Clay Travis of Outkick The Coverage started off a column by giving his take on the demise of Grantland. It didn’t make money.
But then he veered in another direction, giving his treatise on what writers need to do to position themselves in the media landscape in 2015 and beyond. He makes some interesting points. Well worth reading if you find yourself in no-man’s land these days.
Be creative and take risks.
I feel for the Grantland writers because they are in pretty much the exact same place I was just short of five years ago when FanHouse, the best place I ever worked online, shuttered and tossed a hundred great writers into the jobless wilderness.
That’s how Outkick came to exist, because i didn’t want to rely on anyone else to run the business that allowed me to write.
I had two young kids at home, a wife who was about to quit her job, and a thriving, but still new radio show in town. At that moment in time, when FanHouse shut down my sole income was a $45,000 a year job on a radio show with an expiring contract.
Ultimately this was what I decided: Writing online doesn’t cost anything so if you start a site and it fails, so what? You can’t be afraid to fail. What’s the worst thing that happens? I have to find a new job.
So I bootstrapped this site from nothing, went out and sold the advertising myself to dozens of advertisers, wrote every article, I did everything all by myself for several years. Like anyone starting a small business, I was terrified. I’d wake up late at night and stare at the ceiling thinking, “What have I done?”
After Outkick’s first day I went to bed and thought, “Holy hell, I have to do this again tomorrow and then the next day as far into the future as I can see?”
And I’ve done it.
It’s my way to create a business.
He concluded with a rather optimistic view of the industry:
If you want to write, write.
Because here’s the deal, small businesses actually have an advantage over large businesses right now on the Internet. If you can build a site and get $100k in advertising dollars in a year, you’ll be thrilled. The large companies don’t have time to worry about that. We built a good business at Outkick off a rounding error for ESPN or Fox. Grantland didn’t work because it cost too much and made too little. But what if Grantland had started small and grown. It has worked for a ton of content businesses online. There are plenty of sports sites that could work. Make your mark, own your future instead of relying on someone else.
Above all else, don’t mythologize what you do: writers sell their words for money. In order to sell your words for the most money possible, you have to find a large market for them.
It’s always been that way.
It will always be that way.
Shakespeare wrote for the masses. So did Charles Dickens. They were the hot take masters of their eras.
And the positive is, there’s never been a larger market for words in American history than right now.
Go forth and prosper.