Blog Focus and Business Models

By Deane Barker on August 8, 2003

We’ve been tossing around the idea of applying a business model to Gadgetopia for quite some time now. Don’t get us wrong, this is fun and all, but it takes time and there’s always the nagging desire to “take it to the next level,” to overuse a cliche. However, I come back to one point time and time again: to make money in providing online content, you need to have a narrow focus.

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Comments

  1. I’d disagree with the narrow focus argument; there are way too many narrowly focused information sources out there. By taking gadgetopia that direction you’d become indistinguishible from many other sites on the net. Take craigslist.com as an example… the thing that makes that site a standout is that its got everything under the sun, and it’s much more successful than anyone would have imagined. The beauty of having a wider focus is that it makes it possible for people to see more than the specific things they’re looking for, and when they see something that’s slightly outside the box of their thinking, it causes them to think of other possibilities. How many of the worlds greatest inventions were made possible by the inventor stumbling across something that he’d never thought of using? You don’t need a narrow focus and more overanalysis of topics others are already overanalyzing. Make it more of what it is; the convergence of all things geek. I for one would pay for that. Gadgetopia; more than the sum of its parts.

  2. I agree with you, Dave, but one point I probably didn’t make clear enough is that as you broaden your focus, the manpower required to keep a decent depth of content goes up as well.

    Would I love to cover everything on Gadgetopia? Yeah, sure, but we just don’t have the manpower. Right now, three people are posting, and we’re trying very hard to keep an average of 10 new items a day on the site.

    Craigslist is a little different because a lot of their content is user-suppiled. Classified ads and such. There site is more a two-way flow of content.

  3. Of course you don’t have the manpower to drill deep into every subject, and there’s no reason you should drill deep into every subject. But the main question you need to ask is, “what should gadgetopia be about?” If you want it to be a narrowly-focused infosite that’s frequented by a handful of people, fine. Go that direction. But if you want it to be what it is now with a broader audience, I think it’s possible to grow it in that direction without going overboard.

    Look at http://www.macintouch.com as an example; they started in 1996 as a part-time venture by a couple of guys to cover Mac-specific support issues. Now it’s still Mac-centric, but it covers a broad range of topics, and it’s done primarily by one guy with a little help from his friends. The reason macintouch works so well is that the editors don’t do the digging; they put up stuff they come across and is submitted, and the readers do the rest. The depth of content is provided by the readers, not the editors.

    And then there’s about.com. I don’t frequent the site, but the business model used there is a good example of how it’s possible to focus on lots of subjects by farming out the work to people who have interest in those subjects and don’t care if they get paid to do it or not.

    I’m not suggesting that gadgetopia go the direction of either example. My main point is that in that in order to do gadgetopia better and to make it a viable business venture, you don’t necessarily need to continue doing it the way it is being done now, only bigger. There’s more than one way to skin a cat.

    And as I said earlier; the main reason not to narrow the focus is because there are plenty of other sites out there that spend too much time on single subjects. As a result, the people running those sites — and their readers — miss the forrest by picking at the bark on one tree.

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