I’ve been in the Internet business for many years now. Some of what I’ve done has been very successful. Some of it has been – not so much so. I’d like to think I’ve managed to do fairly well for myself, though. Chris B. emailed me recently, commending me on the things I’ve been able to accomplish. He is working on a paper for his Economics class, and wanted to approach his from a different angle than other students – that of the Internet business. He asked me to answer some questions to help him with his research, and I was more than happy to oblige!
- Owning and operating a website is something that many people take for granted. They all claim it’s easy to do. Being successful, though, is something else entirely. I know you started Lockergnome many years ago. What brought you into this sort of business? Lockergnome started back in 1996. There was no such thing as blogging, so I used email as a means of communicating. The email newsletter still goes out several days a week, to more than 100,000 people. No one else was distributing information this way back then. I was finding awesome tips and tricks for Windows and other software, and wanted to be able to share the info with others. This is what is behind the beginning of Lockergnome. I have plans to be adjusting things about the site soon, though!
- Many people who are not tech savvy wonder how Internet businesses make money – especially if there’s only content and not products to buy. How have you managed to make money with your content, including things like AdSense? You have to find a way to do what you’re doing better than anyone else. Leverage your assets! The relationships I generate on Twitter are just as important as those on Lockergnome or my blog. You have to think that your brand is distributed. Lockergnome is still around, and will be for the long haul. I am making money through sponsorships and such, or even through consulting. It’s about spinning plates – having more than one financial leg to stand on.
- The Internet is always changing – there are new services and technologies popping up daily. This means that existing ones must grow and change in order to keep up. Do you find that you have to constantly grow and change yourself in order to stay fresh, and at the front? Once Wicket stopped arguing with me over which social sites are more important, I was able to clear my thoughts enough to answer this. Wicket is right about one thing, though. You have to think outside of your box. The Internet is your box – but you have to think beyond it. Go where the conversations are at. Engage conversations of your own. Don’t confine yourself inside your little box (your own website). Ultimately, you have to adapt.
- Do you really feel that any competition exists between you and other bloggers? Or do you feel that all the different bloggers and sites kind of flow together? This is a very astute observation. When information goes out, it doesn’t matter where it came from. The information is what is important. It’s all about staying relevant, and realizing you don’t really have “competition”. It’s about your value add. What are you doing that’s different? What are you bringing to the global conversation? I know I’m giving rise to voice for people via Lockergnome and Geeks. If people use my tools, there’s a greater chance they’ll be seen and heard. It’s all about having a balance. I’d rather get along and share things with my colleagues, rather than view them as “competition”.
- Running a business on the Internet is drastically different than running any other types of business. What kinds of costs are associated with running your business? Do you have employees? It’s a business, bottom line. We have things set up so that we have contract employees, and regular ones. We try to keep our costs extremely low. We work right out of our home, as do our employees. Therefore, we don’t have office overhead costs. We file taxes, just like with any other business. The major costs of course, are the people we pay for the work we do. And a note to add – they are some of the best!
- It could be argued that you’re now famous for live streaming your life. What did live streaming change for you, if anything? I honestly don’t think I’m famous at all, and especially not for live streaming. If anything, I’m “famous” (or INfamous) for those stupid TechTV bloopers that will apparently never die!! Live streaming has made me more aware that there are so many people out there who are interested in what we’re doing, and where we’re heading. I’ve also learned to be aware of the things I say and do.
Live streaming isn’t recommended for everyone, that’s for sure. I wish people would remember I’m not a monkey. I don’t just sit and entertain everyone all day long. I work! And I just happen to keep the live stream running so you can work along with me. Good luck on your paper, Chris B. Let me know how it turns out.
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