Since Covid-19 occurred in the United States, leading Colorado to strongly suggest social distancing, followed by the closing of restaurants and non-essential businesses, I’ve been pondering how to get people back to work. Granted; it’s impossible for me to generate enough jobs to cover the other quarter-million impacted by the restaurant closures alone, let alone all the non-essential businesses. Even if a coalition of some insanely savvy and deep-pocketed people would have an insanely tough time doing something of that caliber. But any job creation possible would keep people working, preserve the economic impact and generate much needed tax revenue that’s going to be required to help put a dent in this deficit caused by the bailouts. So, here’s the projects that I’ve got on the table as of right now.
Just registered durangomusic.com solely for this reason. One of the verticals I’ve been eyeing to help out from the start has been the musicians. Let’s be honest; most the local indie groups are fairly bootstrapped to begin with, and many don’t have much in the form of savings. Add to it that in addition to losing their gigs, many have also lost their other forms of employment and income as well.
So, let’s kill two birds with one stone; make a site that can hopefully be leveraged to help our local artists out during this epidemic (as well as afterwards), while putting some people to work coding. Not sure if this will be a very profitable venture, but besides the point. Because the venture might not be that profitable (Who knows? Maybe it is) I’d prefer to have musicians working on it, so there’s also a vested interest. WordPress development, SEO, HTML and other shit looks good on a resume as well, and skill-set is applicable across every industry vertical.
- Monthly Budget: $2,000 (Or sweat equity for stake in site / business. Hybrid cash & sweat equity can work as well)
- Team Size: 2 people, fairly part time-ish. Might be more time spent early on in the building phase.
- Required Skills: Good writing, knowledge of local music scene, passion for music, bonus points for knowing the local bands. Coding / web development skills not needed, everything is fairly cookie-cutter and can be taught.
- Part/Full-Time Job: $2,000 is the monthly allocation I’m willing to put into it. I would prefer two people part time @ $1,000 / month, just to spread the money around a little, and build up more resumes instead of just one. If one person is getting the $2,000, it’d obviously be more full-time.
Main Pieces of Content:
- Home page
- Band directory (use WordPress categories to separate genres)
- Venue directory (Use WordPress categories to separate towns)
- Blog (A blog. Just like any blog, except awesome and filled with posts about music and shit)
- Contact Page (fairly self explanatory)
- About Us Page (Fairly self explanatory)
- Podcast? (Notice question mark. I think this is a great idea, and there’s possibly more monetization potential to this than some of the actual site stuff, assuming sponsors could be courted. Podcasting does bring with it some overhead, and that would come out of the $2,000)
- Banner Real Estate: Either Google AdSense or direct-buy from local / regional companies
- Affiliate Marketing: I’m not sure what’s available for affiliate programs. I know, for example, iTunes has an affiliate program
- In-House Solutions: This is kind of a stretch and would need investment in infrastructure, in would probably not be very turnkey. It’d probably have to wait until post-covid to implement many of the things suggested, but it could be a possible solution. Here’s some options:
- iTunes Publishing: I know iTunes (and assuming other platforms, not sure what’s available) has prerequisites to get started. One, for example, is having 20 albums in the catalog, something that would be difficult for an indie group to do on their own. iTunes also recommends artists work with a distributor in the first place. By getting enough locals bands on board to achieve this, iTunes publishing can definitely be a service offered.
- Recording Studio: Not something that could be accomplished during the state’s Shelter-At-Home mandate, but definitely something that can be accomplished later, and I’d be willing to float the venture capital, assuming it’s a viable venture.
- Marketing / B2B Services: Everything from artwork to web development and other web services. Could be fully-managed (retainer), could be a 1-time thing (implementation).
- Equipment Rentals?: Is that even something worth considering? I don’t even really know the vertical that well, so not sure if this would be feasible or worth it. Not sure if something like this is best targeted towards venues or groups, assuming venues? Give me a break, I’m shooting from the hip here! And also, this wouldn’t be possible until post-covid.
- Podcast Sponsors: It is definitely a possibility. The podcast is a good idea in general, as it does wonders for branding and SEO. If it gets big enough, we can totally court sponsors as well.
Durango Chronic was originally a local social network that was geared towards the marijuana industry. I started it the day Amendment 64, and was built on the SocialEngine CMS. Durango Chronic had all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a social network, and also had a directory that at the time was more accurate than Weed Maps. In addition, for any shops running MJ Freeway as their POS, we were able to embed real-time menus into their directory page.
In the VERY short time Durango Chronic was live, it managed to gain some pretty decent traction. To give you some idea, we had smoke shops and dispensaries hollering at me to get their coupons pulled because they were getting too many redemptions. Eventually though, it became clear that people were going to use the platform for selling weed. It didn’t matter how well worded the ToS / Content Policy was, it’d mean trouble for me down the road. Therefore, I eventually took the site completely offline.
Now I’m interested in returning it as more of a resource directory, without the user-generated content, which is where all the legal risk to begin with.
- Monthly Budget: $500 / month initially, 50/50 once there’s enough revenue. I’ll offer a significantly greater percentage if I can be fairly hands-off after the initial implementation. NOTE: We also got a lot of 1 cent stuff from some of the shops. They couldn’t legally gift us (not sure if that’s still the case or not) so selling us stuff for a penny was the closest thing they could do. You’ll also get hooked up with this job!
- Team Size: 1 Person. Preferably someone who would like to be in it for the long haul
- Required Skills: Good writing, passion for marijuana, medical card would be nice (easier to work with dispensaries), I guess carrying a badge would also be nice, having rapport with any of the smoke shops, dispos, rec shops also a plus. No coding necessary, after initial implementation, everything is fairly easy and can be taught.
- Part/Full-Time Job: Part to full-time. With the pay I don’t expect anything over part-time, for sure. If someone is in it for the long-haul, consider any additional sweat equity as ramping it up and getting it to a point where it can be effectively monetizated ASAP.
Main Pieces of Content:
- Home page
- Directories (Dispensaries, rec shops, smoke shops, ect)
- Directory Pages (General information, hopefully we can embed menus again, that was legit)
- Coupons Page (eventually premium service and a revenue stream)
- Blog (Dankest blog ever!)
- Contact Page (fairly self explanatory)
- About Us Page (Fairly self explanatory)
- Podcast? (Notice question mark. I think this is a great idea, and there’s possibly more monetization potential to this than some of the actual site stuff, assuming sponsors could be courted. I’d cover all expenses until a point where the venture is solvent)
- Banner Real Estate: Due to marijuana being a high-risk industry, ad networks are limited. It’d be best to sell direct-buy to local shops once the traffic is good enough to justify it.
- Affiliate Marketing: Once again, very limited in this category as well.
- Premium Coupon Listings: This could easily become a premium service once we get enough traffic to justify charging for it. We’d charge for each individual coupon.
- Cheap Bud / Kick-Downs: We will get some hookups from running the site. Especially if rapport is built up and people are liking what we’re doing. Not so much monetization as it is a perk.
- Podcast Sponsorship: Once again, this is an option if we do implement a podcast and scale it to the point where we can feasibly pitch sponsors. Sponsors could be local, they could be a big brand like RooR or some blunt wrap manufacturer, as an example.
Travel Four Corners
Obviously the worst time to do something like this, but still here me out:
Okay, this is something that I’ve wanted to get off the ground for a while now, but I haven’t had the personal bandwidth to do so. I’m primarily looking for people wanting to put in sweat equity for a stake in the site / business. The tourism industry is big-dollar. Just look at how much money gets pumped into DATO as reference. I’ve worked as a solution-provider with plenty of people in the vertical (Travel Host Magazine and Destination Coupons, as two examples) and people catering to tourism also get hooked up! (Tourist traffic / leads are coveted, if you have it, you are a king/queen to a lot of people in the service industry). So high-dollar vertical (biggest in Durango) with perks.
There’s some solid competition; everyone from DATO to Yelp. It’s also a very big project. I was planning on starting it out more bloggish in nature. That way we’ve already got content rocking when we go to make everything completely comprehensive (pages for each town, category pages such as raft companies, ski rentals, list goes on).
Once the site is fairly established, keeping everything comprehensive and accurate will be very important. For example; if/when we have pages for each company or attraction, for example, eventually those pages will get dated and need updating. Eventually, a lot of our blog content will become very PR-driven and a lot of it that isn’t primarily PR in nature will hopefully be guest submissions from companies, ect.
That’s how Travel Host worked it, they never had a shortage of content and everyone was eager to write stuff for the feature and publicity. It would be awesome to do the same.
- Monthly Budget: I would highly prefer a 2 person team (three total, including me) who is interested in sweat equity for a stake in the site and business. If I need to subsidize the team during this epidemic, that’s completely fine and we can talk on how that will work. I really am not interested in short-term for this one. I want this to be my next big thing, and it’d be awesome if the people that were there from the start are the same ones on the team when it becomes my next 6-figure venture.
- Team Size: Preferably two people. Having one in Durango and one in either Pagosa or Montezuma would be nice, as it would allow us to cover more ground and build more dynamic rapport.
- Required Skills: Good writing skills, knowledge of the local area, especially as it relates to the outdoors, local venues, restaurants and attractions. Adventure sports such as skiing, rafting, mountain biking, ect. is definitely a perk. Strong B2B / networking skills is a bonus, as courting the various businesses is mission-critical to a lot of things, as those are going to be the advertisers as well as the people who are hopefully feeding us content. Strong marketing knowledge and experience (SEO, email marketing, SMS, ect) is definitely a bonus
- Part Time / Full Time: As mentioned many times, primarily looking for people willing to put in the sweat equity for a stake in the venture. That means that there is going to be a lot to do initially, as it’s a blank slate, and we have a lot of work to do to build out a site from scratch. Being your venture, I’m sure everyone in the team has the goal of ramping up content, traffic and getting it to a point where it can be monetized ASAP. Once the site is comprehensive and we’re CC’d into everyone’s PR blasts, things will definitely get a whole lot easier.
- Ad Real Estate: Either Google AdSense or direct-buy. Direct-buy could definitely be more lucrative, for sure.
- Featured Directory Listings: Once we’ve got enough traffic and directories built up (restaurants, venues, attractions, ect) featured directory listings can definitely be a premium service offered
- Premium Coupons: Whether all coupons are premium, or just the featured / highlighted ones, paid coupon submission can definitely be another way to monetize
- Affiliate Marketing: Not sure what is all available in this vertical, but there has to be something. Might be hit or miss, but it’s on the table.
- Email Blasts: If we’re able to build up a solid enough email list, selling email blasts (Sending on behalf of an advertiser, different than selling lists and completely CAN-SPAM compliant) can definitely be a premium service.
- Perks of Being In The Vertical: As I said earlier, from my experience, people in this vertical tend to get treated very well by their clients. Add to that, the other things such as the Chamber After Hours, ect. where you mix business and networking with fun.
- Future B2B Solutions: This would probably come in the form of starting something new (either a DBA under parent company, or completely separated) but Travel Four Corners would be a perfect stepping stone for this. If we’re already working hands-on with the tourism / service industry, and already have rapport, that would make amazing lead gen. Especially if they’re seeing how well we rock everything. I wouldn’t mind jumping back into the agency game, and this could be the perfect segway.
Adult Affiliate Sites
As many of you know, my biggest vertical is the adult industry, on the B2B-side. I have intentions of deploying a digital studio in the near future, and when that happens, customer traffic will become a very big selling point, if I’ve got it. Therefore, it’s in my interest to build out a number of affiliate sites geared towards the customer. Something that can later be tapped into via something as simple as ad-zones, to something such as directory-style pages within sites and other ways I haven’t brainstormed yet.
Not gonna do the bullet point thing on this one. Could either be paid per page built, or a monthly thing. Not quite sure what compensation would look like, it sort of depends on how streamlined the content posting can get, how much time it takes, ect. It would basically be taking affiliate content and posting it to a site. This might be embedding either videos or photo galleries. Depending on the affiliate programs and their content available, a description might be provided, or one might have to be drafted.
Strong onsite SEO is important, but can also be taught. Content would also be syndicated to a wide range of adult-friendly social / web 2.0 sites. Working in an expedited fashion is definitely going to be important, as it’s all about churning out as much content as possible, in order to get as many longtail search results as possible (more competitive keyword targeting is something that happens along the way and requires PageRank / authority to make it feasible / possible), ramp up social media followings, ect.
As scenes will always be produced, new affiliate content will always become available, therefore there will always be job security. That being said; this isn’t going to be the highest paying gig in the world, and if you learn how to succeed as an affiliate in the vertical, eventually you’ll probably want to tell me to fuck off and just go at it yourself. Either that or you find a legit job that is way better and take with you some skills learned doing this affiliate stuff. Either way is what I’m ultimately looking for.
This is also something that can scale indefinitely as far as number of sites go, with the different sites targeting different fetishes and niches. That being the reality, it’s something that can easily scale as far as the number of people doing this flavor of work on my behalf. The scale has to be reasonable as to not break the bank (trying to throw money in different places and at different people, and preferably at things that will be more full-time and have a greater local impact).
Once I’m able to gauge profitability, I’ll have a stronger idea of how fast it will be possible to scale.
Durango Hemp was something I put together when I was involved in a hemp operation. Unfortunately, due to family circumstances (family health issues, mixed with an attempted suicide) I had to bow out of the hemp industry. I was stretched fairly thin between my venture(s) and the operation to begin with, but add to it the family issues and it was too much. Especially given that it couldn’t be done remotely.
If anyone is already in the hemp vertical, the site is something you can purchase or at this point, possibly even just have. I don’t know, I might still want to hold out on it. We’ll see.
There definitely could be some opportunities for it simply as a webmaster, and not being involved in hemp in any other way. It’d require some work, and it’d be very niche, but it could work. Even if you’re not cultivating or processing hemp or hemp products, it could definitely be an asset to anyone who’s involved in the sale of seeds or any other niche in the overall industry, especially if it’s local-centric to our area.
The site comes with some social media accounts with some very light followings. Never really had the time to get real focused on SEO or anything else in that matter.