As the wheels stopped rolling on the 3DRV national roadtrip, literally and figuratively, I looked for ways I could serve the 3D tech marketplace and keep some form of that project going. GoExplore3D.com became that way, that path, the plan for creating content and services to help the Shop type grow.
When I say “Shop Type,” I mean the urban manufacturer, the maker shop, the entrepreneurial 3D printer owner using 3D Hubs or another network. The person or entity that invents, builds, makes stuff, but wants to sell it, too. Since I also have a lot of ties in STEM and STEAM projects, I decided to add an education/educator aspect, too.
Like a handful of other bloggers, site owners, I have chosen to be more upfront and transparent about what I’m doing, how I plan to make money, and so forth. It seems a worthy way to relaunch this site and my efforts, to make a more public commitment to you, my readers and my friends. Some of you will already know this; others may appreciate this post to get a handle on “what exactly is this guy doing?” especially since I have let the site languish.
That’s changing today. Each week, I plan to publish on Tuesday and Thursday, at least one post, or video, or podcast, or a photo collection two times a week.
First, I’m passionate about listening to and telling the stories of business owners. I have always loved hearing what made someone else embark on this entrepreneurial or business journey. And I like sharing those stories so others want to visit and buy from that business — that’s what got me into marketing. But I have never found a substantial way to earn a good living from listening to others in the traditional way. I have long considered my work a fusion between journalism and marketing – way before the new “brand journalism” and “storytelling” efforts we see today.
I have felt that this listening skill of mine, which translates into storytelling, is pretty limited, rather myopic, and frankly, kind of silly and a path to poverty. But the entrepreneurial part of me says that there’s a way to serve others here and that’s the foundation of any good business.
Bear with me here, as I talk out loud. I have felt what I consider a divine nudge me for quite some time, and have not acted upon it. This strong nudge to build a deep digital resource, a magazine of sorts. A community, a gathering place, that serves this growing field of urban manufacturing, of business-minded makers, and of educators bringing this terrific, hands-on method of doing and learning to students. I want to tell the stories of people doing cool stuff in various niches. I see the business and education blending together – making things and learning, a healthy synergy, a cycle, of lifelong learning and contributing to society.
In essence, most content businesses struggle with how to earn revenue, mine included. Traditional advertising is not a great option and arguably never has been. Here are the main methods that I have considered or used so far and I am sure new ones will be worth exploring and testing. I plan to share that journey with you, the most useful parts, and help you grow your business and audience.
- Big Brand Sponsorship — I have done a bit of this, as many readers here know, with Autodesk, HP, HP Sprout, SolidWorks, Faro, Nvidia, Lenovo, and others. It works, often in the form of “Sponsored Posts” and I do like working with innovative new hardware and software from big companies.
- Small Biz Sponsorships — I have not tried this one yet, but am exploring having sponsored posts or series that are at a price point that allows smaller companies to reach out to this community. I would like to say “my community,” but I do not honestly feel (yet) I have done a good job of building that connection between us, with each of my readers, listeners, and viewers. I want to dramatically improve on that and part of why I am writing this post, to step up the accountability.
- Affiliate Sales — List products for sale within the content by linking to Amazon and manufacturers and earning a small commission for any and all products sold. This is a common way for sites like this to earn some revenue. Product reviews are part of this and I have some ideas to make it more useful. Stay tuned. In general, that commission-based sale does not increase the cost to the end user, so it seems like a win-win.
- Crowdfunding or something like Patreon — a method that allows the site to earn via reader / member contributions, donations, more or less, on a consistent basis. What I have found from studying Patreon, even if it does not become my revenue source, is that people make a commitment in a way that I admire, though I will admit to being fearful of it. It appears to be a very vulnerable thing to do, really putting oneself out there.
Start With Why
I have spent most of my life creating content for others, as in Forbes, 3DRV, About.com, and for many of the world’s biggest brands. Much of that continues and is how I earn my living currently. In some cases, I have maintained ownership of that content and plan to re-use it, re-create it, to keep it up to date and use it to build this new brand.
I have been told, and I believe, that I add a lot of value and help people market their work, their business, get their tech working quickly, and so forth. But earning from that with this new site is not as clear.
Naturally, in today’s world of free content, it is rare to charge the reader. Those models are breaking down, although there are paid subscription services for those who have the right niche. I want to provide my content to the people who need and want it most, to do that for free, but to earn with one or more of the above methods so that it doesn’t, in essence, cost you anything more than your time and enthusiasm!
Why do I want to do this? I want to see more of the small maker businesses and urban manufacturers succeed. I want to create content that saves you time on the path to new growth. I want to help educators find the curriculum that excites more kids about making stuff.
I have found that many business owners, startups, entrepreneurs, especially the smaller maker/manufacturing shop, want ideas to accelerate revenues and get in front of more customers. There are some terrific success stories out there. Yes, I’m disclosing my own struggles with revenue creation, but creating ideas for others, in service to others, comes easier however odd that might sound. I need to drink my own lemonade, I guess. And that’s why I am publishing this post, to make myself accountable to you (again), to share my plan for how I plan to do that.
What Content Will Make This Work?
Here are my main categories:
- STEM / STEAM — content mostly for educators, but certainly useful for others, too. Curriculum wherever it is found is needed and I would like to curate a big list here.
- The Business of 3D Printing — as in, how to grow your shop. I will share what I know, what I have experienced as a business owner of 25+ years (the ups and downs, mostly ups), and, as it says below — to share the expertise of the men and women on the front lines of building a manufacturing type of business.
- Product Recommendations – I’m not convinced that the standard review type posts will work for what I want to do here. In prior work, I have received many hardware items and software licenses that I had to find something “good” to write about. If it wasn’t good, I would decline to review it. However, I want to dial that up a notch and take a new approach. I’m starting with a series on different 3D Printing materials and filament. And, I’ll share some newbie experience with the media loaner units that come my way through other media or project work.
- Shop / Store Profiles — I’d love to hear from you on this front. Recommend your favorite store or shop, nominate yourself. My goal is to do these in video as well as in print.
- 360 Cameras — while this may seem out of place, I have found the Samsung S7 360 degree camera (stills and video) to be a game changer; and an attention-grabber, too. I have some local and regional work I am doing on this front and I want to share it here.
My goal for “business types” is to provide the content that helps you grow your business. For “educators,” it is to infuse and connect many of my business efforts and projects into the education world. For example, I sometimes find a small company that has been doing something to help teachers and students in their local area. These initiatives are often not well known, but are often amazing, more so they offer resources or potential to bring people together. I want to tell you about those.
Also, I have a 13 year old son and we often connect with makers. I have deeply appreciated what the maker movement has meant to his growth and education. We have been to Maker Faires around the USA and they never cease to amaze him and us. We just 3D printed a Nintendo Switch (from a Thingiverse thing:2046651 by Robotobi) on the Ultimaker 3 (media loan). Tremendous printer, superb quality, and the experience of working together on fun stuff can make for good lessons, biz and education.
One thing that excites me about doing this content is my unique ability to share it widely, which I hope will result in more exposure and opportunity for my site, of course, but more so for the profiles and stories I share about the cool people and organizations in this community.
I get asked by a variety of media sites and niche blogs to guest blog, to grant permission to reprint, and so forth. As I decided to kick GoExplore3D back into gear, I quickly listed off over five dozen great sites (with powerful link value) that have asked me for content. From military / government sites to education sites to major brands, I’m most excited about the idea of sharing my content so that it drives more traffic and business to you, the shop owner and educator.
For profiles, here’s my starting list of folks who are doing cool stuff that I want to know more about and I hope you do, too. Please feel free to email me, tell me your story, and get on this list.
- Shashi Jain
- John Biehler
- James Alday
- Bekka Stasny
- Marshall Peck
- Joel Telling
- Bortasz Bos
- Shaan Hurley
- Pete Kelsey
- SeeMeCNC John “Oly” Olafson
The 3DRV roadtrip was a valuable project. It was not what got us started in 3D printing, 3D scanning, and the many things maker and manufacturer related, but it helped open our eyes to the beautiful and powerful stories of how new technologies can and will change the world.
If you made it this far, I’m honored. Thank you. Please use the Contact Us link to drop me an email about your story, your project, your passion, as it relates to topics and ideas in this post. I’m excited to restart GoExplore3D.com and to walk this path together. Again, my thanks.