BWE10 was a fascinating couple of days. Some great seminars, very interesting people that have carved themselves out a tiny niche that is their online brand. There were none of the “7 steps to unlimited riches on the Internet” type seminars that no one buys into, but more along the lines of “this worked for me, think about it”.
As I said before, it was a little bit of a stretch to get work funding for this conference, but I’m very glad I did. Very happy at the decision to stay another day when my flight got delayed up on Friday afternoon. Something to do with thunderstorms in Salt Lake City, after dealing with British Rails’ “wet leaves on the line” excuse for many years, travel disruption (especially with full flights) is something I’ve learned to deal with.
It was a lot of fun and a very, very good learning experience. And couple of days in 80+ degrees and a little pool time squeezed in, is never a bad idea.
As with most conferences the parties were excellent, a different place each night. First night was miX at Mandalay Bay with great views over the strip. Friday was at Haze in the new Aria Hotel and finally at the Palms hotel there was karaoke backed by a live band. Very cool venues, interesting cross section of individuals and some first class people watching. Lets be fair, when a distillery and the biggest nightclub group in Vegas are sponsoring the parties, the potential for a great time is very high.
Haze at Aria
While the parties, seminars and late nights sushi were great. I’m not going to fill the page with hyperbole describe the last three days as a life changing. It was not, but it was life affirming and the decision to stay another day was perfect. I met people who make a living in new-media and I talked with others who want to and have the determination to do so.
A blurry, but very interesting Scott Ginsberg
Personally, I don’t want to make a living as a blogger. I have a job I’m starting to really enjoy again. I see my group and I making a difference on what’s been a very difficult and challenging program to date. It’s fun being a proper ME again rather than a process manager.
Over the last few days I’ve spoken too and exchanged business cards with cooks, moms, lawyers, sponsors, entrepreneurs, dads, engineers, writers, therapists, techs, geeks, computer guys of every description and a porn star. Many were like me, we don’t want to put the work in to make a fortune on the Internet, but we have something to say. The Internet gives us a forum to say it on and in this conference we have a chance to come together and share what we’ve learned.
Truthfully, I came away from the weekend more convinced than ever that it’s very difficult, verging on the impossible for all bar the biggest sites make much money off the internet. It’s a place to say what you want, but the revenue streams are typically still “old media”, book sales (even if it’s an e-book), speaking engagements and so on.
I do say “typically”, there are sites emerging that are successfully using ad and sponsor branding as their revenue source. One thing I did learn was that hold grail of monetization for nearly all is moving to a subscription based income, today the market does not seem to quite be there.
Pearl at The Palms
Nothing has changed, content is still king, and the Internet, despite legions of people with something to say has not changed that basic “old media” truth.
The Internet can be used communicate thoughts, build a brand and to promote the individual or company. These are activities that in themselves do not generate any real money for the user.
There are a number of Internet marketing, positioning and consulting companies there this week looking for business. At times it seemed like maybe half of the people I spoke to were “consultants”, largely self-labelled. They talked of high-level concepts and rarely had any detail to back it up. There is certainly an element of the Wild West in some of the groups trying to make money from the Internet.
NSFW Closing Keynote featuring Penn Juliette and Adam Carolla
What else did I learn…
On the hardware side nearly everyone (a rough guess would be maybe 90%) there use Macs. I’ve never seen so many MacBooks in one place before. Of the PC’s I did see all bar a couple were a netbooks, something that Apple don’t make yet (but the new, smaller screen size MacBook Air is rumoured to be coming soon).
However Apple does not have the smartphone market cornered. Numbers did seem to be split fairly evenly between Blackberry and iPhone, with a few Droids making up the numbers.
Google really have the shit together when it comes to new media, they are driving the direction of the market way more than anyone else, and I believe will play a very large part in people making money. I think this is a good thing, they are willing in invest, have great tools that only got better with the acquisition of Blogger a couple of years ago.
The big guys like Adam Carolla, Jeff Hayzlett and Rob Barnett, along with the successful like Scott Ginsberg and Leo Babauta all seemed to have three things in common.
- They are taking a long term view of the market. It’s new and no one knows what it will look like in 2 or 3 years.
- They all have a plan to grow and scale their business as the market emerges.
- They understand they are their personal brand and the value intrinsic to that.
Lots to think about, lots of great conversations over whiskey, an awful lot of fun and many more thoughts yet to come.
The Sphinx, palm trees and the sun. Where else but Vegas? Yeah, it could be Egypt too.