Building an empire

This is a guest post by Niall Harbison.

The media landscape is changing right in front of our eyes – we have moved from a world where large organizations controlled the media we consumed to a more democratic time where everybody has a voice. Because of the huge shifts in technology, anybody can start their own media empire with a small amount of money, lots of drive and a creative mind.

Two of the biggest examples are Techcrunch and Mashable which were both started by individuals in their own homes and in less than five years have each become worth close to $50 million. So how would you go about creating your own little media empire and what are the barriers to entry?

Find A Platform

Even the biggest blogs and news sites in the world these days are built on free platforms like WordPress, Blogger or Tumblr. Whereas in the past you needed an expensive printing press and had huge overheads you can start your own site within a couple of minutes absolutely free.

If you are getting a little more serious about things you might need your own domain name, a professional template and some hosting but you can be up and running for less than $500. Three or four years ago you needed more technical knowledge like HTML and CSS but the platforms are so good now that all you really have to focus on is creating great content and growing an audience.

Identify Your Niche

There is lots of competition online with plenty of people churning out content trying to grab an audience so you are going to have to find a niche and really focus on it. You are going to have to find something that you are extremely passionate about and stick to that. The biggest, most acclaimed blogs on the Internet are written by people who have huge passion for their subject.

While it might be tempting to drift off topic and cover a wide range of subjects you will get more traffic and a bigger audience in a shorter period of time if you remain focused and produce excellent content within your niche.

Growing an Audience

If you wanted to build you authority in old media it meant finding a job at a publication that already had an audience and piggybacking off them. If you are starting out on your own you are going to have to grow your own audience from scratch, which seems like a daunting task, but the good news is the tools are there to help you.

The first thing you will have to do is grow huge personal brand. Look at Pete Cashmore at Mashable, Mike Arrington at Techcrunch or Arianna Huffington at the Huffington Post and you can see how important the personal brand of the founders is.

You can do this through tools like Twitter, Google + and by engaging with other bloggers within your niche – this is absolutely vital if you are to succeed. This part is going to take time and you will be writing posts that only have a handful of readers at the start but over time your readers will grow. Don’t expect to get much traction within the first few months and expect to put a years hard slog in to growing your audience at the very least.

There are no short cuts to this part. No magic tricks to get millions of readers. It is all down to pure hard work.

Using Rich Media

Not only do you have a free blogging platform to use but you can also embed all sorts of rich media. With over 200 million blogs in the world you are going to have to make your one stand out from the crowd and using tools like video, audio, photos or visual designs is a great way of doing that.

There are 100s of different ways in which you can use video, for example, and platforms like Youtube are not only free but will also help you get some great exposure. Maybe you could start your own podcast using software like Audioboo or a simple photo blog using the 100s of different options out there.

Build Your Network And Absorb Information

Just like a journalist would build up their contacts and their sources you are going to have to network your ass off. The old way would have seen you shaking hands and swapping business cards in the real world but now you can do it all online and all you need is a laptop and a WIFI connection.

Start talking to the people who are influencers within your niche online. You can watch most press conferences online these days and let people know that they can share information with you that you might publish. Use tools like RSS and Twitter to get the latest news and spend time setting them up properly with as many sources as possible.

You are going to have to become a sponge to absorb as much information as possible but luckily the web is full of it so it’s just about how efficient you can be filtering it all to your own personal needs.

Work Hard, Publish Regularly And Think Big

Once you have all the elements in place above all you have to do is work harder than everybody else to make it to the top. There are no secret shortcuts or fancy tools that will help you achieve your goals overnight. It is going to take you a couple of years to get to the top but if you keep on producing content on a regular basis, create a huge network and stand out from the crowd there is no end to what you can achieve online.

You don’t need much money at all to get started and if you think big and aim for the top there is no reason why you can’t get there. Most of the media companies and blogs selling for $50 million started off in a bedroom just like you could with a laptop, an Internet connection and some big dreams.

Go for it!

Niall HarbisonAbout the Author: Niall Harbison is the Co-Founder of Simply Zesty, a social media agency which has grown to 27 employees within 2 years and has a wide range of large international clients. The company blog shares social media tips, news and case studies from around the world. You can find him on Twitter @niallharbison.

image: joeldinda

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Danny Brown
Co-author Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing. #1 marketing blog in world as per HubSpot. Husband. Father. Optimist. Pragmatist. Never says no to a good single malt. You can find me on Twitter - Google+ - LinkedIn.

49 comments
TheRealSupermum
TheRealSupermum

Such a true post, I have come off topic a few times on my blog and you really can tell when you read the posts back as they loose something, the passion.

TheRealSupermum
TheRealSupermum

Such a true post, I have come off topic a few times on my blog and you really can tell when you read the posts back as they loose something, the passion.

RicardoBueno
RicardoBueno

Re: "No magic tricks to get millions of readers. It is all down to pure hard work." When people ask successful bloggers "how did you do it?" And they answer "lots of hard work," it's like they tune out. They don't want to hear that there are no magic tricks and that really, it all boils down to good ol' fashioned hard work.

Ricardo Bueno
Ricardo Bueno

Re: "No magic tricks to get millions of readers. It is all down to pure hard work."

When people ask successful bloggers "how did you do it?" And they answer "lots of hard work," it's like they tune out. They don't want to hear that there are no magic tricks and that really, it all boils down to good ol' fashioned hard work.

Latest blog post: The Sandbox

ExpatDoctorMom
ExpatDoctorMom

Thanks @NiallHarbison for a great read! I like what you said: " The biggest most acclaimed blogs on the Internet are written by people who have huge passion for their subject." Have the passion, now to niche it down a bit more and persevere! Cheers,Rajka

ExpatDoctorMom
ExpatDoctorMom

Thanks @NiallHarbison for a great read! I like what you said: " The biggest most acclaimed blogs on the Internet are written by people who have huge passion for their subject." Have the passion, now to niche it down a bit more and persevere!

Cheers,Rajka

justinthesouth
justinthesouth

I keep coming back to this post because this is how I started my first company! Then today I remembered this video from my buddy jonacuff it talks to the same issue in life. http://youtu.be/qlVyydTKZFA

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@FollowtheLawyer And either Jessica Alba or Ashley Greene are in there too... ;-)

FollowtheLawyer
FollowtheLawyer

What's the point of having an empire if you're stuck in your bedroom -- unless the bedroom is one of many in your seaside villa on the Amalfi coast.

FollowtheLawyer
FollowtheLawyer

What's the point of having an empire if you're stuck in your bedroom -- unless the bedroom is one of many in your seaside villa on the Amalfi coast.

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@WomenBizNetwork Thanks - definitely helps with subscribers, which is always nice. :)

WomenBizNetwork
WomenBizNetwork

@DannyBrown Yes I was referring to that grey box. Really stands out nicely.

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@WomenBizNetwork Thanks, Leigh - are you on about the dark social share box? If so, that's hard-coded as part of the theme design. :)

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@OlovForsgren There's a reason for the saying, "Patience is a virtue." ;-) Cheers, Olov!

OnlineBusinesVA
OnlineBusinesVA

I enjoy reading your blog, and it is relevant to the daily life of the people now. I am looking forward to read more thoughts and ideas here in your site. Shilpi Singha Roy

OnlineBusinesVA
OnlineBusinesVA

I enjoy reading your blog, and it is relevant to the daily life of the people now. I am looking forward to read more thoughts and ideas here in your site.

Shilpi Singha Roy

OlovForsgren
OlovForsgren

I agree 100%, many think they can buy their online success, which is a very expensive and risky way of doing it. To follow your model always works for those who have the patience needed can do the work properly.

Thanks for a great post,

Olov Forsgren

OlovForsgren
OlovForsgren

I agree 100%, many think they can buy their online success, which is a very expensive and risky way of doing it. To follow your model always works for those who have the patience needed can do the work properly. Thanks for a great post, Olov Forsgren

barryrsilver
barryrsilver

Great post. A wonderful how-to. The only problem is when you post so cleanly, it's hard to comment from in a contrary manner. Thanks for sharing.

barryrsilver
barryrsilver

Great post. A wonderful how-to. The only problem is when you post so cleanly, it's hard to comment from in a contrary manner. Thanks for sharing.

NiallHarbison
NiallHarbison

Yeah building up contacts is the key. Although you can do a lot of it from your bedroom these days it doesn't hurt to go out to a few conferences and networking events either @EmmaofCEM

NiallHarbison
NiallHarbison

Thanks a million. Yeah everybody wants the quick solution but just doesn't work like that :(

EmilyLeary
EmilyLeary

Good post niallharbison. Clear advice and a sensible outlook. I like that the message is "There are no secret shortcuts or fancy tools that will help you achieve your goals overnight" as opposed to something like, "follow these easy tips and in just 10 minutes a day, you'll be a millionaire in 3 weeks." Not that @DannyBrown would host such nonsense, but I do wish more posts advocating pure hard work.

EmilyLeary
EmilyLeary

Good post @niallharbison. Clear advice and a sensible outlook. I like that the message is "There are no secret shortcuts or fancy tools that will help you achieve your goals overnight" as opposed to something like, "follow these easy tips and in just 10 minutes a day, you'll be a millionaire in 3 weeks." Not that @Danny Brown would host such nonsense, but I do wish more posts advocating pure hard work.

EmmaofCEM
EmmaofCEM

I don't think I've ever seen the building blocks of media empire-dom spelled out quite so succinctly. This was my favorite line: "Just like a journalist would build up their contacts and their sources you are going to have to network your ass off." I split my time between freelance journalism and professional social media, and it never ceases to amaze me how naive people can be when it comes to growing a list of contacts. Whenever I achieve a major victory as a writer with a byline in a huge publication, the compliments come showering in. My fellow writer friends tell me they're envious of my success, and respond by recounting the hundreds, if not thousands of follow up phone calls I had to make to the editor of said publication just to get the chance at an assignment. The same goes for social networking. Want followers? Do the work.

EmmaofCEM
EmmaofCEM

I don't think I've ever seen the building blocks of media empire-dom spelled out quite so succinctly. This was my favorite line: "Just like a journalist would build up their contacts and their sources you are going to have to network your ass off."

I split my time between freelance journalism and professional social media, and it never ceases to amaze me how naive people can be when it comes to growing a list of contacts. Whenever I achieve a major victory as a writer with a byline in a huge publication, the compliments come showering in. My fellow writer friends tell me they're envious of my success, and respond by recounting the hundreds, if not thousands of follow up phone calls I had to make to the editor of said publication just to get the chance at an assignment. The same goes for social networking. Want followers? Do the work.

HowieSPM
HowieSPM

@Marcus_Sheridan but I bought your book Marcus 'Secret Shortcuts and Fancy Tools that will guarantee your goals overnight' should I return it? I am very confused. And I was signing up for your webinar '6 easy tips to make you a millionaire in just one day using Google Plus'

Brian Driggs
Brian Driggs

Word. The best way to stand out in a world rank with SEO-driven content churn is to be authentic, consistent, and passionate. This post reminds of the old "Contactor's Triangle." Fast, right, cheap - pick two. If it's fast and right, it won't be cheap. As a bootstrapper (who never bought boots in the first place), right and cheap is the way to go. Keep the costs down and the quality high. Remember, the people willing to help you do it for free are likely the ones you can truly trust to help run the joint when the money starts rolling in.

Brian Driggs
Brian Driggs

Word.

The best way to stand out in a world rank with SEO-driven content churn is to be authentic, consistent, and passionate. This post reminds of the old "Contactor's Triangle." Fast, right, cheap - pick two. If it's fast and right, it won't be cheap.

As a bootstrapper (who never bought boots in the first place), right and cheap is the way to go. Keep the costs down and the quality high. Remember, the people willing to help you do it for free are likely the ones you can truly trust to help run the joint when the money starts rolling in.

Marcus_Sheridan
Marcus_Sheridan

"There are no secret shortcuts or fancy tools that will help you achieve your goals overnight. It is going to take you a couple of years to get to the top but if you keep on producing content on a regular basis, create a huge network and stand out from the crowd there is no end to what you can achieve online." Niall, I loved this paragraph man. Why? Because it's real. Not a bunch of false promises with hollow expectations. Can we all do this? Yes, absolutely. As you clearly showed, the tools are there. Now the question is whether or not we're willing to do what it takes. Cheers on an excellent post, Marcus

Marcus_Sheridan
Marcus_Sheridan

"There are no secret shortcuts or fancy tools that will help you achieve your goals overnight. It is going to take you a couple of years to get to the top but if you keep on producing content on a regular basis, create a huge network and stand out from the crowd there is no end to what you can achieve online."

Niall, I loved this paragraph man. Why? Because it's real. Not a bunch of false promises with hollow expectations. Can we all do this? Yes, absolutely. As you clearly showed, the tools are there.

Now the question is whether or not we're willing to do what it takes.

Cheers on an excellent post,

Marcus

justinthesouth
justinthesouth

So true! niallharbison , I find is shocking how many people can't seem to grasp this idea. Now more than ever "The Deer Have Guns!"

Tamara McPherson
Tamara McPherson

Always love reading your blog Danny, very insightful:) Thanks

Tamara McPherson
Tamara McPherson

Always love reading your blog Danny, very insightful:) Thanks

NiallHarbison
NiallHarbison

Thanks a million. Yeah everybody wants the quick solution but just doesn't work like that :(

NiallHarbison
NiallHarbison

Yeah building up contacts is the key. Although you can do a lot of it from your bedroom these days it doesn't hurt to go out to a few conferences and networking events either @EmmaofCEM

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

@Marcus_Sheridan but I bought your book Marcus 'Secret Shortcuts and Fancy Tools that will guarantee your goals overnight' should I return it? I am very confused. And I was signing up for your webinar '6 easy tips to make you a millionaire in just one day using Google Plus'