This is a story of how Jim Long is reinventing his career with the help of social media. He inspired today’s post at The Blog Herald on what you can do to become famous. During the presentation at DMAW a couple of weeks ago, Jim talked about one of his recent entrepreneurial projects, Crafty Nation.
We watched the video where his partner, Toni Lyn, visited a hand glass worker in her home, which doubles as her laboratory. Seeing the skill and craft made me want to go back to making earrings -- I sold many as a teenager. Crafts are a booming business in the US. Take a peek at the appropriate isle at Target and you'll know what I mean. Rows of interesting materials ready for unleashing your creativity.
I asked Jim to join us here and tell his story of how this venture came about.
Jim: Crafty Nation started as another video podcast project titled “The Crafty Hag” which I was developing with a friend. We called her “Martha Stewart’s evil subversive twin.” That project failed as she and I differed on the business model.
Crafty Nation rose from those ashes as a collaboration between Toni Lyn (@craftynation on Twitter) and myself. I put an ad in Craigslist looking for someone who was passionate about craft and had business savvy and entrepreneurial drive. Toni and I originally developed the idea of episodic video combined with video. As we worked toward this the emergence of niche market social networks as tools of engagement seemed the next logical progression.
We launched in beta in July of this year coinciding with our attendance at the Craft Hobby Association show in Chicago. We covered the show and have created one episode and are currently in post-production on the second highlighting the best of the CHA. The CHA show (held twice a year) is where store buyers and manufacturers of craft products meet and make deals. Craft is a 30 billion dollar industry and millions of Americans identify themselves as “crafty”. We’re building Crafty Nation (currently rebuilding with more sophisticated and robust social networking platform), combining social networking, episodic, editorially driven video, and blogging, all designed to celebrate and give voice to the rich tapestry of craft.
Our revenue model is based on advertising on the site and within the video. We are also exploring the idea of having a PBS style sponsorship for a brand who would like to associate their name with the conversation.
In my mind the simplest approach one should take when launching any kind of social media effort is first LISTEN. Where are the relevant conversations happening? What our people saying? Then engage that conversation in comments on other blogs and links in yours.
I believe there is great potential in building social media platforms aimed at niche markets -- hence Crafty Nation. Our goal was to find a core constituency, and create a space where people can connect on a meaningful human level, around ideas and passions they share. Crafty Nation celebrates and gives voice to the world of creative crafters. Scale is important for any business model, so if your plan is to monetize your content identify a niche market that has sufficient growth potential.
The notion of “new media”, blogging and other social media was new to me as late 2005. I had heard of those things, and I became energized by the passions of people out there creating media just because they could. Some of them were even monetizing their efforts with sponsorship from big brands. It occurred to me that a seismic shift was happening here... Nothing less than a Gutenberg press moment. It also occurred to me that the growth of social media was having an increasingly negative impact on traditional media, including my employer, NBC News. So I’m faced with an urgency to transition from a dying career to a more promising one. At the same time I see tremendous promise to create new media brands, faster and more organically than traditional media.
If your plan is to make a business of social media, first plan your business. Write a business plan, surround yourself with a board of advisers, incorporate yourself and be serious about it.
That is solid advice -- have a business plan, incorporate yourself and work it.