Sunday, July 04, 2010

Little Fish In A Big Pond

Indeed the world has gotten much smaller in the last twenty years.

So small that good friends around the world almost seem local to us.

Tools like Facebook and Twitter bring us the status and relevant thoughts of their lives in short snippets of text. In Twitter the limit is one hundred hand forty characters. Facebook provides a bit more.

And tools like Skype let us call and talk and see each other while we do.

Global events like the World Cup soccer tournament can now be analyzed and debated – scrutinized in real-time as the match is being played – with the world – amongst the noise of the cheering fans typing in their cheers and jeers as well.

The internet has changed the world drastically. So much that the name Internet no longer really represents this global connectedness.

The opportunities this new connectedness (a phrase coined by the online gurus of this new connected world – first seen by me in tweets from great pundits like Ian Aspin Andrew Keen and Patrick Dixon) has opened up a world of opportunities.

Opportunities we are still trying to get our heads around.

For example, it has allowed for me to write here on headstuffing – and share my musings with the world (or at least my .006% of the Earth's population that I can reach) – in hopes of that someone of influence will trip over my stories and open new doors for myself and my family – to let me put headstuffing to work for my daughters education and to maybe add to the pittance of a retirement fund I am acquiring after twenty years of dedicated service to the various employer's throughout my career.

Sorry, I got on a bit of a tangent there.

But you see what I mean.

When I was a young man – first looking to get my foot in the door – my Uncle Fred once told me that if I offered my services for free – then the parties that benefit from those services would gladly pay you to do them once they realiuzed their value.

A debatable concept – which led me to poverty in my early twenties – until a friend – already successful in the field – suggested that I charge an exorbitant fee for my services – because that would create the illusion of value.

My friend was right. And together we made a pretty good little living together for a couple of years.

But neither of these concepts seems to work on the Internet … err … in this connectedness.

You can't charge people for what they get for free. And you can't charge exhorbitant amounts of money for something people can find online for free – by sources much more talented than yourself.

This connectedness has taken all the big fish in small ponds and thrown them into one great ocean. And the whales and the sharks in this ocean simply overshadow – and sometimes eat – the once big fish in small ponds.

Newspapers are the shining example of this – once great fish – in their local ponds – overshadowed by online news services - extinguishing their readership and subscription revenues as people find that bundled little gem of local news on their doorstep to be of less and less value. Overshadowed like the tiny elm that can't get nourishing sunlight because that damned gigantic maple tree next to it has left it permanently in the shade.

Would you pay your local newspaper as much as you do for a subscription – merely to see the local high school sports scores?

Maybe in the case of the Atlanta Journal of old – and that was the only place you could get the latest Lewis Grizzard column. But in those days, Mr. Grizzard's writings became valuable enough a service that he became a syndicated columnists printed in thousands of papers across the United States.

In short – he jumped from the little pond to the big ocean of the connectedness available before the Internet.

So how do writers like myself and headstuffing – and others as or more talented than I – how do we find that next level?

Some would say the best source of revenue from a blog (and I hate that term so desperately) is to put tiny little advertisements all around it. Monetize it.

I did. Not a single Google Ad cent over the last four years since I started. Not a single nickel from Amazon for touting their books on my pages.

Of course I didn't go chasing those nickel and dime clicks very hard.

But advertising someone else's wares to earn money when you want your writings to be respected seems to me to be a bit – hypocritical? No that's not the right word.


"But it's your writing that will draw people to the ads … the ad money directly correlates to your popularity as a writer".

No it doesn't.

I don't buy into this concept that people are so prone to impulse buying that they will click a link off of my site to go purchase a hat or a sweatshirt or the latest paperback novel.

Not unless they could only get that merchandise from headstuffing. A headstuffing hat or t-shirt or sweatshirt – a collection of headstuffing stories in a book form.

Do I want to be a merchandiser? They say the big Hollywood movies make more money on merchandising than they do on the movie – some times. It depends on the movie.

I doubt seriously there was tons of merchandising opportunities for Brokeback Mountain.

I guess in short – I am simply wanting for what those of us who call ourselves writers want … to be called writers by other people.

That respect goes a long way. And opens even more doors.
Some of the great writers have earned tremendous fortunes from their writings. Because their writings became books. And their books became movies. And their movies often became merchandise.

Damn, there's that merchandise avenue again.

But it's such a big ocean. The little ponds are all gone.

And I'm wondering if I am a good enough swimmer.


LordGU said...

Nice approach, some very interesting thoughts.
A lot of what is "in there" for you and everyone else is what you would like to get from being connected. It sure can be regarded as an ocean, including the challenges mentioned. Yet there are islands and rafts out there (well, here) too. And lots of other, er, swimmers.
I tend to say that being connected has nothing to do with selling anything - in the first place. There is a lot of networking of all kinds. And as a friend of mine always says: there's nothing bad about contacts - only for those who have none.
Being on Twitter (or Facebook), running a blog and a personal/professional homepage to me has turned out to be a starting point to get in touch with people. And all this connectedness, all this networking is about people, isn't it? Once we are connected, everything else develops. Maybe...

Fred Brill said...


Yup, I don't disagree with you one iota.

I've been floating around the internet now for twenty years - since the days when BBS hosted tools like Finger and WhoIs which preceded Netscapes Mozzilla browser. The early alt. newsgroups were the place until IM came along. And every step of the way I have connected with some really great people, and made some really great friends.

My best friend in the world is a fellow from Ireland - coming to visit us again in 3 weeks time - that my lovely wife Darlene met on a chatboard for paramedics.

So relationships can really be spawned oyut of connectedness. My question is how can you leverage it. I'm hoping there are ways beyond simply drawing readers to headstuffing.

Good thoughts LordGU.

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