My students have a penchant for ignoring market feasibility for their projects. From my observations and experience with them, I have found that they tend to fall in love with their ideas and when involved in market feasibility study, can ignore, or not hear the most potent data and feedback. My challenge for my venture was to avoid this apparent emerging arts entrepreneur syndrome.
My first calculation was to assess (again) what my intent was in creating and maintaining the site. I found that all I really wanted to reap in terms of revenue was to cover my costs, both initial and ongoing. What would be more important to me would be my reach, i.e. how many members and readers I would engage.
I teach my students to employ 3 methods of market feasibility: research of existing data, a survey instrument and direct human interaction. I used two of these: data and direct human interaction. The data I analyzed was my blog readership, my social networks and 2 years of email. I found sufficient evidence in these areas to encourage me to move forward. I then interviewed a variety of colleagues, former and present students. I asked them to react to the idea, to its proposed structure and pricing. My encouragement from my data was supported by these interviews. (Ideally the interviews would have been conducted by a neutral third party). Since my goals for membership and readership are modest, I did not find it crucial to run a survey questionnaire.
What was most interesting to me were those conversations about pricing and membership. I found that people are tired of renewable memberships — have too many, are annoyed by the apparent constant need to renew, or automatic renewals. For professionals where employers pay for these memberships, paperwork can be odious. Because of this feedback I decided to offer a one-time lifetime membership. Once this decision was made I then had to decide how much to charge. Several of my former students staid that they would join if the price were right, but when queried they could not tell me what the exact price was. I have decided on a one-time charge of $50. The value proposition will be described on the site, i.e. what you get for your $50.
So, now the next considerations are when to launch, and how to distribute content.