a good balance between free and subscription based content.

    C. Continu doing what you are doing but try to prove to your employer VoipSupply.com that your site is generating extra business and increasing their credibility. In short I am saying you should get a salary increase for the extra business indirectly bringing to VoipSupply.com

    So for what it’s worth, try plan C and if it fails carefully consider plan B.

  2. mgraves

    To be honest, it’s too soon to know if I’d pay or not. It very much depends upon the quality & quantity of posts under the new scheme. Your past output has in some cases been excellent, though sparse. I suggest that you stack up some topics, write a bit and show people what they’ ll be paying for before the subscription is required. That’ll be the best way to ensure that you convert a substantial portion of your readership. If you can’t convert enough readers then your output is likely to fall away and those who did pay will be shortchanged.

  3. Garrett Smith

    @Jordi:

    Thanks for the support. To answer your points:

    1. I could go ad supported, but it takes time to sell and honestly I would rather spend my time making great content/promoting the site rather than selling ad spaces.

    2. Honestly, if I had 50 people, paying me $5/month I would be happy as those are 50 people who obviously value my opinion, etc. I guess to me it is better to have 50 who truly value it, rather than thousands who might not.

    3. I would like to keep them separate discussions, though it is not a bad idea.

    As I think about this more, there are going to be levels: free, basic, premium, that give basic levels to the site. I will more then likely remove all/most advertisements, unless the y provide value to the members – discounts and the likes.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

  4. Garrett Smith

    @mgraves:

    Great points, thanks for adding. Here are my thoughts:

    1. Since I would treat this as a business and not a hobby, I would set minimum content levels. For instance, “5 posts per week guaranteed.” It will surely be more time consuming, but there will be a definitive payoff.

    2. Thanks for the compliment, part of my low output stems from the opportunity cost of blogging – there are other things that I miss out on when I take time to blog. If I am deriving more value from the exercise, I will surely increase output.

    3. I am thinking this will be more of a community then just a blog. There will user generated content, forums, a wiki, blog post’s, how-to’s, directory, white paper index, etc. There will be more to a membership then just access to my content.

    Michael, thanks for your input – greatly appreciate it.

  5. Mike Dancy

    The real question is.. can we invoice our company with a receipt if we subscribe :) ???

  6. Garrett Smith

    @Mike Dancy:

    Ha! I would hope so. File it under professional development…

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