I think I know the “content” business. I’ve been a journalist, a columnist, an expert article writer, a speaker, a blogger and an author of books published by Entrepreneur Press, McGraw-Hill, etc.
I had a talk yesterday with a good friend who’s struggling to make it in the content business. She’s a true expert in entrepreneurship and a very good writer. But it’s slow going for her.
Part of the problem is that the content business isn’t always a business. The world is full of experts–me included–willing to write for free, not for money, because they make their money somewhere else. Some provide content in exchange for links, some for visibility, some just because they want a voice. So it’s getting harder to sell what other people give away.
When I was a journalist we were filling the spaces between the ads. Today it’s a lot more complex. Why do major intellectuals and celebrities post for free on Huffington Post? Because they want to, not because they have to. Why do most people blog? Because they want to. It’s a rare blog that actually makes its author money (sure, there are some, and they are well known; but they are also one in a million).
I don’t think the future bodes well for selling content for money. Maybe creative content, but not business content. It seems like the world is full of experts willing to write, speak and blog for free (or maybe for links). They get paid back in visibility and, they hope, eventual sales of whatever it is that they actually sell. And lots of them simply want to write about what they like. They make it about having a voice, and having some visibility. That seems like it permanently changes the business of just selling content.
And I’m one of those experts. So I’m in the middle of this particular wind of change. For me, at least, I love it.