Another good buddy just became the editor-in-chief of a regional business magazine. He called me up for an hour of consulting on his online operation. The magazine already has a web presence — sort of the standard web 1.0 website. He wants it to do more things for more people.
Here’s what I told him.
- Identify a good local ISP. Not a global ISP, not a National ISP, but a local ISP where you can look someone in the eye. The kind of place where you get the home number of the head of operations in case the site goes 404.
- Build out on LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP)
- Hire a strong LAMP sysadmin with some AJAX chops.
- Hire a graphics person with strong Adobe chops and some strong Cascading Style Sheet knowledge
- Install WordPressMU — as the base content management system
- Install vBulletin — for reader forums and moderated discussion threads
- Install PhpAdsNew — to serve ads from local advertisers
- Open a Flickr Pro account — this is the publication’s photo library
- Open a Technorati account — this is for ranking
- Open a Feedburner account — to launder the RSS feeds and manage subscriptions
- Open a del.icio.us account — for tagging and submitted tags by readers
- Open a YouTube account — for hosting videos produced by the staff
- Open a Google Analytics account — metrics metrics metrics
- Open a Google AdSense account — $$$$$
- Give the staff digital cameras, and portable MP3 recorders. I prefer iRivers. Buy a decent digital video camera and a tripod.
- Convert the old magazine archives and populate pages hanging off the page interface in wordpress.
- Never force a registration on the users.
Total price? Aside from the salaries and capture equipment: ZERO
Develop a CSS template that maps to the brand. Figure out a “homepage” play. Give every staffer a blog. Don’t set any submission minimums or parameters. Over time, offer blogs to strong voices in the readership and expert community. Run it for 90 days and compile a baseline for traffic. Then develop a rate card. Price it low to get local advertisers aboard.
Resist all advice to buy a professional CMS, a professional metrics system, and for heavens sake avoid a page view model. Measure success by engagement, not click-throughs.
That’s what I would do.