27 December 2010

"Just Out of College at My First Job" --Again!

No, I didn't go back to college and start my life over. But building a website is an education in itself, and launching it is a lot like starting a new career. (Are you ready? I'm about to go public identifying my site.)

Here's what I've learned in the first three months of having NewsGaggle.com go live:

What I thought the website was may not be what it is. It's not "it is what it is." My website is... what other people make of it. At least in part. Otherwise, it won't succeed.

By that, I mean that the users will determine what is important in the website, what value brings them to the site, and if I am wise, the direction it takes off and how it will evolve.

I thought I was starting a great, interesting website for the public to see "behind the scenes" photos and read comments from working news media. I think it will become that, but first, it's going to have to build its foundation constituency. It's got to attract membership from the news media.

NewsGaggle.com is an unusual concept in that it was built with two constituencies and two missions. The first and most important mission is as a registry of working news people. The site allows those of us who work covering the news a place to register and organize our social media for current and prospective employers, as well as the public.

It also helps showcase our work, both written and behind the camera, and in doing so, demonstrate news judgment and personalities. It's a bit fun, too.

The secondary mission of the site is to share "behind the scenes" stories and photographs that are fascinating. Those same photos that you, here on "People Are Candy" enjoyed when I covered Michael Jackson's death and told you how obvious it was that the guy in the blue shirt in the photo below is a faker.

Whew! What. A. Poser.

If you had seen what I saw on the Facebook.com pages of friends during various national and local stories, you'd know how fascinating my industry is. Except you don't know all my friends. So NewsGaggle.com offers them a platform to share those pictures and stories and benefit from it.

So it's got that going on.

Launch with an "in it for the long-haul" view was another big lesson for me as a new website owner operator. It can take years to become an "overnight success." If you think you'll get rich quick, you're almost certain to be disappointed. (Ok, maybe Facebook. Jeff Zuckerberg, if you are reading this, the evolution, constant changing and use-analysis driven changes and growth at FB are impressive and wildly educational!)

Take stock at three months and expect to change. Changes before that are going to jump the gun, so meantime, interact and engage with your membership. They can have great suggestions, if you can accept the fact that your site isn't perfect and learn from what they say. Open the shutters on your ideas. Let those "winds of change" blow through.

Learn to laugh at Google Adsense. It's the easiest and best thing to go with from the start. But don't take it seriously. The analytics are decent and reviewing the system, you will learn much about where to put your ads and what will drive the money, but you probably won't earn a lot.

In fact, I may frame my first check. Uhhh, whenever it arrives.

Lots to learn with a website. So please check out NewsGaggle.com and then come back here and tell me what else I need to know. The Suggestion Box is just below.