Dreams never die, sometimes they just evolve

Richard Charpentier Adventure, Airstream Blogs, National Monuments of the Southwest, Notes from Rich, Travel 3 Comments

Have you ever really had a dream die?  I’m going to go ahead and say that I doubt you have.  Sure we don’t always do what we want, and sometimes we have to readjust.  But to just let a dream die?  Nah, I don’t buy it.

Over the past month here on this site you’ve probably read way too much about our “RV’ers Guide to the National Monuments of the Southwest,” project.  Much too much about it!  And sorry folks, but you know we really wanted to bring the project to life.  And you can be sure, this dream is most certainly not dead.  It might take a different form, and it might take a little longer, but yeah…..not dead at all.

For about two weeks now I’ve been toying around with an idea.  The idea won’t get us funded to get out and document 44 National Monuments in 6 months.  But it might help us document them over time.  So toying with the idea is good.  It helps to keep a dream alive.

As we’ve all seen since the Internet has become part of our daily lives, content and intellectual property is kind of dead on the net.  Free news (with advertisers paying), free tutorials, free photography for your magazine.  At some point content providers are going to close up their doors.  Why?  Because free content and lots of “Likes” can’t pay their staff, can’t cover their insurance, and can’t buy them a new BMW or Jeep (different vehicles for different people).  So I’ve wondered for a while now, are we going to see that point?  The point where folks realize there’s value in the information they’re consuming?

As an aside, a little over a week ago a friend on Facebook wrote a quick post about the poor quality writing on blogs today.  I almost answered her, but then decided not to.  Here’s the deal on this site.  This is 100% stream of consciousness.  It is.  I write off the cuff, I type at 80 words a minute, and this isn’t my Master’s Thesis.  It’s a blog (aka weblog).  Here’s my question…..  Do you think that folks out there blogging are paying strict attention to the rules of the English language while they’re doing something they’re not getting paid for?  Nah.  It’s a BLOG!  Oh, and secondly, with all the shorthand we’ve learned in order to use Twitter and Short Messaging Service (SMS) we’re lucky that folks are still writing coherent thoughts in more than 140 characters!

With all of the thoughts running around in my head I kept coming back to something I’ve been considering for years.  A “Premium Content Webiste.”  What does that mean?  A site where you pay a subscription to receive good content, informative content, content that has value, and content that was cared for by its creators when they were creating it.

As I kept thinking about The National Monuments Project I kept coming back to the E-Book as the way to go.  And if not an e-book, how about a website with subscribers.  I believe there are still newspapers who charge for their content, and even a few magazines even if they’re unwilling to pay photographers.  So as we continued spamming Twitter, promoted the project, and felt like social media refugees for the last few weeks I researched and researched.  And in the end I came up with something…….

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Living In Tin.  It’s a website address I purchased quite some time ago.  Over the last 2 weeks I’ve spent a good deal of time looking into subscription platforms for websites.  I’ve looked into a more unique layout.  A more “story like” format.  A platform that is all about the article and the images.  Most important to me?  That it was “readable.”  And I finally settled on it yesterday and went forward with all of my thinking.

Now this new site won’t take over for the Airstream Chronicles.  I’m still going to type way too fast, ignore spelling errors, and go completely hog wild with inappropriate punctuation and grammar.  I promise we will never replace this site.  It is what it is.  But the new site offers both my readers and myself something new.  Articles that we proof, images that we mull over, and content that really delivers something you won’t get anywhere else.  And heck, I might even bring the photography and Photoshop tutorials back (I stopped doing them years ago because spending 8 hours on something I wasn’t getting paid for seemed….well, stupid….even if readers complained I had stopped giving them free tutorials).

So what’s the bottom line?  Living In Tin is a premium website.  It will have free content to be sure.  But it will also have articles that are guides, tutorials, travel stories and more.  And these will be full stories, not quick little blurbs.  And you’ll know if it’s premium or free just by looking at how long the article is.  Pretty simple.

It’s not complete yet.  So here’s what I ask.  Pay a visit to it.  Take a look around.  Find articles that you’re not allowed to read because your not a subscriber yet.  Get frustrated, embrace your anger Luke.  And when you’re done poking around…..do not subscribe yet.  I’m still working on several more premium articles.  Oh, and if you happen to find typos on the premium site?  Yeah, I’m not finished yet.  I just wanted to start developing the content and subscription services, and I needed some articles to work with.

And yeah, if you’re asking yourself, “Will a subscription site really fly?” I’m with you.  I don’t know if it will.  What I do know is that I’m going to give it a whirl.  Why?  Because I’m adapting and changing to work within the framework of where I am today.  This website generates no revenues, rare sales (once or twice a year if I’m lucky), and isn’t going to fund the next trip report.  If we want to continue living a life that’s different from the norm we’ve got to try new ideas out!  It’s that simple.  And if you still enjoy following along then it’s in your interest to see us succeed as well.

Comments 3

  1. Been thinking about this for a while myself, and now I have a test balloon to watch…see if people will pay for great photos and stories from the road. Curious about what you will charge for subscriptions…if there will be a “lifetime” option or just by the year or month…frequency of updates and all that jazz. I think keeping both sites is a good idea. You can promote the pay site from the free site…tell people what they are missing :))
    It seems a similar problem that you had with your failed kickstarter project tho; will people come in droves if the price is cheap enough? Since they could donate as little as they wanted to the kickstart project…as little as five dollars or less…and the numbers didn’t materialize, well, that is a concern. But that is the risk…to try, to put out a good first few issues and let people roam around for free on a particular publication every once in a while in hopes they will realize the value. If the number of subscribers is high enough, the rate could be quite affordable, you know, “for less than you spend on Starbucks coffee, you could be going places through Rich’s photos and words…” I see opportunities for a guest post section with photos and story contributions from other well known bloggers/photographers that will broaden your base with each article, i.e., they’re audience finds you. I think you are on to something. Let’s hope it flies.
    Box Canyon Mark

  2. Post

    Gary, thanks for the support and enjoying what we do. I’ll be pondering the subscriptions soon, first I want to transcribe a few more chapters that will be going up here. We’re still thinking about how this should work.

    Mark, I’m glad I’m not the only one who has been thinking on this. While I was in Prescott I spent a lot of time on Photoshop Tutorials and information, thinking it would help drive business to me. What it did was drive folks who wanted more free information right into my studio for hours on end picking my brain and not making purchases. It was several years ago that I thought about subscriptions.
    And yes, given the lackluster response to the Kickstarter from this site leaves me with concerns, but we’ll see. One thing I learned from running my studio and gallery for years. Free only drives more demand for free. Finally, I read a great article last night after posting this, and I’ll be talking about it on this morning’s blog.

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