MacEdition has been dormant for many years – our last published article was in mid-2003. Today we start anew.
Initially, we were a band of holdouts from the closure of MacWeek. From our inception in 2000, we strove to be the best web-based Mac publication when many Mac-only print publications were going cross-platform or worse – closing for lack of ad revenue.
So, what happened to us? A number of things:
Our content creators, webmasters, editors and copyeditors were all volunteers, so their day jobs came first. Eventually, the volunteer effort stagnated.
We failed to monetize the content created by our band of volunteers. Good content costs money because good writers have to eat. We created the site just on the cusp of the time between when advertising was mostly sold to individual companies and affiliate marketing started to take hold.
Had we hit our peak a couple years earlier, we’d probably have been big enough to keep selling directly to advertisers. A couple of years later and the shakeout of the affiliate marketing programs would have allowed us to make enough money to actually pay for content and hosting.
In 2002, Gizmodo showed that a snippets-of-cool-stuff model was where web-media was headed. Weblogs, Inc., created in 2004, expanded on this notion, and now has a large stable of sites which feature a thin column of content surrounded by hundreds of blinky ads.
On day one of MacEdition, there were several high-priced proprietary CMS systems out there. Big corporations with money bought them. Little guys with no money either had to use Blogger, hand-code their HTML or roll their own CMS with the LAMP stack. We chose the latter two, opting to hand-code while we built our own CMS, forum software and other tools.
The programming was also a volunteer effort, and while it was successful in its’ own right, when it was complete it was totally unlike anything else out there. Because it wasn’t built on MovableType or WordPress, and the forums weren’t phpBB or YaBB, that meant instead of installing new functionality built and tested by a community, we were stacking up bug reports and feature requests on the two volunteer programmers in our “staff”.
The slow fizzle of MacEdition and other early Mac-specific sites has been something we’ve been thinking on since it happened. Making this site a success will depend on fixing the three major problems above.
The only thing wrong with volunteer contributions is that you can’t always count on them. To ensure an adequate quantity of excellent content, we’ll have to pay authors, editors, designers, our hosting provider and system administrator.
We don’t want to be Gizmodo or Engadget or TUAW. By volume, most of these are around 75% affiliate ads. The content there is snack-sized. That’s not to say it’s bad – I read these sites all the time. They just don’t generate much real analysis. To pay the authors we want to pay for the pieces we want to run, we’ll have to think about other tactics aside from filling the entire page with junk.
So far, we’ve identified four streams of revenue for MacEdition. First, we’ll be reader supported. We’ll have reader sponsorships for sale, where you’ll get some cool schwag at different levels. Second, we’ll be approaching the best of the Mac products companies for monthly sponsorships. Third, we hope to use many of the media revenue tools that simply weren’t available at our inception, like Revver and YouTube’s content ads. Lastly, we’ll have a few affiliate marketing ads. Currently, the thought is to have five prominent company sponsorship slots, and three affiliate ad slots, using a mix of Google AdSense and Amazon.
Instead of coding everything only to have to support it and try to be editors, writers and graphics designers, we’re using off-the-shelf open-source software and plugins to publish the site and the forums. Features that would have taken months to roll out between 2000 and 2003 have taken days or even hours over the last month’s preparation.
January will be our benchmark for success. Our unofficial goal to classify a month’s content as successful is 10 high-quality analysis pieces, 30 blurbs and 3 podcast or videocast pieces. Back of the envelope calculations indicate that this content would cost about $10k.
Given that kind of content cost, the gross revenue goals are similarly high – $7k in reader sponsorships, $5k in company sponsorships, $2k in new media streams and $1k in affiliate marketing. We’ll probably net 30-50% from the reader sponsorships because the schwag will be high-quality American-made stuff. The new-media streams will cost money to record, edit and produce, so they’ll probably net $1k. Given past experience, $1k will be tough to hit for the affiliate marketing.
If we meet both the content goals and the revenue goals, the net profit will be slim, but everyone will get paid, and the content won’t suffer.
So, help us meet our goals – if you are a reader, click through to read about the various levels of MacEdition Reader Sponsorship . If you are a business interested in one of the 5 company sponsorships for any given month, please send us an e-mail . If you want to write for us, please let us know .
— Tom Ierna