Indie professional development

Last week Tony Karrer became more convinced of the intangible value of blogging. We are all experiencing higher quality professional development. All we have to do is take the time to reflectively read, write, comment and link to blogs. Blogging among fellow professionals is free of out-of-pocket expenses, like all those free downloads on indie band sites.

This morning Harold Jarche explored ways to sidestep the business models of incumbents by developing innovative offerings they cannot and do not want to pursue. This brought to mind a post by Chris Anderson last February about the growing success of indie bands: Give away the music and sell the show.

Don't these bands want to make money from their art? Many do, but they're just smarter than most music industry execs. They understand the difference between abundance and scarcity economics. Music as a digital product enjoys near-zero costs of production and distribution--classic abundance economics. When costs are near zero, you might as well make the price zero, too, something thousands of bands have figured out.

Meanwhile, the one thing that you can't digitize and distribute with full fidelity is a live show. That's scarcity economics. No wonder the average price for a ticket was $61 last year, up 8%--in an era when digital products are commodities, there's a premium on experience. No surprise that bands are increasingly giving away their recorded music as marketing for their concerts, which offer something no MP3 can match.

This may be a new business model that applies to our use of blogging for indie professional development. Perhaps we're missing the "Live Blogging" piece of the puzzle. We've got the abundance economics working great and are benefiting from it. We're missing the premium charged at the door for live, in person, once-in-a-lifetime experiences. There's no tickets taken at the door, no way to come inside, and no venue for a live version of the digital freebie.

It's easy to "kill the goose that lays the golden egg". Turning freebies into paid subscriptions is usually lethal. As Chris Anderson says, near zero costs implies free offerings. David Weinberger mentioned how digital information "wants to be free or dirt cheap".

Indie bands have invented a best-of-both business model. Free offerings feed the revenue stream. Blogs are pre-recorded. We bloggers are "in the recording studio". I wonder how we'll take blogging live?

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  1. I agree with the model. Give away 90% in order to increase your market presence and then make money from the valuable 10%. Blogging is a bit different, in that the 90% who want to read your stuff may not be the 10% who will pay to hear you speak or have you consult. In the long run, blogging does raise your profile, as in my own case, but the paid work takes a long time to come about as a direct result of it.

    If you're looking at blogging as a revenue generator, I would suggest starting a long time before you expect to make money. I blog mostly for myself, and that's what keeps me going. It was only this January, after 3 years of blogging, that a client found me solely through my blog.

    That being said, I'm not sure how anyone would have found me out here in Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada (pop. 5,000) before I started blogging ;-)

    How will we take blogging live? I think it's already happening with Bar Camps and unconferences. For me, sharing my professional development with others like yourself, is also one of the great joys of blogging.

  2. Great insights Harold! Thanks for contributing your thoughts here.