Andy talks about RFIDNews.org and their paid archive subscription model. This is an excellent idea and a carryover from niche newsletters. I remember the newsletter craze of the early 1990s. Business, entrepreneurship, health, law, and financial newsletters commanded $97-1,000/yr per subscription, but had to be spot on with their articles. Just a few dozen subscriptions could sustain a business, and because such costs qualify as “professional fees”, subscribers can often use them as a tax writeoff.
If you have extensive experience in a niche industry, you could utilize your special knowledge by producing something equivalent to a newsletter. For example, I’m working on a hush-hush project with someone to produce a large series of free and paid e-reports (in PDF format). We’ll be launching a blog as well, which will excerpt/showcase the topics of the reports, in order to generate SE traffic. The paid reports will provide case studies, but the free material will cover most of the concepts. So there’s value in both.
This method, if you pick a suitable topic, could sustain a writing/ blogging career, without you having to beg for donations, or hope that someone clicks on your contextual ads. Now while we are not producing monthly reports per se, if you think that you can regularly produce ultra-high quality content weekly, biweekly, or monthly, you may want to look into offering subscription e-reports (PDF format). This is slightly different than the paid archives Andy discusses, and requires an extra time commitment. But the returns can be very sweet.
You will need free blog content and free teaser reports, and both will have to show that you know what you are writing about. If you have contacts with experts in your field, you may able to get some guest articles – although they’ll cost you dearly. But since you can typically charge $97 – $147 – $197 – $247 – $297/yr, it may be worthwhile, and a strong selling point. And industry professionals are likely to subscribe if you produce quality reports.
A series of one-off reports could also be lucrative, and would not require the same kind of commitment. If you plan a loose schedule of, say, 10 reports per year, and do not assign dates to them, a 50- to 100-page report could go for $27-47-97 or more, depending on the topics and how much of a niche you’re filling. You may not make a large amount of money in the first year on each report, but for 4 weekends of work, you may be able to supplement your blogging.
So if you sell 50 copies per e-report in the first year, at $27+ each, that’s 10 x $1350/yr = $13,500 minus advertising/ promotional costs. That’s not a lot, certainly not a lot to live on. But the long-tail phenomenon suggests that the sales per report will be exponentially decreasing over time, and that you may sell more copies in total in the “tail” of the life of a report than in just the first year.
If your topics are timeless, over 3-10 years you may earn some nice returns for 10-20 hours of work per month. So in the second year, you’ll have sales of new reports and older reports. In a couple of years, you could very well commit full-time and not have to rely on contextual advertising.
This is in response to the Markus who stated that people are jumping in and out all the time of these niches. While true that it is competitive, remember too that people all over the world are getting onto the internet on a daily basis. These newbies are a great source for new leads. Again, at the risk of sounding cliche, it’s all about thinking outside the box. Besides, I believe there is always a way to explore a certain aspect of a niche that hasn’t been explored before.
Nice article !! The required information about the eReports is given in a very nice way.
My only comment from my professional career is that these concepts used to work quite well in royalty managed and royalty free stock photography. The stock photography market is changing pretty fast right now because too many people tried to jump on that train during the last ~eight years (and microstock of course :-). As Raj mentioned the niche newsletter market … there are still publishing houses (!), market research and consulting companies making good money from that but all those niches are jumping up and down all the time.
Now to something completely different 🙂 The critical point is “ultra-high quality content”. To achieve that goal it really needs a professional background, a good working personal network and last not least a professional presentation. As a second point I would always recommend a well structured team work. You will need researchers, authors, lawyers, designers and publishers. Otherwise you will be ‘cooked’.
In the serious news market blogging is still judged as being a self referencing ‘copy, clip and comment’ market. To be taken seriously by your potential customers you should at least have published a high quality insider book about your niche. That said I must admit that over here in Germany (Europe?) most readers still have a pretty conservative look at the ‘blogosphere’ and real ‘insider content’ would not be blogged, it would be ‘published’. That’s one reason why I am splitting my actual project into a blog platform for ‘users’ and into a publishing platform for ‘readers’ and advertisers. Technically I will of course use blogging technology but the presentation of the ‘news service’ will/must be more editorial. And I am absolutely not sure if it will work out profitable!!!
PS: If somebody is planning a professional career in that direction I would seriously recommend to try to get some jobs in the field of ‘blog/news monitoring’. You will learn what your clients are afraid of and naturally you will be learning what ‘high quality content’ for these people is and what they are willing to do/pay for that information.
about a dozen different niches where I can use this. thanks